Christian Living. Theoretical or Faith?
Should we constantly second guess our past decisions?
Stay with me because this is important to look at!
Now I know that is a lot to take in so allow me to blow some holes in the philosophical principles surrounding theoretical decision making.
Romans 1:17 KJV
 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Let’s get right to simplicity!
There was a young woman whose husband left her. Not long after that she went to school and became a lawyer, She married a great Christian guy and continued to practice law. It wasn’t long that the couple discovered that they were unable to have children. This is their story! She is quoted as saying “Theoretically, if I had been able to have children in my first marriage maybe things would be different.”
Hmmm! This just doesn’t jive with the idea that the just shall live by faith. Another problem is that it is horribly confusing for other christians to see conflicting views and mis-understandings of what God has been doing in any of our individual stories. At some point, we can't give credence to the ways that seem right in our own eyes. A walk of faith demonstrates rest and trust in the work that God is doing in us even when we don't fully understand how He is authoring our story. Furthermore, we all have to come to a place in our walk where we recognize our position in Christ in and reconcile it with what the Author and finisher of our faith has done in our story.
Now back to the story of this young woman. What if she did have children in her first marriage? Would she still be locked in an abusive relationship? Would she be where she is now? It’s all theoretical yes. but it has also been part of a bigger story of what God does in the lives of broken vessels like me and you.
The point of this thought is to free us from the chains of theoretical responses in our choices and in the navigation of lives. Just because you are in a rut doesn’t mean that God isn’t producing something in you. Just because you life has had storms doesn’t mean that shipwrecks didn’t have a purpose in your story. Grace positions us for being the winners in the fight of faith. Our strength is in the Lord.
Jesus Makes Fishers of Men!
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Discipleship has become one of the trademark elements for a thriving church in this modern era but sadly, we have traded in a work that Christ does in us for the methods and spiritual calisthenics of a church culture.
We are never told by Jesus to go and make disciples rather, He told us to “go” and that He would make us fishers of men. Later in Matthew’s Gospel we are told; Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: We have substituted “teach all nations” with “Make disciples of all nations”. We can all acknowledge that the early disciples were called and devoted to the discipline of following Jesus in obedience and with devotion and it is as if Jesus was telling them to go live out the things He was doing in them before all of the people.
Fishing for men was the byproduct that He produced in them as they followed Him and Jesus alone is and has always been the maker of disciples and not us. It is easy produce programs for discipleship and everyone has one! How much better would it be if we simplified our methods for discipleship, embraced this very evident biblical modicum, and finally came to the realization that in an intimate and relational walk with Him, He alone produces fishers of men who are what I like to call Living Epistles. What I mean about that is… Everything in the life of an individual who is centered on Christ will supernaturally in a very natural ways, walk as one of His disciples, and that it is fleshed out and flushed out of these cracked pots we call earthen vessels in the most unconventional ways as we “go”.
I personally think that we can become very high centered on programs for the production of discipleship and that when we make those programs the centerpiece of our cultural christianity; Jesus gets left out, we feel good about producing disciples but we still feel alone in our walk, and that we build huge impressive gatherings of the disciples we made, but still, nobody ever goes fishing!
Practically, I know this works because I have recently set across the table from two different men who have most effectively discipled me with their life and not their methods. Their central focus was Christ and not their status, or accomplishments. The power in their story comes from a life devoted to following Christ and it makes true disciples of whoever they come in contact with.
Food for thought!
Understanding your purpose
Understanding your purpose.
One of the most common threads amongst in folks who live in constant struggle is the loss of hope. It can be evidenced in those who have been beaten into a corner by various life circumstances and it is even more prevalent in those who seem spiritual but are conditioned to cover up. They isolate the struggle in their life by countering their story with a false narrative giving the appearance that everything is ok on the outside. After all, we would never want to be the one who sucks the air out of the room when everyone else’s false narratives are so amazing and triumphant or so it would seem. The truth of the matter is that we are all a hot mess whether your mess is messy or it’s really neato, (desirable) in its form.
In both circumstances it is not hard to identify an evident loss of hope and a lack of understanding about what the Father is authoring in their story. Some wear the struggle openly and others who are more spiritually adept run around bound up like a hound dog trying to pass a peach pit. However, in every instance the questions about ourselves and the accusations from the enemy are always the same. Will I ever be used, will I ever get out of this rut? Am I worthy, Do I have what it takes? The enemy distorts our perspectives, we listen and hope is lost.
The most simplistic way to regain hope, and understand your purpose along with the most profound method for getting unstuck and experiencing peace in your life is not only found in the story of God but, His story by design has authored a unique story for each of us that yields the same glorious outcomes that we see in the life of Christ. Another way to put it and begin to understand it is by recognizing our position in Him.
We are in Christ!
Let me pose this question in light of the simplistic answer to follow. How do we understand our purpose and regain our hope when the struggles are real and ever with us?
Our part is to abide and rest in Him. Say What..?
1 John 2:24 KJV
 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
How many times have heard about the redemptive work of God even from your earliest beginnings? Would you characterize your walk as hit and miss? In other words you have taken a swing at a walk of faith but, feel like you can’t hit the ball! We feel this way because the wrong person is stepping up to the plate! It is important to understand that the home run has already been hit! Jesus knocked it out of the park and He did it for us! He continues to do it for us even though when we would get to the plate we had a tendency to strike out! Here is the deal though! I only need to simplistically abide in Him. When we hear “Batter Up” if we abide in Him, we step up to the plate as Him and in Him, and then we knock it out of the park every time! The Son remains in me an I am grafted in Him! Simple, just abide, just rest on the bench. Become someone who doesn’t just know a home run hitter, or has heard about a home run hitter, but continue in the home run hitter! Continue on in the Son and in the Father.
1 John 2:20,24,26-29 KJV
 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things (24] Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Do not be seduced into a cultural christianity that would have you in pursuit of a special anointing. Don’t live in the fear or belief that just because you run in the ruts that you’ll never hit the ball. We have already received anointing and it abides in us even when we are in the deepest of ruts. In fact, It allows us to navigate life from rut to rut, where so often there are difficulties and tension. The things that appear to be setbacks are the training grounds where we learn how to rest, anticipate with hope, walk in peace, and watch the home runs being knocked out of the park.
Whether you wear your struggles openly or cover them up, we are all in the same mess and all affected by sin. I am gradually becoming more satisfied with winning the game while being a benchwarmer and the guy that couldn’t hit a home run if his life depended on it!
Is God calling you to abide in the dugout or are you more worried about getting up to bat! I can always understand God's purpose and see it unfold in my life better from a place of resting and abiding in Him!
Food for thought!
Let your conversation...
Speech with Grace and a side of Salt!
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
To often, conversations start and end without either of the most important elements for good communication.
Any communication that comprises or is an attempt to influence the another person, or changes the tone, intent, or heart of what has been spoken to reflect ones personal positions, then it is outright manipulation. This isn’t always easily identifiable especially in Christian relationships because the typical motivation behind our dialogue with one another starts out with pure intent but when our own feelings enter the room, everything turns to one’s own purpose and personal advantage very quickly. It is very easy to see things spiral downward from there.
Communication is so important among people of all ages. Misunderstandings can be avoided, and great things can be accomplished when there is open communication. Words can hurt or they can encourage, they can teach or they can tear down, but no matter what they are very powerful. They are also a huge reflection of what is in our heart. As Christians, the Lord has given us some basic guidelines in his word about how and what we should speak and choose our words wisely.
We are told in scripture:
Psalm 19:14 (ESV) “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
Matthew 12:37 (ESV) “…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
This verse is a clear warning to all of us about the importance of our words. It is apparent through God’s word that our behavior and actions have consequences in the Kingdom of God, but this verse also makes it obvious that our spoken words also bring ramifications. The verses right before this one make this very clear by saying, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matthew 12:34-36). With this warning in mind, we should seek to fill our hearts with God’s word, so that we practice good communication and so that we will ultimately be judged as righteous children of God.
I have been doing a litmus test to gauge the level of manipulation that seems to come full circle in the conversations that I have. Many of them were intended for just for the individuals in the room and yet they can still come back around after being manipulated or fashioned with different purpose, perspective, or selfish intent. Other conversations were manipulated because they went through the rumor mill and the essence of the dialogue was lost in translation. Either way, if you have a conversation with someone and It leaves the room for any reason it is reduced to here-say. Period! Keep your conversations personal and private. Resolve and restoration in anyone you speak with come not from your spiritual spin or prowess but through your prayer for others. The rest is just what the Lord does.
In my own observations and litmus test I believe that there can only be one reason for the presence of manipulation in our conversations and it seems that in many cases they lack the power and influence of scripture. Scripture is one of the best tools you have to guard your conversations. It keeps you from perpetually having to recover right standing in relationships and brings productivity to the conversations of those you minister to. You can’t catch everything but the scriptures provide everything that pertains to life and Godliness so you can’t go wrong!
So... let you conversations start with the Word, be filled with Salt, and always finish with The amazing work of Grace.
Food for thought!
Just who do you think you are?
Wrong information can get you lost very quickly in life. Especially if you aren't sure of who you are or you don't understand the purpose you have been given.
I know my own road to failure and every stop I made along the way. I know it so well I can drive it in the dark, backwards, with my eyes closed. Some folks provide perpetual reminders of the roads I’ve traveled and where I have made wrong turns. It’s like they have hacked the location services of my phone or GPS and think they know where I’m going next.
Those geocaching and maps in the wrong hands have added turbulence to my travels, my story, and life and the waypoints all come in the form of shame, guilt, doubt, fear, embarrassment, insecurity, humiliation, resentment, regret, and you get the picture.
Now, I like being mistaken for certain things for instance, being to young to have grandchildren or, I like being mistaken for being a mountain of a man because I am in many ways and in others I’m really not but, what I absolutely despise is the inability of many folks in Christianity to see each other through the lens of Jesus. There seems to always be a bad detour or a dead end offered by those who don’t want to really understand or discover the journey that the Lord has us on.
For instance, being mistaken as someone not worthy of being used in God’s kingdom is not only unbiblical but it’s a contradiction to the command to bear one another’s burdens in love. You can also contrast that perspective with those who will flatter you with empty characterizations of who they think you are but nevertheless they are the type of descriptions that feed my ego and pride or validate my status among the spiritually elite and my flesh gravities to the glory in self generated accolades because they can make me feel better about myself. This is why When I dialogue with others that I tell them that I thank the Lord for them and leave it at that.
Now, both instances whether negative or positive have the equal power to superficially shape what I believe about myself and my identity? Even the most positive characterizations I’m given, or award myself, have the power to define or disillusion my identity. The truth is, I can be a victim of not understanding who I really am in either direction, and have often lived in a state of mistaken identity during certain times throughout my life. Many of us have painful proof of this and it causes us to become professional in the business of marketing ourselves.
When I am mistaken for my age, it makes me think that I’ve unlocked the secret to longevity or that I am the picture of health when I know I am not! I always have the potential to become an idolatrous commodity that I work hard to sell in order to keep the compliments flowing and my stock rising.
In contrast, when I am referred to as a “liar”, “adulterer”, or a “failure”, it reminds me of my sin and incites deep emotions that range from guilt and depression, to rage and vengeance. It also spurs me on to contradict the negative names attributed to me.
If I am not careful, instinctively I become my personal PR man. In fact, it is painful proof of a sinister system of checks and balances.
I'm so glad God agreed with me!
In His economy, I am bankrupt. I am every label that has been attached to me: idolater, liar, adulterer, coveter, thief. The collateral I have collected is worthless against my debt. I have boldly labored as the sole proprietor in my own corrupt marketing business. I write checks as if I have endless resources. But in reality, even when I think I’m in the green I am completely in the red—broke and working a dead-end job selling a worthless product. Furthermore, because of my bankruptcy, God sent Jesus as my substitute, not only to pay my debt in full but to make a deposit of righteousness that will never run out.
All the titles we spend a lifetime trying to make or break, Jesus says “charge them all to me.” He announces his one job in Luke 4: to set the captives free. Free from our foolish attempts to fool ourselves and others. Free from the bondage of business gone bad. Free from the mishaps of mistaken identity. Free from the rise and fall of our stock. Free from the terrible titles we achieve in public or private. Free. He provides permanent labels of identity for us like; forgiven, righteous, accepted, beautiful, and beloved forever—no matter what. For me, being given His identity also gives me mine and declares exactly just who I think I am but how I roll!
Who do you think you are!
Food for thought!
Get out there Frodo!
You have a major role to play!
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
You have a predestination… Meaning that God in consequence of his foreknowledge of all events infallibly guides those who are destined to follow Him. However, in many of our personal stories we have become skeptical and unbelieving even as christians because there is so much wrong to be set right in the world. Everywhere you look, there is hatred for our fellow man, we esteem ourselves better than others, the earth is in constant compromise, we are a mess politically, children are trafficked, Christians are being persecuted, slavery is on the rise, and truth itself has been all but shattered because we no longer know the truth that sets us free. Sometimes I think we're in Mordor!
It has become evident to me more now than ever that we must get serious about our story. We must take back our story and fight in the strength of the Lord. One of the great wonders of Christianity is the idea that God wants to use each of us for an intended purpose and that He will use the worst, most unsuspecting, weak, small, messed up people to do it. You were born into your times and story to fulfill that purpose and live out a great story as you shew forth the manifest glory of God at work in your life. What could be more exciting than the realization that no matter how bad you think your story looks or how messed up you think you are, that God has great intentions for you?
We are each filled with dreams and passions. They are written on our hearts. Hearts made new by God Himself. At the same time, there are many things that make us want to pound our fist on a table. All of your passions, dreams, desires for adventure and discovery, along with the things you love, all play a part in the discovery of God's purpose in your story. The stories that break you to tears, the roles you would love to play, and the wounds of your life are also partners in bringing you to a place where purpose spills out of your story and brings Him glory but, our enemy is always trying to prevent us from playing our role. I have come to realize that the true stories of greatness often have characteristics where there has been a sustained assaults upon people's heart by the one who knows who they could be and fears them. But there is good news—the Author of your story wants to help you recover your place, and your purpose. He is the owner of your new heart and quite frankly has a serious butt kicking in store for the enemy in your story!
Frederick Buechner believed that “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” What could be more hopeful? It is a dangerous thing to underestimate your role in the story of God and the impact of your story on the world around us. It will leave you stuck and defeated which is what the enemy wants. This is a most desperate hour in the times we live in. You are needed so rise up! There are great things to be done, great sacrifices to be made, adventures to be had along with epic battles to fight and win!
Finding our story and purpose is sooo simplistic! It all boils down to one thing and it is this… To find our lives, we must turn to Jesus. We must seek from him the answers about who we are and the missions he has for us. We do this by learning to walk with Him Intimately, learning to hear His voice so that He might guide us into the full purpose that He has for us and our part in the story.
Now get out there Frodo!
Meek, weak, lowly, less, Greater?
Meek, weak, lowly, less, Greater?
For many years I was influenced in the ideas that the characteristics of Spiritual growth were identified by traits of strength. We have a tendency to flock towards those who seem spiritual and demonstrate forms of greatness. We think that if we can perform or emulate those characteristics that it will bring us completeness, notoriety, and even validation if others see us getting stronger or more competent in our walk. Jesus turns the equation upside down when He says “I am meek and lowly of heart.
I am figuring out that I am not strong, in fact every day I’m becoming increasingly aware of how weak and incompetent I really am, and Jesus is ok with that! How mislead I was in thinking that the manifestation of his glory, could never be demonstrated in the weak things of this world. I had forgotten how strong and competent Jesus is, so much so that he is especially comfortable with being the new me. No pressure to perform or compete with those who are esteemed as spiritual And now I can basque in my weakness because when I do, he is made strong! He uses the oddest , weakest, simplistic things to get things done so I no longer have to worry about it!
Food for thought!