Would You Believe?

I’ve often heard it said by people who claim to be atheists that they wish they could believe in God. They go on to explain that for them to do so would require them to disregard the whole of science and conventional wisdom and to reject all that they believe about mans past,present and future.

And they’re unable to do that.

I know people who’ve made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ who claim to have trusted the care of their eternal souls to Him but who all too often allow themselves to be put in bondage by worry. They’re consumed by soul wrenching, anxiety producing worry over various aspects of their lives. If we’re able to trust Him with our eternity, shouldn’t we also then be able to trust Him in this moment?  I think so…

But they’re unwilling to do that.

John 6:29

Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

As a member of the church, and of the body of Christ, I believe that many of us overlook the simplicity of what Jesus is saying here.  He’s saying that opening our hearts to His love is all that’s required of us! From that point on, it’s His Holy Spirit shining through our surrendered vessels that accomplishes His purpose.

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Perhaps the difficulty lies in our understanding of the word believe. Our modern usage of it as a description is often confused with what it means to know. To believe, or to think to be true, carries with it a measure of doubt or at least it leaves a space open for it as in the expression “I believe it is so” .

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

As you can see there’s a leap to be made from now to then. From what is belief to what is knowing. Faith is the conduit.  Not only does it take us there but it allows it to come to and through us! Being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen tell’s me that it’s not a blind leap but instead one of reasoned logic not unlike following a trail of breadcrumbs through a wood. It’s truth based upon truth, and the belief or assumption that the past is the best predictor of the future that compels us on.

Mark 10:15

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

What does this leap of faith consist of, what do Christians believe? We believe that as descendants of the first man Adam we’re all born sinners. We believe that Jesus, the son of God, chose to pay the price for our sin and offer it to us as a free gift. We believe that we must accept His gift of salvation and receive it as ours. It’s not too complicated; there are no unnecessary hoops to jump through or fine print that needs to be carefully read.

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

I’m quite impressed that Jesus foresaw what was going to happen with us in the future.  He understood our limited ability to overcome our flesh and to have faith. I don’t think He expects us all to be great theologians or to have faith that moves mountains. (Which is a good thing because most of us don’t!)

However I do believe that He expects us

to be moving in (and under) his direction!


Would you only believe?

Advertisements

A Mighty Wind!

The wind is commonly used in literature as a metaphor to represent a powerful force of some kind or as a harbinger that’s acting as a catalyst or agent of change.  From a meteorological perspective wind is simply a physical manifestation of the effects of gravity and barometric pressure on static air that’s enacted between geographic regions.

Recently I’ve felt as though I’m living in a windy metaphor of my own that’s pulling and pushing me both literally and figuratively.  Allow me to explain, it’s been so windy here the past couple of days and extremely dry for the past couple of months that we’re now under a county wide burn ban. As an aside I’m wondering, is it more than a coincidence that we’ve just recently come through a hotly contested political season? I don’t know, and for me to jump to any conclusions about it at this point might seem unsportsmanlike so I won’t. When I first saw from a distance the large and yet very low cloud-like plumes of smoke I initially ruled out a fire, let alone one purposely started. After asking around about it I was told that the Conservation Dept. was conducting an out of control controlled burn of about 1000 acres just north of me… Now I’m being told that it was intentionally set by some other individual!

Can you see God? You haven’t seen him? I’ve never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.
– Billy Graham

I’ve also been feeling a bit of mystery or confusion concerning other winds blowing and fires burning in my life right now that are moving me in a direction I thought I’d never go again. I’m not at all certain but there’s a better than even chance that I might soon be going back to driving a truck over the road. On the one hand it’s a matter of practical survival, a temporary measure, that will along with other things get me and mine to a better place in time where hopefully better opportunities will meet us. And on the other it could also be a way for me to usher in some needed changes that might be good for me personally as well. At any rate I feel compelled to accept the position if offered to me, perhaps being back in the wind is exactly what I need. A change of scenery, a chance to see a few places again and reconnect with memories from my not too distant past. To observe what’s changed and what still remains since I’ve been “out there” running up and down the road.

To conclude this windy post there’s one final movement that I’ve sensed growing stronger of late having to do with Eschatology or the study of or interest in biblical prophesy. I realize that it’s been hot stuff  since before Christ walked on the earth but naturally, as I see it this new interest is being generated by a number of currently ominous “ill winds” that are  swirling around these days.

We’ve seen severe flooding as well as  historic drought worldwide resulting in record low harvest yields.  As a result we’re staring a worldwide food crisis in the face right now!

 

Our debt problem in this country combined with the anemic GDP stats spell out a recipe for a coming global economic meltdown starting with hyperinflation in the US that will take out all other economies whose currencies are tied to the dollar.  Read more:

There’s a new world-wide church coming to the forefront of late. One of many modern progressive organizations whose message is based on the premise that man is essentially good. Their contention is that despite man’s long history indicating otherwise he’s going to somehow cast that aside and finally save himself. The belief is that the “New Earth” or “world Order” will be made possible by eliminating what causes division among people and uniting everyone under a banner of world peace.

Are we also currently experiencing an increase in the frequency and strength of  earthquakes, volcanic activity and natural disasters? Did Christ specifically say that we should regard these things as significant prior to the tribulation? Read the Olivet Discourse and make up your own mind! The Institute for Christian Research has a lot of interesting articles concerning this topic for you to check out.

Are you feeling the pressure building in your world? I know I am…

The wind and the Holy Spirit also move. The wind from areas of high pressure to low pressure while the Spirit moves or leads us to Christ! In this atmosphere of high pressure and high stress, I can feel them both bearing on my life, drawing me into the peaceful presence of my Lord where the storms of life, tremendous pressures,  and struggles of living cease. I don’t know about you but I want to be on the first load out of here! Just as the church’s arrival was described in the book of Act’s, with the sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, so I believe it must be with it’s leaving at whats called “the catching away” or harpazo. So blow wind, blow your beautiful trumpet!

Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

Easy Does It!

For many very good reasons those are definitely the wisest words spoken around me in the last couple of weeks.  Recently, after a very long hiatus I’ve returned to the world of physical work. I’m slowly becoming adjusted to my new routine, getting lots of healthy exercise, working with people I enjoy, and spending all day outside usually in the woods! It’s every bit as much fun as it sounds, but the combination of having turned fifty last month and my being so very out of shape (round is a shape isn’t it?) has made it a real challenge. Let me tell you, after you’ve pushed yourself pretty hard it’s an incredible feeling just to lay back on the grass and stare up at the crystal clear blue sky. Feeling your blood coursing through your veins and the blessed peace that even momentary relief brings. Marking time by the thunderous rhythm of your own heart beats against the easy swaying of the tree tops.

Overheated~ pulsating… ecstatic!

At this point in my life, it’s out of necessity I must be smarter about how I go about things. I’m no longer able to simply go to the well of my physical strength as before. This emerging strategy consists mostly of practicing patience, persistence, and planning, but more importantly it’s about using the power that’s available to me most effectively. That involves developing the skill and judgment nessesary to use a machine to it’s full potential without pushing it to the point that it’s going to break or in a way it wasn’t designed to be used. Understanding that it, the machine, will take a great deal of hard use but very little if any ab-use.  So while it’s true that my strength isn’t what it once was and my energy is now much more precious, none of those realities change the fact that the job is about moving heavy objects from one place to another, and so the relationship I have with my “power” equipment is extremely vital to me!

The power of a machine like this makes the impossible possible. It pulls whole trees out of the thickest brush you can imagine using a wench and a cable and “skids” them to a landing.

This is called a “picker truck” it’s the helping hand that lifts the extremely heavy loads onto the log truck like they were toothpicks!

And of course the real workhorse of our operation, the log truck! We do a humanly impossible task by using the awesome power that’s available to us through these tools.

Life can also be a “mission impossible”

How common it seems to be nowadays for people to feel overwhelmed by all of the heavy burdens they’re dragging around or trying to carry on their shoulders. All of us can relate personally or have known those who were crushed by the weight of their problems, by the pile of logs that are on top of them! Many people mistakenly believe that they’re stuck in their situations, pinned down by the tangled mess their living in and are frustrated by it’s complex nature. Sadly, their lives have become a hopeless, joyless, depressing drudgery with seemingly no meaning to all of the hardship and struggles that they endure daily.

And that’s no way to live!

This description also fits many Christian people who would eagerly to tell you about Jesus and his great love for us all!  Who have trusted Christ for their eternal salvation and yet somehow they’re challenged to trust Him with their present circumstances! I wonder if they believe that He’s a far away God who is perhaps indifferent to their troubles or that what goes on here in this life is theirs to deal with alone. I don’t think that’s right, this sounds much easier to me!

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Matthew 11:30

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Years ago my high school biology teacher told us that he had previously taught chemistry for many years all the while believing that he understood it until one day as he was drawing a formula on the board in a sudden realization he actually “got it” himself. He thought he understood it but his understanding was only on a superficial level. I’m sure he had  passed many tests over it to graduate and no doubt felt comfortable teaching it to others. In his head it seemed to be a settled issue, but in his heart it was a different matter. He didn’t really understand it, not on that level, there was a vital connection missing, an “app” as they call it today that turned it from being just a bunch of abstract theories into a simple life changing reality!

As Christians I think we all need to have a similar “light bulb” moment! One way to do that is to walk by faith in our own lives until we come to a much clearer understanding of what is the true reality of the spiritual world and the false illusion of the physical one.

1 Corinthians 2:6

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

If only we could comprehend much more of  God’s love for us, think of the difference it would make in our lives, that we could make in this world! we could live our lives in victory and love would flow out of us like living waters!

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

John 7:38

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Christs supreme act of love and redemption that was done for all men on the cross defeated sin’s power over us and ultimately death on our behalf. It made the impossible possible, and through the power of His blood Jesus still empowers believers to rise above all of the weapons that are formed against them in life.

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Easy does it!

We have a tremendous tool that we don’t use nearly enough! It has the power to pull us out of the miry clay we’re stuck in and out of the worst thorns and thickets we could ever hope to find ourselves. It can lift all of those heavy burdens we’re carrying around ourselves, put them on a truck, and deliver you from the need to ever fear them again! What is it?

PRAYER!

Romans 12:12

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

1 John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

It’s as easy as just loving God,

Loving our brothers and sisters by sharing Christ’s love which was given to us freely

And finally, it’s as easy as loving yourself and KNOWING that God loves YOU!

There’s nothing confusing or complicated about it. All we have to do is LOVE.

That’s always been Gods intention towards us, I don’t understand why we all don’t get it !

Or why if we say we do, we don’t act with the authority it conveys to us over all areas of our lives

Someday, a simple little man is going to read Gods word and just believe it…

And the rest of us are going to be really embarrassed when he looks at us and says,

It’s easy when you just let God do it!

Matthew 6:13

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

The Problem…

In some ways it’s the height of comical irony that a culture such as ours so steeped in the worship and reverence of love could have it so wrong…

but it does.

It’s often confused with sex, perhaps as a result of the perception that it’s somehow inherently explained by the misleading commonly used expression

“make love”.

Sadly, many settle for the red-headed step-child of love “attention” primarily because we don’t really know the difference. Children, both young and old, act out in bad behaviors that are really just cries for help or for “love”.

It’s sometimes described as a feeling, but that’s kind of like saying Gods creation is God and then worshiping “it” instead of Him. We’re told that love is a choice, which is true, but how does that help us to make loving choices? We’re inundated with a constant flow of dis-functional concepts and examples from every possible source! Through the song lyrics that brainwash us daily all the way back to the fairytale stories that were read to us as children.

I feel very comfortable in saying that all of the most screwed up things that you and I have done in our lives are directly related to our misunderstanding of God and of love, and our search for both.

Almost invariably, mans search for love and his quest for the understanding of it are motivated only by his selfish desires to marshal it’s great power for his own purposes. Man has become a master at peddling illusions and perpetrating lies on his fellow man in order to get what he wants. One is seen as being successful in this life by demonstrating an ability to manipulate others and more importantly to convince themselves that it’s love that they’re offering. None of which would be possible apart from the basic ignorance about the true nature of love that’s so prevalent. We’re like blind people feeling around in the dark who are stung, bitten and burned as a result of working through a process of elimination hoping to find the real thing.

As unfortunate as ignorance is,there’s still cause for hope in that ignorance can be dealt with through simple knowledge. Whats most unfortunate are those of us who have allowed fear to take hold of our spirits. In acting out of fear we acknowledge our own personal insufficiency by believing that we are the source of our limited provision. We’ve been taught to look out for number one which is of course ourselves because if we don’t who will? certainly not a benevolent God, afterall, everyone knows that God helps those who help themselves right?. But in truth, God helps or comes to save those who absolutely cannot help or save themselves!

And that’s exactly the work I believe God is wanting to use His church to accomplish!

God Is Love!

As His representatives and ambassadors, disciples and followers, evangelist’s and ministers, church members and children, shouldn’t we have, based on our personal relationship with Jesus, a much greater familiarity with love than those who don’t or who aren’t any of those things?

Love is the answer!

Perhaps we as the church have forgotten that. We live in the midst of a world full of people who are crying out for answers, are we prepared to give them? Shouldn’t we be the ones teaching the world about love?  This world is a vineyard ripe for harvest, and the only real preparation necessary for us as Christians is to truly receive that love and those answers first ourselves! How can we say that we know the Lord, or that we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior, and then stand idly by in the presence of so much need in our own assigned area’s of mission field earth?

We’ve been given the perfect example of what love is in Christ.

I don’t think there’s any way that I personally could ever be thankful enough for what He did for me. If I really mean that, then what does it mean?

We need more than a “revival” what we need is a revolution! A love revolution…

And since love is an action word, a “verb”, that means we need to shift our focus away from merely talking about it week in and week out to one of making some thoughtful plans to implement it in some way scratch that, every way possible! I’m not talking about some token “feel good” project that doesn’t require much from us. What I’m suggesting here is that we work in earnest the great harvest that’s been prepared before us! Just as Christ held nothing back on our behalf, How can we do any less?

We can make the most of the opportunity before us by bringing everything we have to bear on this Kingdom battle for the souls of those around us who our Heavenly Father dearly loves!

Or we can listen to fear…

It’s a choice each of us has to make,there is no way to “abstain”

We can either choose to live in love or be imprisoned by fear.

We can choose to serve the One True God and His Kingdom…

Or be a slave to the one who opposed Him and who is also our enemy.

Is that a problem?


Against The Wall

All of us enjoy a good story, but what is it that makes a story good? I suppose that’s an entirely subjective question, one that if I knew the answer to I’d be writing screenplays or books instead of this blog! But I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I were to say that most people are drawn to a couple of specific things. Most people love hero’s and how they inspire us with their courage and “never say die” attitude. It’s their charisma, confidence, leadership and direction that compels us to follow them.  I was ready to fight in the Roman Colosseum myself after listening to Russell Crowe  lay out the simple facts of life and death to a band of hopeless slaves as Maximus in the movie

“Gladiator”

“Whatever comes out of these gates…we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together! Lock your shields! Stay as one!

Stories about brotherhood, love and honor that through their medium remind us that there are no dress rehearsals in life…that it’s all real and it all counts

“Good Will Hunting”

Let me tell you what I do know. Everyday I come by to pick you up, and we go out drinkin’ or whatever and we have a few laughs. But you know what the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on the door ’cause I let myself think I might get there, and you’d be gone. I’d knock on the door and you wouldn’t be there. You just left.

This next scene always gets to me, some people take love and friendship very,very, seriously

What problems does he have, Sean? that he is better off as a janitor or in jail or hanging around with–And why does he hang out with his friends? Because any one of those kids would come in here and take a bat to your head if he asked them to. It’s called loyalty!

Most great stories are about overcoming adversity of some kind, we love to pull for the underdog! We seem to identify with people who find themselves fighting the good fight for the sake of all against evil and insurmountable odds.  Typically they’ve got nothing going for them other than their heart and the fact that they have nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

Years ago I heard a story about a football team in a championship game. Things weren’t going well at all and they had taken a pretty bad beating over the course of the afternoon. With only minutes left in the game, and what would be their last possession, they had the ball deep in their own territory.  They needed only one touchdown to win but as they walked towards the huddle that goal seemed impossible, they all felt as though they were already beaten. As they leaned in together to hear the Quarterback’s final direction, this is what he told them.

“Good job guys, I think we’ve got ’em just where we want them…They’ve counted us out, they think we’re whipped, and my guess is that most of them are already thinking about what their going to do after the game is over, but I’ll tell you what we’re going to do right now! After that ball is snapped we’re going to completely take them by surprise, we’re going to play like it’s the first play of the game instead of the last, like a team that knows it’s going to win! I look around at all of your faces and I know you want to win, well I’m telling you how we will, and that’s together! Men, no victory is as sweet as one that is pulled from the fearsome jaws of defeat, seize this moment, it’s yours for the taking!

Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s some point I’m trying to make with all of this or if maybe I’ve decided to turn this into a film review blog. If so, hold on…

Do you hear that grinding noise? Don’t be alarmed, that’s just me changing gears.

There’s a story that’s playing out all around each and every one of us everyday. It’s about us individually and the church as a whole.Our combined stories are all part of a much bigger story that we also have a role in.  It’s a grand drama, a classic tale of good and evil with hero’s and villains, winners and losers, it’s a full cast! Some of you probably know what I’m talking about, the rest of you think I’m nuts, that’s okay.

Anyway…

As I see it this little story is kind of coming down to a scenario that reminds me a great deal of the examples I mentioned. We are indeed behind, and we appear to be losing ground on just about every front. We’ve taken some hard hits and been thrown to the ground. Through clever tactics, our enemy has succeeded in dividing us and causing us to fight among ourselves in order that his plans might go undisturbed. Even now, he’s infiltrated our ranks and seeks to maintain this subversion by sowing complacency and preaching comfort. We’ve been led to believe there is no battle, that instead this boat we’re on a is a luxury cruise liner instead of a battleship. And yet, right before our eye’s he’s savagely attacked each of our families. The deeds he’s committed are so reprehensible that our minds recoil in disgust and we must turn away!

Now is not the time to wring our hands in hopeless despair, or to mourn what’s been lost.

Instead NOW is the time that we must attack!

In order for us to be successful it’s going to require that we all put aside our differences and come to a new agreement as to what is our common goal. We need a plan that involves putting our strengths against his weakness’s. One that he can have no defense against because each of us is more than willing to die if necessary to accomplish it.

We represent the kingdom of heaven and the living God, and to reveal them to mankind is what we live for and stand for and are ready to die for. Bless God! John G. Lake

Sound extreme? I’ve no doubt that some people who read this will mistakenly equate or compare what I’m talking about with the kind of violent acts committed by terrorists but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s only love that can conquer hate, and so it’s only through love that any real victory can be won!

It’s easy for actors like Russell Crowe who are playing a role to be brave when they know what’s going to happen in the end. Well guess what, I’ve read how our story ends and we should be SO much bolder!

As members of the body of Christ and of Gods one true church we should have the kind of love for each other that puts a bond between us that nothing can break, we should be loyal servants of each other! If we’re more concerned with our possessions or if we can’t see beyond the temporal nature of this present world then we’ll always be vulnerable to being infected with the disease of  “self ” and will be of little use to Gods Kingdom in this battle.

Where do you see yourself in this unfolding drama? You might be among those who don’t believe or who won’t understand it until the very last days when the fight is on your doorstep. You’re much braver than me if your counting on having an opportunity to make the right choice then when you finally realize that it’s your back that’s…against the wall