Tuesday, September 30, 2008

the scandal of grace

1 Corinthians 5: 17

(NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

(NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

(The Message) ...anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

(NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

(Amplified) Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

(CEV) Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

No matter how you translate it, here is the scandal of grace - we get to start all over, all new. We don't deserve it, we don't earn it. It's a gift, given because of our Abba Father's infinite grace & mercy.

Here's the rest of the chapter, in the New Living Translation (it's the translation I read each day)...

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Monday, September 29, 2008


These lyrics is for a dear, sweet, delightful friend of mine. It's a song for back in the day (the '80's !) but the truth of the lyrics is something enables me to live each day.

His Grace Is Greater - Larnelle Harris

His grace is greater than our failures
His peace runs deeper than our fears
If we go to Him in mercy
Our hearts can rest assured
His love will keep us through our tears

He’ll give us strength to simply trust Him
Through times we may not understand
We will gain a sweet assurance
No passing doubt can dim
Our lives are safely in His hand

Though countless souls have come to Him
So desperate and lost
With faith no greater than a tiny seed
Each one has found a wondrous truth
Beneath His simple cross
His grace is greater than our need

No height or depth in all creation
Can reach beyond His love for me
And His power has raised my spirit
A work forever done
With grace His power has raised my spirit
The work forever done
His grace is greater
His grace is greater
His grace is greater than my need

Sunday, September 28, 2008

our map & our guide

Psalm 48: 14 He is our God forever & ever, & He will be our guide until we die.

To paraphrase what my Life Application Bibles says "people today all want a map & a guide for their lives, but they're all looking in the wrong places for them. The Bible is our map, & the Holy Spirit is our guide. And they'll both lead us in the direction(s) we should go throughout our whole lives."

You all know how I have talked about how I didn't really have a regular quiet time until I was over 52 years old - been supposedly "walking with the Lord" for 30-35 years, been a "professional christian" working in the church for almost 30 years. I was an idiot to have waited so long. Not any more.

Don't be an idiot like me.

2 Corinthians 3: 5 It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power & success come from God. 6 He is the One who has enabled us to represent His new covenant.

I guess as I walk closer & closer to the things He's drawing me toward, He reminds me quite bluntly that everything I am able to be & do, & every bit of influence I have is only because of His favor towards me & His power in me. That both pokes serious holes in my inflated ego, & encourages me because I know I'm not responsible for the success of what I'm walking toward - I'm responsible for my obedience.

vs 17 The Lord is a Spirit, & wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Freedom - how many peopledo each of us know who thnk they have all the freedom in the world, but who live in a tiny little box that keeps getting smaller & smaller? The Holy Spirit gives us total freedom, but it takes total surrender to Him to get it.

vs 18 ...as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more & more like Him & reflect His glory even more.

I wish I could see this about me - most fo the time, all I see is my own sinfulness.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

who's adequate?

2 Corinthians 2: 14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

And who is adequate for such a task as this? (dan note: I'm becoming more & more aware that who I am & the influence I have is completely dependent on the favor of God.)

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. (dan note: they had televangelists back then?!) We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us. (dan note: we're quick to forget that God is aware of our every move, all the time)

Friday, September 26, 2008

where do we run

Psalm 46: 1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

Good to remember during this awful & unnecessary financial crisis.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

be strong

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

(NLT) Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done in love.

(The Message) Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

(NIV) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

(NKJV) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

(Amplified) Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength!
Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God's love for us)

When I sat down this morning to read, I really needed to hear something from our Abba. I know better than try to preconceive what it will be, because lots of the time what I think I need to hear & what I hear end up being 2 different things.

These 2 verses were the only thing that stood out in the 2 chapters I was scheduled to read today - one in Psalm 45, the other in 1 Corinthians 16.

I needed to hear this from Him this morning.

(Why did I EVER wait till I was 52 to start getting up early every morning & spending it with Him?! I was an idiot!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

two timed

Psalm 44:1 O God, we have heard it with our own ears— our ancestors have told us of all You did in their day, in days long ago:
2 You drove out the pagan nations by your power and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free.
3 They did not conquer the land with their own hand; it was not their own swords that gave them victory. It was by Your might power that they succeeded, it was because You favored them & smiled on them.

1 Corinthians 15: 10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace

vs 58 So, my dear brothers & sisters, be strong & steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Since I read the Bible everyday, it isn't an unusual thing for God to speak to me about something day after day after day - it could be some issue, some person, some ministry opportunity, something about myself He wants to (usually) change or (more likely) prune off.

It is very rare that He speaks to me about the same thing in more than one place. That's what happened this morning. As you may know, every day me & Billy Graham read a psalm in sequence. Nothing unusual about that. A little over a couple of weeks ago I felt like God was leading me to start reading sequentially the chapters in 1 Corinthians. Nothing unusual about that - it's been a few months since I've read it.

I was reading Psalm 44 this morning & the part about it was "because You favored them & smiled on them" part that came up from the page. I'm becoming more & more aware that the good stuff I see going on in my life & the impact & influence I have is not because I'm particularly brilliant or holy (sorry if that comes as something of a surprise! LOL). It's simply because our Abba Father chooses to favor me with that influence (which conversely would mean He could choose to not favor me.).

Ok, so I thought about that for a while, & I'll carry that around all day, & probably run into something today that will help me see more clearly the whamo-bamo truth of those verses.

Then I'm reading through 1 Corinthians 15 - lots of good stuff - when I get to "whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me" There's that "favor" word again - gettin' a little more than coincidental.

Then He threw in "it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace" & "for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless" - hmmmmmmmm

So my question for today is, "What's He tryin' to say?" Yes, I understand it's something about His favor in my life. But what's the particular application right now?

I have something I'm taking baby steps with right now. As I walk into it, maybe He's reminding me that this time it's all about His favor, & not about my ability. As a music minister for decades, I got the "planning ahead" thing conquered. I always had a plan, worked it, & God bless anyone who was stupid enough to get in my way! But I've been living in a whole different relationship with Him these last 8 years, with amazing successes & embarassing failures. Maybe this time, it's gonna be all about His favor, His smile on what I'm trying to be & do & not about my ability.

I'm not trying to be coy, oblique, droll, or subtle. I'm serious when looking for what He's trying to say to me.

Anybody got some insight, or a word from the Lord about this? If you do, lemme know - SOON!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Psalm 43:3 Send out Your light & Your truth, let them guide me.

Good to ask for as I take baby steps toward what may be the next season of my life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

13 verses that changed our world forever...

13 short verses, written by Paul to the church in Corinth. How can we ever measure their impact?

(NLT) 1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

And here it is in The Message...

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2 If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

for someone(s) out there

Just take the time to read all of this chapter. Don't know who this is for out there, but for whoever needs it, here it is...

1 Corinthians 12: 1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don't want you to misunderstand this. 2 You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. 3 So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you." 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:first are apostles,second are prophets,third are teachers,then those who do miracles,those who have the gift of healing,those who can help others,those who have the gift of leadership,those who speak in unknown languages. 29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

Then Paul goes into the 13th chapter, which is all about love.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

a mind-blowing thought...

Psalm 40: 17 I am poor & needy, & the Lord is thinking about me right now.

I still find this verse riveting.
In 2006, The Hubble Space Telescope discovered a galaxy further away than they've ever studied.The Antennae Galaxy is 2 galaxies colliding. Scientists are watching the effects of this collision on the galaxies.
The thing is, these colliding galaxies are 550 million light years away. Iow, what light/images we're seeing has traveled 550 million light years to get here - yes, that means the light started coming our way 550 million years ago.
And when you look at the pic of this galaxy, you can notice small dots of light behind it - that means there's more galaxies further out there.

1 light years = 5,865,696,000,000 miles - almost 6 trillion miles. For my simple math skills, lets round it up to 6 trillion. That means 550 million light years roughly would be... 3.3 sextillion miles = 3,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 (somebody check my math)

God keeps all these galaxies hanging in space.

And He's thinking about ME right now.


How big, kind, loving, caring is our God, our Abba Father?

If He can keep the galaxies & the universes running, can't we trust Him to take care of our puny, prissy little lives?

think about it...

I love you

Friday, September 19, 2008

a way out

1 Corinthians 10: 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

What an incredible verse!

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience."

Iow, there's nothing I'm faced with, that I deal with, that I'm tempted by, that peculiar to me - everyone else faces it too.

"He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand."

Iow, I can never say that a temptation overwhelmed me, I couldn't help myself, or that there wasn't anything I could do - it was too much for me.

"When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."

Iow, there's a way out for me in every situation - always - always, always.

Has anyone else gotten the magnitude of this one verse for all of us who struggle with temptation - for any of us who struggle with addiction, habit, or whatever?!

We don't have to be defeated, we have a way out, we can triumph over the stuff that makes us sin.

Holy cow!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

all things to all people

1 Corinthians 9: 19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
24 Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

This is Paul's "I am all things to all people" passage. Iow, he learned to adapt himself to every situation & every kind of people so as to effectively connect with them so as to introduce them to Jesus.

How often do we try to do this? Or are we just "gonna be who we are" & let the chips fall where they may?

Sometimes the enormity of what we're about is a little overwhelming. We hold in our hands the Primary Truth of humankind - that through Jesus, we can reconnect with the God of the universes. This also carried the obverse truth - that those who don't avail themselves of the opportunity for reconnection will eventually find themselves disconnected from Him for all eternity.

And eternity is a long, long time.

All things to all people...

Try being that today...

I love you

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

one more time

Well, it was a bit of a struggle, but I've got a blog set back up. I had some stuff happen to the original one, but, oh well, technology

so, blogspt peeps, brace yourself!!!