There Is A God!

There is God! As I may know this and you may know this, there are many in this world who do not. They look around them at what the world presents as Christianity and reject it without ever hearing the actual Gospel. The stumbling block for many is how we seem to live in a time when we allow politicians to set the bar of righteousness, and that bar is at a point where it couldn’t get much lower. So many within the church today seem to have chosen some form of Christian Nationalism and many have chosen a path of hatred rather than love. So many live in fear of others and extol their need for automatic weapons for protection, all the while professing to follow Jesus who taught, ‘do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’ (Matthew 10:28 NASB) They promote a pro-life stance for the unborn while ignoring the plight of refugees, aliens and strangers. to which Jesus says, ‘I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ (Matthew 25:43 NASB) Christian Nationalism sways between an Old Testament belief of ‘an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth’ when it suits their purpose, but a complete reversal when it comes to their pro-life stance because after all Jesus was born into an Old Testament world where a woman pregnant out of wedlock would be stoned ending the life of both mother and child. The late Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins once said “[The Bible] says a lot of things in there! Proof-texting is a very, very dangerous thing. I think if we were given the scriptures it was not so that we could prove that we are right about everything. If we were given the scriptures it was to humble us into realizing that God is right and the rest of us are just guessing.” Those in the Christian Nationalism movement have become the masters of proof-texting to sell their message regardless of whether it aligns with the overall teachings of Christ or not.

We are not a Christian or Godly nation because of the laws of morality that we support or enact. We become a Godly nation when our morality is visible in the lives we live as individuals. We become a Christian nation when we have the heart of Christ within us and the heart of Christ is one that identifies with the poor and the marginalized; the downtrodden and the oppressed; the orphan and the widow. We will be known by our love for others who are not even capable of loving us in return. This cannot happen by the laws enacted by man but only through the changing of our hearts in a relationship with our Creator!

We would do well to remain grounded in the actual word of God rather than in the ramblings of man. The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, ‘But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior,  idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.’ (Galatians 5:16-26) May we take heed of these words as we weigh the choices that the world places before us and make our choices based on the teachings of the One who loved us so much that He gave His life for us.
I will continue to do what I do out of love for my fellow man, founded in the unconditional love that my Creator has shown to me. I will do my best to love others regardless of their beliefs and choices. We are called to love and not judge which is so difficult but our call none the less. May God grant us the strength to heed that call on our lives.

Truth

I sat with an elderly gentleman in the hospital yesterday. With it being Christmas I said that it probably might not be how he was feeling but that I wanted to wish him a Merry Christmas! His response caught me by surprise. He said “If you can’t understand a Merry Christmas in a place like this and in times of trial then you will never understand it. The world’s idea of Christmas begins after Halloween and ends with piles of boxes and wrapping paper. Jesus is just lost in the midst of it and then thrown out with the trash. In times of difficulty and trial we are open to the entrance of the hope of Jesus into our midst and we can rejoice. ” He then looked at me and said “Merry Christmas!” With a renewed understanding I said “it truly is!”

Church Called to Church Calloused

We’ve taken God’s precious calling and turned it into a failed experiment. Divisions abound as we divide churches and groups of people based on our own thoughts of what is required for healing while at the same time we are taking our eyes off the healer. Rather than allowing God to build a church through our outpouring of love, compassion, grace and mercy we seem to redesign ourselves with some new marketing ploy, hoping to draw in a group of like-minded people, rather than to become attractive to those who are cast off; those who are oppressed; those who are confused; those who have been cut down by this life.

A Journal Entry

Written in my journal after driving to Arizona for a young friend's Celebration of Life.

'Sometimes I think that God is like a sideshow oddity. You don’t want to look, but when you finally do, you can’t look away, and then I feel guilty of thinking of God in this way. But then I think about God in the distressing disguise of the poor, the sick and the needy and I realize that’s exactly how he is. Then I meet those in this journey like Thomas, and I believe that God didn’t try very hard to disguise himself. As much as my family questioned this journey, I did as well. But after driving over 2000 miles and then standing before all of those folks at Thomas’s celebration of life, and simply singing one song, I better understood. To have Thomas’s mother take my hands and look in my eyes and tell me how much joy she found in finally getting to meet me touched me deeply. She spoke of Thomas’s love for me. To then be welcomed into the Harris’s cabin in Groom Creek, and to sit with that family and to break bread, laugh and to sing brought overwhelming joy to this old soul. I don’t get to do what I do because of my goodness. I get to do what I do because God is God and he is a God of mercy and grace who, yes, will use even someone like me.'

An Oldie (but yet much the same)

I just found this piece that I had written for a newsletter in 1993 and thought I'd share it here.

DON'T BE DISTRACTED!

I would like to share a passage with you from the 10th chapter of Luke:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

In this passage we see a harried and frustrated Martha. The Master, Jesus, has come into her home and there is so much to be done. There's cleaning and cooking and so many other things to accomplish in order to make sure that everything is just right. Can't Mary see that? Surely Jesus will understand, so Martha goes to Jesus and says, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Jesus responds in a way that must have surprised Martha for He answers, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." How would Jesus respond to our grumblings? Have we become like Martha with our own lives and within the life of the church? Have we been living Martha lives and have we, to a large extent, become a Martha church?

Do we ever take time to reflect on the words of Jesus when He says, "seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well?? We work so hard on so many details.
We are upset about many things. We go out of our way to make sure we have ministries for everything.
We have singles ministries, young adult ministries, ministries for those who are separated or divorced, men's ministries, women's ministries, ministries for those battling addictions and the list goes on and on.
It is not that any of these ministries in themselves is wrong, it is just that we can become so caught up in the details of the differences of each of these groups that we tend to overlook that which each holds in common -- the need for the healing love of Jesus Christ. We allow church events and programs to get in the way of proclaiming Jesus to the world. We waste so much money and time on secondary issues.
We spend valuable time raising huge dollars for things that don't advance the Kingdom and the cause of Christ. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."

I think a lot of our problem stems from our reluctance to stray too far from our comfort zone.
Most times, we just don't want to get personally involved with someone who is too different from us.
I have talked to so many people who have developed a distrust and distaste for the church because they have been avoided and left alone in the midst of their hurt and need by unloving folks that have called themselves believers. "But Lord I don't have those same problems. My life is going well and I've always kept on top of the details. Isn't that enough?" No, I don't believe it is. I believe that Jesus calls us to bring all people into a family of believers where they can experience His healing and His love through each and every one of us. I'll admit that it is easier to just work at fundraising or to give someone directions to the appropriate classroom in order to let someone else deal with it, but that isn't what Jesus would do. He says to us "I've brought them to you, now show them Me." Sure we can use those with special gifts in these individual areas as resources but discipleship must begin with each of us, individually, at the initial point of contact with those in need and that, most often, is not even within the confines our church walls.

Paul, in his letter to the Roman church, writes "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited."(2) What an excellent model for our church. Following Jesus is not a passive activity involving just an hour or a fow hours a week where we sit and listen without response. We are called to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." He calls us to go where He would go. He let nothing distract Him from reaching out to us in our sin - not even the misery of the cross. "My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. "(A] These are Jesus words, not mine. Are we willing to lay down our lives for others? Are we willing to go where He would go regardless of the discomfort to us. We are called to show the sacrificial love of Christ in lives that are fully surrendered unto Him. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."5] (emphasis, mine)

Why are we so unwilling to just sit at Jesus' feet and learn from He Who was with God in the beginning. 16 Why do we feel we have to keep up with the world. Why must we measure everything in worldly ways. We want to look good in the eyes of the world so we attempt to look worldly. What does that say about our relationship with Jesus Christ for He says, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." 7 To whom do we belong? We, who profess to know the One who sent us the Way in his Son Jesus, are to be as aliens and strangers in this world, so we must love unconditionally in unworldly ways, putting others before ourselves. Likewise, we are not to build up our church using worldly ways but, rather, we are to build up Christ's Church using His ways. We are not to call men unto ourselves but unto Him who sends us. We are called to proclaimed one thing; that which is the center of our faith; that Name which is above all names - Jesus the Christ. Let us not take heed of Martha's grumblings. In this passage she doesn't yet understand that "only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." How about you?

[1] Matthew 6:33
(2) Romans 12:9-16
13) Matthew 28:19-20 14] John 15:12-13
[5 Matthew 16:24-25 16 John 1:2
[7] John 15:18-21

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