Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is my body...

I'm sure we've all heard these words before, spoken from behind the pulpit or a communion table from a pastor or priest administering the sacrament of communion. But let's stop and take a look at it for a moment...

This phrase is recorded 4 times in the New Testament. Here's the basic scene:

Jesus and his disciples are sitting in the upper room, on the eve of his betrayal and handing over to roman officials. It is also the time of passover. Like the passover lamb of the exodus story, Jesus is telling His disciples, later to be the apostles, that He is going to die and through the shedding of His blood, he will save them from death. (let's stop a minute and get saved here.)

So he breaks the bread and passes it around to them. Now, here is the picture. Jesus Christ took what most believe to be a single piece of bread and broke it. This is obviously important, because there is still only one true way to heaven, and it is sealed in the blood of Christ.

However, I do believe there is a deeper imagery that the Lord was also communicating. There now sits twelve men around the table, holding the twelve pieces of the one bread that Jesus broke... and Jesus says, "This is my body." Is it not possible that as the master craftsman and one true head of the church, Jesus was also telling them that His earthly, flesh and bone, body is going to die and decay, but that they... the believers ... are going to be the new body of Christ.

Doesn't this also jive with Paul's later teachings about the body of Christ? Are we are all not members of one body? "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body..."

Whether Jesus Himself communicated this thought that first night in the upper room is not explained in Scripture. But, the words and concept definitely resonate throughout the early disciples and the New Testament church, and still holds true today.

"This is my body" is you, and me, and everyone else who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. To take a small license with the wording, it might better be stated:

"You are my body"

- Just a thought.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Function vs. Fashion

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. Mel and I got back in from West Palm Beach yesterday afternoon. (no, we're still not un-packed). But, back to the grindstone we all go...

Today I want to take a look at the relationship between function and fashion. I believe that you can not ignore their relationship in pretty much everything. But, let's look at something very basic... the fork and spoon. Function almost always determines fashion. (I can not think of an area where it doesn't, but there very well could be) The function of the fork and/or spoon is fairly obvious. From a very young age we are taught to use these utensils to eat with to make our lives easier, and hopefully less messy. The fork and spoon are both utensils, equal in status and ability, just different in function.

Hence the difference in fashion.

The fork and spoon perform two very different tasks, therefore, look completely different. I think there is a very important lesson for us here when it comes to faith and "sacred cows". If function determines fashion, that you should be able to look at your church, your friends, and yourself and see the underlying function that they are performing. In the church's case, it is obvious... The Church has only two purposes: Reach the Lost & Teach the Saved. But when you look at something a little less obvious like your friends, or even yourself, what function are they performing in your life and in your faith?

Do you friends encourage or discourage your faith?

Do you feel you have to keep it hidden, or can you share it openly?

Do you exercise your faith? Share your faith? Or do you just wear it like a badge or name tag?

If function determines fashion... then fashion illustrates the function. What it looks like it does, is probably what it does...

We all need to first realize that if we are truly saved by the Grace of Christ, then we are equal in status and ability as every other member of the body of Christ... from Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and the Pope, all the way down to the person that cleans the toilet in The First Christian Community Church of Bumble-Who, USA. Secondly, though we are equal, we are also different. This is where function comes in. We are all parts of one body, but we're not all the same part! [insert random body part joke here].

We need to:
Step in to who we are...
Step up to what we are...
Step out to what we're meant to be doing!

"If you try to eat soup with a fork, you'll but in a lot of effort for very little nourishment..."

"If you try to eat steak with a spoon, you'll only be banging your head against a wall..."

- Just a thought.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Vacation

Hello all, I will be on vacation from Dec 19th - 28th. So I will not be posting. I will resume posting in the first week of the new year. If I don't see or talk to you before then... Merry Christmas and have a great New Year's... - Bill Yomes

Attitudes of Advent (part 2)

To continue from yesterday... I'm taking a look at the individuals within the Christmas story. I think we miss the majesty and awesome grace in the Christmas story, when we water it down to the simple nativity scene.

The Magi (wise men)...

Not much is known about the Magi that came looking for the Christ-child. In fact, we don't actually know that there were three of them. The number of magi is implied or deduced from the number of gifts that were given. A few Biblical facts we do know: the came from afar, followed a star, stopped to talk to Herod, gave their gifts, and went home another way. They weren't actually their on the first night of Jesus' life. To be more accurate, they would have been there around His second birthday. (This is why Herod had the male children two years or younger killed) So, off the bat, the idea that the magi were in the nativity is false. But, they do represent one very important thing. The rich, majestic magi came to bow at the feet of Jesus, just as the shepherds had done, both rich and poor, Jew and gentile, younger and older, came to adore the King of Kings at his birth. They set out from the home land, seeking the King that they could worship.


Most people overlook Herod as part of the Christmas story because of their misunderstanding of the magi. But, since we now realize that they weren't there the first night, let's look at what happened here. The Magi when getting near to Jesus, stopped at Herod's palace to inquire about the birth of Jesus. They had no idea that Herod didn't already know, or that he would want to harm Jesus. They just assumed that a king that was being born would be recognized by the ruling class there. However, the news of a newborn king did not make Herod very happy. He responds selfishly, asking the magi to send him word where the new king is then tries to kill Him.


Simeon is another character that people leave out of the Christmas story because of the timeline issue. When Jesus was still a baby, his parents brought Him to the temple to be presented to the Lord. There the priest, Simeon, recognizes the Savior, even as an infant. Simeon had been given a promise from God that he would see the salvation of Israel before he died. Simeon was waiting expectantly for God's promised redemption, and as soon as the baby Jesus enters the temple, Simeon acknowledges His presence. His expectant faith was ready and waiting for the fulfillment of God's initial promise to the forefathers of Israel and his person promise from God. Simeon is the first person to see Jesus in His righteous role as Savior, because he was the first one that saw the full context of Jesus' mission.

The attitudes that appear in the Christmas story are timeless. Even today, people react to the Christmas story, and to Jesus, in many different ways. However, if we are to reach them and complete our mission (or better stated: Co-Mission) from Christ, then we must help people to who are seeking, or those who are blinded by jealousy, to see Christ in context. As the one and only Savior of the world.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope and pray that you will be both blessed and encouraged as you celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Attitudes of Advent (part 1)

I know that we all like our nice and neat nativity sets that are on our mantle or tables. But, I think, because we are so used to seeing them in that pose that we loose sight of the reality of who they were. The Christmas story is more than just the birth of the Savior, it also gives us a wonderful view of how the first people to hear or know about the coming King reacted... and it wasn't the nice neat nativity scene that we see today!

Let's take a closer look at some of the characters in the nativity narrative.


She was a young, probably teenage, Jewish girl that was pregnant outside of marriage. That's not the best situation to be in. She lives in an ultra-religious culture, and for all intents and purposes is a harlot. In fact, there are even records from antiquity that allege that she had an affair with a Roman guard, but had to keep it concealed. Most of us remember the angel coming down to Mary and telling her that she was been chosen by God, but do you remember her first reaction?... "How can this be?..." She was confused, knowing full well what was in front of her as an unwed pregnant teen.


The bible does not tell us how much time elapsed between the angel coming to Mary, and the message given to Joseph. However, because we know that Joseph wanted to "divorce her quietly" we can infer that the messages weren't simultaneous. He knew that she was pregnant, and being the devout Jew that he was, wanted to divorce her, but he also didn't want to disgrace her. Then, the angel shows up. I'm sure that Mary would have told Joseph about the angel and the message that she had been given, and the baby that they were going to have. So, the question must be asked, why did Joseph still want to divorce her? In my opinion, he was doubtful. Just as much as any man would be today if his fiance said that to him.


Now, for me, the shepherds are the comedy relief, and oddly the best part of the Christmas story. Shepherds were dirty people. They lived out in the fields with their flock. In a culture that had a million and half rules about washings, this was not the top of the list on the job market. They would have been looked at as a "lower" class of Jews. So, why is this the group that the heavenly host of angels? I think even in the birth of His son, God the Father is showing that Jesus didn't just come to the rich, but His life and ministry would be to those who needed Him, regardless of social or economic standards. The shepherds immediately dropped what they were doing and left to find Jesus.

The Christmas story is a story of faith. Don't forget that people today still have different reactions to the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. It's not a new thing, but we must be ready to see past the smoke screen and look to the heart of the issue. Jesus came to save...

- Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's the big deal about Christmas? (part 3)

By now, if you've been following, you'll see that I'm right smack in the middle of my week of Christmas posts. I hope that they have been informative and encouraging for you. Ok, here we go...

Santa Clause...

I'm sure you don't have to think very far to find someone you know, or have heard of that is against Santa. Like the Dana Carvey sketch of the 'Church Lady' drawing the parallel spellings of Santa and Satan, I think there are many people that blow the Santa thing out of proportion. So, let's set the record straight... (as best I can)

The modern day American character of Santa Clause is actually a hybrid of several different legends rolled into one. The most predominant is obviously St. Nicholas. St. Nick was a real person. He was a 4th Century bishop who devoted his life to Christianity...

OK... wait a minute, you mean the original St. Nick was a Christian!!! Wow!!!
(sorry, sarcasm just leaps out of my gaping pie whole when I'm not watching...)

He did give gifts to the poor. (Oddly, in line with what Jesus taught) Most notably was the gift to three daughters of dowry so they wouldn't have to become prostitutes.

Now, we must recognize that as the spread of Christianity made it's way across the globe, it met the tales and legends of other cultures and at times, combined with them. Not to the detriment of the Gospel, but that people would try and retain some of their roots as they became converted. The idea that Santa flies in the air and that children would leave out their shoes with straw and carrots for the animals (modern day stockings) comes from the Norse mythological character of Odin. Odin would lead a great hunting party though the skies at he Norse holiday of Yule. Sound familiar?

There is also some more recent influences that have helped to shape the modern day Santa. One is the Charles Dickens's classic, A Christmas Carol. In in the Ghost of Christmas present is portrayed as a very jolly large man dressed and a long green fur coat. This most definately would have influenced Thomas Nast, who is the illustrator that is responsible for giving us our image of Santa Clause.


After getting a grip around all of that, do you feel that Santa is a demonic, pagan influence sent to lead our children astray? Or perhaps not so extreme, but still not completely Christian, so we should leave him out? Or that's ok with you, because you'll still know, and teach your children the truth?

No matter what your view is on Santa, I think that we can all agree that he's probably not going anywhere. So, how are you going to deal with it?

- Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's the big deal about Christmas? (part 2)

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

I realize that I may have just made some of you vomit... (and for that I apologize) ... but, I would like to ask a very serious question...

Why do we get so offended at this term? Isn't there more than one sacred holiday in the final month(s) of the year? Or do we think just b/c we are Christian, that everyone should bow down and realize that we're right, and do it our way?

I'm not trying to be offensive, I'm trying to be real... Do you know, without looking it up, what the official dates for Hanukkah or Ramadan are for 2008? I didn't. I had to look it up. Hanukkah begins on December 21st and Ramadan was actually in September this year.

Now, hats off to Mark for his comment yesterday, although it somewhat stole my thunder for today... the term 'holiday' is a contraction of the words Holy-Day. Now, 'holy' as we know means set-apart, so even those who are saying holiday, are still recognizing that this season is 'holy'.

Now, I realize that there are people who use 'Happy Holidays' to try and de-Christianize the Christmas holiday, and I think that is both ignorant and intolerant...

(slightly rant-ish sidebar)

Like the 'Holiday Tree' thing... Holiday Tree... really... what other 'holiday' in the last quarter of the year uses a decorated tree?! None! It's not a Hanukkah Hedge or a Ramadan Wreath, it's a Christmas tree... So, just call it what it is...

(Deep calming breath)

However, I think it is just as ignorant and intolerant of us to ignore that there are other religions in the world... btw, just b/c we recognize they exist doesn't mean we agree with or support them, we just don't have our heads buried in the spiritual sand... and they have Holy-Days around the same time as our Holy-Day.

Let me be clear, I have and will continue to say Merry Christmas, but I will not become agitated or aggravated to the point of contention by people who use Happy Holidays.

Because let's be honest, how many people are we really going to win to the cause of Christ by making them say Merry Christmas...? So, what's the point?

- Just a thought.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What's the big deal about Christmas?

I realize that it is the birth of the Savior, and it's 'our' holiday, but why do Christians get so upset about our holidays. I'm going to do a few different aspects on this topic throughout this week, seeing as we're about to be at Christmas.

Ok, for today, I'd like to take a look at the term "Xmas"

I know what you're thinking... "Xmas... really? That's what you want to talk about?" and the answer is yes. This is exactly what I want to talk about. I think the over mis-use of this term is abhorrent. I can't tell you how irritating it is when I hear someone say,

"Keep the Christ in Christmas" and they have a sign that says Xmas with a line through it.

Now, the person using the non-Christmas sign may indeed be trying to de-christian the holiday,


the reality is the correct pronunciation of Xmas is still 'Christmas'...

The Greek letter 'X' or 'chi' as its transliterated, is the first letting of 'Christos' or Christ. A capital X was a very common abbreviation for Christ in the early church. People don't pronounce "Mr.' as 'emm urr' do they? So, the mis-pronunciation of Xmas is what causes the problem.

Now, if you already knew that, than I know what you're going to say next...

"Well, that may be true, but that's not how they are using it." and that may be true. But, just because someone says it wrong, does that change the meaning of a word?

Tomato or Tomato? Isn't it still the same vegetable? (now, honestly, how many of you said it the same way twice the first time you read it?)

Whether it is because of our lack of intelligence, that we don't understand the real meaning of the term... or it is our ignorance to think that if someone doesn't say 'Christ' then they are dishonoring the Savior, I think we need to stop looking at everyone else, and start looking inwards...

Isn't Jesus big enough to stand up to the scrutiny of man? Hasn't He already? Then why do we feel the compulsion to run to His defense and fight with people. You can't ever really separate Jesus from Christmas. So, follow the example of our Lord and deal with people in humility and compassion, not judgement and misplaced passion.

"Keeping the Christ in Christmas is not a matter of letters or words, but of actions and impressions."

- Just a thought.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ever found lint in your pee?

For those of you that don't know, I had to take Melanie to the hospital yesterday morning because she had a kidney stone. We went to the emergency room, got checked in, and saw the doctor. He told her she would need a urine test, blood test, and a Cat scan. So, Mel drinks her water, and pees in her cup, and brings it back to the nurse.

At this point, she mentions to the nurse... who by the way, was very funny and good, she just had a little trouble finding my wife's veins for the IV... that there's some lint in her pee. She puts it aside and gets the line in for Mel's IV. She then goes and looks at the sample and tells us that it wasn't lint, that was her kidney stone! So, they told her to drink less soda and tea, and sent her home.

Through this funny, and difficult time, I had a revelation that I would like to share with you... about the lint...

1. Just because you don't see it or recognize it, doesn't mean it won't hurt you.

Just because you don't see, or recognize that there are aspects of your life that are sinful, doesn't preclude you from the pain that those areas may cause. Satan doesn't have to wait for you to see him in order to try and harm you. Likewise, just because you may rationalize sin in your life to be OK, does not mean that it is.

2. When you want to know more, you have to ask someone who does.

I think it's funny how fast we will run to the doctor's office when we think we might be sick, or are in immediate pain, but we very rarely run to the pastor's office when we are in need of spiritual diagnosis. Somehow, we think, that we can fix it on our own, or that God will just make it OK, or it will go away on it's own. Why is it that we don't take our spiritual health as serious as we do our physical one?

3. There's usually a cure, or means of prevention.

Let's face it, being sick or in pain is usually cause by:

(a) taking in something that we shouldn't have, or too much of something

(b) not getting rid of something that we should be.

I don't think that one's very hard to see. All too often we look for a magical solution to our faith when the answer is quite simple. What's going in and what's going out? Are you taking in things that will help grow your faith, or challenges it? Are you letting go of things that hinder your faith, or are you holding on to them?

- Just a thought.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bad weather day...

If you woke up at all today, at least in our area, you couldn't escape the bad weather outside. Melanie called me while I was driving to work to let me know that some of the larger limbs on the trees in our backyard were snapping off. It was definitely a bad weather day.

As I was sitting at a stop light, wondering if I was going to hear the tornado sirens, I began to think of the story of Jesus when He calmed the storm.

Here's a link to the text in Luke's gospel: Luke 8:22-25

Three things jumped out at me as I read this story.

1. It was Jesus' idea to cross the lake

Jesus Himself was the catalyst for the trip into the storm. This wasn't some hap-hazard, ill-planned, or sinful choice that the disciples made that led them into the storm. This was the leading of the Savior. That tells me that not every storm is a punishment or judgment from the Father. Some are just storms, while others are purposed and planned for me to go through by my Savior.

2. Jesus is napping.

I love this part. There's a fierce storm on the lake, the disciples, at least four of whom were experienced career fisherman, are freaking out, and Jesus is taking a nap! I love it. Now, some people might interpret this differently, but what I see is that the storm didn't bother Jesus. All to often, I think, we find ourselves caught up in these various storms of life and we start freaking out and then we go to The Father in prayer, and we tell God about the storm. Did God really not know the storm was coming? Did it catch Him off-guard? There's nothing in our past, present, or future that God hasn't already seen.

3. Jesus only asks about their faith.

After they wake Jesus, and He calms the storm, the only question He asks is about their faith. This is it! This is where Jesus puts the whole event into context for us. It was Jesus that led them into the storm... (That's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day) It was Jesus who then calmed the storm... and now it's Jesus using the storm for His purpose. He used the whole incident as a private faith lesson for His select 12 apostles.

Storms come, and storms go, but it's not until they're put into context that we will know why we went through them.

- Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Putting things in perpective...

As we're all undoubtedly getting our Christmas presents and decorations in order, I thought this might be an appropriate time to share this. I have always been perplexed at how so many people can participate in celebrating Christmas, and still deny the call of Jesus to salvation. The images, songs, and "holiday spirit" all promote peace and goodwill toward your fellow man, which sounds a lot like the message of Christ.

I have come to the understanding that it's not the fact that they don't see the signs all around them, it's the fact that they don't put it into the right context. When we, as Christians, celebrate the Christmas season, we recognize the birth of God's only son, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.


Everyone else just sees a cute story about a lowly child being born with shepherds, sheep, and strangers. Strangers who brought gifts to the new born kid, so that's why we give gifts. They completely miss the amazing grace that is illustrated in the nativity narrative...

Deity put on a Diaper!

The awesome, magnificent God of Wonders, purposefully chose to limit Himself to the body of a man, his own creation. We as Follower of Christ see this plain as day, but not because we see it as an isolated incident. We see this as the beginning of the greatest story ever told.


They only see Christmas as an isolated incident. We must strive, during this season especially, to continue to point to the rest of Jesus life, ministry, death, and Resurrection as the setting to truly understand the Christmas story.

"Christmas is the advent of God's Grace
culminating in the celebration of Easter,
the advent of God's Mercy"

- Just a thought.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Balancing Act...

"That Bible of yours is outdated."

"Your Jesus needs to get with the times."

"That old religion stuff just isn't for me anymore."

I'm sure we've all heard statements like these. There is this idea out there, perhaps more prevalent now than before, that faith in Jesus Christ and following His teachings is outdated. A huge, church-y buzz word that has floated around for a while now is "Relevance.". Is the church relevant? There are magazines and books that try to make sure that we are communicating the message of Christ in terms that a newer, younger, hipper generation can understand.

I agree with that.

However, there is a danger lurking underneath the surface of this idealistic pursuit. Is there such a thing as "too relevant?" I think that's not the whole question that should be asked. The idea of relevance is communicating in a current and applicable way to your audience. I firmly believe in that, BUT, this issue has another half to it...


Relevance should always be in balance with reverence. Reverence should define our relationship to God, and relevance should define our relationship to others. This is a careful and at times difficult balance to keep, but, it is a necessary one. If we water down the message of Christ in an attempt to become more "relevant", then we lose the reverence to His Word. However, the reverse is also true. If we don't stop to look and see if we are impacting our culture at all, in the attempt to be reverent to God, then we have missed the love and compassion of Christ completely.

What's the balance like in your life?

In your church?

- Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Man Made Miracles

"God's sovereignty, plus man's responsibility,
equals miraculous activity."

God is all powerful, all knowing, all... everything. He is able to do miracles without us. He's God. But more often than not, He asks us to be a part, not because we cause the miracle in any way, but because we know the miracle is for our benefit. Whether it's because we need:

1. The object of the miracle - We need whatever the miracle is: healing, provision, or deliverance.

2. To see the miracle - We need to be brought to a point of: surrender, acceptance, or belief.

3. To be a part of the miracle - We need our faith strengthened by God using us.

Or sometimes, we may need all of the above. I do not mean to say that we, as mere men, can perform miracles on our own. But I am saying, look deeper into any time the Lord chooses to perform a miracle and you will see a human element at play.

What area do you feel you need to grow in the most?

That is more than likely the area that God wants to touch.

- Just a thought

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Got a light?. . .

I love to watch people in the mall or the airport. I can't help but be drawn into their movements and interactions in large groups. One group I find particularly amazing to watch is smokers. I think that smokers, possibly more than any other group, are the friendliest people on earth (until you get between them and their next cancer-stick fix.)

I know we've all heard, or heard of this line before: "Hey man... got a light?" It is a universal request that all smokers understand. And oddly enough, I don't know of a time when that request has ever been denied. If a smoker walks up to another smoker, cigarette in hand, with no previous connection or relationship, they will almost always have their request granted. Someone will reach up with a lighter or a match and help them out.

There is no easier or faster way to start a conversation than one smoker asking another for a light. It's the perfect three word kick start that will usually start a conversation. I think this is amazing.

What if we could learn to evangelize like that?

What if we could learn how to walk up to complete strangers and say something or ask for something that would immediately open a door for a conversation? How much more would we be able to impact our world. In order to do this, I think we need to examine what makes the simple request of, "Got a light?" so powerful. In this three word request, smokers can immediately establish three different, yet common, bonds with a stranger:

1. Activity - From the get-go, the smoker that is being approached recognizes that the person asking for a light is going to participate with them in a common activity. They both are going to smoke. Now, granted, this activity is not the best one for you, but it immediately gives them something to talk about.

2. Identity - Both smokers are just that-Smokers. They are both members of the same social group. They immediately have some unspoken bond that unites them together. They can begin to talk about their history, when they started, or how they started; they each have a brand, that gives additional topics of conversation and identity. Finally, the thing that most smokers think about, is when and if they are going to quit.

3. Familiarity- These two strangers immediately have a sense of friendship. They have the same need and/or goal, to smoke another cigarette. This gives an even deeper connection, because now there is a sense of co-laboring for something. They are both reaching for a common goal and can help each other get there. There is interaction and more grounds for conversation and relationship.

If only, we as Followers of Christ, could see the simple truth, we would be more effective in reaching people for Jesus and spreading the Gospel, if we could find ways to establish one or more of these bonds in each conversation.

I firmly believe that we are all called to share our faith and lead people to Jesus. This is not reserved for the preachers, pastors, teachers, and tyrants that beat people with the Bible. It is a common mission and goal that we all share as believers. Instead of looking out on the street and picking a random person to try and evangelize, target your relationships through Activity, Identity, and Familiarity and see if you don't stand a better chance of establishing a lasting conversation, if not a friendship.

"I can learn a lesson from anywhere,
but it's not until I use it everywhere,
that I know it truly works."

-Just a thought.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Thanksgiving Analogy...

I hope that you all had as good of a Thanksgiving vacation as I did. A few days off, a few family members, and a few more pounds of food that I really shouldn't have eaten-that's Thanksgiving to me. In the midst of my gluttonous glee, I had a thought...

It's Thanksgiving, it's OK to over eat; but come January, you're going to fight to lose weight (again).

It seems to me, that sometimes we justify what we want to do, then work twice as hard after the fact to over come or change what we've already done. I think we do the same thing with sin. When there is a wonderful delicious choice of sin in front of us, we say to ourselves, "I'll do it, just this once" and then spend the next day, week, month, or lifetime trying to escape the sin we've already done.

If we are going to live a fully restored and regenerated life of faith in Jesus Christ, we can't be sitting on the see-saw of sin. One day at a time, one moment at a time, one choice at at time, we need to look not just at the immediate reward, but the resounding consequences of our actions and choices, both good and bad.

Because like the Thanksgiving dinner, it will be a lot harder to get rid of the extra weight than it was to shovel down that fourth helping of mashed potatoes.

- Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day...

Dear friends,

I will be going on vacation tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday and won't be back until next week. Thank you so much for reading my crazy rants. Please check back after the holiday. Have a great Thanksgiving with your friends and family.

- Just a note.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life in the Tank

A lot of times life can feel like we're just going through the motions. Living life in a static, unchanging environment, like a fish tank. We seem to swim back and forth, here and there, and always end up in the same place. Funny thing about the fish that live in fish tanks...

Did you know that fish will only grow to a certain size depending on the tank that they live in? Conversely, a fish will continue to grow as long as it has the room to do so.

I think we can react that same way to our life's situations. God intended all things to grow.
We are meant to grow, not just in age, height, weight, etc... but spiritually. God has made us to grow spiritually. So, the question must be asked, if we're not growing, why not?

I think there are some obstacles we can learn to avoid from our friend, the fish in the tank:

1. Not enough FOOD - To grow, every living organism needs food. We need nutrients. Whether it's the fish in the tank, the tree in the forest, or the baby in the crib, we all need to eat. But, we don't all eat the same things. We need to make sure that we are ingesting the true bread of life, the Word of God, and not trying to slim-fast our way around it. The Bible is the "miracle grow" for more than just your soul; It will help feed your character, relationships, family, and more.

2. Not enough ROOM
- Like the fish in the tank, often times in our life and the situations we find ourselves in will limit our growth. We need to keep a conscious eye on what we do, where we go, and who we are with. This will give the best image of what kind of tank you have put yourself in. Does your tank have the room for you to grow? Are there situations, people, or other obstacles in your life that are hindering your faith in Christ? You may simply not be growing because of your environment.

3. Not enough Support - To grow and become stronger, every living thing relies on something outside of itself. Tall trees find their support in the ground that their root structure is tied into. Likewise, we need to tie into some support structure for our growth. THERE ARE NO LONE RANGERS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. We are all meant to work together. This also means supporting one another in growing our faith. What kind of support structure do you have in your life? Are you tied in with a church, bible study, or group of friends that are supporting your faith and growth?

Growth, whether it's physical or spiritual, is definitely not magical. It is the by product of health. Healthy things grow. With the right food, environment, and support, growth can be constant and consistent. With the wrong food, environment, or support, growth can be hurt or hindered.

- Just a thought

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Tree, A Genie, & Me

How many of us stop to look at the scenery as we drive to work everyday? We probably did the first day, maybe through the first week, but we gave up after that. I guess you could blame it on ADHD, or just lack of ability to focus on one thing, but I look at the same things every day on the way to work. The same tree... on the same corner... every day. That sounds very boring, right? And I have to admit, perhaps it is.


I noticed something today... maybe noticed isn't the right word. I realized something today that I had missed all along. The same tree, on the same corner, of my same drive to work... doesn't always look the same! As the seasons change, it changes color, the sun is in a different place in the sky, so the highlights and shadows are different... It was amazing. In that moment I realized that vast amount of beauty and detail that the Creator has put into His creation. A seemingly infinite amount of variance, without a single bit of monotony.

All I could do was begin to worship in my car...

Not because of some emotional, "how beautiful is that tree" feeling, but an overwhelming, inescapable understanding that the Almighty God of the Universe, that took the time to hand craft every living thing on this planet, that sculpted the mountains, valleys, lakes, and oceans, that gave the birds their wings, the fish their scales, and the lion it's roar, loves me, leads me, and lives in me.

I know that sounds simple and almost a little bit corny, but really.

I thought of a scene from the Disney movie Aladdin. Genie is talking about his life as a genie to Aladdin and he described it this way, "PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, itty-bitty living space," and in that moment of seeing that tree that I look at every day, and hearing the voice of Robin Williams in my head, I realized that's exactly what God Almighty has done for me.

God reached down from his throne in heaven, molded me by hand, set me in place, and then by nothing that I had done, chose to limit Himself in the body of a man, to then be executed, rise from the grave, and as a final act of compassionate love, indwelt His Spirit in my mortal, sinful, corruptible body.

How can we not worship Him after all of that?

- Just a thought

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Sides to Every Coin...

"In John 3:1-20 Jesus tells Nicodemus that "...no one can come into the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit...". This establishes from the moment of salvation we are living as a dually-born creature. Having two births, with two natures, and two different citizenship's. The natural, water born flesh remains sinful and evil, constantly fighting with our faith to hold us back. The supernatural, spirit born faith indwelt within us remains steadfast in it's desire to both celebrate and communicate with God.

Is this why Jesus later tells the woman at the well, that God seeks those who will worship Him in both "Spirit and Truth"?

God desires all of us, not just the spiritual half. The father seeks those who will worship Him with both halves of themselves. The spirit crying out, hands raised to the Almighty King and the flesh bowing down, will submitted to the Everlasting Father. We must worship God both actively and passively simultaneously."


I wrote that a few weeks ago as I was sitting listening to my audio bible at lunch. I had never tied the two ideas together before that time, but since then, I don't know how you could not see the two as related. First off, obviously, Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about salvation, but born in our salvation should be an insatiable, limitless desire to worship. But true worship, as Jesus tells the Samaritan woman in the very next chapter, is both as well.

Don't be so quick to see only the 'active' aspects of worship, like singing, praying, or giving, and miss out completely on the more 'passive' side. After all, worship should be placing Jesus Christ as the center of our lives with nothing else in contention. He is the sole focus of our lives. When we clutter our life with too many extra things, we either loose focus... or we loose fervor. I think this is why throughout the Word we see mighty men of God needing to be alone, separated from everything else, to truly get their mind, will, and emotions out of the way, and connect with The Creator.

What can you change in your life to be more worshipful. Not just listening to a CD or reading your Bible for five extra minutes, but a conscious choice to be both active and passive in worship.

Choose one active and one passive thing and try to do it every day for a week.

- Just a thought

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hidden Agenda

David and Goliath. For most of us, these two simple names conjure up memories of children's church, coloring boards, and felt cut out figures. The names are still used today to refer to an unfairly matched opponent or team. Why does this story resonate with so many people? Simple. People love the underdog. We love to see the little guy win. The upset. The turnover. The drama.

But... as wonderful as this story is, if you only look at the battle in 1st Samuel 17, you only get part of the story. Yes, it might be the climax and most 'guy-action-movie-ish' part, but it's only one event in the story of the life of David. To see the grand design of God's handiwork in David's life you have to view it with a much wider lens.

In 1st Samuel 16, David is anointed King, but is not taken right to the throne. He is sent back into the fields to tend his father's sheep... (that's another post for another day). How must he have felt, the prophet of God comes to his house, passes over all of his brothers, and anoints him the next king. And then right back out to the field. This must have been a disappointment, now being king, and not seeing an ounce of chance in your day to day life... let's move forward.

Then David is sent by his father Jesse to deliver some food to his older brothers that are at war with the philistines. David wasn't even sent to the war as a solider, he was a messenger, and errand boy (again, for another day). David's anger with Goliath was not because he insulted himself, his king, his country, or his family, but because Goliath insulted the name of the Lord. David said that when he watched his father's sheep, he defended them from lion and bear with his hands. Bare hands! I"m sure when he was fighting the lion or bear he was not singing songs to God and worshiping him for honoring him with the privilege of fighting this hungry animal.

But, it was that fight that gave him the faith to stand against Goliath. There is a hidden agenda behind the whole story of the life of David. God is at work, behind the scenes, beautifully weaving the events together to carry David to his destiny... and the Father is doing the same for us as well.

It usually takes a wider lens and a lot of patience, but if you truly look at the events of your life, where God has brought you to and from, I believe that you will see the hidden agenda in the back story of your life as well.

"God is never caught off-guard, unaware, or by surprise. Just because He didn't tell us, doesn't mean that He is any less powerful or not in control."

- Just a thought

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Bubbles...! (Part 2)

Unfortunately, as modern day Followers of Christ, we're not only insulated by our "bubbles" but many times we are actually standing on them. Many of us have our spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical well-being tied to our 'bubble' of what we think that world is or should be. This is a major mistake and very dangerous. Anytime we place our "faith" or at least "belief" in something we allow that thing to let us down.

If your faith and hope has been in the stock market or housing market, well, I'm sure you're not as 'faithful' or 'hopeful' as you were a few years ago. But what about something less obvious, like your job, or even something you think will never falter, like your marriage, family, or friends. These are good things to have, but not to base your life on.

No matter what your 'bubble' is... friends, family, work, money, self... all bubbles have three things in common:

1. Bubbles are fragile

This is an obvious one if you have ever seen a child play with a bottle of bubbles. They are fun, you get enjoyment out of them, some science teachers even use them to teach with. But at the end of the day, bubbles are fragile. Just give it time and the bubble will burst and you will be left in disappointment, regret, and possibly pain.

2. Bubbles are constantly moving

Have you even looked at the side of a bubble in the sunlight? You notice the 'swirl' effect that it has going on? This is the outside of the bubble moving as well as the light refracting off it. If your bubble is in constant motion, so will be your life. You will constantly be 'moving' just to keep the status quo. You may feel at the end of the day that you did nothing and are completely exhausted, or that you have to change so much just to stay afloat.

3. Bubbles are weightless

When it comes down to it, you can not trust a bubble. (there's a sentence I thought I'd never say) Bubbles carry no weight on their own. They are tossed to and fro by the prevailing wind at that moment. If you life is based on a bubble, than you are at the mercy of the 'winds of change' or what's the 'in' thing to do or say at that time. There is no real foundation or feeling of self-worth, because your bubble is only good if its in the now.

The only true foundation that we have for our life, love, faith, hope, family, work, friends... anything... is the Word of God. It is timeless, matchless, and faultless. It is sharper than a two edged sword, and soft enough to heal your heart. The Word then became flesh and dwelt among us and gave us a whole new understanding. Jesus was loving, compassionate, just, merciful and kind. All of His attributes and character are found in the Word because HE IS THE WORD.

"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards." Matt 7:26-27 (msg)

The choice is simple... Bubble or Bible?

- Just a thought

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Bubbles...!

We have a lot of talk today in social circles and the workplace about 'personal space'. People say, "This is my bubble." while waving their hands in a circle around themselves, declaring that they own the space two feet in every direction from their body. I understand and respect this. I don't like people I don't know getting into my personal space. I think this is a good idea, but it should have it's limitations.

This should not be the attitude that we have when it comes to our faith. Many Christians today insulate themselves inside of a stained glass bubble. We want to keep all things holy and righteous inside, and keep every thing else out. Let me illustrate this way...

Take a piece of paper and write down the top 5 things you think represents someone living a Christ-like life. What are the signs that someone is a Christian?

Go ahead...

No, I really mean write it down...

Not just three... all five reasons...

Got it...?



, now how many of the answers that you wrote consist of NOT doing things?
Do not lie.
Do not steal.
Do not _______. (fill in the blank)

This is exactly what I'm trying to get at. We have trivialized our faith down to limiting our actions and call that holy!!!

The absence of sin is not the same as the presence of God! Just because we limit our actions (or someone else's) doesn't mean that we have taken away the desire to sin, we have just taken away the opportunity. When the chance comes up, and it will eventually, the desire to sin is still there. We really haven't dealt with the issue.

"Living a lifestyle of faith is not about what you DON"T DO,
but the attitude of what you WILL DO."

- Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

But... There's A Catch...

As believers we talk a lot about forgiveness and that price that Jesus paid for us to have... whatever it is we're wanting at that moment. But don't forget that God is both merciful and just. In fact, He is justly merciful and mercifully just. He stands ready and willing to forgive us of any sin or transgression that we have.


There's a catch...

Well, not really a catch, but I just wanted to say it to see if you're paying attention. There's no catch, we are forgiven. However, forgiveness of sin DOES NOT equal absolution of consequences. This is something I'm afraid to say I don't think people grasp or practice in their lives today.

When someone wrongs us or someone else, and then asks to be forgiven, we must forgive them. But, that doesn't mean that if that act they did had consequences, that they too are automatically tossed aside. If we can, we should. However, if someone breaks the law... yes, we can forgive them, but they will still need to answer for their actions.

Forgiveness of sin does not automatically erase your past actions. It merely erases the sin associated with those actions. Let me give a much more obvious and extreme answer. You are in charge of the nursery or children's group at your church. You have a new church member come to you and say that they would like to volunteer and help you in whatever way you need. In their background check, you find that they have been convicted of a crime involving a child.

You would not be able to allow that person to serve with you in the children's dept. Even if they had served their time, moved to a new city and started over. Yes, they are forgiven, but the consequences of their choice still remain. You would then have to talk to that person and gently guide them into another ministry where they could serve. I realize this was an extreme case, but it happens. The lines blur a little as the action or transgression is less severe. But the rule hold true. God sees it this way as well.

In Num 20:6-12 God instructs Moses to speak to the rock to give the Israelites water in the desert. He strikes it. God then tells him and Aaron, that hey will not be allowed to enter the promise land. God did not take them out of leadership. Did not kill them or cast them into hell. God merely gave them a consequence to their sin and did not revoke it.

In your life, don't be quick to judge every negative thing that comes your way as God's judgement or punishment. Some of it could just be consequences of your previous actions. And, the best way to avoid consequences from occurring is to obey the Lord in the first place...

"We drink the water from the wells that we have dug. The thorns that we get pricked with are on the bushes we have sown. Forgiveness of sin IS NOT absolution from consequences. when god allows us to eat the fruit that we have sown, we blame Him saying he is being unjust, when actually, that is the epitome of his justice. "

- Just a thought.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Buddy System

It seems like it was only yesterday that my 1st grade class was taking a field trip to the zoo and I walked in the doors hand in hand with my buddy. That was my job, all day long was to keep a hold of my buddy. Ya know, that's not only a great way to both watch and manage kids, but it's also an excellent idea for growing in Christ. But it's not the whole picture.

Paul in Philippians said it this way:

"...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil 3:13b-14

Living as a follower of Jesus is like a long distance race. It's not a sprint. You can't make it to the finish line with a short burst of speed. You've got to have a long term strategy to keep up the pace. Unfortunately, unlike a single race, life is much more complicated. We are surrounded by pressures and influences constantly. If we are going to live a lifestyle of faith and not shrink back from whatever God has called us, we need to put the race into perspective. There are three types of relationship that each of us need to keep us on the right track.

1. Someone BEFORE us... We all should have someone in our lives that is a little farther ahead of us, that can look back and say, "Watch out!" when we're coming up on a proverbial pothole. Having a mentor can help you not only avoid some catastrophes along the way, but quite possibly make the road a little easier, or reveal a shortcut we did not see. I am not talking about your pastor that you hear on Sunday mornings at church. I mean a person of faith that you have a relationship with, that you trust and respect enough to tell you when you are wrong. This person helps you by giving you guidance.

2. Someone BESIDE us... We all also need someone who is running right along side us. We all need a teammate. This is a friend that is at about the same place you are in your journey of faith. They have been saved about as long as you and/or are just as mature as you. This is the person that you should be talking with the most. Sharing the trials and triumphs with. Without this person you are most likely to slow down or quit all together. This person helps by giving you endurance.

3. Someone BEHIND us... The final relationship, and usually the least practiced, is the runner coming in behind you. This person is looking up to you like you look up to your mentor. They're relying on you to give them a 'look out' signal if they're about to hit the pothole you missed. You will always look at your actions and choices differently when you know someone is counting on you to lead them. This gives you a very real and felt need for excellence.

If we truly want to grow in Christ, we need these three types of relationships, but we also need to keep them in balance. How do your relationships and friendships measure up to this idea? Do you have relationships that you want to chance or add?

- Just a thought

Friday, November 7, 2008

You get what you pay for...

I was working on my homework for school this weekend, going through the book of Acts, and this just jumped at me. So, here it is... fresh out of the oven...

In Acts 8:14-24, we find the story of Simon the sorcerer. Peter and John have been dispatched to Samaria from Jerusalem to help disciple the new converts there. When they get there they discover that had not been taught or baptized with the Holy Spirit, so they lay their hands on them. When Simon saw this, he offered Peter and John money to give him the power to pray for people and have them be filled with the Spirit.

Now, I realize that this is a small obscure story that we mostly pass over, but I think there is a lot of nuggety goodness here. I will also try to be short in my explanation of it.

We can see from the disciples reaction that Simon obviously didn't have the the right heart in his request. He was selfish, greedy, and ignorant, and was quickly corrected by Peter. The good thing is that this story has a happy ending, Simon repented and asked for the disciples prayers. But, I do think that this illustrates a still prevalent attitude towards God.

1. Selfish - There are plenty of Christians today that treat Jesus this way. Their are in it for themselves. What am I going to get out of it? Make me feel good God. I want. I need. You hear it in their prayers, you see it in their actions, and you feel it in their worship. Their relationship with The Almighty is based on what they get out of it.

2. Greedy - Unfortunately, this is still very much a reality today. There are Christians who aren't really in it for what God is going to give them, but how they can use Jesus, or the Church as a tool to gain something. Money, power, influence all exist in the church, and in their right place they are well used tools. But, all to often we get distracted or disjointed and the ministry can become a means to and end.

3. Ignorant - I think this is the least harmful, and yet most prolific of the three. There are many believers that simply don't understand why Jesus died and what they are supposed to do with the freedom and power they have been given. This sometimes is out of selfishness or greed, but isn't precluded to. There are some people that just haven't come to the realization that they are meant to be a missionary in their job, neighborhood, and yes even their church.

However, just as for Simon, there is a happy ending around the corner for us. We too have the opportunity to repent and turn around. It may not be face to face with one of the original disciples, but repentance is still available for everyone who wants it.

How do you view your relationship with the Creator? Do you fall into any of these categories? Many not all of the time, but some of the time?

- Just a thought

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lasik by Jesus

This entry is very dear to my heart. If I had to make a list of the personal soapboxes that I have, this would be at the top, if not the first...

"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd,
he had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
So he began teaching them many things." Mark 6:34

This, to me, more than any verse in the Bible illustrates the true heart and mission of Jesus. To truly love the lost, fallen, sinful world that we live in is neither easy or comfortable. We have to look at sin head on, see it for the vile, disgusting filth that it is, without judging or affecting our view of the person is tough. As new creations in Christ, we are cleansed from sin and don't want to have to "go back there". Or, we look back at the sins that we know we committed and compare them to the sins of the unsaved that we see now, and think that we are better than them. As followers of Christ, we must get over ourselves and set outside of our own views to see the world as Jesus did. We must stop looking through your own stained glass bifocals, that see our world and "their" world as separate and unequal; and start seeing through the clear and cleansing sight of the Savior. We need to allow Jesus to perform LASIK surgery our our view of the world.

To truly see people as Jesus did is to see them as "...sheep without a shepherd". This first starts with realizing at one point or another, we were all in this category and it is only by the Grace of God that we are now able to see the reality of our unrighteousness. There are three distinct attributes that we need to see in this analogy:

1. Sheep are Helpless. Sheep can feed themselves. That's why we have shepherds. The shepherd's job is to lead the sheep to the fertile grass lands where they can find nourishment. Without the shepherd to guide the flock to the right place for food, the flock would starve.

2. Sheep are Defenseless. Sheep can not defend themselves. Herds of sheep have to defensive attributes. No sharp teeth or claws to defend themselves with. A friend once asked me about rams, since they are in the sheep family. I would say that true, rams have horns, but the only way to use them is to keep butting heads until someone is too tired and gives up. Still not the best defense. The shepherd is the guardian of the flock. He oversees them and keeps them in safe areas to both feed and rest. It's when the sheep try to wander off that they put themselves into harms way. (But that's another entry for another day...)

3. Sheep are Leaderless. Sheep will simply follow the group. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, people are the same way. We all want to follow the group we are in. People are just as dumb leaderless animals are sheep. The shepherd is the true leader of the flock, and a good shepherd will always have the best interests of the flock at heart. He will never lead them somewhere that would compromise their safety or well being.

The analogy here is obvious, but the application might not be so. We have to train ourselves to see each and every person the way that Jesus did. Every person we meet. Every conversation we have. No matter if we like them or not. No matter if we like their life choices, life style, or life partner, our responsibility is to see through all of that and see what Jesus saw. The helpless, defenseless, leaderless soul within.

- Just a thought

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Re-Pro Man...

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen."
Heb 11:1

This verse has always stood out to me as one that was particularly difficult to wrap my brain around. That fact that my faith is more than just a feeling or idea, but an actual 'substance'. I think that we today can easily fall victim to castrating our faith on the alter of normalcy. Each day we get up, get dressed, go to work, go home, have dinner, go to bed. Day after day, the same routine begins to wear away at the underbelly of our faith. We don't really need our faith day to day, because we've grown comfortable being rocked back and forth by the seemingly endless ebb and flow of our daily lives.

I think above all else this verse illustrates that 'Faith' is founded in the future. However, we today, find ourselves measuring our faith by our actions as they happen. This is a reactive response. The danger with this is, that our faith is only turned on, or exercised when something goes wrong. If life is seemingly easy, we get complacent, and think that we're good on our own. Then when the enemy comes in and rocks the boat, we're left flailing around in the ocean of self doubt and pity wondering why our faith wasn't strong enough.

Another drawback to REactive faith is that what if you don't always react with your faith? Most of us don't. Road rage is a great example. It only takes a split second for an event to occur and you to react to it. You don't have time to reach for the 'Faith' button, you just react. To steal a line from my wife, "When you squish a bug, what's on the inside always comes out." A very vivid and not so feminine analogy, but true none the less. If we wait until we are in a time of crisis, inevitably what will come out is fleshly selfishness, not faith. This is not to say that in that time we didn't have faith, but it wasn't the first thing we reached for.

I think that rather than a REactive faith, we should practice and live out and PROactive one. One that is constantly in tune to God's will and Word. This is the faith that is substance and evidence. A PROactive faith is constantly on alert and attentive to God's direction as well as the state of things around us. The moment things start to go bad, our faith kicks in and carries us over the crest of the wave and brings us down safely. This also is not by accident. When we live in each and every moment attune to not only our surroundings, but ourselves, we are keeping ourselves prepared and alert to respond to any situation in faith.

And more often than not, it is the response of Faith in a time of crisis that makes the love of Christ undeniably tangible, and ultimately leads people to Him.

- Just a thought

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Decision by Design

This is a follow up to yesterday's post about the idea of Christian Karma and the Biblical teaching of sowing and reaping.

None of us can deny that the principle of sowing and reaping is both a biblical truth and a practical one. I do not think you're going to find a farmer who plants lettuce to grow tomatoes. So, let us establish up front the the relationship between sowing and reaping is a truth. You will sow and you will reap. The real meat of this principle comes in the time and events that occur in between.

The concept of Karma can be divided into two categories, it is either completely by chance, a roll of the dice, or it is a default. Either I have a 50/50 chance of getting back whatever I put into the universe, or I have a 100% chance of getting back EXACTLY what I put out into the universe. The idea that my life's actions somehow float out into the air and cosmically I affect my future either positively or negatively, in my opinion, is both arrogant and asinine.

I don't think that this correctly represents the concept of sowing and reaping. It is not decision by dice, or by default, it is decision by design. A design for our betterment and future. God is the ultimate sovereign authority, omnipresent and omniscient, and it is His will and power that guide the law of the seed. It is also his character that both effect and enforce His laws.

In a world devoid of the love and intervention of God, it would be up to the dice or the default to decide what our future would hold. BUT we do not live in that world. We live in a world created, sustained, and affected by a loving Creator. And it is His character that enforces and effects this law in three distinct ways:

1. His Justice... God's justice allows us to reap exactly what we sow. Good or bad. Sinful or Holy. His justice insures that the outcome of any situation is exactly proportionate to the origin.

2. His Mercy... God's mercy allows us to NOT reap everything that we sow. Christ's death on the cross of Calvary insured for all of us that the wages of sin, that we have rightfully earned, will not be attributed to us. But His mercy extends further into our daily lives and relationships, protecting us from some of the wild oats or weeds that we can sown.

3. His Grace... God's grace allows us to reap that which we HAVE NOT sown. We have been granted access to the Heavenly Kingdom, Holy Spirit, and the Heart of God. None of this we deserve or could have earned. It is only by His grace that we have this harvest in our lives, and His grace extends in our daily lives just as His mercy does.

Yes, we both sow and reap in our lives, but the final outcome of what we reap from what we have sown is not by our own power or strength, but the Decision by Design of God's hands at work.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christian Karma... meat or myth?

I would like to go a slightly different route today. I will do my best to address a teaching that is floating around Christendom today that I think is very dangerous.

This is the idea of Christian Karma.

I'm sure most of us have heard the saying "Be careful... you will reap what you sow..." (For me, it was mostly when I was doing something I shouldn't have done.) Either way, we're at least familiar with the idea of planting and harvesting. If you plant oranges, you're not going to grow tomatoes. Likewise, don't plant corn when you really want to grow lettuce. Seems simple right? Let's look at this verse in context:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." - Gal 6:7-8

This seems to be pretty straight forward. You will get back what ever it is that you put into life. but wait a minute, that sounds just like the principle of Karma. If I "sow" good things into the cosmic soup of life I will "reap" good things. Sounds like karma to me...

Well, it's not...

"Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." - John 4:36-38

Jesus is very clear here that He sent the disciples into a field that they had not sown in order to reap a harvest. Others did the labor ahead of them. The key "buzz" word in both of these verses is "Eternal Life". We, as followers of Christ, are not living for the presents and pleasures of this world. We are living for a future Kingdom that will be ruled by the Righteous King. Our King is also the Lord of the Harvest. It is HIS crops that we are sowing and reaping, not our own. The concept of Karma is self-focused. The biblical teaching of sowing and reaping is Kingdom focused.

Yes, we can not escape the natural law of the seed. BUT we must not forget who placed that law into affect! Our crops should not be focused on ourselves and what we get out of it, but what the Master Land Owner is gaining in His kingdom and how many new souls are being added to it.

"Do not be deceived" the idea of Christian karma is NOT a biblical teaching. Christ should be the focus and centerpiece of our lives. Anything that exalts itself (or ourselves) to the focus of our life is challenging Jesus for his place, and thus becomes an idol. We should live our lives to reap a harvest in the Kingdom of God and Eternal Life.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Communion vs. Comparison

When we read the bible we have a tendency (or at least i do) to look up to the original disciples a little more than we should. Those brave faithful men who walked and talked with Jesus while He was on earth, who took part in His earthly ministry and got to see His miracles as they were happening. I wonder what that must have been like. To see it all first hand. BUT... as soon as I feel myself going down that road I have to stop. The disciples were not chosen because they were great men, they were made into great men because they were chosen. Even then, they still had a lot of growing and maturing left to do. (That always makes me feel a little better.)

"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." Luke 9:46

Even as they were traveling with Christ and learning directly from Him, they still hadn't seen the full picture yet. They were bickering with each other about who was greater. Now, just take a minute to let that soak in... the disciples, walking along side of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, are arguing about which one of THEM was going to be the greatest! Completely missing that fact that the Savior of the world was next to them.

How many times do we allow our familiarity with Christ, His Word, and His church to chip away at the divine nature and sovereign authority that is His and His alone. "God" is so overused now that when we say it, we have to establish which "God" we are referring to. The very name of Jesus is used as an expletive. How many times have we as Christians said "... In Jesus Name" or "In the Name of Jesus..." flippantly, either at the end of a half-baked prayer or just in passing?

Yet, there is hope... skip ahead to part two of Dr. Luke's narrative, and now we can see the disciples after they have encountered the risen Christ and (in my opinion) get their priorities back in order.

All the believers were together and had everything in common." Acts 2:44

After Jesus ascended and they waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit they were all together. They were also all in unity, devoting themselves to prayer and fellowship. What a contrast from the previous state. The same disciples that bickered and argued with one another about their stature, standing, and celebrity are now joined together to teach the new budding community of believers that formed the Church.

It was only after they had faced the reality of Christ's death, Resurrection, and then being given a mission, that they saw the full extent of God's divine plan for themselves. Likewise, it is our job to view ourselves through this lens as well, before looking to other believers, churches, or denominations.

"More communion with The Savior,
will bring less comparison with each other."

- Just a though.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Faith is a Lifestyle, not a Label

Seeing as this is the name of my blog, and my main focus, I figured I would elaborate a bit on it. So here goes...

Faith is a lifestyle, not a label...

Being a Christian, or better yet, a follower of Christ and His teachings, is a conscience effort every day, hour, and minute to reflect the love, compassion, and grace of the Savior. We need to re-evaluate our entire life structure to align with His, not try and fit our ideas of Jesus and "What He really said" into our own lives.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example
for the believers in speech,
in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Tim 4:12

Our faith should be evident by our speech, life, love, faith, and purity, AS AN Example. Our actions should tell who we are before we ever say anything. We should be characterized by love, not judgement... compassion, not anger... service to others, not righteous expectancy... and humility, not pride. If we are going to affect change both in our communities and ultimately the world, the desire for true transformation to the personality of Christ must begin with ourselves and those closest to us.

And that all seems well and good, and easy... right? Maybe not so much. In the pluralistic society that we live in today the voice is "reason" says that all roads can lead to God. We know that as long as the Word of God is true this can not be, but neither can we bury our heads in the sand and ignore the world that we say we are trying to reach.

Where is the middle ground then?

How do we both be the example and at the same time appeal to the world that we are trying to save. It seems the longer it goes on, the further these two objectives separate. If you want to live for God, then you can not relate to the world. But, if you want to be able to relate to the world, you have to make some sacrifices in the areas of holiness and righteousness in order to be taken seriously or at the very least heard at all. That seems like an acceptable choice. Make a few minor exceptions here and there in order maintain a presence with the unsaved, so God can use you...

Is this really the type of Christianity that we have come to? Do we really think that we have to form fit, customize, or re-package the gospel in order for it to still be affective? Really?

Now, please don't misunderstand me, I am all for new and unique ways to communicate the gospel, BUT, that doesn't change the fact that the power of the Gospel message in inherent within itself. We can not add anything to it to make it better. We can only detract from it.

We need to stop trying to make "Christian" decisions and start living a Christ-like lifestyle. If we would worry less about what other Christians are going to think if our actions are "Christian enough" and more on how the hurting, lost, broken world is going to view us I think we would find our churches more attended and our lives more fulfilled.

(Ok, that was a little rant-ish, I apologize...)

Three quick areas to pay close attention to in order to live closer to the heart of Christ:

1. Character - Character MUST always come first. Before gifting, skill set, passion, or eduction, character counts.

2. Compassion - Jesus was motivated because He saw us as sheep without a shepherd. If we truly could see people as Jesus saw them, we would be moved by the same love He was.

3. Community - Jesus ultimate goal and purpose in coming to earth and sacrificing Himself for us was to create community. Between us and the Father, and between us here on earth. No one follower of Christ is an island. We are in interdependent. We need one another as we need Christ.

Find someone that you know, love, and trust. Ask them to give you a truthful evaluation of your character and compassion. (you may not like the answer, but that in itself is an answer) Then each time you meet someone, view them as a part of the Christian community, either pre-conversion, newly converted, or converted and still growing... see how that affects the way to interact with them. (Let's hope that you don't run into too many people that are converted and not growing)

- Just a thought

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fruit of the Tomb

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. - Gal. 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit... I'm sure we have all remember lessons for our early Sunday school years where we played with real fruit, or memorize the list, or even sang it in a song. The Fruit (for short) is something that, if you are a follower of Christ, you can not escape dealing with. What is it? Some of them are easy... Patience. That's an easy one to understand. Self Control is another. It's not hard to see when you are practicing self control and when you are not. But what about some of the others that may be more difficult to readily identify... Goodness. I know when I bite into a Snickers bar that it's filled with yummy chocolately 'goodness'. But I don't think that's the same thing. And what about the confusion that exists for many people in the difference between joy and happiness?

Obviously, The Fruit being part of the Word, they are not at fault if we can not define them. I think the difficulty arises not the the defining of The Fruit, but in our focus when we try to do it. I believe that it is our one dimensional view of The Fruit that creates the problem when trying to truly understand it's meaning and purpose. We must look at the whole fruit to see God's ultimate design and purpose for them. Each of the 9 Fruits must be viewed in the following context:

1. Framed Upwardly (in God's Word and character). These are the fruit of the SPIRIT after all. God is the creator of all things, if we are to even begin to understand the Fruits, we must first look at them through the lens of the Creator.

2. Felt Inwardly (in our hearts and minds). The Fruit's are not random meaningless words. They are active. The are attributes. They must be felt in our hearts and reasoned in our minds if we are going to be able to put them into practice.

3. Focused Outwardly (in our words and character) The Fruit is not a list of 'self-focused' ideas or suggestions. They, just like the Word, are living and active. These should be the first signs of faith in Christ to anyone that we come in contact with.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in the ultimate act of both compassion and obedience. Not just to give us eternal salvation and security, but also to give us a daily, moment by moment, access to Him. In this exchange, God gives us the chance to become more like Him, in order to reflect Him to a world that needs Him.

"When we frame The Fruit in God's Word and character,
the true meaning is felt within our own hearts and minds,
empowering us to focus them towards others."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Timeline of Faith

All to often, I think, we tend to view God, (and even confine him) to our temporal understanding of life. We live in the now. So, we also expect God to live, act, and move in the now. The reality is that God is omnipresent. He exists outside the realm of linear time. For us, every moment that passes leads us to the next, but also disappears forever. The Almighty however, can view all of expanse of time at a single glance. He can see all the past, present, and future simultaneously.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" - Heb 13:8

What does it mean for us as the average believer that our God, Savior, and Comforter is omnipresent? Well, to understand that I think we first must look at what the three different states of time mean for us:

1. We learn from the Past - though we can not re-visit or change the past doesn't mean that we can't use the past as a teacher and guide. There are many lessons that can be learned from the collective past of mankind, as well as our own individual past.

2. We live in the Present - the only time we have to do something is now. We can't go back and re-do something. Nor can we reach into the future and do something that hasn't happened yet. We only can actively affect that which is done in the present.

3. We look to the Future - if we have learned from the past, and lived in the present, then the natural byproduct is going to be looking forward to what can be done. We must make every effort to leverage both the lessons learned and the life lived to plan for and the most fruitful future that we can imagine.


With the understanding, we are not drifting aimlessly through the ocean of time, but we both love and serve a God that sees the ocean at a glance and controls the wind and the tides to both protect us and guide us. If we truly trust our loving Savior, then we know that there is nothing in our past that can not be learned from; nothing that is outside the realm of God's sovereignty to illuminate our life. Furthermore, nothing in our past that happened without God's knowledge. We can never look to God and say, "You weren't there, You don't know." All too often we carry around scars and pains from our past because we fail to recognize that God was there. He saw it, He felt it, He wants to take it, and yet we still carry it.

Likewise, there is no circumstance is our current, present time that Jesus doesn't know about, or more truthfully, isn't in the midst of right along side of us. There is nothing in our life that is void from the contact and power of God. When we are facing temptation and trial, Jesus stands beside us to both strengthen us, and protect us. The Savior is the ultimate security for living passionately in the now.

Finally, there will never be anything in the future outside of the foresight of our Father's eye. Nothing every comes out as a surprise to God. We on the other hand, get so worried or frantic because God didn't let us know that this or that was coming, and assume because He didn't warn us, that He didn't know...

"I alone know that plans that I have for you, to give you a future and a hope" - Jer 29:11

Rest and trust in the fact that our gracious King has a planned a future of hope for us. He may not always tell us everything that's coming, but He will never let us fall.

"When the fear from your past, overtakes your faith for the
the fruit of your future will be affected."

- Just a thought.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't forget to feed the dog...

There once was a man who had two dogs. At the end of every week he would bring his dogs to the center of his small town and they would fight in the town square. The whole village would come out to watch and bet on the winner. Week after week this went on and the owner would always know who the winner would be before the fight would begin. One day, a young boy came up to the man and asked a simple question,

"Mister, how do you always know who is going to win?"

With a glimmer in his eye, and half cracked small smile on his face the man knelt down and whispered in the little boy's ear,

"It's simple. I feed the dog that I want to win, and I starve the other. At the end of the week, the contest takes care of itself."

I think that our faith and how we live it out is not far from this. Paul said it this way:

"For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." - Rom 7:22-23

I don't think that anyone would deny the insatiable struggle between God and the enemy, sin and righteousness that all of us feel every day. Heaven and Hell are both looking to bring into their gates new citizens and new solders for their cause. The fact that we are followers of Christ at all brings us into an immediate and consistent fight for holiness every day.


I think the real truth in the story of the man with two dogs is not the fact that there are two dogs, that they fight, or that one of them will always win. The real nugget of truthful goodness that sits just beneath the surface waiting to be harvested is the fact that it's the daily routine that will ultimately determine the outcome of the trial or test that is to come. Not because God isn't strong enough, or sovereign enough, or merciful enough. But because when the wind and rain begin to howl, we loose sight of how close the Creator really is.

A lot of people want to pray when something goes wrong. Most people will stop to acknowledge God something good comes their way. But there are only a select few that will keep themselves tethered to the true anchor that will hold fast when the torrential storm of life reaches it's pinnacle. It's the day to the day activities that we do that strengthen our faith, hope, and trust in The Lord that enable us to win the fight for faith.

Don't forget to feed the dog...

- Just a thought