Thursday, December 23, 2010

It Is Better to Just Obey

It is better to just obey. 

There you have it. Plain and simple. Take it and apply it to every part of your life and you will become what God has in his mind for you to be. 

My friend, The Grinch
I was talking the other day with a young man who shared his feelings of despair and worthlessness. He was filled with thoughts of giving up and running away. He didn't feel appreciated nor was he willing to try any longer to do what he was being asked to do. He saw no hope in ever being able to satisfy his boss and especially God. So he was willing to give up everything and run away.

I told him that God was interested in him learning to obey his boss so he could understand how to obey Him. I reminded him that Jesus said that if we love Him, we will keep his commandments, his words, his sayings. The operative words there are "If we love Him" and we need to come face to face with the reality of whether we actually love God or not. It's not such a hard thing to determine. We know if we really love God or not by how we respond to what He asks us to do.

Just as with our earthly fathers and mothers, if they ask us to do something, we respond in love when we say "Yes, Sir" or "Yes, Ma’am" and go to do it. Even if we delay and then do it we are showing God we love him by being obedient to his commands. And when we fail to do what He asks us to do, we should immediately go to Him and ask forgiveness. If we find it hard to do that we reap the rewards of guilt and shame as we continue to disobey. Eventually, if we are His and we wish to be His, we will repent and turn towards God again. We find that He is available and willing to forgive us and receive us into His Grace again.

My friend, Mr. Scrooge
So what should a young man do if he feels the way that this one young man did? I suggested that he obey his boss, because his boss hired him to do the job of doing what he asked him to do. It doesn't matter how his boss wants him to do it. Even if this young man knew a better way, he should obey his boss and do the job he was given to do. Then after obeying, when there was opportunity, he could go to his boss and ask him about the manner in which the job was to be performed. He could discuss it with his boss in an obedient manner and find favor with his boss. Until he obeyed though, he didn't have the ground to stand on for discussing how to do the task at hand. His obedience showed his boss that he respected and loved him. He thought about it and decided to change the way he was responding to his boss. He wanted to love him.

He also decided not to run away from the matter with God. Obeying his boss was a part of the learning process of learning to love God. It is also the part of the process of learning how to love those around him. He was learning how to give up his life for God and others. He was learning how to care more for others than himself; to put others needs in front of his own.

So this young man has a new perspective on his life and does not want to run away any longer. He has found that life is in our Lord Jesus and to have that life he will need to learn how to love him. And loving him means he will needs to obey him. Thank God for his abundant mercy and grace that he pours out towards us. I thank God for this young man. I love him very much.

My son, Mr. Happy
Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Love those around you and love God with all your heart. You won't regret it. You may even find that in doing what you are given to obey, you may become wise and able to lead others to be obedient as well. Not that wisdom or leading others is the end of obedience. The end is to be in a perfect relationship with God and all that are around you. To love those who may not even give a hoot about you. Even love the ones who hate you. Take some time this season and practice loving. Love God and all he has put in your life.

Did I wish you a Merry Christmas?

Have a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Praying the Scriptures

When I was in Florida many years ago, 1980's to be more precise, our house church started praying on Tuesday nights for the brothers and sisters there as well as others who were on our hearts. We would pray for national and community things as well as healing and change for spiritual things in peoples lives. God answered many prayers and we saw that the "effectual prayer of a righteous man" did avail much.

We were encouraged by this time of prayer and wanted to pray deeper prayers than just the ones we set aside time to pray on Tuesday nights. So we searched the scriptures and found that Paul prayed many prayers for the Church in his time. Many of them were recorded in his letters to the churches.

We found several that were very pointed towards the saints there and felt we should pray prayers like those prayers. As a matter of fact, we decided to take several of those prayers and put them together as a prayer for the saints. We weren't trying to be religious, we just believed that praying the scriptures would be good and fruitful for our lives.

We came up with a prayer that was right from the scriptures and we believed that if God would bless and grant the prayers of Paul back then, He would surely bless and answer our prayers that were fashioned from Paul's prayers. We have the same spirit and the same burdens so why not pray the same prayers.

This is how the prayer was fashioned and I invite you to pray this for your loved ones and brethren in the Lord. I have found that when these verses are prayed in earnest and honesty that God will meet you and the person you are praying for with his love and life. He loves to bless his children with good things and rewards them that diligently seek him. These are a few I can remember but I am sure there are more you can find. Please let me know what other ones you might find or know of that we could add to this. Note that I have changed this to first person also. Note: you can also pray this prayer for yourself also.

Father, I thank you upon every remembrance of (persons name), and I make my request for (persons name) all with joy for (his / her) fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that You have begun a good work in (persons name) and will continue to perform it until the day of your Son, Jesus Christ, Php 1:3-6 It is for this cause I pray for (persons name), and to desire that (persons name) might be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that (persons name) might walk worthy of You to all pleasing, being fruitful in every work and increasing in the knowledge of You, being empowered with all power, according to the might of Your glory, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness, giving thanks to the You, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.Col 1:9-12 And this I pray also, that (persons name)'s love may abound yet more and more in full knowledge and in all perception; that (persons name) may distinguish between things that righteous and unrighteous, that (persons name) may be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of You dear Father. Php 1:9-11 I thank you Father God always on (persons name)'s behalf for the grace You have given (persons name) in Jesus Christ, that in everything (persons name) may be enriched by You, in all speech and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of your Son, Jesus Christ was confirmed in (persons name); so that (persons name) may come behind in no gift, waiting for the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Father, confirm (persons name) to the end, that (persons name) may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Co 1:4-8 Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Broken to Redeemed

The topic of brokenness and redemption has been on my heart for quite a while and I have been looking for an opportunity to write about it but not finding any free time to put down my thoughts. As it is with everything else, finding free time never happens so you have to MAKE time to do it. Kinda like looking for free cookies in an empty cookie jar. Someone has to make the cookies. All those good intentions never seem to work themselves out, you have to do the work of creating, for the intentions to become something worthwhile. Of course, that is another topic so I won't go into that right now.

This article is just a whole lot of what I have gone through in my life and some observation of these qualities in the lives of other people I know. I feel qualified to write about it because I have had a lot of personal opportunities for God to break me; caused by a lot of stubbornness and rebellion on my part. It takes qualities of rebellion and stubbornness to bring about the work involved in breaking one who exhibits those traits. I must say without reservation that I certainly fit that bill.

When I think of the word "brokenness", I instinctively think about horses, cowboys and a dusty corral where there is this loud whinnying sound of a crazy wild horse, running and snorting, hoof stomping and the flailing of front legs in the air as a determined cowboy hangs on for dear life, digging his spurs into the tender sides of the horse he is breaking. It may not be the exact same picture of breaking the will of a human being but it's close enough for me to look at. I represents the basic actions that happen.

I guess there is this thing inside of me that just wants it's own way. We will call that the natural, selfish nature. It is the quality that makes us stand up and resist what others want us to do. It is that part of us that insist on doing what we want, when we want. It is the nature of fallen man without the control of God working in his life. It is the imagination of a person believing he can do everything necessary for life by himself and without the interference of help of anyone else. It is the "I" of a person that needs to be fed with things that build up that independent spirit.

The independent and self-willed person that I am lives in unreality since there is no way to exist as that person without having to deal with the inevitability of facing God. God has to be in control of the reality of my life for me to be redeemed and saved. There just is no other way for that to happen. And before I can be redeemed and saved I have to be broken.

I have this coffee cup I got from an underground christian coffee house in South Dakota. It is a special cup as it has my name on it. It is a large black cup with a picture of a flame on it, representing the Holy Spirit and also the name of the coffee house. It represents to me a time in my life when I was first introduced to God and performed music in the old and original place called "The Firehouse". The new place is in the basement of a large downtown office building and they sell these cups as a fund raising venture to help promote and support their operations. So when we were last there I bought 10 of them and gave them to friends back home in the village.

Well, anyway, this cup of mine turned up with a broken handle and of course now it is difficult to drink out of it simply because there is nothing to hang onto. You can hold the cup in your hands and sip from it like a bowl but it just isn't the same. I know that super glue is not going to fix this one because it has a porous material inside and it just comes apart first time pressure is applied. So I grab the gorilla glue and get it done. Now my cup has this distinctive yellow rings in four places on the handle which clearly indicates it has been broken and repaired by a very unprofessional repair person. Oh well. It works.

Then I start looking at the cup and God shows me that I am a lot like this cup of mine. I've been broken like my coffee cup many times until I look all patched together and not like a well refined and carefully crafted coffee cup. The name on the cup is almost worn off. Which makes it hard to identify whose cup it is.

This cup is such a picture of God and us. How we are this picture of a finely crafted, man made person with our fancy logos and shiny perfect surfaces. Lots of oooo's and aaaahhh's. Admiration and warm fuzzy's all over. Something to be talked about, shown off and presented for our own glory. "Look what I have done!" or "Look what I got!"

And then God gets hold of us. All of a sudden the gloss and the logo starts to fade. We are broken and mended many times. And then our name starts to wear off until we have no name, no glory, no presentation or representation of our own. The broken parts are now scared and we don't look as pretty as we used to. There are chips and nick's, scratches and stains. We are broken over and over again until there is nothing left of us there except the patched pieces of who we used to be. Now we have a different identity and are an everyday cup to be used for everyday things. We are useful but not of ourselves. God has redeemed us into vessels for himself. Vessels that serve his use and purpose.

I have other cups much like this one. They have held many things other than coffee.. Not just the liquid they were originally intended to hold but they have given rest to many other things and liquids. They have been used and worn. They have traveled many places and seen lots of sights. They have been used by many other people. They have heard many conversations and been involved in many expressions of the hands, face and lips. They have been washed and dried innumerable times. But they are are useful vessels for my use. God uses us like that, too.

Let's think about ourselves as the broken and redeemed of God. Broken with Christ by sin. Broken by Gods hand from ourselves and the ways of the world. Broken from misuse and rough handling through the purposes of our own. Broken so we can come to the end of ourselves. But not to stay broken. Broken so we can be redeemed for God's use. Purposed to be useful in his hands. Finding rest in being common vessels given unto glorifying God through the use He purposes in us. Yes, we may have many scars but we are beautiful and precious in his sight and by his standards. We are his. We belong to him and him alone.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Thermostat Wars

Are you looking at your house mate with suspicion in your eyes? Do you feel like you are the only one in the house who knows how the thermostat works? Do you get the feeling that you are either very forgetful or someone is changing the temperature setting on you? Well you are not alone.

In our house, as in most houses, there are people who prefer the air temperature at a cooler level and others. I don't think this is unusual but the behavior that ensues because of the differing thoughts of what temperature the thermostat should be on is awkward and frustrating at times. Late night adjustments, looking over the shoulder, tends to bring about a countering adjustment by the one encroached upon by the former. Windows left open, doors left open and other miscellaneous actions bring about arguments, craftily spun notions of how cooling and heating science occurs and a suspicious nature of the others in your house are all symptoms of the thermostat wars.

There is a redeeming side to all this back and forth. I believe God has designed this household malady for a reason and I believe this set of circumstances does a couple of things for us:

1. It allows us to see how lovingly we will handle other people before ourselves.
2. It proves who will be trusted with the more spiritual things of God.
3. It shows who can more readily and quickly give up their lives.

Although, these things might not be in your mind at the time it is 92 degrees inside, there is a process of finding that common ground. This can only come about by some brutally honest conversation about people’s preferences. Some preferences are reasonable and some are not. You have to find out what is true.

What is true for me? Well, it is true that not everyone is ever going to be comfortable at the same time. So someone is going to have to give up their lives (preferences and druthers) on different occasions. It is nice and kind to spread that around so everyone gets a turn at doing that. At least I believe it is. Shouldn't everyone want to practice giving up things for others? Plus sweating is good for you. It cleans out the pores.

Knowing that you may be asked to forfeit your preference from time to time should bring you closer to God in real spiritual matters as you pray earnestly that those other people in your household get a grip on reality and succumb to your way of doing things. I am sure God will prove you right after the electric bill comes in and it has actually gone down from the prior month. If not, then praying that God would supernaturally intervene on the functioning of the electric meter will definitely bring you closer to God. You will become a prayer warrior and be trusted with many important decision making processes because of it. You can be trusted to change the course of history and thermodynamics.

This will indeed lead to you loving people more as you let God show the others in your house how spiritual you are to be allowing them to share the suffering of heat exhaustion and saving several dollars on the electric bill. What kind of love is greater than that? You can come to the supper table with spiritual confidence that others are looking lovingly at you and wanting to thank you for the sweat dripping off their noses and into their food.

For all of you who can and want to take a more serious look at the thermostat wars and a set of real facts for thermostats, read on. Like any appliance, how much energy and money you can save depends upon how you use your thermostat. Here are a few simple rules for getting the most out of yours from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy:
1. Keep the temperature set at its energy savings set-points for long periods of time (at least eight hours), for example, during the day, when no one is at home, and through the night, after bedtime.

2. All thermostats let you temporarily make an area warmer or cooler, without erasing the pre-set programming. This override is cancelled automatically at the next program period. These features are nice but the trick is not to overuse them. You use more energy (and end up paying more on energy bills) if you consistently “hold” or over-ride the pre-programmed settings.

3. Units typically have 2 types of hold features: (a) hold/permanent/vacation; (b) temporary. Avoid using the hold/permanent/vacation feature to manage day to day temperature settings. “Hold” or “vacation” features are best when you're planning be away for an extended period. Set this feature at a constant, efficient temperature (i.e. several degrees warmer temperature in summer, several degrees cooler during winter), when going away for the weekend or on vacation. You'll waste energy and money if you leave the “hold” feature at the comfort setting while you're away.

4. Cranking your unit up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees, for example, will not heat or cool your house any faster. Most thermostats begin to heat or cool at a programmed time, to reach set-point temperatures sometime thereafter. Units with adaptive, “smart,” or “intelligent” recovery features are an exception to this rule — they reach desired temperatures by the set time, since they use formulas that are based on your historical use.

5. Install your unit on an interior wall, away from heating or cooling vents and other sources of heat or drafts (doorways, windows, skylights, direct sunlight or bright lamps). Many homes use just one thermostat to control the whole house. If your home has multiple heating or cooling zones, you'll need a programmed setback thermostat for each zone to maximize comfort, convenience and energy savings throughout the house.

6. Don't forget to change the batteries each year if your thermostat does not have an electric source. Some units indicate when batteries must be changed.

I hope you will consider the others in your household as you find ways to work out the differences in your comfort zones. Smile and keep a positive attitude for the summer months. Remember, summer doesn't last that long and then you can do all this again for the winter. Keep cool. Practice love, prayer and endurance.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rose Creek Village June Conference

Dear Saints and Friends,

We have now posted our updates for the conference on our website and ask that you visit the website then click on the Conference Button. This will take you to the conference details and a submission form to let us know about your intentions for the conference. We need to know if you are coming and how many you will be bringing with you as soon as possible. Call us or email us, but let us know so we can be prepared for your arrival.

A couple notes about the conference that have changed:

  • The conference is FREE of charge but we will be asking for donations to help offset costs we incur for food and production costs. If you are not able to make a donation you will still be fed and cared for. We want you to come and be fed spiritually more than anything. Don't let money be a deterrent for you staying away. We want to see you and hear from you. We need your input.
  • Children are welcome and we will have some things for kids to do during Saturday events. We do not have an official daycare provision but we will help keep the children occupied with wholesome activities during certain times of the day. We will have hayrides, a petting zoo, volleyball and other games to play. We will give more updates on that as we get closer to the conference.
  • We will be using the Town Hall and the Big Tent for meetings. Meeting or workshop location will be posted as to where they are being held. Town hall can hold about 200 people but the tent can hold alot more. So we will most likely have events that are larger in the tent.
  • The picnic will take place outside, served from the food tent this year. We will have tables and chairs set up under the tent for shade and picnic tables will be available in other shaded areas. Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottles, lawn chairs and other outdoor, warm weather gear with you.
Friday Night is a dance night and we call it a Ceili. That is an Irish dance time for group and partner dancing. The dances are Irish in structure and we will have our own Irish Ceili Musicians playing for us. Dances are conducted by a dance master and you will be able to learn how to perform the dances with everyone else. It's a lot of fun and the kids love it!

Saturday is the main day for workshops and meetings. We will start early in the morning with coffee time, fellowship and getting to know each other before our general assembly meeting in the big tent.

The Saturday schedule has changed a little bit so I am listing that below for your convenience:

7:00 amCoffee Time (in Food Tent)
8:00 amGeneral Assembly - Discipleship in Modern Times (in Tent)
9:00 am Workshop: Living Together, How Do We Do It? (Town Hall)
Workshop: Living on the Edge (in Tent)
10:30 am Workshop: Home Birth/Nutrition (Town Hall)
Workshop: Doing Hard Things - Youth Workshop(in Tent)
11:45 amFree time & lunch in Village homes
12:30 amFree time & Hay Ride Tours
1:30 pmGeneral Assembly (in Tent)
2:30 pm Workshop: Living Together, How Do We Do It? (in Tent)
Workshop: Missions Updates. The Kenyan Church (Town Hall)
4:00 pmFree time & Hay Ride Tours
5:00 pmCookout, served from Food Tent, eat outside
6:00 pmHay Ride Tours and Volleyball
7:30 pmEvening Entertainment
. More updates will come as we get them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Salvation Has Come to This Home

Our household has been experiencing the ups and downs of corporate life and combined living arrangements similar to the many households here in the Village. However these past weeks we have experiencing the delight of being in the center of supernatural God breathed life filling our household members. 

It makes me think of the passage where Jesus comes down the road and Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus. He is short in stature so he needs a better vantage point. As Jesus moves toward the place Zacchaeus is at, he looks up and sees him. "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today." So, Zacchaeus comes down and was glad to welcome him into his home. But all the people who saw this happen begin to complain that Jesus went into the home of a notorious sinner!

So in defense of himself and to show Jesus he was sincere he stands up and says to the Lord, "Lord, I'll give half of my possessions to the poor. I'll pay four times as much as I owe if I have cheated anyone in any way."

Then Jesus says to him, "Zacchaeus, today salvation has come to this home", because he, too, was a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:9-10

Now Zacchaeus must have been a really bad person to get a reputation like that. He may have cheated and lied and did things that made people distrust him and just plain despise seeing him. But Jesus didn't come to save the righteous ones, he came to save the sinners. Zacchaeus was one of those sinners who didn't have a "want to" for God. His "want to" was for himself and what he "wanted to" do.

When he heard Jesus was coming I believe something stirred in his heart. There was an expectancy that began to well up inside of him. An excitement in anticipation of something happening. He started to see the "want to" in himself change from a selfish motivated desire, into an opportunity to experience a new life. His "want to" changed. He embraced what God had to give him and saw with his heart who he was and repented of it. His heart was changed and his "want to" became that of what God "wanted to" do with his life. He was changed.

When you live in a household of people there are many opportunities to express your "want to" in light of what you want individually and the sparks can fly as things get worked out. We have a way about working things out with one another rather than allowing things to separate us from one another. This brings with it a renewal of hope for working out our salvation in a practical way.

It makes the word of God real in the sense that you don't just talk about loving your brothers and sisters, you actually get to practice it with one another. You find out where your "want to" is and where it needs to be with God. There is light and you have to walk in that light which exposes you constantly. The intentions of your heart become apparent to you and to others around you. You are seen for who you really are inside because there is no place to hide.

So it is in the village as we live out our lives with one another each day. There are many people who can say, "I couldn't live with so many people around me constantly and knowing my business all the time." They are speaking the truth because they don't "want to" be exposed for who they really are. They don't want to walk in the light of God and have all the deep dark stuff inside of them removed or changed into righteousness. They want to hide and pretend to be someone that cares about others but really doesn't. Then when they are tired of a person or the going ons of God they can retreat and hide in their room or go away for a while. If that doesn't work then they can always blame others for their reluctance to change and not getting their way.

We have a beautiful house full of beautiful people who desperately need each other to demonstrate God to each other. Each one needs to do their part. Each one needs to see each other as the integral part of their lives. Love is the common bond and it becomes the peace of God as that love is worked out in each one. Unity becomes the strength of their lives as they come together and lean on each other for the daily needs of their lives in God. The bond of peace and the fruit of the Spirit lives vibrantly within each one.

 We have a household that is experiencing salvation each and every day. God is saving us from ourselves and towards one another. He is saving us from the darkness that wants to dwell in us and leading us into the light of his "want to" every day. He is our God and we are his people. He leads the way and we follow.

Where else would we go? Who else would we go with? What else would we do? We know that there is the way of the world but that way is the path that leads to destruction. We don't want that. We have heard Gods voice and him asking, "Who will we send?" and our response is, "Here we are. Send us." We have become one in his spirit and we have no other "want to" than to do His will.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Were the Disciples Born Again?

The question posed is "When were the disciples born again?", but can we also ask the question "Were the disciples born again?" I suppose one doesn't normally think about the disciples as born again but I ran across some verses that brought me to ask that very question one day.

I'm not sure why I came to that question now, just wondered, I suppose that if we have to be born again to see the kingdom of God then wouldn't all men need to be born again? That lent itself to the thought that the disciples were men and not some special creation, thereby requiring them to be born again like everyone else that is of the household of God.

Sometimes we think on the surface of a matter only and not inside of it. We taste the outside of the fruit or smell the fruitiness and don't really sink our teeth into it, bite off a hunk and chew on it for a while. When it comes to spiritual matters I like to go a little deeper than the surface and taste the depth of what I read or see. It certainly makes life much more interesting. How about you?

We should know about the story of Jesus and Nicodemus meeting in the evening and discussing the subtleties of Nicodemus's religious questions on Jesus origin and connections to God. Jesus sort of sidesteps him and goes to the point with the famous response, "unless a person is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" and then discourses about the way that transpires. He refers to the wind blowing where it will and hearing the sound but not knowing where it came from. He says that is the same way with everyone who is born from above.

Remember also that Adam received the life-giving breath of God and became a living soul? He didn't have a water birth nor a mother, but was created by God alone. Yet he received life to live from God as He breathed into his nostrils. He didn't need to be born again because he was a created being and already received Gods breath of life. But we have not received that breath of God as Adam did. We are in need of that breath of God. The disciples were no different. They needed that breath of God to be born again.

So next we look at that time of their lives when they are hiding in fear for their physical lives, holed up in a room in Jerusalem, pretty paranoid to open the door or go outside because they believed they were wanted men. They were, but they didn't realize it wasn't so right then. They have just come back from the tomb of where Jesus was laid, seen the empty tomb and left before Jesus comes on the scene and talks to Mary. She runs back to where they are and tells them about it and they stand there in confusion and utter shock as Jesus appears in the room with them and says, "Peace to you."

He then shows them his hands and side to help them regain conscienceness and come to the reality of Him really being there in their midst. He says to them again, "Peace to you, As my Father has sent me, even so I send you." and then somewhat strangely "breathes" on them as He says "receive the Holy Spirit."

Do you see it? Did they see it? They must have because at that moment they did not hide out any longer, nor did they doubt the person who was standing before them. They "knew" he was the Lord, Son of God, King of Kings. They could now see the kingdom of God on the earth and they never departed from it. There was a divine revelation for them to believe.

Later in Acts we are told that they receive power from above to do what they needed to do there in Jerusalem, bringing thousands to the power of God, in order that they could be saved. Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit before going out as he was ready to ascend into heaven. The Holy Spirit filled them and they spoke in the various languages of the people assembled there to bear witness of the Lord and His power. They fulfilled the commission that they were sent to do by Jesus, in that room where they were first "breathed upon" by Him.

There you have it. The "born again" experience of the disciples, receiving the life of God through Jesus breathing upon them and then the empowerment of their very souls and spirits to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

So, I leave you with this thought from Paul's writings to Timothy as he reminds him that "Every part of Scriptures is God-"breathed" and useful one way or another, showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live Gods way." And I leave you with a question, "Has God breathed upon you?" If not, maybe he will meet you where you are and lead you into the greatest life ever lived, the life of Jesus Christ.

If you have a question or a comment about this subject, please write me or visit our website.

Mr. Chamley, husband and father of six boys, member of a Christian community in west Tennessee, invites you to expand your knowledge about Christian living by visiting This community has been vibrantly growing for over 20 years on the belief that Christian living must be acted upon and not just spoken about. Your lifestyle may just be challenged and you may come to realize that your relationship with God and others needs to be more closely examined.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

He is the Vine, We are the Branches

As we think about the many ways of defining the church and how it functions, we look at many various examples and see many that call us to mind of the connection we have to one another in the life of Christ.

We have the example of the body with all it's appendages and parts working together to take care of the whole. How each member is dependent upon the others for the care of the others. How we are connected by nerves and blood vessels and skin covers us and holds us together. Each part, each cell must function so that the others can exist and do what they are to designed to do.

We have the pictures of multitudes of stars in the heavens, too numerous to count. We have the picture of the family with the father, mother and children in an unending genealogy of historical lineage. We have the picture of the grains of sand on the sea, the fish in it, the birds of the air, the grass and wheat of the fields.

I am partial to the example Jesus gave about the vine and the branches in John 15. He said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman ... As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit" 

The picture is one that shows how fragile we are in relation to all the things around us that would like to see us destroyed and thrown away, cut off from the source of life. It shows the simplistic form of dependency we have upon the vine and how many branches are able to grow from the one vine. It shows how when a branch is connected to the vine it can produce much fruit and be useful to the husbandman. It shows how even branches that are not from the original vine and be grafted in and produce fruit. It shows how a branch can be broken off and separated from the vine, left to perish if not mended and grafted back in. It shows how the branched that are not producing fruit can be cut off and thrown away. Good only for firewood. It shows the very essence of life as it flows through the vine and into the branches for the production of the fruit. It shows how connected every branch is to the vine so as to make you the whole of the vineyard. It shows how the branch cannot produce fruit on its own without a connection to the vine. There is the dependency of the branch for the production of anything worthwhile.

As he compares this vineyard to us, his followers he goes on to say, "so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

There is a rule of life that is present in the growth of a vine and its branches. The branches cannot live unless they are attached to the vine and the life flow of the live passes through the branches. It is a command that the branch receive the life of the vine or else it cannot live. There is an abiding,  a joy, a fullness of that life that springs forth from the branches in the fashion of fruit. In that fruit are seeds of that life that can then be passed on to other soil and grow into another extension of that vine. The passing on of the love of God into the hearts of others. A life and growth of that life taking root and growing into a life filled with the life of the vine.

In the simple practicality of it all Jesus tells us how we should be able to continue with him in this life as branches of the vine. He says' "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."

The life that flows from him is the love that flows through the father into him and then into us and then into one another. The overflow of that love is what others see and taste in the fruit of the vine. We become a sweet savor of wine, crushed and pured out for those who would come and taste of the goodness of the Lord.

Feeling a little bit independent and sure of yourself being able to live your own life the way you think it should be done? Well remember the branched that were cut off and separated from the life of the vine. They didn't take root and start producing fruit on their own. They had no vine to receive life from. They died and withered and were useful only for the fire. As will our lives be if we become separated from the vine.

Learn from the vine and the branches story. See that there is a connection to each other that cannot be severed or separated without the promise of death. Take seriously the life that has been given you and grow. The life and love of the vine will produce an overflow of that life blood in the vine. You will produce fruit and be useful for the husbandman to give that fruit to others. A magnificent display of the love and care of God will be produced through you for the rest of the world to know how great is our God!

The Newness of the New Year and Each Day Following

Happy New Year!!!

There is a newness about this time of year that starts me thinking about all the things I need to resolve to do. There is also the thoughts of all the things I resolved to do and didn't do last year. I'm sure all of you have at least had the thoughts of those resolutions and making them. Maybe a few of you have been brave enough to actually write them down and determined to carry them out. 

In years past I have failed miserably at keeping resolutions. Maybe that's because my life didn't depend on the resolution I was making. Maybe I wasn't serious enough about what I was proposing to do. Maybe I was just wanting to feel like I was a part of the resolution crowd and not left out. Whatever the reason was, it didn't work. We would sing songs and entertain friends till the wee hours of the morning knowing that we had a brand new year to look forward to in the morning. We would sing Auld Lang Syne and talk about what we are going to do different next year.

So what does that New Years song "Auld Land Syne" have to do with the new year anyway? Well according to Wikipedia, "The song begins by posing the question whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships." So looking forward may mean having to give up looking back to the past so fondly and wishing I were there instead of here, where I am now. Does that make sense? I think it does actually. But there is also the side of remembering the past and finding those that are meant to be in the present and future. God may just want you to look at some of those old friendships and see if there is something there that is worth redeeming.

I also think I have found the secret to keeping all those new years resolutions. Think about this and see if it might help you also. Here is why I think it will help both you and me.

1. Gods New mercies are new every morning.

Lam 3:22-23 It is by Jehovah's kindnesses that we are not destroyed, because His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Because of this I can start fresh new every morning and not have to worry about the fact that I failed yesterday or not. I get a new opportunity to start over each day. Kinda like a new years day every morning. A redemption from the mess-ups I have fallen into or out of. This brings freedom of knowing that if I might blow it today I can repent and start over without believing I am a failure and unsavable. I can know that in the working out of that resolution, I can continue to work towards the high calling of God and continue on with the mercy of God and renewed strength to pursevere through any other failures or setbacks.

2. I have New life in Christ.

2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and-look!-all things have become new!
Because of the great love of God towards us and through the redemptive power of Gods Son Jesus, I have the opportunity to enter in and dwell in the life of Christ. And that is a life I can live moment by moment. I can live in the now and not the far future or in guilt over the past. I can choose each morning to follow God and live in his love and life each moment of the day.

3. New opportunities every day to do those things that I resolve to do

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he has given us a new birth to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Just because I may have failed yesterday or last year in keeping the resolutions I had made, I don't have to keep seeing my self as a failure. I am victorious over the sin and death of the past through the redeeming power of life and love in Christ. God has made me new again and again as I work out my salvation in him. I have an everlasting hope in the power of God, not my power or will to do something, but in him and his promise of an eternity in everlasting life. I have been given a new birth and a new opportunity to live the life of Christ.

4. New start for my wife and I

1Co 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Here is where the rubber meets the road for many things in our lives. This is where the true test of love and faith shows what it is made of. Living out the life of God before people I may only see week to week or even more often allows me to live one way there and another before my wife and kids. Behind closed doors many different things can happen. But when I make a resolution to live out the life and love of God everyday with everyone I am in contact with, my wife should be getting the very best I have to offer out of that life. I see the guidelines for that in the true nature of God, who is love. His love is made up of the characteristics I see in this verse and truly shown in his nature living in me. I can resolve to end each day with forgiveness and mercy and love, not recording the wrongs or faults of what I judge to be in others; especially my wife. I can start each new morning in the newness of that life in God as well and find new opportunities to show God and my wife how much I love them.

5. New start for my Kids

Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us.
How many times do I foster a relationship with my children that takes the appearance of a hard nosed ruler of the house who demands respect and obedience? How far does my love and the character of God stretch towards my kids. Do I see them as God sees them? Do I love them as God loves them? If not, I need to get a serious checkup and deal with my children as God deals with me. I need to see my children as future brothers and sisters of the Kingdom of God and treat them with respect. They need to learn how to respect themselves and others. That can only happen when I am leading the way and showing them how to do it. I can only show them how to live that moment to moment life of grace in God by knowing who God is and following him in the love given to me and passed onto them. He forgives and forget our sins as he says he does. Do we forgive and forget the sins of our children. Do we deal with them as he deals with us?

6. New start for my friends

Rev 21:5 And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.
Then there is the opportunity each day to live before my friends, my brothers and sisters in the Lord as I accept Gods love and life. Do I start over with them? Do I give them the forgiveness and friendship that God gives me each day? If not, then I need to find that person and ask for forgiveness myself. I need to see that I have harbored something against my brother and be reconciled to them. I need to find the newness of the life of God in those relationships as well. I can"t be afraid to step up to them and say, "I blew it and I need your forgiveness." I need to find those friends who are past and present and make things right. My love for them needs to be available for them as well. All things can be made new.

So as you start this new year, don't make shallow and empty resolutions that you know you will not have a desire to keep past Valentines Day and find something redeemable to resolve to that has life and love in it. Remember that there is always a new day and a new opportunity in God. His life is available to us new and fresh each morning. Do something with it and keep starting over when you fail. Don't give up! Don't walk around in a could of guilt and feeling of failure. Remember what God has given up his life for. You and I are the object of his affection. Be affectionately filled with the love of God and live it out each and every day.