Wednesday, April 30, 2014

puny, pouty, & prissy

This is written by Paul, the apostle, in his second letter to the band of Christ followers in Corinth.

He's comparing himself to some false prophets that have been causing trouble w/ the believers.

2 Corinthians 11

23b I have worked harder,

     been put in prison more often,

     been whipped times without number,

     and faced death again and again.

24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.

25 Three times I was beaten with rods.

Once I was stoned. (dan note: & they left him for dead!)

Three times I was shipwrecked.

Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.

26 I have traveled on many long journeys.

I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers.

I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews,

     as well as from the Gentiles.

I have faced danger in the cities,

     in the deserts,

     and on the seas.

And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.

27 I have worked hard and long,

     enduring many sleepless nights.

I have been hungry

     and thirsty

     and have often gone without food.

I have shivered in the cold,

     without enough clothing to keep me warm.

  28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness?

Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

  30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.

31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.

32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me.

33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.

And do you know what I think about each time I read this?

I think how prissy, puny, & precious we all are.

I think about how we whine that we are under so much persecution.

I think about how we get so pouty if people don't talk to us as nice as we think they should.

I think...

Well, I think about a lot of things.

We don't have it bad at all.

And we whine & act like martyrs of the cross when our lives aren't just peachy keen.

How many of us would still be Christ followers if we had to endure just ONE of the things Paul did?

Think about what Paul must have looked like after all that abuse.

I doubt if he took very many bare chested selfies in the bathroom mirror.

Think about what Paul lists here, & then let's ask ourselves,

     "Would I go through that just because I was a Christ follower?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

who He is

What a powerful statement as to who Jesus was & is.

The apostle,John, who wrote this account of Jesus, had no doubt who & what Jesus was, & is.

John 1

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.

    The Word was with God,

    and the Word was God.

2 He existed in the beginning with God.

3 God created everything through him,

    and nothing was created except through him.

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,

    and his life brought light to everyone.

5 The light shines in the darkness,

  and the darkness can never extinguish it.

  10 He came into the very world he created,

         but the world didn't recognize him.

11 He came to his own people,

        and even they rejected him.

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (dan note: let that sink in...)

13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

  14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. (dan note: and let THAT one sink in too!)

         He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

         And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.

Monday, April 28, 2014

enough, & then some

2 Corinthians 9:8

God will generously provide for all you need.

Then you will always have everything you need

     & plenty left over to share w/ others. (NLT, 1st ed.)

God can give you everything that you need,

     so that you may always have sufficient both for yourselves and for giving away to other people. (J. B. Phillips)

And God can give you more blessings than you need,

     and you will always have plenty of everything.

You will have enough to give to every good work. (Easy To Read version)

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything,

     more than just ready to do what needs to be done. (The Message)

God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine

     so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way

     and you’ll have more than enough to share.(The Voice)

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance,

     so that you may always and under all circumstances

     and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. (Amplified)

Is this a promised we can hang on to?

If so, how should that impact the way we live in this world where our well being seems precarious, threatened, spurious, and so downright unpredictable.

I don't think what Paul is talking about here is that God will provide for us in fantastically abundant financial ways.

It does say in the 1st translation (NLT) that we will have everything we "need" - and we all know "need" is a whole lot different than "want"!

But every translation & paraphrase indicates that no matter how much we have, we should share it w/ others.


That certainly goes against the grain of the present cultural norm & thinking!

So what is Paul saying about the nature of God here in regards to us?

That we will have what we need & have enough to share with others.

Think about that today, & ask yourself if you / we really believe that.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

a good psalm

A couple of weeks ago, someone randomly asked me what's a good psalm to read, beside Psalm 23.

This is a good one - it has a LOT to say in a few verses...

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have examined my heart

  and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

3 You see me when I travel

  and when I rest at home.

  You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

  even before I say it, LORD.

5 You go before me and follow me.

  You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

  too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

  if I go down to the grave,* you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

  if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

  and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

  and the light around me to become night—

12   but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

  Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

  and knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

  as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

  before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,* O God.

  They cannot be numbered!

18 I can't even count them;

  they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

  you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!

  Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you;

  your enemies misuse your name.

21 O LORD, shouldn't I hate those who hate you?

  Shouldn't I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,

  for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

  test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,

  and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

pursued in the wilderness

David wrote this psalm while he was hiding from King Saul the the wilderness. King Saul wanted to kill David.

These are the verses that seem to stand out to me.

Maybe this psalm can speak to you if you too are in the "wilderness"

Psalm 63

1 O God, you are my God;

  I earnestly search for you.

My soul thirsts for you;

  my whole body longs for you

in this parched and weary land

  where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in your sanctuary

  and gazed upon your power and glory.

3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;

  how I praise you!

4 I will praise you as long as I live,

  lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.

  I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of you,

  meditating on you through the night.

7 Because you are my helper,

  I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

8 I cling to you;

  your strong right hand holds me securely.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

hope in a hopeless time

Lamentations is not a warm & fuzzy book in the Bible. But in chapter 3, amidst a bunch of lamenting, the author says this...

Lamentations 3

19 The thought of my suffering & homelessness is bitter beyond words.

     20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss

     Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!

By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.

23 Great is His faithfulness;

     His mercies begin afresh every day.

24 I say to myself,

        "The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him & seek Him.

25 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord

vs 55 I called on Your name, Lord...

       56 ...& You heard me!

       You listened to my pleading,

        You heard my weeping!

57 Yes, You came at my despairing car & told me,

     "Do not fear."

And then, here's what I found over in Psalms...

Psalm 62

5 I wait patiently before God,

     for my hope is in Him.

He alone is my rock & my salvation,

     my fortress where I will not be shaken.

8 Oh my people,

     Trust in Him at all times.

     Pour out your heart to Him,

     for God is our refuge.

For all of us in the seemingly hopeless place, I hope these verses have brought you some hope, some light in what must seem like a dark place.

Monday, April 21, 2014

a "servant of the Lord"

Luke 17

7"When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say,

     'Come in and eat with me'?

8 No,

he says,

     'Prepare my meal,

     put on your apron,

     and serve me while I eat.

     Then you can eat later.'

9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do?

Of course not.

10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say,

'We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.'"

Does this poke some holes in your concept of be a "servant of the Lord"

It should.

What does it say to you?

Tell me in the comments. I wanna know.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


John 20
 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, "They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

  3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn't go in.6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there,7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they still hadn't understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.10 Then they went home.

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.13 "Dear woman, why are you crying?" the angels asked her.

  "Because they have taken away my Lord," she replied, "and I don't know where they have put him."

  14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn't recognize him.15 "Dear woman, why are you crying?" Jesus asked her. "Who are you looking for?"

  She thought he was the gardener. "Sir," she said, "if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him."

  16 "Mary!" Jesus said.

  She turned to him and cried out, "Rabboni!" (which is Hebrew for "Teacher").

  17 "Don't cling to me," Jesus said, "for I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

  18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Then she gave them his message.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

who do we hangt with?

Tax collectors & other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.

This made the Pharisees & teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people;

     even eating with them!

Luke 15:1-2

Everything about Jesus - His love, His words, His attitude - was such that people were drawn to Him,

     even some of the people that the society & culture looked down on & despised.

Fast forward to today...

When we become Christ followers, we believe that Jesus lives in us & we live in Him.

And we believe the Holy Spirit resides in us, empowering us to be & do what Jesus is & does, & even greater things.

So, let's ask ourselves this...

those "notorious sinners" that surround us everywhere, everyday,

     Are they drawn to the love flowing from us for them?

     Are they drawn to hear more of the things we say as a result of this God who lives inside us?

     Are they drawn to our very attitude toward them?

Probably not.

Our tepid little christian lives are so prissy & precious,

     we worry what people would think if they saw us hanging with what they thought were unsavory people.

     we are more comfortable being with people who are "like minded".

     we forget SO quickly that if the people who impacted us for Jesus had had our attitude, we would still be going slam to hell!

     and we're just so self-absorbed, we simply don't want to take the time to develop a relationship we see as a possible dead end.

In short, we just don't give a...

   well, you know.

So, how do we become someone who draws "notorious sinners"?

Well, Jesus did say, "Seek first..."

     iow, if we get close to Jesus, walk intimately with Him, allow Him to put His finger on the very parts of ourselves we least want Him to touch...

     then the Christ-like parts of us will simply begin to show.

And we prolly should remember that Jesus loves those "notorious sinners" just as much as He loves us.

     And He sees as much potential in them that He sees in us.

     And He dreamed just as big (or bigger) dreams for them as He did for us.

     And He...

Well, you get the idea.

All around us, every day, there are countless people with whom we can simply share the life we've found in Jesus.

     No, we don't have to be a Bible banger.

     We don't have to fix them, or "bring them to a point of repentance"

All we have to be & do is what Jesus was & did...

     express His love,

     share His loving words,

     and show His loving attitude.

What not give it a try?

Friday, April 18, 2014

the reality of it

1 Corinthians 15:58

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.

"...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."

It's been a hard lesson to accept that.

We have such a success orientation about everything in our lives.

And that includes what we do in our lives as an extension of our following Jesus.

As we prepared to leave Macon in 2010, I had certain concepts as to what our time here in Blairsville would look like & entail.

3 1/2 years later, it hasn't turned out quite as I had thought it would.

(understatement of the century!)

Back in 2010 I told people we were coming to NE GA to be who we are, & to love people with the love of Jesus.

And that's what we've done.

But the how, the places, & the ways we've been given to be & do that were not how we had conceptualized them.

So, I guess one (of many) things that got refined early on from our lives & thinking here in Blairsville was the success orientation to discipleship.

(I've come to believe that a life of obedience & discipleship to Jesus & a success orientation are mutually exclusive & incompatible - but that's a different conversation...)

Now, I hope you don't think that in this refining that I have been a meek, humble, & joyfully compliant servant.

I had a few questions of the Lord as to what was going on.

(another understatement of the century!)

So, where am I now in all this?

I know we are supposed to be here.

I know that everything we do here, every contact / connection we make, every opportunity we have to share the love of Jesus, is directly dependent upon one thing...

...the favor of God.

And another thing I've learned is that I'm not responsible for the who, what, where, when, & how of what we're being & doing - God is - and God is very creative.

     Our job is to be obedient to what He tells us to be & do with the who, what, where, when, & how He gives us.

Once more I've seen the enormous truth in the statement, "anyone who says, 'all I want to be is a servant of the Lord' has never been one."

If we truly are servants, sometimes we won't understand why we're being & doing what He tells us to be & do.

     sometimes we won't see a lot of results, or maybe any.

     sometimes all we know is to be obedient and to trust Him.

I've learned a whale of a lot about trust these last 3 1/2 year - mostly because I haven't had any other choice!

It's easy to trust Him when everything makes sense, there's oodles of success as the world sees it, as well as our friends & authenticators see it.

It's another thing to trust Him when it doesn't make sense & 99% of your friends & authenticators think your crazy.

And I know I have lots & lots of hard lessons that I'm still learning, & have yet to learn.

Please don't think I'm turning into some sort of super Christian - those of you who know me, know better.

I'm just trying to remain obedient here, not mess things up, & stay out of the way of God working in us & through us...

...and trust Him that nothing we are or do for Him is useless.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

letting go

Give your burdens to the Lord,

     & He will take care of you.

He will not permit the godly to slip & fall. Psalm 55:22 (NLT !st ed.)

Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;

he will never let the righteous be shaken. (NIV)

Cast your burden on the Lord,

    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (ESV)

Give your worries to the Lord,

    and he will care for you.

He will never let those who are good be defeated.

Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders;
    he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.

He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. (The Message)

Cast your burden upon the Lord

    and He will sustain you;

He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it]

     and He will sustain you;

He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).

Cast your troubles upon the Eternal;

    His care is unceasing!

He will not allow His righteous to be shaken. (The Voice)

These various translations say the same thing, in similar ways...

We've all got "burdens" & "troubles"

     we all know what means,

      we all know what they are

      they're different things for every one of us,

      but we've all got them - some more than others.

We ALL hold on to them, & try to carry them, & figure them out, fix them, or take care of them, BY OURSELVES.

But this says we should release control of these burdens & give them to God & let Him handle them.

And it goes on to say that God will give us strength to endure in the face of these burdens...

     iow, He's gonna prop us up as we deal with them.

And furthermore, He's not gonna let any of us, individually, be overwhelmed by this stuff.

Now, let that sink in...

Now, ask yourself, "how often do I do this?"

If you're like me, not often enough.

Well, if I was truthful... sometimes it feel like I don't do it at all.

Here is a promise that we just don't accept,

     and this isn't the only time this thinking is presented in the Bible.

Why don't we?

I think part of it is a control issue.

It also may be an extension of the thought "God helps those who help themselves" (which isn't in the Bible, btw)

I think it's also a trust issue thing - I don't think we REALLY trust Him to come through for us.


Today, let's try something....

When any (or all) of those things that weight us down, worry us, our trouble us,

     when we are faces with those things that just run us crazy today...

Let's just talk to God & tell Him we want to give this to Him, so would He help us let go of it & trust Him with it..

And let's see what happens just today...

What have we got to lose?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

no sweat

read all of this, & while you're reading it, think about the affluence in which we live, & how we have come to depend on it & not God...

Luke 12

Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Then someone called from the crowd,

     "Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father's estate with me."

  14 Jesus replied,

     "Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?"

15 Then he said,

     "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own."

  16 Then he told them a story:

"A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.

17 He said to himself,

     'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.'

18 Then he said,

     'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones.

     Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.

     19 And I'll sit back and say to myself, "

           My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come.

          Now take it easy!



         and be merry!"'

  20 "But God said to him,

     'You fool! You will die this very night.

     Then who will get everything you worked for?'

  21 "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."

Teaching about Money and Possessions

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said,

"That is why I tell you do not to worry about everyday life:

     whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.

23 For life is more than food,

     and your body more than clothing.

24 Look at the ravens.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

     for God feeds them.

And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!

25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

26 And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that,

     what's the use of worrying over bigger things?

  27 "Look at the lilies and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

     yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

    he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  29 "And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink.

     Don't worry about such things.

30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world,

     but your Father already knows your needs.

31  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

  32 "So don't be afraid, little flock.

For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

  33 "Sell your possessions and give to those in need.

This will store up treasure for you in heaven!

And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes.

Your treasure will be safe;

     no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.

34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

keep on

This is for someone out there who needs to hear the words "keep on..."

don't know who you are, but God is saying to you "keep on..."

I don't know what's going on in your life, but whatever it is, somehow it's covered here.

If this passage speaks to you, then it was meant for you, to address whatever it is that's going on.

Just remember that the operative words here are "keep on..."

This is Jesus speaking in this passage, making promises that cannot be broken...

Keep on asking,

    & you will be given what you ask for.

Keep on looking,

    & you will find.

Keep on knocking,

    & the door will be opened.

For everyone who asks,


Everyone who seeks,


And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9 - 10

Monday, April 14, 2014


Luke 10

2 The harvest is so great,

     but he workers are so few.

Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest,

     & ask Him to send out more workers for His fields.

3 Go now

     & remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.

This is one of the passages that is constantly quoted as a recruitment tool to get people to serve as missionaries, especially overseas missionaries.

I suppose it's a good one.

Jesus spoke these words to 72 of his disciples as he was sending them out in what was the province of Palestine during Roman days.

So, iow, Jesus was sending them out to villages of their own country.

I'm not saying we should only take the gospel to our own country. I'm just giving your historical context.

Of course, the fact these people went out to the rest of the country was a big step for them. In those days, most people never left their villages - they lived & died there,never going anywhere else.

But look in verse 3...

Jesus says 2 things here...

First, He says "go now"

Iow, He says take action, get on with it, leave this place, & connect w/ people in another place.

And don't wait - make it happen, without further delay.

Go can mean go overseas,

     or go to your neighbor(s) next door,

     or the person(s) at work,

     or to the cashiers & workers at the stores you trade at or the servers at restaurants you frequent,

     or to the people in your city,

     or in another city in your state,

     or some place else in the country in which you live

But I think the important factor is to GO, & to go NOW.

     We spend out lives hesitating, second guessing, or waiting for the time to be right.

I think Jesus would say to us through these words to take action, & don't wait another minute.

I think the other thing to look at here is Jesus says we're going out as lambs among wolves.

Iow, it's gonna be dangerous.

These days, we're all about being safe, secure, & treated fairly.

But it ain't gonna be like that.

No matter where the "go" takes us, what we have to tell people is not something they always are gonna want to hear.

In a world where tolerance, inclusion, & "there are no absolutes except there are no absolutes", telling folks that there's only one way to connect with God is going to be met with some negative emotions & responses.

It's not safe to tell people there is another absolute than the one they're thinking.

And many times,people will actively & cleverly work against us.

But should this keep us from sharing with people all around us the glorious way made by Jesus & the life He brings?

Well, where would you & I each be if the people who most directly influenced us to follow Jesus had been hesitant & afraid?


Go now, as lambs among wolves...

Sunday, April 13, 2014


remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.

And God is faithful.

He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it.

When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you will not give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Read those 4 sentences again. Go ahead, read them again...

Do we REALLY believe this?

Because if we did, wouldn't we live more triumphantly?

     Wouldn't we sin less?

Because, according to what Paul says here, because of His watching over us, we don't ever face anything that is too overwhelming, too strong, or too irresistible - we can stand up to it.

And what's more, God will show us the way out.

Like I said, do we REALLY believe this?

Because I think if we did, it would show.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

all things to all people

1 Corinthians 9

 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.

 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.

 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.

 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" thinking.

I think what Paul is basically saying here is that he tried to build some sort of common ground with everyone, building a connect, a vibe, with them for a very simple reason - to be ready for the opportunity to share with them who Jesus is & what it all means to him & them.

I wonder if we live that way?

It seems Christians spend a lot of time trying to separate themselves from "the world" so as to not me defiled or tainted by it & the sin that is so rampant in it.

But Paul seems to say that we don't need to be so prissy & precious. He seems to indicate here that we need to jump into the river of life in the world, live our lives around all kinds of people, & wait for the Lord to bring us an opportunity to share with them who Jesus is.

Does any of that which I just wrote make sense?

We Christians sometimes give the impression that we want to live in enclaves of fellow believers, doing business with Christians, & sort of insulating ourselves from the rest of the world.

And Paul seems to indicate here a life of just the opposite. He suggests we are called to jump into the fray & be connected with the very people we've come to minister to.

Anyway, enough about what I'm seeing here -  tell me what you think?

Friday, April 11, 2014

2 passages

While knowledge may make us feel important,

     it is love that really builds up the church.

Anyone who claims to know the answers doesn't really know very much.

But the person who loves God is the one God knows & cares for.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:1b - 3

So, it's all about love - everything else is secondary?

* * * * * * * * *

According to some people, there are many so-called gods & many lords,

     on in heaven & on earth.

But we know that there is only one God,

     the Father,

     Who created everything,

     & we exist for Him.

And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ,

     through whom God made everything,

     & through who we have been given life.

Paul (again) in 1 Corinthians 8:7 - 8

So, this shoots down the thinking that all religions lead us to the same God?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

radical, radical, radical...

This is some pretty radical stuff, much of which goes against current accepted thinking.

I can only imagine how crazy people must have thought it sounds way back when Jesus first said it.

Just remember, as you read this, that these are direct quotes from Jesus...

Luke 6

20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

"God blesses you who are poor,

  for the Kingdom of God is yours.

21 God blesses you who are hungry now,

  for you will be satisfied.

God blesses you who weep now,

  for in due time you will laugh.

22 What blessings await you when people hate you

        and exclude you

        and mock you

        and curse you as evil

        because you follow the Son of Man.

23 When that happens, be happy!

        Yes, leap for joy!

For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

24 "What sorrow awaits you who are rich,

  for you have your only happiness now.

25 What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,

  for a time of awful hunger awaits you.

What sorrow awaits you who laugh now,

  for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.

26 What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,

  for their ancestors also praised false prophets.

27 "But to you who are willing to listen, I say,

        love your enemies!

        Do good to those who hate you.

        28 Bless those who curse you.

        Pray for those who hurt you.

       29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.

       If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.

      30 Give to anyone who asks;

            and when things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back.

31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

  32 "If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?

        Even sinners love those who love them!

33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?

        Even sinners do that much!

34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get

       Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

  35 "Love your enemies!

Do good to them.

Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.

Then your reward from heaven will be very great,

     and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High,

     for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

36 You must be compassionate,

        just as your Father is compassionate.

37 "Do not judge others,

        and you will not be judged.

Do not condemn others,

     or it will all come back against you.

Forgive others,

     and you will be forgiven.

38 Give,

        and you will receive.

        Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.

        The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

Like I said...  radical thinking then, equally or more radical thinking for today.

I saw a LOT of things we believe & operate in as people, a culture, a nation, & a world kinda shot to pieces here.

How then should we live since Jesus said these things?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3 passages

Luke 5
1 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God.

2 He noticed two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets.

3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water.

So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

  4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish."

  5 "Master," Simon replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing.

         But if you say so, I'll let the nets down again."

6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!

7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

  8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said,

        "Oh, Lord, please leave me—I'm too much of a sinner to be around you."

9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.

10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

  Jesus replied to Simon, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!"

11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

The longer I'm around Jesus, the more I realize how sinful I am.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Luke 5
 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector's booth.

        "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

  29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor.

Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.

30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples,

        "Why do you eat and drink with such scum?*"

  31 Jesus answered them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.

 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

       but those who know they are sinners and need to repent."

The longer I live, the more I like hanging with people like were at Levi's house, and the less i like hanging with people like the Pharisees.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1 Corinthians 6
  18 Run from sexual sin!

No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.

For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

19 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,

        who lives in you and was given to you by God?

You do not belong to yourself,

     20 for God bought you with a high price.

So you must honor God with your body.

We live in a sex-soaked culture.

We've become SO jaded to the blatant sexual sins all around us (& within us) that we don't even think about it anymore.

I don't see a lot of "honoring God with our bodies" going on these days.

Sometimes, when God looks at how far we've gone down the tubes sexually, I think one day God is gonna have to apologize to Sodom & Gomorrah.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

some well needed words

As I walked across the house today, I wished God would speak to me through the places I would read in the Bible this morning, verses that would speak to the things going on in my head right now.

Sometimes He does, & sometimes He doesn't.

Here's what stood out in 2 of the places I read this morning.

I know these verses were for me today. Maybe they were for you, too.

Let me know if they were,will ya?

Because you trusted Me,

     I will preserve your life

    & keep you safe.

I, the Lord, have spoken!

Jeremiah 39 18

(God spoke this to Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.)

God is our refuge & strength,

     always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear,

     even if earthquakes come

     & the mountains crumble into the see.

Psalm 46:1 & 2

The Lord is here among us;

     the God of Israel is our fortress.

Psalm 47:7

Monday, April 7, 2014

tough life

Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter to the Christians in Corinth, his first of two.

In what has been called the 4th chapter of this letter, Paul talks about the realities of his life in ministry.

1 Corinthians 4:

 Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools,

          but you claim to be so wise in Christ!

We are weak,

     but you are so powerful!

You are honored,

     but we are ridiculed.

 Even now we go hungry and thirsty,

and we don't have enough clothes to keep warm.

We are often beaten

and have no home.

12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living.

We bless those who curse us.

We are patient with those who abuse us.

13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us.

Yet we are treated like the world's garbage,

     like everybody's trash—right up to the present moment.

We here in America have it SO easy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

how this works

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 swords;

  it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.

It was your right hand and strong arm

  and the blinding light from your face that helped them,

  for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God.

  You command victories for Israel.*

5 Only by your power can we push back our enemies;

  only in your name can we trample our foes.

6 I do not trust in my bow;

  I do not count on my sword to save me.

7 You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;

  you disgrace those who hate us.

Iow, we're not the ones that makes things happen.

It is the favor of God, His power at work within us & through us, that makes things happen.

We can plan, actuate, pull together all kinds of cleverness & self promotion...

     but in the end, it is the favor of God that makes tings happen...

     not us.

Do we REALLY believe this?

And if we do, how does that show in our lives?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

6 words

The 6 most important words in this passage are...

     "...we have the mind of Christ."

As His followers, He brings us so in line with Him, we start to think like He does.

Those 6 words disprove the 2nd half of verse 9.

For verse 9 says no one can understand.

But Paul says we CAN understand bc Jesus so redeems & changes us that we start to think like He does.

Just read it - you'll understand what I'm talking about...

I Corinthians 2

9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

  and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

  for those who love him."

  10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.

         For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.

11 No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit,

       and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit.

12 And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit),

        so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

  13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom.

        Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit,

       using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths.

14 But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit.

        It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it,

        for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things,

        but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

16 For,

"Who can know the LORD's thoughts?

  Who knows enough to teach him?"

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

Friday, April 4, 2014

at odds

Sometimes I identify with those considered to be nothing at all.

Sometimes our concepts of each other can be so limited, & limiting.

In an era where Christians seem to be grasping for the power & to be powerful,

     we need to remember what the world REALLY thinks about us,

     & how much at odds what we are with the world & the way it thinks

     & what we're about is completely foreign to the world's way of thinking.

1 Corinthians 1

18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!

        But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.19 As the Scriptures say,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise

  and discard the intelligence of the intelligent."

  20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters?

          God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.

21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

22 It is foolish to the Jews,

        who ask for signs from heaven.

And it is foolish to the Greeks,

     who seek human wisdom.

23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense.

  24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans,

        and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

  26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.

27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.

        And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

28 God chose things despised by the world,

        things counted as nothing at all,

        and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

  30 God has united you with Christ Jesus.

For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself.

Christ made us right with God;

     he made us pure and holy,

     and he freed us from sin.

31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say,

        "If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

a thought

Psalm 41

1 Oh the joys of those who are kind to the poor.

The Lord rescues them in times of trouble.

2 The Lord protects them

& keeps them alive.

He gives them prosperity

& rescues them from their enemies.

3 The Lord nurses them when they are sick

& eases their pain & discomfort.

just a thought...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

right now

As for me, I am poor & needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. Psalm 40:17a (NLT 1st ed.)

I remember the first time I REALLY saw this verse.

It was back in 2003, when God started waking me up long before I usually got up, to read the Bible & listen out for Him.

I was just reading along in Psalm 40 - there's a lot of good stuff in psalm 40! You should read it some time! ;-)

Verse 17 is the last verse in the psalm.

When I read it the words "the Lord is thinking about me right now" came hurtling up off the page.

There it was - it said, in the Bible, that God is thinking about me right now.

I don't think we act like we really believe that.

If we did, we'd live differently.

Or if we do kinda think He thinks about us, we don't believe the things He's thinkin' about us are good - like, He doesn't like us.

Or maybe we just think that there's so many gajillions of us that He just doesn't have the capacity to think about all of us all the time.

Or maybe we don't think He would "waste His time" thinking about us.

Or any number of erroneous or neurotic things.

But that's what it says - I check other translations at (kool site).

It says in many different ways in those many translations that God is thinking about me, right now.

Think about that...

The God of the universes, all knowing, all powerful, all everything,  the very essence of love, the personification of truth, is thinking about you, right now.

Allow yourself to at least entertain the thought that it's possible.

How does that make you feel?

Go to the comments below & tell me how that makes you feel.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

a reminder

Just felt like we needed a reminder of who we are.

Sometimes I think we get to taking ourselves too seriously, as if the Lord is lucky to have us.

Ya know what I mean?

Psalm 39

4 "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.

  Remind me that my days are numbered—

  how fleeting my life is.

5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.

  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;

  at best, each of us is but a breath."

6 We are merely moving shadows,

  and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.

We heap up wealth,

  not knowing who will spend it.

7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?

  My only hope is in you.

Romans 4

7 For we don't live for ourselves or die for ourselves.

8 If we live, it's to honor the Lord.

And if we die, it's to honor the Lord.

So whether we live or die,

     we belong to the Lord.

9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose:

     to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.