How’s your reflection?

We are all made in God’s image. What we believe and how we live our lives will determine whether we reflect that or not. It has nothing to do with race or nationality, income or occupation. It has everything to do with Jesus.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Colossians 3:1-11 (ESV)

 

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Spend your life dancing

My wife told me of a story she heard in a bible study of a man who danced whenever he worshipped. He couldn't contain it. Come to find out, this man had deserved a life sentence for a crime he had committed as a youth while mixed up in the gang lifestyle. But God gave him a second chance at life when the grandmother of his victim asked for leniency to be shown him. Instead of his life being over, he was granted parole. He gave his life to Christ and said that he would spend the rest of his life dancing in praise.

As amazing as that story is his condition was far less severe than humanity's spiritual state apart from salvation in Christ. Life in prison cannot come close to comparing to eternity in hell. For those who have given their life to Jesus, they have been paroled from a much greater peril. For someone who has been redeemed from spiritual death and adopted by the Creator of the universe, worship should be a constant in their life. Because we too cannot contain our gratitude.

But how do you worship your savior regularly when you have a job, multiple jobs, a marriage, a child, multiple kids, a nonstop life? We worship through distraction, not just in the absence of it.

One morning on the way to church, in a car with two chatty and noisy little girls in the back, I found myself lost in deep meaningful worship. I was getting emotional. Song after song hit me with a new piece to a powerful message. I was interacting with the Holy Spirit that morning! And it's not like I was tuning my kids out or ignoring them either. Which is exactly my point. We can have meaningful worship in the middle of life's craziness. We can worship at work. We can worship with the kids. We can worship all day long no matter what that day looks like.

Don't just find the time to praise God for His over the top goodness, make it the business of your day to do so. We have so much to praise Him for. Each breath is a gift. Come what may, just worship and let your heart dance within!

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 63:4 (NIV)

Look at your own bubbles


Today I was blowing bubbles for both my girls in our backyard. They absolutely love it! I will shower each  of them one at a time in a barrage of bubbles as they try to pop them before they hit the ground. As the fun went on both of my daughters kept starring off at the bubbles that I blew for the other. Because they kept looking at their sister’s bubbles they would miss their own. 

I couldn’t help but to catch the picture of what was happening and think of how most people, no matter the age, can be guilty of the very same thing. As we get older we look at things a lot different than bubbles but the problem is the same. We can so easily miss the great things right in front of us because we are too busy looking at what others have. 

Today I’m going to take the time to be thankful for all the people and things in my life. Most of all, I’m going to be thankful no matter the bubbles that others have because I have Jesus and nothing could ever beat that! God bless my brothers and sisters and may you see all the beautiful bubbles in your life.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain,”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Punished NOT Abandoned 


I’ve had to punished my girls and I can tell you that it is one of my least favorite things to do in life. It may be necessary and right to do, but it is so hard sometimes. And even when I punish them, I have no intentions of ever leaving them. When correction is needed in their lives, and they have to face the realities of consequences, I want them to know that my love for them will never diminish. I imagine God looks at us in the same way only with greater intensity.

In the middle of pain, especially the self induced kind, it’s easy to assume God is nowhere to be found. After all, it’s my own fault i’m in this mess so why would He be here? I sinned and disobeyed Him so why would He want to be with me? I’ve committed this same old offense once more so now He really must have given up on me. How could I blame Him if He was absent in my consequences? 

The life of Moses is a captivating one to say the least. He narrowly escaped being murdered by Egyptians when he was a baby, he was raised by both his mother and pharaoh’s household, he killed an Egyptian while standing up for a fellow Hebrew, he fled into exile for 40 years, then he’s called by God (out of a burning bush!) to tell the most powerful nation in the world to release its slave labor force, he’s put in charge of a nation of people while on an exodus over hundreds of miles, and constantly has to mediate between a Holy God and an ungrateful people. No doubt that he must have been an amazing man. But even as incredible as Moses was, he still suffered from the same ailment as all of humanity: sin. One such sin caused a major consequence. In the book of Numbers, chapter 20, Moses and Aaron have to deal with a bit of a water shortage. To sum it up, Moses and Aaron don’t follow God’s instructions and end up taking the glory for bringing water from a rock rather than giving God the glory for it. The effect from that would be denied entry into the promised land. Ouch! But that’s not the point of this story. Moses screwed up and so do we. No need to remind everyone of that. What I want to point out came at the end of all this, when Moses is facing up to the consequences, at what would be the end of his life.

“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land…And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭34:1,4-6‬ ‭

Moses had to miss out on walking in the promise land but he got something so much better. The Lord went up the mountain with him. The Lord showed him a glimpse out of grace. The Lord buried him where only He knows. Despite Moses’ disobedience the Lord never left him. Once chosen by God, Moses was His forever. That didn’t exclude Moses from the consequences of his sin but it did keep him in grace. And that is no consolation prize.

I heard a story once of a little boy who was placed in timeout by his mom. He begged and begged to be let out but his mom stayed firm. Along came grandpa and the little boy pleaded with him to take him out even though his mom had said no. Instead of taking the boy out, the grandpa sat with the boy in time out until his time had been served. God is much like the grandpa. He may not excuse us from the hurt and pain that our actions create, but He’ll be right there with us. Keep in mind that God is no stranger to punishment. He chose the most excruciating crucifixion for our sake and He didn’t deserve it. If He’ll hang on a cross out of love for us and you can be sure He’ll be with us in our time outs, our pain, our breakups, our divorces, our failing health, and all our sufferings. 

Believer, our sin will reap consequences in this life, for us and others. There may be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), but that does not exclude us from pain. On the other hand it also does not forfeit us from God’s grace. Where we have to be concerned is if there is no desire to repent of sin. Moses repented and continued to pursue God all the way to the end. If God has chosen you then He’ll be right there with you even as you battle your way through the wake of your sin. 

Our mistakes are not the end of our story just like it wasn’t for Moses. After all, Moses did enter the promise land one day. And who took him there? It was the Lord.

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The desperate heart has only one place to look, and that’s up. Think God has left you? Not a chance. Screwed up royally? God is still at the door knocking. Whether you’re a Believer or not, God is in pursuit of you. Our ugliness doesn’t drive Him away. If it did, He never would’ve gone to the cross for us in the first place. 

Pharaoh or Sheep?

“Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 

Exodus‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are so many ways that people challenge the authority of the Lord. No one is immune from it. Every human in existence has rejected the sovereign rule of God. Pharaoh shunned God’s commands because he did not know Him, nor did he want to. Those of us who put off reading the Bible, make things up as we go, try to conform God to our image, follow false religions, or outright refuse to live how Jesus called us to live are doing the very same thing. We do all of those things because we don’t know God nor do we want to.

Pharaoh is a picture of the human condition. We don’t like to be told what to do, even by the One who made us. It’s dirty stinking pride that rots the soul. It’s the same sickness that plagued the Pharisees and Saducees who fought so hard to dispel Christ. To accept the Messiah meant to give up their control of religion and of the people who they manipulated. It’s the same reason why the Catholic Church refused to allow bibles to be printed and distributed to the masses for so long. They wanted to be on the throne of people’s lives. The throne is never a place for us to occupy. Not in our own life and especially not in the lives of others. 

God answered Pharaoh’s question with ten devastating plagues that shattered their false gods. And every time we ask that question, whether by word or action, we are stating that we too have false gods whom have our heart’s allegiance. But we don’t have to play Pharaoh any longer. In John 10 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”‭‭ It’s simply a matter of choosing who you’ll be: pharaoh or a sheep. One gets life while the other…well, just read Exodus 7-12 to see for yourself. 

Be encouraged by brothers and sisters because He is calling and He has made Himself known. 

God bless!

Do you really want to be made whole?

19_whole_patient_care1

After this there was a Jewish feast, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem there is a pool by the sheep gate, called Bethzatha in Aramaic, which has five porches. In these a crowd of invalids was lying around—blind, lame, disabled.

Now a certain man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. Seeing him lying there and knowing he had been that way a long time, Yeshua said to him, “Do you want to get well?

The invalid answered Him, “Sir, I have nobody to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I’m trying to get in, somebody else steps down before me!”

Yeshua tells him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!”

Immediately, the man was healed! He took up his mat and started walking around. Now that day was Shabbat, so Judean leaders were saying to the man who was healed, “It’s Shabbat! It’s not permitted for you to carry your mat.”

But he answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” But the man who had been healed didn’t know who it was, for Yeshua had slipped away into the crowd in that place.

Afterwards, Yeshua finds him in the Temple. He said to him, “Look, you’ve been healed! Stop sinning, so nothing worse happens to you.” The man left and told the Judean leaders that it was Yeshua who had made him well.

John 5:1-15 (TLV) [my emphasis]

 Do you want to get well? The only thing that stands in our way of being freed from addiction, anger, depression, lust, and the like, is whether or not we want to be free of it. Jesus offers wholeness to everyone but not everyone will choose it. It seems ridiculous that someone would choose to not be whole. But sin is a choice that people make. Staying in sin is no different. The man’s desire to be made well is what brought him to the pool time after time. His desire to be made whole is what put him in the place to meet Jesus and experience His liberation. But if someone doesn’t really want to be made whole, to give up that addiction, to experience freedom, then they won’t. Jesus has never forced someone to choose freedom and wholeness. But He offers it freely to all who are willing.

Get up! To live in freedom takes action on our part. Once Jesus speaks healing over us we can’t lay by the pool any longer. We need to move. This man couldn’t walk for over three decades. Then Jesus said, “get up!” When Jesus replaces our anxieties with peace, we walk in that peace. We don’t go back to the pool of anxious thoughts. When Jesus crushes the chains of addiction, we walk as though we are no longer addicts. 

Immediately, the man was healed! Sure, healing can take time. But wholeness can also come in an instance. To say otherwise is to say that Jesus’ power was great enough to make a lame man walk but not give me joy in the place of my anger. It’s saying Jesus can create the world in 6 days but He cannot replace my depression with hope. If we want to be well, we can be with one word from His mouth. 

 “It’s Shabbat! It’s not permitted for you to carry your mat.” The path to our being made well will often be met with resistance from people around us, sometimes from those closest to us. When I made the decision to no longer drink alcohol seven years ago, I had several people try to talk me out it. People often attack what they don’t understand or what may even make them feel conviction. But we can never let the words of people unravel in our hearts what Jesus has already spoken over us. 

“Look, you’ve been healed! Stop sinning, so nothing worse happens to you.” We hold the key to the longevity of our wholeness. I admit I’ve been set free only to walk back into the filth again. When Jesus makes us new, He makes us white as snow. He doesn’t wash us clean so that we can go back to playing in the mud. 

I too am the crippled man at the pool. I want to be the healed man who takes up his mat in the newness of life. I have heard my savior say, “get up and walk my child.” I am so thankful that He came to meet me at my pool of Bethzatha (Bethesda) which happens to mean the pool of mercy. Be encouraged my brothers and sisters because He has come to meet you in your hurt and struggles as well. His question is the same to all of us: “do you want to be well?”

Don’t be Selfish with Grace

grace

If someone in your life did something wrong, would you be a person they’d want to come to? What if they had done something to you personally? Grace is not ours to withhold. Doing so communicates a message about Jesus that He is enough to forgive my sin but not enough for me to forgive yours.  The power to forgive, found in Christ, can be applied to all situations. To argue the contrary is to say that our hurt is worth more than the souls of humanity. Christ died for our souls in the face of our hate and rebellion and sin. What do we have to do in order to forgive someone of their debt? We certainly don’t have to be beaten, have nails driven through our wrists and feet, or hang to death on a cross. Jesus endured all that so that those who choose Him can have every wrong erased permanently. I’m not saying that grace is always easy, but it is necessary. No one could ever wrong us more than we’ve wronged God. To show grace is to show others a glimpse of God. To show grace is tell others that Jesus’ sacrifice is real and powerful and life-changing.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)