Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas - God

Dear Father,

The presents are purchased and most of the wrapping has been done. I still have the grocery shopping and cleaning to do. The cooking will be done tomorrow. Everything is on my list, and I am right on schedule.

But, this morning as I sat to write to you and read your Word, I thought, what would you like for Christmas?

The Holiday preparations have kept me bound to the world. Shopping, wrapping, parties, cooking and cleaning have all occupied my mind on physical things instead of spiritual things. The wrappings will be destroyed in less than a week along with the food I prepared. The gifts will perish long before their receivers, and even the memories I am creating will fade in a generation.

But, my relationship with you, my Love, will last forever. So, what would you like for Christmas? What can I give to the Master of the Universe? What would the Lord of time and space ever need from me? You who move with a thought and create with a Word, what would be worthy of such a King?

I will give you me - it is all I have to give. So, take me Lord. Take my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions. Take my thoughts, my words, my laughter and my tears. When you created me my spirit already belonged to you and will return to you. My body belonged to earth and will return there - but it is my soul that is the battleground. I must decide who owns my soul.

Will it be me who owns my soul or will I give it away to world? No Father, I give my soul to you. Unwrap my soul; tear off the bow and discard the colored paper for it is my gift to you. Use it for your purpose and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

God Takes Notice

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:29-33 RSV

Many perceive God as a mighty figure dressed in white with a white beard and long flowing hair. He sits on a throne of gold and as we approach the throne our stance is just a little larger than his big toe.

I know at one time, I had this vision of God for it is a vision of his majesty, his judgment, his wrath against all that is evil. However, when I accepted his mercy through the death and resurrection of Jesus, my perception of God altered dramatically.

As a new Christian, I envisioned God sitting centrally on a small hill in the middle of a beautiful garden. His back was facing me and he looked out at all the world from that hill. He was still dressed in white with white hair, but he was small and unimposing. I would come to him through the garden delighting in the scents of fresh earth and greenery. I would climb the small hill and sit next to him. I perceived that I was not to look upon his face, but I could feel the comfort, love and peace radiating from his form to mine. I would speak to him and he would speak to me, but at other times, all I could muster was to sit there with him and drink in his love.

Today, a more matured Christian, my imagination has changed this vision of God depending on my spiritual well being. Sometimes he sits beside me like a friend. Other times he is above me whispering in my ear like a sprayed vapor. But, no matter how my imagination interrupts his countenance, I feel the same Spirit of peace and love.

In Matthew, Jesus said that God has numbered all the hairs on our head. When I wake each morning, I find that there may be hair on my pillow from my nocturnal tossings. After my shower, I must remove the hairs that have fallen from my shampoo. We are constantly losing hairs and just as constant, new hairs are growing.

If God knows the number of hairs on my head at any given time - then surely he must notice every little thing that I do.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Generational Curses Through Disobedience

"It is my life, after all." How many times have I said this statement? Probably a little less than the times I thought - "It is my life", but it is a lie. Our rationalizations affect not only our lives, but the lives around us. It can even affect centuries of generations.

"And Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore hearken to the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish what Am'alek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Am'alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'" 1Samuel 1:1-3 RSV

So God set Saul as king of Israel and ordered him to destroy Am'alek sparing not a woman, child or even their livestock. At first glance, this passage portrays a ruthless and hard hearted God possibly leaving questions and unrest in the mind of Saul.

" And Saul defeated the Amal'ekites, from Hav'ilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amal'ekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed. " 1Samuel 1:7-9 RSV

So we see that Saul did not obey the Lord's command to destroy everything and we should question - What did God know that Saul did not?

"After these things King Ahasu-e'rus promoted Haman the Ag'agite, the son of Hammeda'tha, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. " Esther 3:1RSV

"Then Haman said to King Ahasu-e'rus, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not for the king's profit to tolerate them." Esther 3:8 RSV

Haman was a direct descendant of the spared Agag and we find him in the book of Esther coercing the king of Persia into ordering the execution of all Jews in their land. So we see that Saul's disobedience centuries before now threatened the people of Israel.

God knew the future, and knowing, he wanted to protect his people by ordering Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites. However, even Saul's sin was covered by the mercy of God. Esther was now the Queen of Persia and she called the people of Israel to fast for three days. She then presented herself before the King at great peril to herself as no one comes before the King unless summoned. The King finds favor in Esther and accepts her presence in court. So Esther invites the King and Haman to a banquet.

"Then said the king, "Bring Haman quickly, that we may do as Esther desires." So the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared. And as they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled." Esther 5:1-7 RSV

"Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king." Then King Ahasu-e'rus said to Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, that would presume to do this?" And Esther said, "A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!" Then Haman was in terror before the king and the queen." Esther 7:3-6 RSV

"And the king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was; and the king said, "Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?" As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then said Harbo'na, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, "Moreover, the gallows which Haman has prepared for Mor'decai, whose word saved the king, is standing in Haman's house, fifty cubits high." 10 And the king said, "Hang him on that." So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mor'decai. Then the anger of the king abated." Esther 5:7-10 RSV

God saved the people of Israel from death and destruction in spite of Saul's sin, and since we know that God is consistent, he will save the people of Israel once again from the descendants of the Amalekites - Iran.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Am

"God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:15 RSV

You told us that your name is I AM. This I AM shows that you are the Alpha and Omega; a presence without beginning or without end. This I AM shows that you are everywhere and everything from the smallest atomic particle to the largest celestial body.

This I AM shows that you are every part of our existence, yet separate, for anything can be added to the end of I AM, therefore, you are:

I AM God
I AM Lord
I AM Creator
I AM Destroyer
I AM Teacher
I AM Father
I AM Savior
I AM Judge
I AM Mercy
I AM Joy
I AM Peace
I AM Righteousness
I AM Love

So Father, I want you to know - I am yours.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Your Love

Dear Father,

I am surprised and delighted every time you show your love to me.

Love from,

Your beloved

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Abortion in the First Two Stages

If salvation is the free gift of God through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus, then why is the plan of salvation rejected by so many?

To answer that question, let us look at the stages of salvation. "...Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..." Romans 3:23 RSV. We see that the first stage of salvation is condemnation. This is the first stumbling block; that we must confront our own short comings. Many people never get past this first step, and just as a woman who finds that she is pregnant wrestles with the knowledge of what is to come, many people choose to abort at this point.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 RSV Confronting our own mortality is the second stage of salvation. At no other time in history has the American man and woman been less accepting of this one fact - We are going to die! There are whole industries centered on the denial of death and the maintenance of our bodies, and although the morning mirror continues to reflect the truth of our mortality, our minds are still closed to that truth as if denial will make it go away.
It is a reflection of our arrogance to believe that we are special and we will not die.

It is in these first two stages that many abort. These two stages are as uncomfortable and painful as pregnancy and labor, but unlike giving birth to a baby, you can change your mind at any point and lose what is to come.

"If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17 RSV This is the birth of the child; the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus.

If we can endure the pain of condemnation and our own mortality, we can give birth to our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Unwrapping Presents

A cold winter's night and the children are finally asleep. Scurrying, their parents uncover the Christmas tree from its hiding place and begin the decorating. When the tree is festooned with lights and glass balls, the gifts are wrapped with colored paper and pretty bows. These are placed under the tree in anticipation of morning delight on the children's faces.

Imagine, if you will, the excitement of the parents as each carefully chosen gift was wrapped and a name attached to each package. Will Billy like the fire truck? I can just see Sally playing house with her new doll.

Before we were created, God created the world. He decorated the sky with the joyous lights of the sun, moon and stars. The oceans were given a sound that would caress away our anxiety, and the land was festooned with greenery beyond compare.

Hidden under creation were wonderful gifts all waiting to be opened and enjoyed. Some gifts were practical - for instance fire and the wheel; some were fanciful - music and paint. But, I am sure that God created each gift greatly anticipating the moment when that designated recipient would opened the package.

Some received many gifts (Leonardo, Einstein and Edison) and they shared their gifts with the rest of the world. Others received only one gift. Some gifts were lost - the ancient battery found in Iraq - so God carefully rewrapped the gift and gave it to another, while others survived from the beginning.

Unfortunately, some gifts are not used as intended, and just as Billy's parents would be horrified to see him throw his new fire truck at his sister in anger, God is, at times, horrified at the way we use some of his gifts.

There are still gifts waiting to be opened. Each one is beautifully wrapped with a future name on the name tag. But, the best gift is what we learn about our Creator every time we unwrap a new Present.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

There Is But One God

It is with a heavy heart; I hear that the world believes that Christians worship three gods instead of one God. Let me say emphatically - it is not so.

From the Word - "'You are my witness,' says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." Isaiah 43:10 This is what we believe; God existed before and will exist after without ending and that there is no other God.

So, how does the trinity fit into the One God belief? "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 RSV So as my word goes out on these pages, but still remains a part of me, so too, God's Word went out from him, yet is still a part of him. So what is the Word?

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" John 1:14 RSV Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Remember, when Jesus walked the earth, many could not read or write, nor was there mass broadcasts. So, God sent his Word out in the body of a man, and just as my words go forth from my hands to this page for you to read, God's Word went forth from his mouth for all to hear through Jesus.

Though my words have left my fingers and are now a part of this page, they still belong to me. Even our copyright laws recognize this fact. However, if you read my words - taking them into yourself - and believe them, they also become a part of you.

So too, as God's Word (Jesus) went forth into the world The Word was still a part of God. When the people heard and believed, that Word then became a part of them.

"With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: 'You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." Matthew 13:15-16 RSV

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Prayer Against Fear

Dear Father,

Your people are overcome by their enemies and the enemies' name is FEAR. Fear is the opposite of FAITH, therefore, fear is a sin. Fear mutates through pain, shame, depression and withdrawal from others; followed by anger, hatred and destruction. We have concentrated on the fear instead of our faith, and by doing so, we have participated in the fear and its spread. Please forgive us; restore us to faith in you.

Though we have lost many battles, we can still win the war. This is the Word of Faith. You asked that we pray for our enemies, but how can we pray for those who would harm us and our families? How can we feel any compassion for those who seek our destruction?

If our enemies are filled with hatred and destruction then working back towards the cause, they must have felt anger, withdrawal, depression, shame and pain.

An arrogant man is a fearful man. A confident man is a man of peace.

We are not fighting men, but who is inside of them. So, I pray, Father, for our enemies. I pray against the hatred, destruction, anger, depression, shame, pain, and mostly I pray against the fear. I pray for their righteousness through the plan of salvation laid out by our Lord, Jesus. I pray for their confidence and peace. I pray for their joy.

All mankind was made in your image, a triune being, with a body, soul and spirit. We were born of the earth and destined to return to the earth; a result of the decisions made by Adam and Eve in Eden. But, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can choose for ourselves where to spend eternity. For by choosing our salvation through his death and resurrection; we have chosen eternal life in Paradise.

So Father, I pray for our enemies. I pray for their salvation. Deliver them from the clutches of evil, destruction and fear. Return their bodies, souls and spirits to your kingdom. I pray in the name of our redeemer, Jesus. Amen.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 RSV

"Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:40-43 RSV

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Agreement

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 RSV

Christians know this quote from the Bible, and some may have experienced the power of two spirits in agreement during prayer. However, do you realize that the gathering of two or more people can lead to destruction, as well?

A scene:

Two Christian women agree to meet over coffee to discuss an upcoming project. Their instructions from the project leader is to organize the logistics of the upcoming event- that up until now has faltered in disorganization. Their intentions are pure, but the downward slope occurs when one woman starts to criticize the project leader for the mess. Then, the other woman starts to nod her head in agreement, and the ball is now rolling toward destruction.

Satan also wants us in agreement. Just as our agreement in the Holy Spirit can multiply God's Spirit in others, so too, Satan's spirit can be multiplied by agreement. Satan's spirit can multiply into fear, anger, judgment, pain and pride by spreading to more and more people like a tightly wound ball of yarn. Detangeling that ball can take days, weeks or months; or possibly eternity. The division this evil spirit spawns will be carried by all those who participated in the 'agreement' and will be perceived by those around us who know we are Christians.

If you need to vent, go to God; then wait. He will help you clarify and give you direction on what further action to take. He may tell you to forgive, or he may tell you to bring the criticism to the church leadership. Whatever he tells you, at least you will be in agreement with God and not with evil.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Studying the Word of God

God's Word is written in concentric circles with layers upon layers of meaning. This is why we study His Word, for each time we read a passage, more will be revealed.

"So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover." Luke 22:8-12 RSV

The outer circle of this passage appears pretty direct. Jesus charges Peter and John to prepare the Passover feast and he gives clear instructions on where and how they are to prepare the feast. Now let us look at the message drawn in the inner circles.

Peter and John were entrusted with preparing the Passover feast for the other disciples. Again we see the idea of leadership by servitude. We also see that each of us is charged with preparing the Way for all people to the final feast - or evangelism.

Jesus foretells that the Holy Spirit (the man with water jar) will guide the disciples to the room (places in Jerusalem, Judea and around the world) where they will prepare the Passover feast (the Kingdom of God).

For just as the blood of the Passover Lamb painted on the lintel of each home caused the Angel of Death to pass over, the blood of Jesus on our hearts will keep us from the eternal death earned by sin.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Struggle Won by Submission

In the previous post, I outlined some of the differences between the three major religions of the world, but the main difference between these religions is Jesus, the Son of God. Judaism does acknowledge a 'coming Messiah' and Islam awaits a coming Inman, but it is only Christianity that acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God.

The term 'Son of God' appears at least forty times in the four Gospels of the Bible, however it is curious that Jesus never refers to himself as the Son of God. The first to proclaim this title was Satan; for he not only recognized the personage of Jesus, but wondered why that personage was walking the earth in a human body. Other references to the 'Son of God' were all made by men; his apostles and disciples. The term 'Son of God' acknowledges his Father.

Seventy-eight times Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man in the four gospels. I wondered why and found the answer in Genesis.

"Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 RSV

The 'rift' between God and man started there in the Garden, and as the rift between God and Lucifer began as pride, so too, the rift between woman and God began as pride.

When Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man (which he was) instead of the Son of God (and he also was), he was acknowledging his relationship with his mother - not the Father. By doing this, Jesus came to reconcile woman's sin of pride by submitting himself to a woman. Think of it - God submitted himself to a woman by conception, birth and the nurturing/discipline of a mother. By showing God's final and most perfect creation - woman - that leadership is obtained through service to others, he reconciled all of mankind to God.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Judaism, Islam or Christianity?

There is a spiritual battle raging all around us. The physical manifestations of this battle can be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio and seen on every television around the world. When our leaders tell us we are "at war", they speak volumes, but the prize is not oil, land or an ideology. The prize is the soul of the Earth.

At the battle lines are three religions so closely related, and yet their differences create a chasm between God and man and hatred between men. The chasm and hatred were planned in the War Room of our greatest adversary. We cannot see this adversary, but believe that his soldiers are ever present, and although they escape our consciousness, they are close by influencing every person alive today. Their goal is simple, they want your soul.

There are three religions proclaiming that they can ransom your soul from this enemy. Let us examine each:

Judaism - This religion proclaims that the Torah and the Talmud was given by God to the Jews. It is an exclusive club, for only the Jews are the chosen people. The five books of Moses and the oral Torah are the way to God's promise of salvation. These books are studied and expanded by interpretation by the Rabbi and adherence to the law is required. Admission to this religion is largely based on heritage, and although converts are accepted, they are not sought out.

Islam - This religion also claims the right to the five books of Moses, but it is the Koran that is studied and followed. Muslims believe that they have the one true book of law from God and that salvation is obtained by strict adherence to this law. They believe that the book itself is sacred and must be treated as a sacred object. Admission to this religion is based on choice, but can also be imposed by force.

Christianity - This religion incorporates the five books of Moses and the books of the prophets into their doctrine. Added to this are the teachings of Jesus, believed to be the Son of God, or God made man. As the Jews believed that there must be an unblemished sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, Christians believe that Jesus provided the last sacrifice required for salvation and entry into paradise. This religion is open to all people and is based on the grace of God. Converts are accepted on their choice to believe that Jesus died for their sins.

What we know: Satan was created by God. Satan rebelled against God and was cast down to Earth. God created man and placed him in the Garden to live in communion with Him. When man rebelled against God, he too was cast out into the Earth. When God cast out man, he promised to provide a way for repentance, salvation and admission back into paradise.

The Question: Do we choose to seek salvation by our own hand or by the hand of God? The choice is yours; the results everlasting.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who Does the World Hate?

If God is good and Satan is evil, then it only takes a quick perusal of today's headlines to confirm that Satan is in charge of the world. The world is Satan's dominion, and this is confirmed in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus retires to the wilderness for forty days and nights to fast and pray in preparation for his ministry. It is when Jesus is at his weakest that Satan comes to tempt him.

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Matthew 4:8 RSV

Satan knew Jesus, and he knew that Jesus had come to earth to ransom humankind. He may not have known the plan of that salvation, but he knew that if he could persuade Jesus to do it his way instead of God's way, he could foil God's plan. So, Satan offered to 'give up' the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow to him. Satan could not have made this offer viable if he did not already own the kingdoms of the world.

So, I ask again, "Who does the world hate?" Why is this question so important? Because what the world hates either belongs to God or is one of God's tools. Let us look at the list.

Children - historically, children have been perceived as the weakest among humankind. They require care and nurturing for a long time, they carry a responsibility for their creation and because they can be easily ignored with little consequence, they are easily used and abused. It is no wonder that they are easily discarded even from the point of conception; for who will speak for them? "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10 RSV

Women - throughout the ages, women have been considered inferior to men. Even today, in nearly half of the cultures, women are considered chattel - to be dominated and owned by their fathers and husbands. If there is one area that Satan can obtain a foothold in the church, it is through the subjugation of women. This was not the way Jesus perceived woman - nor how God created women.

Eve was God's last creation - his final triumph. She was not created from the dirt of the earth, but rather from flesh and bone.

Also, Jesus choose his female disciples as the first witnesses to his resurrection. They were the first to proclaim God's plan of salvation through the belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Even the apostle Paul gave honor and credence to women of the church. "Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. " Acts 17:12 RSV

Jews - I have always wondered at the world's unsubstantiated hatred of the Hebrew nation. This group, more than any other, has been maligned throughout history. Their only offense, that I can see, is that they keep themselves separate from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, by keeping themselves separate in an effort to remain anonymous, they are pushed to the forefront of prejudice and hatred. Christians and Muslims alike have tried to annihilate this group of people. Their lands and homes have been confiscated; their children taken from them and baptized Catholic, and still they have endured.

God does not change. When he said that the Jews are his chosen people, he means it still. "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." Genesis 12:2-3 RSV

"And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great." Luke 9:46-48 RSV

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Bookkeeping of Evangelism

We love to count and measure our performance. At home we carry lists - either on paper or tucked into the back of our mind for the tasks we intend to complete. At the office, everything is calculated and recalculated to determine the success or failure of an employee, product line, or the entire organization. Yes, humans love to count and I would venture that even as Adam was naming the animals in the Garden - he kept count.

But, when does counting cross over the line into sin?

We are all charged to evangelize the world in the name of Jesus. Jesus used many parables to describe this evangelism, but my favorite is the farmer 'broadcasting' seed across his field. Some seed fell on rocky soil. Some seed was snatched away by the birds and some grew among the weeds. But, the good seed germinated, grew and blossomed.

When we broadcast seed to create a lawn, do we count the seed before it is thrown down? When the seed germinates and starts to grow, do we crawl over it with a calculator to count the blades of grass? No. Then why do we feel the need to count those who have come to God?

In the thirty plus years of sharing my faith, I seldom saw the fruits of this labor. I believe this was no accident; it was God's design lest I become prideful in my own eyes. Evangelism is seldom started and completed by the same person. One person will plant the seed, another will water the seed and still another will provide the light or sunshine to allow that seed to grow.
Yet, even this is still too simplistic explanation for there is another force that is required - The Holy Spirit.

Every seed needs the Holy Spirit to germinate and grow. This Spirit does the real work of evangelism, and we are merely the helpmates. By planting and then praying over the seed we provide what God has instructed, but it is the Spirit of the Lord, through conviction, realization and then acceptance, that finally brings forth the birth of a new Christian.

"So the king said to Jo'ab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, "Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people." But Jo'ab said to the king, "May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?" 2 Samuel 24:2-3 RSV

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pray Big

Jesus' disciples asked him how to pray. In response, he gave them a prayer as a model for their own petitions.

"Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:9-15 RSV

Jesus prayed big. What do I mean - pray big? First let me start with what I do not mean. I am not saying that we should pray for only big things; for Jesus instructed us to pray for the little things, as well. The prayer above does pray for little things such as; our daily bread.

What I am saying is that we need to pray in the most general sense. For instance, instead of praying for a raise at work, pray that God will bless you with prosperity. Instead of praying that your husband will apologize for his actions, ask God for a change in your relationship. Rather than pray that your child will make the honor roll, ask instead that God will bless your child with a love of learning. Or, instead of praying to lose ten pounds, pray that God will keep you healthy.

When we are specific in our prayer, we are directing God on how to achieve a certain outcome. This is arrogance. Instead, we should pray for the desired outcome and leave the details to God's judgment. Our focus should be on the desired destination - let God choose the pathway.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Planting Seeds for a Harvest of Blessings

"Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." Matthew 13:31-32 RSV

The Gospels contain many parables about seeds and we rightly consider these seeds and their growth as evangelism, however, I have come to know that God never says anything with only one layer. His words are like diamonds with many facets that bring light with every twist and turn.

The planting of seeds also refers to our blessings. "Keep on sowing and the harvest will come. It is the little things that bring a harvest. Every harvest starts with a tiny seed."

So, what do you want? Do you want to lose weight? Then make one small change in your eating and exercise habits, and pray for God's blessing and increase on this small step.

Do you want to balance your budget? Again, make one small change and ask for God's blessing and increase.

"If you cannot see the fruits of your seeds, be confident that they are there. Perhaps the weeds have grown over the fruits of your labor and all you need to do is weed the garden."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Law or Grace?

"For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20 RSV

A baby knows nothing of wrong or right and we call this innocence. True innocence is a state of being that precedes knowledge, but quickly the 'ways of the world' impresses itself on that innocence. That impression is called knowledge.

Slowly the child learns either to trust when its needs or met or to distrust when they are not. A child learns love when it is loved and hatred and anger - either anger thrust outward or anger thrust inward - when it is not loved. As the child grows and experiments with its world, he is taught the rules in various, and at times, harsh ways. The world has made its impression on the child and the payment was innocence. The bill of sale is called Original Sin.

God created us, not for the world, but for the Garden; Paradise. By eating the apple, Adam and Eve invited the world into the Garden, and innocence was lost. Replacing innocence was hatred, anger, shame, guilt, criticism, blame and judgment.

The world cannot coexist in the same place as the Garden, and as Adam and Eve now carried the 'ways of the world' inside of them, it was necessary to remove them from the Garden. We each carry the Original Sin because we are each born into the world. There is no choice as the world will eventually impress itself upon us.

Jesus changed that. With his death and resurrection, we now have a choice. We can do nothing and continue to belong to the world, or we can choose Jesus and claim Paradise.

What would you choose?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why Did God Let This Happen?

Most people travel through the days of our life with little or no consciousness of God. The God who created everything we touch, the space we occupy and the time we move through is either not real to us, or he is sitting passively on a throne in some distant place watching our struggles and accomplishments with a kingly apathy. Then, disaster strikes; either corporately or personally, and when that happens their first thought is why did God let that happen?

I shall tell you a secret - WE WERE NEVER MADE TO LIVE IN THE WORLD.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1 RSV. God created the heavens, they did not exists before God's creation. He also created the inhabitants of the heavens; the angels. Lucifer is included in the angel count, and was in fact one of the highest ranking angels. But he rebelled with the first sin ever recorded, pride. Jealousy and rebellion followed and with slander, Lucifer persuaded one-third of God's angels to follow him into revolt.

God could have destroyed Satan then, but remember, Satan was one of God's creations just as we are his creation. So, in mercy God allowed him a time for repentance, however, Satan could not remain in the heavens in this compromised state. So, he was banished to earth.

"...then, the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. " Genesis 2:7-9

God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. So you see, we were made to live forever in Paradise. Today, scientists are frustrated in their research on aging. By their own admission, it appears that our body cells were constructed to live forever, yet we are still aging and dying. Why?

There is another clue. Every evening, the Lord came into the Garden to commune with Adam and Eve. Genesis specifically says that the Lord would walk and talk with Adam and Eve in the evenings. This strongly suggests a face-to-face meeting.

Now we move to forward to Moses. He is on the mountain accepting the Law from God. Before Moses moves down the mountain, he makes a request.

"Moses said, "I pray thee, show me thy glory. And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live."

And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen." Exodus 33:18-23 RSV

Something happened to humankind between Creation and the Law. For in the Garden, Adam and Eve could behold the face of God and live, yet Moses was told by God that if he saw the face of the Lord, he would die.

The original sin changed us. It changed us so much that God had to banish us from the Garden - just as he banished Satan from the heavens. Now we both occupy the earth with its trials and tribulations; with its uncertainties and natural laws.

But remember, this is not our home.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Prayer For Husbands and Fathers

Dear Father God,

I pray that you will restore our men. Please restore their sense of responsibility to their wives, children and country. But most of all, Father, please restore them to their responsibility to you.

When you created man, you charged him with tilling and keeping the Garden. After the fall, you charged him with tilling and keeping the earth. You gave him dominion over the earth. These tasks were not an honor of entitlement, but a charge of responsibility and sacrifice.

I pray that the men of the world will once again embrace their charge of responsibility and sacrifice in love and humility. I pray that they will love their wives and cherish their children. Return their spirits - not to pride in themselves - but to acknowledgement to the one who created them.

I pray that they will once again protect all that you have placed in their hands. Father, we need their reverence for the responsibilities you have placed on them. Restore their spirits, Restore their strength and restore their resolve. Their wives and children are counting on them.

In Jesus' name - Amen.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Because God Loves You

You came to this blog spot searching for a reason. Why was a kindness extended to you by a stranger? Well, I will tell you why.

I wanted to get your attention. I wanted to verify and remind you that I do exist, and more importantly, I want you to know that I love you. My love is not conditional. I know that the world would have you believe otherwise; that you must do or not do something to receive my notice. Even churches that carry my name would bind you with "do's and don't's" to receive my love. It is a lie. Know that I love you unconditionally - no matter what. I did not send my son to bind you up, but to set you free.

No matter what you have done - no matter what you are still doing - call on me. I will answer with no strings attached. Speak my name in anger or joy, I will still answer. Give me a chance to prove myself to you.

There is no need to hide from me. I already know every one of your actions, every word you have ever spoken, and even every thought you have had. Still, I tell you now with no restraint, I still love you.

I invite you to talk to me at any time and anywhere. If you are so inclined, you may share your story with others that come to this blog by clicking on the word "Comments" below. You can write anonymously or post a fictious name - whatever is most comfortable to you.

Just know that I love you.