Archive for August, 2014

My wife and I walked neighbor’s dogs for a while in order to get to know them better. One day we walked a dog that appeared to be calm but we changed our minds when he tried to attack a couple of dogs while we were walking him. An angry dog was on display and our peaceful walk was over. I wanted to cut the leash or let go and walk away. Separation from that dog was an urgent decision I wanted to make.

We can’t separate ourselves from every aspect of life, but there are decisions we must make to enjoy a more peaceful life.

In John 8:30 and 31 Jesus gives us a simple but way hard challenging two verses giving us a clue to a peaceful heart. Continue means to keep on with what we started. My Word means not the word of a psychologist, our culture or friends living contrary to scripture. Disciple-a person who has a relationship of trust with Jesus and who practices as a lifestyle, what he says. Truth-sometimes we want it and sometimes we don’t, but this is the only thing that matters. Truth aligns itself with reality. Free-freedom only comes as we act on the truth we know and break out of the jail of deception and lies we are daily fed by our culture and those not following Jesus. In John 10:9, Jesus calls himself the gate as he opens us up to new ideas that bring freedom.

It’s only as we make decisions to separate ourselves from whatever contradicts what God has told us in the Word that we experience a consistent peaceful life. And this does not mean the absence of hassels the enemy tries to trap us in, but rather means a settled peace in the midst of them.

What new ideas has God caused you to seriously consider regarding discipleship, what really matters, church,relationships…? If you experience a hesitation in changing your thinking or lifestyle, why do you think that is?

Outside of America and a few other countries you can barter/negotiate for almost anything. It’s actually fun. But don’t go into an Apple store and try to get a MacBook Pro for less than the advertised price.

God is so committed to our best that he will not negotiate with us for a casual or comfortable relationship with him. Any relationship with God challenges everything in our culture or ourselves that does not reflect his best for us. Nowhere is this more evident than with our faith. God requires it but we try to persuade him that there might be another way. But, faith is evidence of a relationship of trust that God cannot alter.

2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9 are verses that are easy to memorize and do a Bible study on but it is another matter to enter into them. That is, to be able to come to a wall where only our trust/confidence in God is the only way over it.

Jeremiah 17:5-7 adds that to trust in “our contacts, networks and friends” or our own resources and try to negotiate with God is no better than dying sagebrush in a desert. We isolate ourselves from the life of God.

Are you in a place where you are trying to get over a wall with your own reasoning? Are you more interested in what other people say on your issue? We have to abandon ourselves to the only formula that works-faith. Be out of step with most of your friends but know that God is excited as you enter this dimension in your relationship with him.

A part time job most often means that a person is probably committed to that job for a short time or until something better comes along. In a similar manner, we often focus on getting people to commit to a Sunday service, a small group and maybe a couple of times annually to do a service project. This usually is the determination in thinking of someone who is an active Christian.

Think about the implications of Acts 2:47. “They live in community, everything under common ownership, they sell their stuff and donate crazy amounts to the poor. Every day they are at God’s HQ reenacting Jesus’ symbolic meal, praying together, doing each other good, celebrating God. and the local’s love it!…God’s upping the numbers daily…” The Word on the Street

I know it’s practically impossible to duplicate the early church’s lifestyle. They did not have cars, internet and myriad distractions we have today; but what are we really doing to develop lifestyles that are not segmented to occasional interaction with believers and non-believers? Proverbs 14:31, 1 Corinthians 13:4 and James 1:22 further develop the direction our lives should take. This challenges the socks off of me!

It may have something to do with the compartmentalization of church as somewhere we go rather than something we do. If it is “part time involvement” we may discard it at some point. In fact, if we are really following Jesus, our few hours a week involved will be challenged by Jesus who was 24/7 involved with those he loved.

Ask God to make it absolutely clear what his agenda includes for you rather than pursuing the agenda you may have determined for yourself and your family.

Why is it so difficult for people to believe Jesus is real, is alive, deeply cares for them and wants to be active in helping them navigate life?

For many outside the religious zones, Christianity is seen as one among many and is totally confusing due to the misrepresentation they see in the inconsistent lives of so many church people. They would love to believe in something that makes sense.

We have the opportunity and responsibility to live lives among people in such a way that they leave our conversation with something that is stirring in their heart, that for some reason they think they might really be on to something. They long to view a person’s life that is so real that it screams “this is right.” If we want to erase the doubt and hesitation of others to believe the truth about Jesus, it is not difficult but it is costly. They want to know that this stuff we talk about works on Monday morning on the job and Saturday evening at the party.

When you look at 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 along with 2 Corinthians 2:15, it is obvious that you and I need to be immersed in real life with people and realize that when they see us love when they would hate, encourage when they would just leave, stand when they would give in or get angry… When our questions point to what really matters and raises such a curiosity, they will want to hang with us as long as we can stay awake.

What keeps you hiding who you really are? Why not begin to be real with a few people this week and see what happens?

It was an early Sunday morning when I looked outside at the trees beginning to bend with the wind and turned on the radio. A hurricane was churning 90 miles South of Mobile, Alabama. It was considered small but intense heading north. Many people along the Mississippi coast had hurricane parties as the storm began to turn northwest towards them. The storm devastated the coast, grounded large ships on the beach and killed many. It was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States. The forecasters and people along the beach underestimated its’ power.

Our enemy may appear to be sleeping or on vacation at times and we can easily drop our guard, but we should never underestimate who we are dealing with. After all, he has quite a bit of experience. However, we should be encouraged and strengthened by the truth that “…he who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) And 1 John 3:8 also assures us that Jesus showed up to destroy satan’s work. Satan is bankrupt but refuses to admit it and continues to sell lies through publications, people, as well as his very clever but destructive web sites.

We must deal with his tactics immediately by nailing the gate shut. Isaiah 28:6 reminds us to turn back the battle which begins in our mind. We need to put a “No Trespassing” warning on the many entrances our enemy uses to defeat us. 1 Peter 5:8 should be adequate warning for us that satan has only one thing on his mind-to ruin and destroy us. Just say no!

So, how else can we guard against our enemy? Scripture memory is huge-satan knows the Bible well and when we quote scripture to him, he leaves without leaving a note.

Why not brainstorm with a few friends who are committed to not allowing satan to buy any more property in their lives and are consistently taking every thought captive to obey Jesus.

I remember being in a car traveling through one of Europe’s larger cities. It was confusing as we turned right here, left there, straight for two or three blocks and then made a u turn. I had no idea where we were at all. The narrow European streets added to my confusion. Then we were in the open and I saw our destination.

Sometimes God’s way of bringing us to a place of certainty seems confusing from our perspective. Take Job for example. You may know that he went through the most bizarre, scary and probably very confusing time during his life. He asked God for answers-see Job 42 as Job recounts his trip through confusion to certainty. There was no way he could figure God out. God was not confused at all but Job, well he didn’t have a clue. The result of going through this was certainty. Job plainly now says in 42:5 “I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand-from my own eyes and ears!” The Message

Psalm 23 is known by many but understood by a few.Confusion can seem like the valley of the shadow of death at times but this Psalm is one of certainty. We often want the outcome without the process.

Don’t doubt during confusing times. Put anger in the closet and lock the door. Make sure fear knows where the exit is. We can ruthlessly abandon these tendencies and remember that God knows what he is doing and never makes mistakes.

One day in my basement a number of guys were sitting around when one of them asked “how long?” Another quickly said “not long.” That exchange went back and forth for what seemed like 5 minutes. It became so funny that the room exploded in uncontrolled laughter.

Some things have a humorous ending while others don’t, and seem to go on beyond what seems like unreasonable time limits. Perspective is a large factor in determining our irritation, our disheartened attitude or our patient waiting. So with a wrong perspective, we often ask the question “how long?”

God has some things to say about waiting: Psalm 27:14 challenges us to be strong and encouraged to wait for God to act; Isaiah 64:4 promises that God will act when we wait for him; Lamentations 3:26 reminds us to wait quietly for God to work his plan in and for us. Quietly can mean that we stop scheming how to make something work and wait for God to do it.

I remember memorizing Psalm 37:4. I loved finding this verse because I knew I could wait a while and God would come through and give me my desire. But delighting in the Lord turned out to be quite a learning process that continues to this day. And one thing I learned along the way is that God may change your desire into another but he still is faithful to fulfill the promise.

Then there are some desires that remain and the challenge is to continue to delight in the Lord. If God always has my best in mind, why is it so hard to wait year after year? It’s worth it even when God takes us on a highway we never planned on being on. As it turns out, there is quite a lot of incredible scenery on the track God leads us on. It’s easy to miss when we want our desires to be fulfilled on our timetable.