Status Quo

Standards – why do they exist?

They are put in place for the sole purpose of not getting complacent.  They are put in place so that we have something to shoot for and be productive.  What about going beyond the standard and reaching for more.  Above and beyond!

There are all kinds of standards.  Employee handbooks, KPI’s, what is expected of us on the job, etc…  What about God’s standards?  What are they and where do we find them?  The Ten Commandments, the Beattitudes and others.

The Bible.

God wants us to trust Him alone (EX: 32).  He wants us to remember what He has done for us and look forward to Him (Joshua: 24).  He accepts our requests for forgiveness all the time.  

Repentance requires change of heart mind and behavior.    He judges those who reject or repent equally.

Eternal Consequences

We will be delivered but there are consequences to our sin.  Those are indefinite and are exponential.  We must repent.  Repentance requires a broken heart and a change in behavior.  It shapes the eternal consequences.  It is the turning away from sin and turning toward God.  A casual attitude toward sin is deadly.  I do not turn my back to God but turn back to God.

Throughout the Bible, God never does condone the taking of more than one women to be a wife.  Look at some of the key characters.  Jacob had more than one wife. King David!  King Solomon!  Job!  Christians believe that the mandate and infrastructure of marriage was created in the Book of Genesis.  When God created man He thought it would not be good for man to be alone so he created a women. This they believe is how marriage is structured – one man, one woman.  To have more than one wife goes outside the intended dynamic and stretches its boundaries.  Such a relationship never works as displayed in the Bible or is it good. We, as Christians, consider this type of marriage a sin.

The sin we tolerate always grows and spreads.  To tolerate sin sets me up to commit more sin.  I always tend to despise the sins in others and then the sins that are in me, I tend to hide from others.  This is true for all of us.  Look at it this way – “if God took care of the big stuff then why sweat the small stuff.”  Owning my sin is the first step in repentance.  I must be aware of my sin and grieve over it first.  This starts the process of turning toward God.  I must have an acceptance of the consequences of sin – not protest them.  A repentant heart humbly accepts its consequences. Learn from David and Psalm 51.  

Repentance leads to worship and a right heart!

Some Good News!

There is a redeemer!
The "Book of Ruth" is a book of Love, Hope, Redemption, etc...  It is the book
that clears the way for the one true Kinsmen Redeemer.  Furthermore, it is a
book that lays out a central:  God's plan of redemption is based on unconditional
love.

There are times in my life - and maybe yours - where I feel like I am walking on 
clouds and nothing can touch me.  Then there are times where you and I maybe 
crawling along on our belly trying to stay low so we are not getting hit by what
life is throwing at us and bombarding us with.  It is not what I am going through
or the circumstances that define me or you but how we respond, how we act and what
we say.  God allows hardship.  Who do I know that needs help but I have to give of
myself to do so?

When the focus is on 'self' and what do I get out of it, this creates a barrier
to seeing God's love for us and the needs of others. God, without hesitation,
provides reliefs.  Without second thought, are we willing to protect, love and accept
others, e.g. - the marginalized?  In His plan of redemption God always rewards faith-
ful commitment to Him.  The moment I trust in God, the privileges and blessings of
Israel become ours.  What is God's plan of redemption?  Creation!
  

Coffee with Jesus!

Would Jesus go out for coffee with you?
When’s the last time you sat down with a friend for a face-to-face chat over a cup of coffee (or tea or V8 or whatever)?  When’s the last time you spent time away from family outside your home to engage with a friend? I’m asking you and me both these questions.
When you last wanted to share something special with a close friend, how’d you do it? Did you call them, or text them, or email them, or write them a letter?
All our electronic gadgetry makes sending information to others convenient, quick and easy; but do we communicate? How much time do we spend talking directly to friends or neighbors so we see their lips move and they see ours?
Is what we’re doing communicating? Or by using electronic gadgets are we further isolating ourselves from others?
Do we rush out on Facebook to catch up with friends? Do we tweet our good news to others? Do we write a blog post?
I’m just as guilty as anyone else of hiding behind a computer or cell phone screen. Doesn’t using that technology eliminate or severely hinder real communication between us and other humans? Does it build intimacy, or closeness?
Would Jesus go for coffee with you, with me?
I think He would. As we read God’s word we understand something. Jesus was a people person. All His encounters were face-to-face conversations. Even with  large crowds. Jesus loved people. He loved being around people.  Even if Jesus had an email address or a Facebook page or a Twitter account, I don’t think He’d use them. Jesus thrived on personal relationships, on intimate conversations with His disciples and listeners.
In my view, when we rely on a tweet or an email, or Facebook post, or a blog post (Yes, I’m guilty) to communicate with others, we lose that personal intimacy that only one-on-one, face-to-face encounters develop.
A good friend of mine lives in our area. I’m going to  invite him to have coffee with me on Tuesday. We’re going to spend an hour or so just sharing information, catching up on family stuff, talking football and sharing what God is doing in our lives. Our time together will bless us and encourage us. We’ll both walk away from our time together having enriched our friendship and grown just a little closer to each other as brothers in Christ.
loading How about you?

What Matters Most?

Dwight L. Moody, Samuel, Saul, David!
What do they all have in common?  
The heart.  It is the chosen part of the body that God looks at when choosing a leader.  He looks at the matters of the heart which becomes the heart of the matter.  I need to prepare myself for a powerful time with the Living Creator when I put my heart in God’s hands.  God chooses His servants based on their inner life rather than the outward life.  Saul was chosen to be the first king of Israel because of his heart but it went astray.  His heart turned inward or was not totally given to God.  Jealousy set in as he tried to kill David several times and turned to mediums.  He did not listen to God, through Samuel, and so the kingdom was ripped from him.  Sauls death led to Samuel’s death.
David on the otherhand was a man after God’s heart.  When the Spirit of the Lord comes, it comes powerfully.  The Holy Spirit of the Old Testament times indwelled the hearts of believers then, unlike what His Holy Spirit does today.  Goliath taunts the Israelites and King Saul so David is filled with the Holy Spirit and intervenes only to kill Goliath with a sling and a stone.
Israel and a Son are first concieved in the mind of the Living God and then are made real when the time is appropiate.  So I have to ask myself ‘what does God see in my heart as a believer?’  A heart for self pursues passive self-interests,

God’s honor

To forcibly put an end to something is to stop it in its tracks.  There are somethings that this can be done to very easily.  For example, a military project gone sour or a science project gone awry.  Then there are some issues or hot topics that seem to be very hard or difficult to get a handle on.  Things like human trafficking, the opioid crisis or immigration.  A wise king once said “For this, however, you must know, I find that God has made simple.  Mans complex problems are of his own devising.”  Eccl 7: 29.

What about sin!  As long as man, the pinnacle of God’s creation, is on this earth than sin will always be present.  God has a plan.  The time is coming when one day it will be wiped off the face of the earth and this planet will be purged and made clean.

Suppressing God’s righteousness is a key gateway to sin.  It is grating with my reality on a very personal level.  The question then becomes ‘what is my reality?’  It is the One true Living God who is second to none.  “Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, my Lord, who came down from heaven.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary and became man.  Judged under  Pontus Pilot, suffered, died and was buried.  On the third day He rose from the dead, in fulfillment with the Scriptures.  He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father..” He is my personal Lord and Savior.  That is my morality.  If I suppress God’s righteousness then I enter into a dead tailspin away from God. Doing so is my self-righteousness and it underminds who God is.  This leads to sin and there are consequences.  This sin does not change the heart.  It is a charged heart that changes one’s life.  When I am charged with a sin my first response might be the fight or flight response.  The first response should be to go to the Lord.  Depending on God’s righteousness means seeking His guidance – go to the Lord  first.  God provides guidance just when we need it.  Trust God’s rioghteousness puts God’s glory above personal risk.

I must be willing to put God’s honor above personal risk.

Obstacle or Opportunity

Hardships!   What are they?  Well, let us pontificate here and come up with a response to that question.

I would have to say that the definition is one that is interlaced with my personality. I see myself as an optimist.  An optimist would see a hardship as an opportunity.  An opportunity for growth and edification.  “What can I learn from this or what is the take away for me.”  A pessimist, on the otherhand, might see it as an obstacle. Something standing in the way of advancement or moving forward.  Which ever the case, it is a opportunity of a lifetime where my imperfection highlights God’s perfection.

We have all, at one time or another, benefited from the assistance of others.  One of the by-products of hardship might be anger.  Anger is a wild beast, when left untamed, can cause insurmountable damage and change one’s perspective or outlook.  Anger triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response of the body.  This response is also triggered by fear, excitement and anxiety.  Physiologically, what happens is the brain senses this brash outside stimuli and tells the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones.  Adrenaline and cortisol flood the system and the results of the anger response are in full gear.  The part of the nervous system that is dramaticly affected is the SNS or sympathetic nervous system.  Anger, like other emotions, has a physiological effect in the body and activates this system.  Its effects are quite noticable,causing the heart to pound, raise the blood-pressure, and make the muscles contract – all of which prepare the body for fight or flight or freeze responses.  Anger often requires outside influence to get relief.

Just as anger affects me and those around me, my choices do the same.  My righteous choices can bless me as well as those around me.  These choices do not come without competition.  Santification pits me in a battle against my beliefs that I espoused before my justification.  God provides a contingency or escape plan for when I enounter these experiences.  A relationship with Jesus Christ.  God is faithful and guides me in this process of santification.  God is the one who sustains life and my waivering faith leaves me short sighted in His over all grand scheme for creation.

God develops my trust to be unshakable and His presence is always there for me to be in.  To be a part of that I must welcome Him into my house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Am I – A Story from Alexandria, Virginia

I am adventurous and like to go off the beaten path.  When the way gets to risky and dangerous for my health, I get scared and stop.  Then I freeze and do not know what to do.  It is at that point I do not call upon the Lord but instead try to rectify the situation on my own but that only leads to more danger – to myself and others.  

It was on one of these occassions that I heard a voice say “Follow me, it’s okay to go off the beaten path but “Follow me”.”

Moral of the story:  don’t make things so difficult for yourself.