Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Christian Militias?"

You’ve seen it on the local news, in news papers and in the internet, “Secret Christian Militia Arrested!”

The premiss defies logic...

If, indeed, it was Jesus’ will and purpose to form private militias, then He must be considered a failure. He recruited only twelve and one of those betrayed Him. Poor choice.

If, indeed, Jesus gave credibility to the raising of arms against those who would oppose His Gospel, why is Peter rebuked for having done so at the moment of Jesus’ arrest?

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Therefore, Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword [back] into the sheath! The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’” - John 18:9-10

Luke, being a physician, takes the event a bit further and records not only did Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, but Jesus, in love and only as He could do, healed Malchus on the spot! (Luke 22:51)

No; no the lost, misguided, self-absorbed individuals who would adopt for themselves the banner of “Christian” while taking up arms rather than Bibles are anathema to the cause of Christ! Furthermore, it angers me with a righteous anger that such would make headlines and become, by their very claim to be “Christians”, thought to be typical of true Christians.

So that there is no misunderstanding, please allow me to refer to the Biblical description of a Christian:

”Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise - sensible, intelligent people; making the very most of the time - buying up each opportunity - because the days are evil.” - Ephesians 5:15-16

And the weapons of the true Christian?

“Stand therefore - hold your ground - having tightened the belt of TRUTH around your loins, and having put on the breastplate of INTEGRITY AND MORAL RECTITUDE AND RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD; having shod your feet in preparation to face the enemy with firm-footed STABILITY, the promptness and readiness produced by the good news of the GOSPEL OF PEACE. Lift up over all the covering shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword the Spirit wields, which is THE WORD OF GOD.” - Ephesians 6:14-17

The true Christian does not hide in the shadows and plot evil. The true Christian stands exposed as simply a sinner saved by the grace of God, ready to serve his fellow men and women, of all faiths, of all persuasions, of all opinions, so that by so doing, some might come to know Jesus and His love, and the true meaning of His great sacrifice on a lonely hill from a lonely cross.

May His love touch each of you. May the truth of His sacrifice on Calvary touch the very depths of your heart, and may Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection bring a newness of life to your soul this Easter!

God bless!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Census

The United States of America is still [statistically] considered a Christian nation. Approximately 159 million people, 76.5% of the United States’ population, consider themselves “Christian.”

Where are they? It just seems to me I’d be bumping into a few here and there. I guess they (“we”) tend to keep our “Christianity” private. But, should we?

“As you have therefore received the Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk - regulate your lives and conduct yourselves - in union and conformity to Him.” - Colossians 2:6 Amplified Bible

This verse presents a clear standard to live by. I need to conduct myself in “union and conformity” to Jesus. So, let’s broaden our “census”. Let’s find out from the religious leaders of Jesus’ day their opinion of Jesus’ lifestyle.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and especially wicked sinners came and sat reclined with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those pre-eminently sinful?” - Matthew 9:10-11 Amplified Bible

“And when the scribes (belonging to the party) of the Pharisees,when they saw that He was eating with (those definitely known to be especially wicked) sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and notorious) sinners?" - Mark 2:17

Jesus confronted the religious leaders with their own words of condemnation:

“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking,and you say, “behold, a Man Who is a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax collectors and notorious sinners.” - Luke 7:34 Amplified Bible

The finger pointing continued long after Jesus ascended back into heaven. The Christian faith was new and growing. This rapid growth, with so many people of varying backgrounds and former beliefs, resulted in divisions. The Apostle Paul wanted to encourage members of the church at Corinth to stay focused upon TRUTH not opinion. He wanted to make certain they followed God’s law not the traditions of men and man- made laws.

Paul explained:

“For although I am free in every way from any one’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ]. To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law. To those without law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without (outside) law. To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and over scrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means-at all costs and in any and every way-save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].” - 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

The “union and conformity to Christ” spoken of in Colossians 2:6 reveals Jesus’ open arms of love to those considered undesirable by the religious leaders of His day. Likewise, Paul’s primary objective was to share this “union and conformity to Christ” with everyone, wherever they may be.

How can a Christian do this and not compromise? Paul goes on to explain:

“Have the roots [for your life] firmly and deeply planted [in Him] - fixed and founded in Him - being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism, and vain deceit idle fancies and plain nonsense, following human tradition - men’s ideas of the material [rather than the spiritual] world - just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe, and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ, the Messiah. For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead), continues to dwell in bodily form - giving complete expression of the divine nature. And you are in Him, made full and have come to fulness of life - in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and reach full spiritual stature. And he is the Head of all rule and authority - of every angelic principality and power.” - Colossians 2:7-10

And so, while the nation counts lives, the Bible challenges us to make our lives count! Not in the pews, not in the safety of the church building only, but out and about - on the highways and byways. Loving and serving those whom Christ loves!

God bless!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Wisest Of Them All

Who comes to mind? Who would you consider to be the wisest of them all? A ridiculous question; I know. How can we determine a single individual whose wisdom has impacted this world? Well, there happens to be one...

This person’s writings are prolific. No library is large enough to hold the volume of wisdom contributed. Quoted by every world leader since the beginning of recorded history this individual’s words have brought comfort, joy, laughter, peace, encouragement, reflection and resolve.

The wisest of them all? The name that follows so many writings, "Anonymous".

You may chuckle but as a young child I actually tried to determine just who this person was. I found the name “Anonymous” on so many writings and quotes I knew this person had to be the wisest of them all!

“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.” - Anonymous
“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” - Anonymous
“Discretion is the better part of valor.” - Anonymous
“Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” - Anonymous
“Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.” - Anonymous
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” - Anonymous
“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” - Anonymous

"Anonymous". Their names have been forgotten. Their lot in life, unknown. And yet, there remains an almost overpowering importance to their having lived. Whether or not it was a casual comment by a mother to a young son or daughter, a thought shared by a minister from the pulpit or a comment made over a friendly reunion, the importance of that moment lives on forever!

So, I ask myself, how am I spending my moments? What positive words of encouragement do I have for those around me? Most importantly, am I willing to live a life of servitude - in anonymity, so that someone I will never know benefits? Just how will our words be remembered? What impact are we having upon those we love the most?

“Happiness comes through doors you didn’t even know you left open.” - Anonymous

Today, leave a few doors open and enjoy the blessings of God - while being a blessing to someone on His behalf!

God bless!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Arts

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works; which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” - Ephesians 2:8,9

For most of my life I read this verse as just one more burdensome command designed to make me feel hopelessly guilty. God to me was, more or less, a tyrant. Oh, I would never admit that to anyone - not even to God. But because of my legalistic and ridged image of Him every verse served to beat me down and cause me to forever be ashamed of who I was.

From this beaten position it was quite easy to allow hidden feelings of shame and worthlessness to be wrongly confirmed by the harsh words and/or actions of [perhaps] well meaning individuals. They all too often would offer what they deemed to be “tough love” when I needed His love.

In recent years I have come to understand this verse quite differently. Please allow me to digress just a bit to make a point that I trust will touch your heart today.

I love the arts. I love all the various forms of art. The very creative process of ideation becoming reality touches my heart. I love sculpture, theater, opera, ballet, symphony painting and poetry.

Poetry. Come to think of it, every form of art has it’s own poetic rhythm and rhyme. Whether by brush, or by dramatic reading; by instrument or by voice, there is beauty in creative processes and finished pieces. Of course, one might at times be critical of certain works of art. Clearly there are those who might prefer one form of art over another. But no one can deny the mark of genius when an artist transfers power and purpose from a mere idea into a tangible reality that touches the hearts of those who hear, see and experience their finished work.

And so I return to the passage of Scripture that opened today’s BLOG.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works; which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” - Ephesians 2:8,9

The word interpreted “workmanship” is actually the word, “POEM”. Read the verse again but personalize it with me:


Dear friend, by the very power of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection we become something we never were before. We become a new creation, HIS NEW POEM; A ONE OF A KIND WORK OF ART! By His loving power and grace He wipes the canvas clean and creates the perfect poetic expression of His desire. He molds the clay to the image He wishes to enjoy. He writes the song that expresses His love. He writes a poem of such depth and value that it brings about the will of God exactly as He designed it to be.

His work is not open for the review of the critic. His work is complete and perfect. King David realized this when he said:

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well!” - Psalm 139: 14

And so this moment, this day, begin to realize and enjoy the poem God has written in you. You have value far beyond the work of the masters stored in the worlds finest museums. You have the value of the Master who is preparing a place for His finished work throughout eternity!

God bless!