Thursday, December 24, 2009

Just How Serious Are You?

I just finished writing to a brother and sister in South Dakota and felt moved to post some of it here today. Here it is.

I am looking to God to go much deeper and pursue those things he wants me to. I was convicted by another Oswald Chambers devotion and can't get it out of my mind. I had to share it with you.

If there is a prayer for me, you can pray that God will keep me convicted of slothfulness and disobedience so as to propel me into his obedience in everything that I see, touch and hear. I want to be pure in everything with God so as not to miss anything spiritual he has for me. I want a closer relationship with him everyday. I want to see the things that eyes do not always see and hear his voice and if possible, look into his face and behold him as he really is.

Oswald Chambers - December 23, 2009
Sharing in the Atonement

God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Galatians 6:14

The gospel of Jesus Christ always forces a decision of our will. Have I accepted God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ? Do I have even the slightest interest in the death of Jesus? Do I want to be identified with His death— to be completely dead to all interest in sin, worldliness, and self? Do I long to be so closely identified with Jesus that I am of no value for anything except Him and His purposes?

The great privilege of discipleship is that I can commit myself under the banner of His Cross, and that means death to sin. You must get alone with Jesus and either decide to tell Him that you do not want sin to die out in you, or that at any cost you want to be identified with His death. When you act in confident faith in what our Lord did on the cross, a supernatural identification with His death takes place immediately. And you will come to know through a higher knowledge that your old life was "crucified with Him" (Romans 6:6 ). The proof that your old life is dead, having been "crucified with Christ" ( Galatians 2:20  ), is the amazing ease with which the life of God in you now enables you to obey the voice of Jesus Christ.

Every once in a while our Lord gives us a glimpse of what we would be like if it were not for Him. This is a confirmation of what He said— ". . . without Me you can do nothing" ( John 15:5  ). That is why the underlying foundation of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus. We mistake the joy of our first introduction into God’s kingdom as His purpose for getting us there. Yet God’s purpose in getting us into His kingdom is that we may realize all that identification with Jesus Christ means.

Don't miss what he is saying here!

The reality of a relationship with God is utmost and the highest calling we have. If we trade that opportunity for a life of our own pleasures and well being in the world of words and good intentions, as religious prigs, then we have wasted our lives and we are worth nothing to God but to be thrown into the fire and used as fuel for it.

I can do nothing but to throw myself down upon the mercy of God and plead for his life to fill me every day. I can see nothing but darkness in my inner being without the life giving light of God shinning through my being, to illuminate it and purify it with its radiant glow, pushing out all of the uncleanness that is there.

We have come to a place where there is a great measure of seriousness about taking the Lords name vain if we cannot be serious about doing what he has commanded. Like Oswald has said, "Do I have even the slightest interest in the death of Jesus?" I pray that we have all of our interest in Him and nothing of interest for our own pleasurable lives in this world.

This world is filled with beautiful flowing words of interest in ourselves to the destruction of our lives, when we listen to them and follow them. There is but One to follow and His words are the words of life. His work is to make us righteous in the eyes of God so that we might be saved every day from ourselves, the world and the devil.

His mercies are new every day and his purpose never changes. Take an opportunity this season to find out where you are with God. Don't be mistaken. He will not overlook your lack of seriousness and diligence. He will not be slack in his judgment of us. He will see into the depths of our hearts and recognize a heart that is created by him, living within us, looking to him for everything good and everlasting. He will be merciful to that one, who recognizes the futility of living for self and lays down his life for a relationship with the creator. Do not be deceived. God is true and his words are true and his life is abundant for those who dwell in him and follow him.

May you find him and find the gift of life in him together and forever. May God provide for you the gift of everlasting life in him with others as well. Diligently seek him and look for those who have him as their life. Don't loose hope but, do pursue a life with the church (the gathered saints of God) so you can grow in the character of God and live a joyous life spent upon loving them and being loved by them.

All of the blessing of God I pray for you this season and take this time to love each other, look to God, and expect him to change your lives as you submit yourselves to his life.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who Do You Think You Are?

This morning we were talking about the many times we be come involved in actions, reactions and just plain crummy thinking in our lives because of circumstances that happen. Whether they are of our own doing or not, when we fall into temptation or experience hard times, our minds go places we don't really want to go but we go there anyway. We wallow in self-pity or grumble in displeasure and judgment.

The enemy plays on these times of opportunity for his own pleasure and we help him by cooperating with him. In the process we undo ourselves and others around us. We work out of fear, anger and disgust and say and do things we really ought not to be saying and doing. We bring shame to ourselves and the name of our God. Our behavior is unbecoming of a Saint and a disciple.

I believe that at times like that we have just plain forgotten the most important truths of who we are and who God is. We act as if there is no relationship with God about our lives and display a character that denys any power or might for overcoming these circumstances, easily snuffed out, through faith and acknowledgment of who we are in Christ. We can remember who we are and act accordingly.

Of course, you should consider the position that you are in with God. That is, do you love him and keep his commandments? If so he says you are his. And if that is true, if God dwells in you and you belong to him then these statements are true for you.

You are loved - 1John 3:1-3

"See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children---and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God. My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure."

You are accepted - Ephesians 1:5-10

"God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children---this was his pleasure and purpose. Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, which he gave to us in such large measure! In all his wisdom and insight God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head."

You are a child of God - John 1:12-13

"Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God's children. They did not become God's children by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; God himself was their Father."

You are Jesus' friend - John 15:14-16

"And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name."

You are a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him -

Romans 8:15-17

"For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together."

 You are united with God and one spirit with Him - 1Corinthians 6:17

"But the person who unites himself with the Lord becomes one spirit with him."

You are a temple of God. His spirit and his life live in YOU - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God's glory.

 You are a member of Christ's body. - 1 Corinthians 12:27

"Now you are Christ's body and individual parts of it."

You are a Saint - Ephesians 1:1

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus . . . "

You are redeemed and forgiven - Colossians 1:14

"In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

You are complete in Jesus Christ - Colossians 2:8-12

"Beware lest anyone rob you through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power, in whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead."

You are free from condemnation - Romans 8:1

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in union with Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death."

 You are a new creation because You are in Christ - 2Corinthians 5:16-18

"So then, from now on we do not think of anyone from a human point of view. Even if we did think of Christ from a human point of view, we don't think of him that way any more. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and-look!-all things have become new! All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation."

You are chosen of God, holy and dearly loved - Colossians 3:10-14

"and have clothed yourselves with the new man, which is being renewed into full knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. Where this happens, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free person. Instead, Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Put up with one another and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also should forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which ties everything together in unity."

You are established, anointed, and sealed by God - 2Corinthians 1:20-21

"It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has set us apart, who has placed his mark of ownership upon us, and who has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us."

You do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind - 2Timothy 1:7-8

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore you should not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,"

You are God's co-worker - 2Corinthians 6:1

"In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted."

You are seated in heavenly places with Christ - Eph 2:4-7

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
You have direct access to God - Ephesians 2:18

"It is through Christ that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are able to come in the one Spirit into the presence of the Father. So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now citizens together with God's people and members of the family of God. You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself."

You are chosen to bear fruit - John 15:16

"You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name."

You are one of God's living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house - 1 Peter 2:5

"Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ."

You have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which you share His nature - 2 Peter 1:4

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires.

You can always know the presence of God because He never leaves you - Hebrews 13:5

"Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for God has said, "I will never leave you or abandon you."

God works in you to help you do the things He wants you to do - Philippians 2:13-16

"And so, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I am absent, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and innocent, God's children without any faults among a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world as you hold out the word of life."

You can ask God for wisdom and He will give you what you need - James 1:5

"Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him."
I especially love this last one since it was shortly after I prayed for wisdom that God opened the door for me to meet a man who God used to change my life. Since then God has revealed many truths to me and shown me who I am in Him. Don't miss the best God has for you. Be alert and remember what God says about you is true. Let every man who denys him and leads you astray be found as a liar. Our God is truth and love. Follow him only. Believe him completely. He loves you.

So, Who do you think you are?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Church Life

Church Life

The word "church" in our current day society is literally tied to a physical structure in which the persons who frequent the occupancy of that building on a regular basis are referred to as "church goers" or a "parishioners".  "Churches" can represent any religious affiliation and spans all societies and belief structures.  The word modern day word "church" is derived from and synonymous with words like "temple", "synagogue", "mosque", "cathedral", "chapel", "tabernacle", "pagoda", "joss house", "pantheon", "shrine", "minister", "monastery" "abbey", "friary", "convent" and many others, too many to mention.

When I was a child I learned the little rhyme, "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people." while folding my hands with fingers inward and then opening my hands to view fingers wiggling inside.  It helped to solidify that the "church" was the building and the people were . . . well the parishioners.  Later I learned words like "church laity", "laymen" and "lay-persons".

When I gave my life to Jesus and started learning about Him and His ways, I discovered that many of the things I had once learned as a child were still being taught to adults.  The expressions were not just childish representations of a greater truth but had become the truth themselves.  I discovered that I was then in opposition to the organized religious structure and organization we call "the church".  I wondered how I could be so far apart in my understanding of what was suppose to be at the root of my life in Christ.

I soon discovered that the root of my life in Christ was not what we commonly refer to as "the church" but in a living person, the deity of God come in the flesh, the creator of me and all around me, Jesus Christ himself.  I also discovered that the world would rather do things its own way than to give up it's tainted and misguided understandings of what "church" really is.  I also discovered that Jesus was in opposition to the same "church" structure in his life as well, even from the beginning of the world, until now.

So, I guess I wasn't too far off on my ponderings and feelings of despair when I announced to the people around me that I was not just a parishioner or layman in a religious structure called "the church".  I had been taught for years how to think and now my mind was being renewed.  No wonder!  I was starting to see the truth of the matter and learning to think as Jesus thinks, to see as He sees and to hear as He hears.
In reading the New Testament, especially the letters to "the church" in the different cities that Paul and other Apostles visited, I discovered that the word "church" was used in a completely different way than today's definition.  It was never even thought of to "go to church" for that word meaning never really existed among those that met together and were learning to love one another.  They were the church!  

If we look at the history of Christianity from the time of Christ until 300AD we see a unique unstructured but very efficient view of believers who loved the Lord and loved to serve one another because the Lord was everything to them and their lives reflected that disposition. Then from 300AD until the late 1500's we see a different structure emerge and it takes the form of inflexible religious and ritualistic servitude to the structure.
After such time until now we see a new form of servitude to the structure and those that empower it.  It is as though the reformation of the first religious structure was reinvented to be more palatable to the masses.  It underwent a remodeling but never lost its rigid dogmatic demands for adherence to the structure.  It was just easier to do what was required because it fit better with the new age of social justice.

All through history we see that there was a faction of those who opposed the structure and were cast into fire, torn in half, cut into pieces and hung from crosses for their opposition to the "church".  Such are those who have been written about and continue to exist among the structured environment. (Read Foxes, "Book of Martyrs") 

I have an opinion about the church and what is.  I believe that the church is, in its purest form, the culmination of individuals who have laid down their lives for Christ Jesus and one another and wish for nothing less than the true expression of His life through them and those who join them in what we call "The Bride of Christ". It is a marriage of souls, bound together in love for our Lord.

Today, I live in and with the church and have found new definition to the word "church". The church is my life because God is in it and lives through it. I have found that without the church I am left to the wanderings of a lost man who is seeking a home and never really finds anything to take its place. I have found that the church is the "pillar and ground of the truth', the foundation upon which my life is built in Christ. Being baptized into Christ is being baptized into the church. They are not two separate things. 

With all its trials and misunderstandings, the church continues to grow into the perfect bride of Christ spoken of in the scriptures. Why? Because the church is a living, breathing and functioning body, made up of disciples who exhort one another daily and grows up in love. She sees the Lord as her head and does not deny Him access into the very deepest regions of its life. She cannot live separate from him nor does she want to.

So, I leave you with the question, "Are you satisfied with where you are"? That means, simply, are you seeing the church for who she is and living the life of excellence inside of her or are you still playing the finger wiggling game?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let the Game Begin

This blog is dedicated to Noah. He is a man who has endured hardships and setbacks but, never given up. He is a faithful. He is a man of God. He has set the pace and led the way for us to follow God in this life we live. He is our coach and companion along the way. We respect him and give him honor for giving up his life to see the call of God fulfilled in us all, as the body of Christ. Thank you Noah.

Let the Game Begin - an analogy of the Christian fight for righteousness

I can see this work we do with God as the drive a football team makes for the goal-line. The football game scenario seems to work quite well for comparison. The apostle Paul used Olympic Games as a comparison in his time also. He said, "I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done." Philippians 3:14 

In football there is the coach, who surveys the field and sees what needs to happen for the team to reach the goal. He sets the pace and instills the vision of victory in his players. He has checked out the other team, run the numbers, strategized and utilized all his resources. He is sure of what he needs his team to do in order to win the game. There are the assistant coaches. They confer with and work beside the coach, to unify the team’s efforts. They are interested in the specifics of how the players work offensively and defensively. They work with the players to train and equip them for the specific plays they need to run in order to move the ball to the end zone. They push the players to exceed what they think is their limit and build them up physically and mentally for the game. They use methods that continually build up the players to be the best they possibly can. They always have the goal in mind and work to find ways to achieve the prize.

Then, there is the kickoff and the receiving team who catches the ball and brings it as far as they can, up field towards the goal. They are the first ones on the field to set up the advantage of the offensive push to the goal. They never know what is going to happen and they have to be light on their feet and quick thinking because they don't have time to strategize the play. They have to respond to the kick whether it is off-side or a high long kick into the arms of a player about to be pummeled with bodies of several very large, weighty guys. They have to be working as a team to quickly evaluate the moves of the other players and protect their teammate who is carrying the ball.

There is the first string offensive team that runs the plays the coach signals them to run and they charge forward to the goal. They sometimes run and sometimes throw the ball down field to a player who has worked into a position of advantage. Each play advances them forward, closer and closer to the goal. Each man works with the others to move the ball closer and is ready to sacrifice themselves for the protection of the one who carries it. They have practiced and prepared for these moments. Their eye is single and the unity firm in working together on the one objective before them.

There is the defensive team that needs to come in to recover ground that was obtained by the opposing team. Their goal is the same but only in a different direction. They want to recover the ball and get it moving in the opposite direction. To take back what is rightfully theirs. To recover what was taken from them and to get the action moving quickly the other way. They watch carefully all the players of the opposing side and formulate moves that will dislodge the ball from their grip. They charge into the midst of the opposing forces with war cries of victory and move people aside to find the one with the ball. They are focused and unified to do the job right. Once they have recovered the possession of the ball they quickly hand it off to the offensive team and the action is realigned with their goal. Each team moves against the other and there is a battle that ensues for control. But only one team can be victorious. So the battle continues.  

There is the second string offensive team that relieves the first string players when they need a rest. The second string players must know all that the first string players know and they must be prepared to enter into the battle and fight with the same charisma the first string does. There can be no weaknesses found by the opposing team for if there is, the opposition will find it and take advantage of it. The cost is great and the pressure intense. When the plays are called, they must do their job with precision and gusto. They are in every way the first string players replacements in order for their teammates to be able to rest and regain their strength.

There are the cheerleaders and cheering section who gives their all to encouraging the team to victory. They rally with the players and follow their every move. They cry out the charge and embolden the player’s hearts with calls of support to let the players know they are there for them. They feel the player’s struggles and grimace at setbacks but hold on to the hope for the victory of their team. They cry when someone is hurt and they rejoice with a touchdown. Every move and action is as much a part of them as it is for the rest of the team.

There is the background team members who make sure the players have their equipment, Gatorade, dry towels, patching up of wounds, mending of equipments and cleaning of the uniforms. Everyone has their job to do and they do it for the same reason the players are. There is the band that plays the trumpeting of charge and keeping time with the motion of the players and cheering to play the music that encourages and drives the spirits forward with hope to victory. Each and every player and support person is working towards the same goal, the prize and the trophy of great accomplishment.
We have a similar objective to those who are playing football in that we have our eyes fixed on a goal also. However, our goal is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We are the team and support people who are just aching to get into the game. We have been practicing and preparing for this time and we just can’t wait to get the opportunity to get in there and fight the good fight!

I hear the music playing and the crowds cheering. I see the lights glowing and smell the aroma of excitement wafting out towards us. I sense the electrical charge in the air for the souls that are collected together to bring about this great opportunity to play and win. Expectation is all around us. Young people are playing and practicing on the sidelines and men are preparing themselves for the work. Minds are being honed. Wills are waxing firm and strong. Hard work is being invested in the practicing of caring and loving with strategies to overcome the opposition and win the battle for righteousness. We are ready. We are willing. We are able to do this thing we have been made for. We are waiting to hear the call of our coach telling us to “Get in there and give it all you’ve got!”

We have a work to do here and around the world. We have been called to do things we never thought we could do. We have spent years preparing for this moment in time and we have faithful who have given up their lives for this endeavor. We are ready. We are with you Abba. We love you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Being Born Again

Being born again is a term that is used quite frequently around the world to express the spiritual awakening of people to the life of God. It can also represent an action of God to reveal himself and fill a person with His spirit. Jesus referred to this terms by saying, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." (John 3:3) The words "born  again" can also be translated as "born from above". Nonetheless, this term is representative of a much greater event than just praying a "sinners prayer" and thinking you have been born again. There is a much greater need to be recognized than just thinking that you must change the way you are living and drawing a line in the sand.

There are many times when I look back at the time I consider to be the spiritual awakening of my soul and consider the event a new beginning or regeneration of my life. It happened when I was 27 years old and I remember the time and event with clarity. It was a definite "waking up" of my whole being. As if I had been in a semi-conscience state of existence before then. My "born again" experience was vivid and real as I came to a spiritual awareness of who God was and who I was. A reality of how sinister and dark I had been and how full of light and life He was overwhelmed me.

Could this experience be the only way that being "born again" happens with people? I looked and read again what Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." (John 3:3) And Peter says," baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).These seemed pretty clear to me that something had to change or happen with distinct purpose on the part of receiving something or something being added to the essence of my being.Something that I was not able to do within myself or with my resources alone. This event and change had to be generated from the life of God and be imputed into me through his power. Being born from above was not just going to be something that happened without some cognizance on my part. I would experience something that was real and definate.

So, I asked a couple young men if this something had happened to them. One said, "I don't remember anything like that happening to me" and the other spoke of a spiritual warmness that flowed over him while performing a foot-washing for another young man. I tried to be open minded and think if this was what Jesus was talking about and if these young men had experienced a "born again" event. I concluded that they probably did not. But then there really wasn't any definition of how this was going to happen when Jesus spoke about it. Just that it would need to happen for a man to enter into the Kingdom of God.

I looked up "born again" on the internet and there were lots of definitions of what that ment and alot of different things denominations thought about it. I'm not sure I feel comfortable with any of them but some were close to what I think it is. Then again maybe I don't know either. I believe I do. I believe I have been. I have a very real sense of God in my life continually and feel his leading most of the time. There are times when I am on auto-pilot and don't consciously think about it. But I do know that I had a meeting with God and it was a real event and it changed me so dramatically that I could no longer do the things I was doing before. I could not go on talking the way I had been used to talking with every other word a cuss word and I could not dismiss the thoughts I was thinking about people and my heart would melt every time I saw injustice and injury to them. The very thoughts I had been used to thinking passed away and thoughts of joy, peace and love filled my mind.

Whether or not the words "born again" are directly related to my experience or not I had something happen that changed my life forever. It was a meeting with God and he put something in me (His spirit) that changed me. That I know is true. I would guess if you are reading this and you don't know what I am talking about, then you may not know God personally and you may want to cry out to Him and ask him to reveal himself to you. That is of course, if you want to be born again and be joined together with His spirit and become one with him. If not, I would suggest doing nothing.

Frost on the Pumpkin

December 1st - There was a beautiful cover of frost this morning as I peered outside the house. It almost looked like snow but not quite. There was a crispness in the air and as I stood there in my flip-flops and breathed in large lungs-full of new December air.Yes you heard correctly. Frost on the pumpkins. There was also frost on the roof, on the trees and on the grass. It was invigorating to stand there and soak up all the fresh air of our Tennessee home and know that at that moment there wasn't a worry in the world that could change the beauty of this moment.

The trees at the entrance of the road were such a beautiful orange and burnt orange color! It almost looked like they were on fire from a distance. Birds were singing and the faint sounds of children's voices were laughing in my ears. Morning is the best time of the day! I love getting up and seeing the world fresh and new. God's mercies are new every morning and certainly a salvation for me to think upon as I meat the day. I have the privilege of living in a place where heaven touches the earth and God's life is all around me.

And then I have the privilage of  seeing God's hand at work as I go through the day and watch the marvels of his life move throughout the members of our  household. It was a different day today and a great day at that. Everyone was singing, laughing, helping one another, looking at one another full on and absorbing the presence of one another as if there was no end to the depth of that drink. It was glorious and delightful to see. Certainly a morning that is  truley delightful to be in the presence of one another as a gift from our God to one another.

I am so blessed. There are hardly words that can express the greatness of our blessings from God. Hardly words that I am aware of to show thankfulness to God for his life within me. Just a presence of love and peace that resides within me and a looking into his face of admiration and contentment for all he has created and given to me.

Thank you my Father, for who you are and what you do!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Global Missions Medical Conference - Day 2

Last night we spent time reflecting on the day. Talking about how awesome God is and finding ourselves looking forward to greeting the next day with hope and renewed anticipation about what God can and will do. We know God has special things for us and we want everything God has stored up for us, regardless of how it might look right now.

We had breakfast at Wafflehouse this morning, We have renamed it to "Awfulhouse" and not for how awesome the food was. I tend to mix everything together (eggs over easy, hash browns, biscuits and gravy) before I eat it so it probably looked worse than it tasted. It worked in a pinch and got us on our way.

The building we are meeting in is so large we get lost getting into and out of the parking lot. It's like a football stadium parking lot and the mezzanine of the building is like a huge shopping mall. It's a massive complex with over 10,000 people attending weekly services.

There are about 15 double doors leading into the mezzanine and entering into the main area you see a cafe "Cafe 920" on the right with seating capacity for about 200 and a book store down the hall from that. 

Centered in the mezzanine is a round counter information kiosk. There are two stories of classrooms and meeting areas for as far as you can see and then beyond that a series of hallways with more classrooms another section of classrooms behind that and another behind that as well. A grand ballroom stairway leads to the second floor on the right and to the left is escalators and more stairways to the  facilities circular auditorium. 

Going in that direction you see another set of about 15 doors and passing through a second set of doors brings you to a circular hallway around the outside of the auditorium. The auditorium itself is about 10 stories high with a balcony section that rivals the cowboy stadium in Texas. there are row and rows of seats high into the nosebleed sections of the top of the auditorium at a height you can almost not see from the ground. A prolific appearance of stage, video screens and a chandelier of speakers and video screens hangs from the center of the massive room. Three television style cameras focus on the stage and a 30 foot high video screen hags in the bak of the stage to allow everyone to get a birds eye view of the seemingly dwarfed people on the stage. 

Total sensory overload/

In the opposite direction of the auditorium, up the stairs of the ballroom stairway is a theater sized chapel that hods about 400. and behind that some distance down the hallways is a fellowship hall on both the first and second floors. Both of those contain stages, sound and lighting equipment. The vendors were in that area for the conference.

The entire complex contains a health and wellness center in a separate six story building and another six story building holds resources for the complex. I can't even estimate the cost of construction never ind the cost of operating this facility everyday of the year. Staffing and operating the complex must be in the millions.

There were a multitude of mission sessions to choose from and many which we had to guess at in terms of their content. Explanations were not too clear. We tried to split up as much as possible and attend the sessions that would give us vision for utilizing that information back home. Our favorite speakers were Chuck Fielding and Rick Donalan on from Memphis. Chuck lives in Jordon and Rick in Memphis. The Memphis group has an inner-city ministry with a clinic and a few home churches. We are very interested in meeting them afterwards and see for ourselves what kind of relationship God may have for us with them.

Lunch and dinner were served in boxes and coffee flowed freely from Cafe 920. We sat and talked for quite a while in the cafe at the end of the day about the event. We made some preliminary notes on how to put together some intense training for our youth for discipleship and missions. We marveled at Gods hand in bringing us all the way here to meet people who lived in Memphis. 

One of the other highlights of the day was meeting and hearing Nate Saints son Steve. He was delightful in the dinner story time session and brought us to tears with both laughter and sorrow. His recall of his parents and their missionary days was inspiring. His tales of the life in Ecuador he lived and the friendships he formed we equally inspiring. Hannah has invited him to come to dinner and share his stories with our youth some time. It would be great to include him and some other missionaries in our next conference.

Well for now I am relaxing at the hotel after an exciting finish to the day. We were going to find a Hot Wings restaurant which some how evaded our GPS tracking, left us wondering where in the world it actually was and then realizing that Hannah had lost her wallet. We back-tracked to the conference area and found the item in the care of the security personnel. Whew! Again God was watching after us. Now if we could just figure out where that Hot Wings place went.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Global Missions Medical Conference - Day 1

We are on site at the Global Missions Medical Conference today in Louisville, KY. We left this morning at 7am and drove here arriving about 3pm EST. Yes we crossed the time somewhere between there and here. Not sure where but we lost an hour coming up here. We will look for it on the way back. I'm sure we will find it. How hard is it to loose a whole hour?

OK. So we get here and there is discussion about what sessions we are goiong to go to. There is one session today then supper and a main session with a speaker. The session I went to was hard. The speaker was ok but I think I could have gain alot more if I had just had the printout of her presentation. There were others there that got alot out of it. There are many more people here who are in the medical profession and are interested in hearing about the medical side of missions.

I am feeling a little out of my element since I am tecnologically and business minded in matters. I am going to look for sessions tomorrow that address that more if possible. I saw the vendors briefly and we talked with some who could provide an unlimited supply of medical provisions for $50 as they are available. Others who have medical provisions for free. We just have to pick them up. Would you believe it. There was a Methodist minister from Selmer there who was now on stall with one of the medical mission companies out of Memphis who knows who we are.

What is even more amazing (God is soooo amazing) is that the main speaker for the night is also from Memphis, a doctor named Chuck and has house churches there (about 4-6). He talked strongly about the requirement for missions being, hold on, don't get impatient, wait for the tone, a sold out, un-Americanized christian who is sold out to God as a real living disciple.  One who has given up everything. How much? Everything for God. No reputation, no owning anything, just 100 percent disciple of God. Ready to go where God wants you to go, giving up the easy life and working your guts out for a relationship with God that is exemplary of Gods love and commitment to us. No phoneys allowed. Nothing but Jesus. We are looking him up tomorrow to talk about us getting together. We would like to know this person better.

We could hardly believe our ears. We came all the way from Selmer to hear this man from Memphis who believes the same as we do about Luke and Acts, living for God and giving up your life as a disciple of Christ. God is so awesome! He wanted us to know that He did this for us. Not our work or doing. His doing. What other wondrous things does he have in store for us? We will see as we continue to day two of the conference.

We are also looking forward to meeting Steve James from Alabama, who has the Kenyan Relief organization and whom we talked to a few weeks ago when Amma was around. I am especially interested in discussing some thoughts about fund raising and finding partners to stand with us in Africa.

 It's exciting to think that God is just waiting for us to discover these loving things he has set aside for us to see and touch. He is so good to us. Such an awesome God.

I read in Oswald Chambers today about the changed life. The verse he referenced was: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" —2 Corinthians 5:17
He says if you have experienced the salvation of God: "You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you?" He says that if you have truley been born again that you will exhibit the new nature and not be going back to the old things and ways but giving your life over to the Master to reconstruct your life as He sees fit. It will be a life od no regrets and wonderful expectation of the work of God in you.

So true. I have experienced that dismissal of the old things and the refreshing life of God being poured out upon me daily so that I can sing and be filled with the joy of the Lord. No guilt or condemnation because of things that are being held on to. All is for God and He give his all in return. Think about it. We know we are a new creation because the old things have lost the desire and flavor. The new life holds all the desires of our heart and God is the recipient of our love and admiration. Does that tell you something? It should tell us we are born again. I should tell us he has saved us out of our old dead lives and placed us into a new life with him. Does it look like that for you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Faith - The Substance of Things Hoped For

What is faith other than a belief in what you think is true?

I believed that I would not get older than 30 one day and that I would never live to see a birthday past that. Was that faith? I believed that I was invincible before that. I believed there was nothing that would harm me or take away my life. I would live as a youth the rest of my days, filled with energy and passions. Was that faith? I believed even earlier on that I would never have to worry about where my meals came from or the roof over my head. My parents would always take care of that and I had no thought of tomorrow. Was that faith? Yet before that even I was unaware of things to worry about and I lived each moment without the thought of tomorrow. I didn't even think of a few minutes from that moment. There was nothing else but where I was and what I was experiencing at that moment.

Was that Faith?

In all those times I believed and I had hope. I could not see what would happen yet I believed it to be true, what I thought, and took no thought for the next day.

Isn't that faith?

Is there more to that than those thoughts and hopes and dreams? What else is there to faith? How do I define it? How do I apply it to my relationship with God?

Well, the dictionary definition of faith is: "Faith (disambiguation) is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing." Faith is yet: "in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. It is the belief and the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, based on his or her authority and truthfulness." [Statements from]

However, there is so much more that faith speaks to than just believing something to be trusted by mental assent. I believe that the chair I am sitting in will hold my weight before I sit in it. Otherwise I would not sit in it. I would be a fool to think that I could sit in something that would come crashing down under me and still sit in it. If I didn't trust that this chair was capable of holding me I would find another. So I trust in the object I put my faith in to perform what I believe it will do. And when it does, my faith in that object is reinforced and my faith is strengthened. I continue to believe what is true about the faith I first exercised in that Chair. Even as the chair gets older I still trust it can perform its function and I will be safe in its being there under me.

At some point however, I had to do something about my faith. I had to prove that my belief about the chair was true. I actually had to put my weight upon it and test whether or not it would be able to hold me. I had to even test it beyond the simple resting of my body upon it by maybe jumping up and down on it to make sure it could hold me in different situations. I may have physically examined it from the bottom, side or top. Physically inspected the condition of the materials it was built with and played with it to see if it could actually do what was reported of it as its capabilities. I came to know it and understand it.

So where am I going with all this? Just to this point. If I can trust a chair or a couch or a bed to hold me and keep me supported from falling and being damaged, then why can't I trust God to do so much more? If I trust a ladder to take me to new heights then why can't I trust God to take my life and make something useful out of it?

Is that faith?

Why can't I trust God with every aspect of my life for today, this moment and tomorrow? What must be done to start and continue to trust God for my life?

I say, I must not just believe he is capable of doing it. I must actually place myself in the care of God to do those things he claims to be able to do. I must prove him. He must prove himself to be trustworthy. I must come to know Him intimately. I must examine him and come to know the qualities of Him. I must diligently seek him and to know him and to experience him. Then I must lay my life down before him and allow him to do what he wants with me. Completely and utterly in his hand for the doing to me as he pleases. No reservation, even though I may be scared. No pulling away or backing up. I must lie quietly before him and be given completely for the purpose of those things I cannot see or understand, yet know that there is benefit from.

Otherwise, it is not faith. Is it?

I believe God created the earth and all things in it. Did he not? Can I then not trust a person who can do such a thing to destroy me and recreate me if he so pleases? I should be able to, if I have faith. Even if I have so little faith to be measures as large as a mustard seed. If I have that much faith I can do things known as impossible for a man to do. I seem to remember something about mountains and oceans. . .

And I am worried about what I will have to eat tomorrow?

So I have grown older than 30 and not died upon impact. Nothing has harmed me or taken away my life. I have not starved to death nor gone without some covering over my head. I should not be thinking about what and where for tomorrow. Just in the short amount of time I have been alive, I have enough proof of Gods faithfulness that I could write several books about it. There is so much evidence towards the person God and his faithfulness that I do not even have to ask for an explanation into the things I know nothing about. He has that covered as well. And then there is the testimony of many witnesses. They have placed their faith in him as well. They have found his faithfulness to be true.

The conclusion?

What right do you have to call yourself a Christian? To call yourself a follower? To say you have given your life to him if you cannot have the faith to believe what he has said? To act indifferently towards his commands and character? To defy his power and authority over your life? To hold back and not give all of yourself to his bidding? A rather faithless one I would say. Could that even be true? Could you be a Christian without faith?

Don't speak to me of your faith without works. Faith without works is a dead faith and a disqualified faith. Without the acting upon and trusting of my well being to God and all things around me, I cannot say I have any faith. I cannot be what He calls me to be. I must draw from the well of living water and exercise the trust I have been given in his ability to save me. I must grow in the knowledge of his everlasting faithfulness towards me and accept that he is in control of my life.

I must have faith.
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