Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Apr 30 - Galatians 5:22-23

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

We ended yesterday with the prayer, “More, Lord. More.”

Believing that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3), we believe that if we already believe, we already have the Holy Spirit. But who’s with me? Who wants more?
  • Who wants more love, joy, and peace?
  • Who wants more patience, kindness, and generosity?
  • Who wants more faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Paul is saying that those who are filled with the Spirit should automatically radiate these qualities.

Except … do you radiate these qualities? Or are you more like an old car with a radiator that leaks?

Radiators overheat for several reasons.
  • Sometimes they have cracks. And the necessary coolant leaks out.
  • Sometimes the day is hot. And the pressure builds to overheating.
  • More often – at least in my case – I forget to maintain proper levels of coolant.

That’s true in our lives. Sometimes our we fail to radiate love, joy, and peace because …
  • Our good intentions have cracked and our behavior has sprung a sinful leak. (The “by contrast” in Galatians 5:22 is to the “works of the flesh” in verses 19-21. Have you ever sprung a leak through “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these”? I want more coolant than the heat of these sins.)

  • Others of us boil over under heat and in the midst of pressure. (Has your faith ever seemed to escape like steam from an engine when you’ve been stressed?)

  • Or – at least in my case – my spiritual drive fails because I’ve failed to maintain the proper levels of faith and devotion.

In these case, the Spirit doesn’t leave or forsake the believer. We’re still a car. We still have a spiritual engine. We simply need some maintenance before we can run again.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants
to be radiater
instead of radiator

Monday, April 29, 2013

Apr 29 - Acts 2:38

Peter said to them,
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ
so that your sins may be forgiven; and
you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38

How do you receive the Holy Spirit?

In his famous sermon on Pentecost day, Peter proclaimed a simple formula.
  • First, Peter says repent. Repentance is literally turning away from your sins. Repentance is also turning toward God, and we call turning toward God faith. Thus, the first part of the equation requires that we repent and believe. 

  • Second, Peter says, “Be baptized.” We think of baptism as a cute ceremony to invite the grandparents to. It is really a submission. A death. Baptism is literally a drowning and a new breath, a dying and a new birth. In Romans 6, Paul says we are baptized into Jesus’ death. (The benefit is that if we die with him, we can also rise with him. But baptism starts with submission and death, a dying to self.)

  • Baptism, Peter further proclaims, is also a washing. Peter is saying that baptism (along with repentance) assures us that our sins are washed, forgiven.

Therefore, if we want to receive the Holy Spirit, we must do what? Repent and believe! That’s first. Then we need to submit to a drowning so that we might rise to new life through the Spirit.

Wait … wait … wait … one last question: Who receives the Spirit this way? Unbelievers.

So what about us believers? How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Guess what … you already have him! As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” In other words, if you already have faith, you already have the Spirit!

For us believers, our goal then is to not ask for the Spirit, but more of the Spirit!!!
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who prays, “More!”

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Apr 27,28 - Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
Let your good spirit
lead me on a level path.
Psalm 143:10

After a heavy theological day yesterday, we’ll let your brain relax a little more today!

In Psalm 143, we see Father and Spirit. God is the ultimate teacher. How? BY the good guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but my walk is often crooked.
  •      I navigate poorly … due to false priorities.
  •      I don’t ask for direction … (because I’m a man, of course, and) because I think I know better myself.
  •      I limp in circles … because of old hurts (too many of them self-inflicted).
  •      I’m often slow … because of the unnecessary burdens I carry.
  •      I’m regularly bogged down … by the quicksand of sin, pride, depression, and guilt.

I’m a lousy traveler!

Fortunately, God offers better. Instead of a slow, lost, rambling, bogged-down path, God gives us the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit’s path, as today’s lesson says, is level.

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who – in addition to liking level paths –
likes what Jesus says about this journey too:
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light”
(Mt 11:28-30)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Apr 26 - Acts 4:10

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, …
“Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel,
that this [once lame] man is standing before you
in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.
Acts 4:8,10

We read this verse yesterday, but we focused on verse 8 (the filling of the Holy Spirit). Today, I want to focus on verse 10 (Jesus, the Spirit, and the Holy Trinity).

Here’s the context:
  •  Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John are entering the Temple in Jerusalem.
  •  A lame man cries out. He’s begging for money.
  •  Peter says, “3:6 I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
  •  Scripture says the man was “7 instantly healed” and went into the temple, “8 walking, leaping, and praising God.”
  •  This caused a stir.
  •  Peter and John were arrested.
  •  And today’s verse is Peter’s testimony.

What does Peter say? In two short verses, Peter begins to testify to the wonderful mystery of the Holy Spirit! (Do you see Father, Son [Jesus], and Holy Spirit all mentioned here?!)
  •  God-the-Father is the King. He creates life and re-creates life, “rais[ing Jesus] from the dead.”
  •  God-the-Son is the healer too. He still works upon this earth (even after his resurrection and ascension into heaven). But think about healing. What is it? It is creation and re-creation – one of the Father’s roles. Therefore, the Father and Son, while distinct, are also one in purpose. And when we call upon the name of Jesus, both Father and Son answer, creating and re-creating together.
  •  To be more theologically precise, the healing and working on earth BY God-the-Father is THROUGH God-the-Son. For example, when we pray TO the Father, we prayer THROUGH the Son, who intercedes for us. When God-the-Father heals – not that he can’t do it himself – but since the coming of his Son, he now chooses to work THROUGH the name, role, and authority of Jesus upon this earth.
  •  Then God-the-Spirit is involved in this wonderful drama too! Since Pentecost, God chooses to work all through BY the Spirit’s power. For example, Peter, BY the power of the Spirit (verse 8), is starting a sermon, a proclamation. And what about us? When we pray, it is BY the power of the Spirit, THROUGH the interceding Son, TO God-the-Father who sits on the throne.
  •  This is how God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) choose(s) to act. Kingdom power on earth is BY the Spirit, THROUGH the Son, and FROM the Father.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who hopes
he did justice
to that mystery!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Apr 25 - Act 4:8

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, …
“Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel,
that this [once lame] man is standing before you
in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.
Acts 4:8,10

Peter was filled with the Spirit on Pentecost day. His life was forever altered. But now, in chapter 4, he’s filled again.

Wait! What does that mean?
  •  Does the Spirit come and go? (No.)
  •  Or do we leak? (That’s much closer to the truth!)

Let me give you an analogy …

When I eat out for breakfast, I often order a cup of coffee. It is my “possession.” While I’m at the restaurant, I partake of this liquid gift freely and joyfully. Even better, I am entitled to a fresh filling whenever I want.

But a strange thing eventually happens. If I sit at the breakfast table too long I eventually start putting my hand over the coffee cup whenever the waitress comes by. A small bladder and the caffeine shakes limit my desire to keep consuming.

Apply those images to the filling of the Spirit.
  •  From the moment I believe, the Spirit is my “possession.” (More accurately, I am His possession! But his indwelling is given as a permanent gift to all who believe.)
  •  I may partake of the blessings of the Spirit freely and joyfully. And I am entitled to a new and fresh filling whenever I want!
  •  But, if that is the case, why don’t we always experience more love, joy, peace, patience, Spirit, and power, if we’ve been promised it?
  •  It’s because we regularly put our hands over the cup of our heart when the waitress (the Spirit) comes by. And we say, “Not now.”

What do I mean by that?
  •  Sometimes I want to do what I want to do. So I put my hand up and say, “Not right now, Spirit.”
  •  Sometimes I am tempted by fleshly desires. So I put my hand up, pretending to cover God’s eyes, as if that keeps the Spirit from seeing.
  •  Sometimes I don’t really want to forgive … at least, not yet. So I shake my finger at God, saying, “Don’t you understand, I’m justified in my anger.”
  •  Sometimes grief and losses harden my heart. It’s like a hard shell forms over my cup of blessing, keeping me from receiving more light, joy, Spirit, and faith.

Pain in life puts up barriers. Sinful desires put up barriers. Lust, greed, pride, and stubbornness put up barriers. And while the Spirit is dwelling within me – entitling me to endless refills of hope, grace, and power – I, nevertheless and too often, put my hand over the cup of my heart. I limit the amount, not God.

Again, this is not an occasion for guilt, it’s an invitation to call upon the waitress – the Spirit of God – and tell him you’re thirsty for more and more living water.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who drinks his coffee
with cream and sugar
(and wants his Spirit
with truth and grace)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Apr 24 - Acts 4:31

When they had prayed,
the place in which they were
gathered together was shaken;
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31

As we’re been saying, Jesus says in Acts 1:8 …
  •  You will receive power
  •  when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
  •  and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth."

I trust that you noticed the three key concepts that flow throughout the book of Acts: power, Spirit, and witnessing.

I’ve long known about this principles in The Acts of the Apostles, but I’d never seen them tied together so divinely until my current Bible Study asked me to read our last three days-worth of readings … and in that specific order.

Do you see power, Spirit, and witnessing in today’s verse? Absolutely!!!
  • Power: “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken.” Science can’t explain it, but God transcends the explainable! Miracles obviously reflect the power of God!

  • Spirit: “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Though the Spirit comes to us from the moment we believe. When we do things like submit ourselves to God’s leading and earnestly pray, our heart is opened to greater and greater experiences of the Spirit! Scripture calls that “filling.”  

  •  Witnessing: After the Spirit, the power, and the shaking, “they … spoke the word of God with boldness.” If our hearts have been filled to overflowing with the presence of God through the Holy Spirit, we can’t hold the blessings in!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants more Spirit
so he can have more power for living;
therefore, I guess I ought to start by
opening myself through more witnessing

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Apr 23 - Acts 2:2-4

And suddenly from heaven there came
a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and
it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them,
and a tongue rested on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.
Acts 2:2-4

Today, we hear the story of Pentecost! But to hear it more fully, we need to go back a chapter first.

In my current Bible Study, the first verse I was asked to read about the Holy Spirit was Acts 1:8. And two themes jumped out …

1. The Spirit brings power! Jesus promised his followers, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” As I said yesterday, I want more power! I want my life to be unexplainable except by the movement of the Spirit!

2. What will this power, acting in us, enable us to do? In other places, scripture will talk about other gifts of power given to us – the power of healing, the power of prayer, the power of faith, etc.

But the first gift of power, given to Jesus’ followers, was the power of boldness, the power of proclamation, and the power of evangelism. Acts 1:8 concludes: ““You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

That’s what happens in today’s lesson too. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came in wind and fire and a rush of power. And what did it enable Jesus’ followers to do? Speak in other languages. Why? So that they might boldly proclaim the Good News to all the peoples in Jerusalem that day – including people from a dozen different language-groups gathered in Jerusalem for the festival that day.

Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs” (Acts 2:9-11).

What’s our first reason for receiving the Gospel? Think about it.
  •  The moment we believe is the moment when the Spirit comes into us.
  •  Thus, from the moment we believe, we’ve already been transferred, eternally, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
  •  So the first gift of the Spirit – boldness and proclamation – equips us to help others make this eternal transfer too!

Eventually, the Spirit will give us other gifts too! These gifts will help us live life in the meantime – in a painful, broken world and amid all the corrupt desires of our still mortal flesh. But the very first power? To be bold. To not worry what the world thinks. To tell the story of Jesus’ saving work with power and grace.

Do you do this? (Most of us shrink at this one.)

Again, this is not an occasion for guilt. It’s an occasion to say, “Yield my heart, O God, because as I open myself to this calling to witness, I will open myself to all the other gifts of the Spirit too.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who want to explain
his encroaching baldness
by the fire of the Spirit
resting on my head!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Apr 22 - Acts 1:8

Jesus said,
“you will receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be my witnesses
in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:8

I’m in a Bible Study right now on the Holy Spirit. That means you’re going to get to hear a little more about the Spirit for a few weeks … and that’s a good thing.

At the start of Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God (i.e. the one among the Trinity that we know the least about), he says essentially, “Imagine if you’d never been to church … and had only read the Book of Acts to tell you what the church was supposed to look like. What would you expect from the Holy Spirit?”

The answer is laid out from the first few verses of Acts – “Power”!!!

Do you have power in your life? Supernatural power? Can people look at your life and say, “We can’t explain the wonderful things this person is doing, except by the power of the Spirit!!!”

I don’t know about you … but I’d like more of that power. And the good news is, it is promised to us.

Pray today: God, you have promised your Spirit to all who believe. Therefore, if I’m not experiencing supernatural amounts of love, joy, peace, and power in my life, it’s time for me to start asking, “Lord, strip away the barriers in me that keep me from experiencing more of your blessings.”

Don’t say this prayer with guilt. Don’t say it wondering if you believe enough. Just honestly pray, “Thank you for being with me. Help me yield my heart so that I might receive more.”

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who’s praying,
“More, Lord, more!”

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Apr 20,21 - Psalm 50:1

The mighty one, God the Lord, 
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Psalm 50:1

This verse says several things quickly …
  1. God is mighty.
  2. He is the creator.
  3. Our Lord speaks this world into the existence (from the rising of the sun!).
  4. At the end of all days – the setting of the sun – God will also summon all things back to himself.
  5. And every day, from morning til evening, is in his hands. (Indeed, from the rising to the setting of the sun, everything is in his hands!)
  6. Furthermore, every day, from the east (where the sun rises) to the west (where it sets), God is summoning all the peoples of the earth.

As we trace our way through this Psalms, God says,

10 For all the animals of the forest are mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
13 I don't need [anything]  you [can give me,
including your] sacrifice[s] …
14 What I want instead is [your worship,]
your true thanks to God.”

This is a Psalm of worship. We are called to look up in wonder and awe. God creates all things. He completes all things. And in between – which is every day – he wants to bless all things, including you and me.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who only hears
rumors of sun rises most days
(I’m content to let God
get the day rolling before I
venture very far out into it)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Apr 19 - Colossians 2:7

Continue to live your lives in Christ,
rooted and built up in him
and established in the faith,
just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:7
What does it look like to “live your li[fe] in Christ”?
  •      First, we must know Christ. In fact, that’s assumed by Paul in this passage. That’s why he says, “Continue to live your lives in [Him].”

  •      Living a life in Christ means being rooted in him. Do you remember the parable of the sower? Jesus was talking about the spreading of the Word as a farmer spreads seed. Some grain fell on rocky ground and some on shallow ground. Both of these withered and died. Therefore, Paul is implying here that the first step in a life of faith – beyond the initial hearing of the Word – is paying enough attention to it that roots begin to grown. Thus, our first question is: Are you paying attention to God’s Word?
  •      Next, living a life in Christ means being “built up in him.” Notice the verb. It’s more passive. It doesn’t say, “build yourself up in him.” It implies that as we root ourselves in God and his word, he does the building. This step, then, involves submission. Have you given God a building permit to your life (permission to remodel and change you) … or are you tying him up in the red tape of your pride and control.
  •      Living a life in Christ also requires time. No habit is “established” in a day. It takes time and discipline to become “established.”
  •       “Just as you were taught” is another form of submission. It’s submitting yourselves to the Apostles first – they had Paul in person, we have the God and the Apostle’s Word. Second, it’s becoming part of community of faith and submitting yourself to faithful teaching and accountability within a family of faith.
  •      Finally, living a life in Christ requires worship. That’s what “abounding in thanksgiving” is. Worship points us continually beyond ourselves and up to God.

Do you want to live a life in Christ? First, believe in him. Then … study his word … give him permission to change you … devote time and attention … be a submitted, committed part of a church family … and worship frequently!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s always remodeling
(and needs remodeling)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Apr 18 - Luke 10:16

Jesus said,
“Whoever listens to you listens to me,
and whoever rejects you rejects me,
and whoever rejects me
rejects the one who sent me.”
Luke 10:16

Did you ever have training wheels on your bike? Well, Jesus put training wheels on his disciples.

Before his death and resurrection – and while he was still here to coach them – Jesus sent out the twelve disciples (and then he sent out seventy more). It was a practice run. They were learning to witness on their own without Jesus right there beside them. They essentially had training wheels.  

The details about what they did and how they did it are not the most important parts of these stories. The most important part is the consequence of these evangelical missions. If people listen to a faithful missionary – whether in the first century or the twenty-first century – they are listening to Jesus himself. If they reject the missionary, they are ultimately rejecting Jesus. (That’s what this verse specifically says.)

Now … we tend to think of missionaries as those bold people who travel around halfway around the world, live in little villages, and work to overcome a language barrier to proclaim the Good News. Some missionaries do that … heroically.

But here’s a more important truth: You are a missionary too. With your neighbors, to your coworkers, in the bleachers, and at the store, we are called to gently proclaim life in a world of death. Our society is increasingly rejecting church, truth, faith, and messages of life. That means, as Jesus says, they’re rejecting him and they’re rejecting life itself.

That ought to bring tears to our eyes.

And/or a desire to climb on the missionary bicycle. You may not feel fully equipped to balance on the two wheels of evangelism. But that’s no excuse. The world is perishing. Ride with training wheels. Or ride with confidence that falls and scrapes are temporary. Ride boldly. Proclaim his name with love.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wants to start
with a bicycle built for two
(and by the way, read Luke 10…
Jesus sent them out two-by-two)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Apr 17 - John 17:3

Jesus said,
“And this is eternal life …”
John 17:3

Fill in the blank. What is eternal life?
  •      Is it living forever?
  •      Is it being in heaven?
  •      Is it a place without death?
  •      Is it being with God?

How would you define it? What is eternal life?

Here’s how Jesus filled in the blank. While praying to his Father, Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God …”

We could have safely answered yes to all of those questions above. Eternal life is “being in heaven,” “a place without death,” and “living forever.” And it is true that “being in heaven” is “being with God.” But we don’t have to wait for heaven to “be[] with God”!

According to Jesus’ definition, eternal life can start for us today. If “eternal life [is] that [humans] may know … God,” then eternal life begins the moment we know him!

Do you know him?!!


If you’re reading this – especially daily – quit agonizing over this question. You don’t have to make hundreds of little commitments and recommitments to the Lord. You’ve met him. You know him. You already have eternal life.

Now … here’s the path to greater blessing: Open your life more fully to him! Give him room! If he’s King, let him be in charge!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s discovered
the fountain of youth
(and it’s knowing God!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Apr 16 - Isaiah 43:13

Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?
Isaiah 43:13

I am not a Hebrew scholar. (Indeed, very far from it.) And my quick glance at commentaries doesn’t say whether what I’m thinking is right or not. But, with that said, do you know how I hear this verse?

God declares: From ancient times, I AM.

For proper English, we feel the need to answer “I am” with a “what?” For example, “He is mighty,” “He is holy,” “He is wonderful.” And God could genuinely be saying, “I am … He!” (I’m not the Hebrew scholar.)

Nevertheless, if you remember back to Exodus 3 when Moses asked God for his name, God didn’t fill in the blank. He didn’t say, “I am gracious and merciful,” “I am slow to anger,” or even, “I am abounding in steadfast love.” No, God simply said,

“I AM.”

Sometimes our limited minds need to fill in the blank with some details.

Other times we just need to stand back in awe and say, “Whoa! He is! Period!”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who likes the
King James for this verse:
“before the day was, I am …”
(He pre-dates everything!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Apr 15 - Matthew 22:21

Render therefore unto Caesar
the things which are Caesar's;
and unto God
the things that are God's.
Matthew 22:21

Sorry to remind you, but it is tax day. Here’s what Jesus had to say about taxes …

First, the context was important. In the midst of the bustling streets of Jerusalem, Jesus was asked by the religious leaders whether we should pay taxes to the Romans or not.

It seemed like the perfect question with which to trap Jesus – which was clearly the Pharisees’ malicious intent.
  •      If Jesus said, “No,” he risk being charged as a traitor by the Romans, for inciting an insurrection.
  •      If, on the other hand, Jesus said, “Yes,” it would show that he was opposed to God – favoring an earthly king rather than heaven’s King. (Saying “yes” would also alienate the average Jew who was looking for a Jewish Messiah to save them from Roman tyranny.)

Jesus didn’t play their game. He famously responded, “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The question is, “What rightfully belongs to God?” The answer is everything.

So … “what rightly belongs to the government?” Ah, that’s a tougher answer.

In the days of Solomon, this king wanted to do something magnificent for the Lord. He was going to build the Temple in Jerusalem. It was grand and glorious. God was honored in this place! But the tax burden eventually wound up dividing the kingdom. As it says in 1 Kings 12 …

2 When Jeroboam … heard [that Rehoboam was made king, following the death of his father Solomon] 3 … Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you."

6 King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive … 7 They answered him, "If you will be a servant to this people today … then they will be your servants forever."

8 But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men .... 10 The young men … said ..., "Thus you should say to this people … 11 “I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.' "


When government is a servant to the people (see verse 7), then it is god-honoring. When taxes become a heavy yoke, governments flirt with their own destruction – maybe not in their own time (Solomon didn’t live to see the consequences of his taxation), but certainly in the coming generations.

What does Caesar have a right to? In America – in a Republic or Democracy – the government has the right to extract whatever we as citizens choose (whether at any moment you vote for the ruling side or not).

But that’s not the big question. The real question is how much are rendering to God. It’s really a matter of the heart. It’s all his anyway.

In Christ’s Love,
A dwarf
(therefore, I sing,
“I owe. I owe. So …
off to work I go!”)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Apr 13,14 - Job 12:10

In God's hand is the life
of every living thing.
Job 12:10

I love the image at the beginning of Genesis. To create, God took a handful of dust, and life comes from his breath. He takes a handful of lifelessness, and animates it with his Spirit.

Even in the midst of a book full of discouragement, Job trumpets this foundational truth: “in God’s hand is the life of every living thing.”

We live in a world that scoffs at the creator and his role in creation. But we do so at our own peril. As Paul says in Romans 1 …

20 Ever since the creation of the world [God’s] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So [we] are without excuse …

Scripture says that there is no excuse to not recognize God.

As science itself proves – think of the Law of Entropy – randomness never gets more ordered and more sophisticated. It gets less! Therefore, it must be the living that produces the living.

Yes, we can scoff, mock, and devise alternative theories, and the inevitable result is that we’ll disintegrate into the inert chemicals that make up dust. That’s our default position. Or we can bow our hearts and say, “In God’s hand is the life of every living thing.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s bowed in awe

Friday, April 12, 2013

Apr 12 - Ephesians 5:31-32

Paul wrote:
“A man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.”
This is a great mystery,
and I am applying it to Christ
and the church.
Ephesians 5:31-32

Two becoming one is my favorite Biblical image for marriage.

It’s no longer, “Me first, then you.” It’s us. We’re a team … or at least we’re supposed to be. Sin and trials and stress constantly get in the way of unity and partnership. But this is God’s ideal. Unity is God’s plan.

Paul takes this picture of marriage – that ideal relationship of partnership, love, and support – and applies it to the church. He’s saying, we should be one with Christ, like the ideal wife is with her honorable husband.

That image worked well in the first century. The Roman citizens in Asia Minor, Greece, and Turkey didn’t know the church was supposed to be. So Paul said, think of it as a good marriage! It’s … relationship … partnership … love … and support.

I’m convinced that too many Americans don’t know what the church is supposed to be. Some flock to entertainment. Some gather where there’s a lot of convenience and little commitment. Some go out of habit. Others go through the motions. Others change churches every few years like some people trade spouses.

Furthermore, marriage as a picture of health has utterly broken down in a culture of divorce, abuse, pornography, busyness, and stress. It’s hard to point at many marriages and say, “Look, that’s what the church should be!”

We’re confused.

And so the church limps.

But think of a marriage that really does work. Then say, what would make our church more like that. Chances are, some of the secret involves commitment. Ask yourself what you can do to make our good church more and more like the ideal God designs.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who joyfully knows
the picture of marriage
I’m striving for for our church!