Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
When we finally get what it means to live a simple walk of faith and focus on the Faithful One... Your Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
Did I just really say that?
I know the above statement may sound foreign to the typical culturally relevant train of thought so allow me to lay the groundwork for some simple thoughts and conversations that I have had all by my onesie with the Lord.
Have you ever wondered “Why did Jesus use spit for some of His miracles?” Our pastor Ben touched on this some time ago and because I am a big proponent of a walk of simple faith, I have often pondered this subject and worked through some things as I converse with the Lord bout stuff.
In Mark's Gospel, somewhere near Decapolis, some people brought Jesus a deaf man who could hardly talk. Jesus healed the man, of course, but in an interesting manner; “Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33). Later, in the town of Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man. Again, the miracle was preceded by spitting: “He... spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him” (Mark 8:23). To heal a man born blind, Jesus “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6).
Certainly, Jesus, the divine Son of God, does not need physical props to work miracles. In many cases, Jesus merely spoke, and healing followed (Matthew 15:28; Luke 17:12-14). Yet, in three cases, Jesus used His spittle in the process of healing. One possible reason for Jesus’ use of His saliva has to do with the beliefs of His contemporary culture. Several Roman writers and Jewish rabbis considered saliva to be a valid treatment for blindness. Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal. Those being healed would have naturally interpreted Jesus’ spitting as a sign that they would soon be cured.
Whose Faith Is Really At Work Here?
Now the verse that really jumps out at me is the one in Mark 8:23. It says, “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.”
There are those who would say that the greater need of each of those who were healed required the need for increased, proportional faith. I like to work through this perspective differently than others may so allow me to break it down this way. I say, "It was the Faith of Jesus that produced the miracle, not the profound faith of the person being healed."
We are all equally faithless when you think through it!
One thing to consider is that each individual was equally faithless; otherwise they all would have already been healed. Then, there is the matter of spit. The last time someone spit in your eye… Did it get your attention? I believe the whole point was not to increase their faith but rather to get them to put their focus on the One who is Faithful!
For too long in life I have tried to increase my faith, speak things into existence, exert my own spiritual fortitude. Could it be that Jesus the Faithful One just wants my focus and attention? Could it be that all this time He has been taking me away from the common beliefs on matters of profound faith to get me alone, to redirect my focus off of the issues and the questions about how I am going to survive or get through the day and simply put my focus on Him?
You see… When we are weak He is Faithful! Now feel free to go get rid of all those anointed prayer cloths you paid good money for while you were waiting for your miracles.
2 Tim 2:13 NIV
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Could it be that the key to seeing increased but simplistic faith produced in my life is as simple as getting away with Jesus? 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In Mark 8, Jesus called this blind, faithless man away. He literally takes him by the hand and leads him out of town away from all other influence and the man begins to connect what little faith he has to the One who is faithful. Look at the flow in the process of developing simple faith. Let it saturate your heart.
First, Jesus, after spitting in this man’s eyes and putting His hands on the man, asked him, “Do you see anything?” I like that! Jesus is not expressing His own lack of faith, instead He is taking this man on a journey of anticipation and simple expectation that the work is being done. He is learning to lean on and depend on Jesus and His faithfulness. Slowly, the man begins to get it. Things are still fuzzy but he realizes there is something happening in His life. Jesus now puts His hands on the blind man’s eyes and he is fully restored.
The real miracle is not the physical eyesight being restored. It is this man embracing and understanding what a walk of simple trust and faith in Jesus is! Once this happens, Jesus tells the man, “Don’t go back!”
Mark 8:23-26 (KJV)
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
I have a real tendency to revert back to the old perspectives that would imply that my profound faith had something to do with a needed miracle. I have an old cowboy poem called Jake the Rancher. It was handed down to me by a person I call a good friend because of the simplicity that he once shared with me when I was failing miserably in my walk and ministry. His name is Gayle Erwin and this poem is a perfect example of the misunderstandings we cultivate convoluting simplicity in our walk and the work Jesus does.
Jake, The Rancher
Jake, the rancher, went one day to fix a distant fence. The wind was cold and gusty and the clouds rolled gray and dense. As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to go, The temperature had fallen and the snow began to blow.
When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart, from the sound of that ignition, he knew it wouldn't start. So Jake did what most of us do, if we'd have been there He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.
As he turned the key for the last time, he knew he'd lost his luck, They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck. Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of roamin' But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked -- it look just like Wyomin'.
Oh, there were some differences of course, but just some minor things, One place had simply disappeared -- the town they called Rock Springs. The BLM had been shut down, and there was no grazin' fees, and the wind in Rawlins and Cheyenne was now a gentle breeze. (cont…)
The Park and Forest Service folks -- they didn't fare so well, They'd all been sent to fight some fire in a wilderness called Hell. Though Heaven was a real nice place, Jake had a wondering mind, So he saddled up and lit a shuck, not know'n what he'd find.
Then one day up in Cody, on a cold fall afternoon, He saw St. Peter coming, and he knew he'd be there soon. Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St. Peter, Now, this line, it ain't needed but it helps with rhyme and meter.
So they set and talked a minute or two, or maybe it was three, Nobody was keepin' score -- in Heaven time is free. "I've always heard," Jake said to Pete, "that God will answer prayers, But one time I asked for help, well he just plain wasn't there.
Does God answer prayers of some, and ignores the prayers of others? That don't seem exactly square -- I know all men are brothers. Or does he randomly reply, without good rhyme or reason? Maybe, it's the time of day, the weather or the season.
Now I ain't trying to act smart, it's just the way I feel, And I was wonderin', could you tell -- what the heck's the deal? Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was done, There were smiles of recognition, and he said, "So, you're the one!
That day your truck, it wouldn't start, and you sent your prayer a-flying, You gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us a trying. A thousand angels rushed to check the status of your file, But you know, Jake, we hadn't heard from you in quite a while
And though all prayers are answered, and God ain't got no quota, He didn't recognize your voice, and started a truck in North Dakota.
As humorous as it may seem, we go through life lacking in faith, and absent of the peace and rest that comes from the faithful one!
My final, stupid, simple, silly, observation.
Now, to further illustrate what simple faith is and that it has nothing to do with my merit, tune in to this for just one final moment. I was seated on the throne in our back throne room the other day pondering all the places I had looked for my keys over the last 45 minutes, while I did my morning business. I was late, frustrated, and had given up all hope when from my lofty perch, I threw up a prayer for a miracle. “Jesus,” I said, “You alone hold the keys, now would you help me find mine?” Three minutes later I had my keys and was on my way. I have had this scenario play out more times and in more ways than I can count now and I know you have too! You see, It is never because of our spiritual prowess or posture, rather, it is because of his faithfulness that miracles happen every day in the most naturally supernatural way.
Questions to Ponder…
Unpacking My Flawed State!
Unpacking My Flawed State!
How do I revel in Grace when being perpetually reminded of my sins? First, it is helpful to come to grips with the fact that we are all equally born into sin, equally can’t fulfill the Law, and therefore equally depraved. All this time, I thought that I was just a special kind of stupid when it came to sin! As it turns out, we’re all in the same boat!
Let me give you an understanding of what I have walked through as a commoner to prequalify what I am about to say to you. Please note that the intent is not to unearth a dead body here! The purpose is to simply identify everything that is common to man and relevant to the days we live in presently and to tell you my story so that may walk in newness and freedom in Christ.
I am a man with a call on my life. Understanding just what that looks like has been difficult and convoluted for most of my life. I can surmise that there are many reasons for this. Some of the reasons deal with influence, others deal with denomination, some with family or work, and some of it has to do with being gifted with the ability to do many things. But, the one major underlying factor running congruent with and intertwined in all of what I have done and where I have been is that of my own Sin. Ah… There it is! The S… word. I ever avoid it to place the blame on my surrounding circumstances.
With men, so often it is packed in an onboard characteristic called pride. From a young age we are taught to take pride in an assortment of things. We make them the object of our affections ultimately transferring our accomplishments to be a reflection of our self. It subtly roots itself into our very make-up without us being aware it and then when it has its firm grasp, it manifests its ugly side in ways that clutter our ability to navigate life, make decisions, understand God’s will, and walk in the freedom of simple faith and justification that comes by the work of Christ.
How did this all play out in my life? Just like it does with all of us! At a very young age. I’ll bet we can all remember the very first lessons on how to hide our sin. For some, it starts with hidden promiscuity, with others it is drinking, or drugs. We sneak off, or out when no one is watching. We hide our true feelings, we fail to look for the signs in each other because we are too busy trying to measure up to someone else's standards. We self train ourselves to be the bearer of our own burdens rather than bearing one another's burdens, absent of guilt and condemnation. That is why we hide everything and it is also why it often takes many years and even into adulthood to have the bonds of living with our sin secretly come to the place where they are loosed once and for all. We perpetually deal with the consequences of sin in many areas of life simply because we do not have a good understanding of the work of Christ on the cross.
As time goes by Sin polishes and packages our pride to be the perfect bedfellow. If you are one of the folks who gravitate towards religion rather than relationship, it becomes easy to embrace perspectives that are not scriptural and embrace the mindset of adapting scripture to propagate a position of spiritual pride. We will manipulate others with our spiritual prowess and biblical knowledge; everything seems to be in perfect place while at our core there is a continual battle. A battle for a right spirit, a clean heart, a clear conscience, where our very freedom seems to escape us at every turn leaving us confused, bitter, worked up, judgmental, isolated and alone.
This is where I found myself, disillusioned with ministry, unable to track the right path, the narrow path, the old path of the Lord. I was buried in sin and pride to the point that it had affected those around me. At the point that spiritual pride had unraveled me internally, life around me began to unravel. In a season when I should have been at my best, I allowed myself to walk in weakness. There are no reasons to go into the depths of my depravity any longer, thank you Lord! When I first wrote the book, “The Simple Jesus” I went deep into the nature of my old dead body. When it comes right down to it though, all have sinned! Now, and for your own simplicity, you can just make the assumption that in regards to John Fairrington that there was a swamp full of varied sin and that it was all drained, forgiven, and forgotten, just like yours was!
As a result of all of my sin, suicidal tendencies, fear of losing my wife, along with the physical pain and medical misdiagnosis of what was happening in my body, my discretion and ability to do what was right had been refashioned into the justification for my flawed state and blindness to my own sin. My loneliness and lack of intimacy in my relationship with God led to finding satisfaction elsewhere and the outcome ultimately destroyed relationships and trust. After having walked for many years with folks who we thought would be there though our difficulties, very few of them knew our struggles and that is when my wife and I came to the realization that Jesus was the only one who could fix us.
God Had a Purpose!
When I began to repent, my eyes were opened to not only my own depravity but I began to see the flaws in how we as believers navigate unbiblical perspectives handed down over generations and the impact that it has had on the church, our families, and each other. Justification at the foot of the cross is a level playing field. The sins of the accusers are just the same as the accused. This is especially hard for the religious to wrap their heads around. Even today there are only a handful of people I know who can and are willing to walk along side of us through this kind of process. Even to this day some who were co-laborers and piers in ministry or, folks who I asked to partner with me in mutual accountability, and those who heard my confession have had little contact with me.
There are many who teach and understand the biblical principles of Romans and the wonderful work of grace and justification but, very few who follow the patterns of Jesus and the 2 Corinthians perspectives of Paul. Religious leaders can often be found rallying to the cause of the offended and hoping that the sin factors and the offenders will just go away. Religious protocol is followed forgetting the fact that whether we are the offender, or the offended, we all deserve the penalty of death as much as we all get to experience and receive restoration at the foot of the cross. This has unfortunately been a very present part of the cultural christianity movement.
How Do We Know That We Are All Guilty?
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David took responsibility for his sin. “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned,” he said. Sin declares guilt!
People will ask, “What about Uriah and Bathsheba?” “Didn’t David sin against them?”
Yes! They were innocent victims perhaps but sinners nonetheless. We rush to place blame, thinking there must be someone who is wrong and someone who is innocent. But that’s not scriptural, for we’re all guilty (Romans 3:23). We’re all in need of salvation. Nevertheless, so often the victim is embraced with open arms and the offender is left to isolation.
It’s Not That Way with Jesus!
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
1. Justification is apart from the law. If you’re trying to relate to the Father on the basis of your own goodness or devotion, your consistency or your Bible study, your do’s and don’ts—you’ll never be justified. The law cannot justify you. It can only bring you to the realization that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith…
2. Justification is by faith in the Lord. Our justification comes from our being linked not to God generally, but to Jesus Christ personally. Do you have a general relationship where you say “I’m religious,” or, do you have an intimate relationship with the Lord. James says the demons believe in God, but they’re not saved. They’re not justified. They won’t be in heaven (James 2:19). It’s not enough for a person to say, “I believe in God and go to church.” No, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because the source of justification lies embedded in the Person and work of Jesus.
Romans 3:22 (cont.)
…of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
3. Justification is for everyone. Whether Jew or Gentile, yuppie or hippie, heathen or Hebrew—there’s only one way to enter into salvation: by faith. It’s not faith in what you’ve done or who you are, it’s not my fickle faith in Jesus Christ. Simply put, it is just believing that it is the faithfulness of Jesus towards me, in me, and for me. It is the belief that he loved me while I was ungodly so much so that He gave up his own life so a wretch like me could have new life being perfectly, completely and instantaneously justified!
If you are a man or woman who has been weighed down with sinful pride then I hope that this will be a fresh starting point for you. It really is simple! And although there may be few around you who understand what you are going through, know this, if you can just place your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus and you can confess your sins and failures right now, it will put you back on the right path, the narrow path, the old path and you can take your next steps being fully, instantaneously, and gloriously justified through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Simple!
2 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Christ puts simplicity and peace into our faith and for you who have walked in condemnation from your sins and failures, Jesus has declared you the innocent ones. Don’t allow anyone to subtly corrupt your new found simplicity in Christ.
Romans 8:1 (KJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Can a Walk of Faith Be Simple?
My Faith or, His Faithfulness?
2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)
1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Defining Simple Faith and My Discovery
I was never under the impression that my faith was simple! So, first it was important that I have a simplistic approach and understanding of what simple faith truly is and what it has provided for the sinner!
For too long now the Christian constituency has walked in perpetual defeat. I am amazed at how frequently we throw ourselves out there for examination from others and even more importantly the examination of self. I have always hated exams since my early adolescence! Perpetually being measured against something or someone else and attempting to dodge the pressure of standing out in performance, acceptance, and achievement.
Embedded in this realm of self-awareness is the unbiblical idea that we are to constantly reflect on our failures, inconsistencies, and repetitive sin nature. This forever keeps us off point. Simple faith, precious faith is living in and embracing the righteousness provided once and for all through the work of God and our Savior Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. This Grace and peace is also perpetually multiplied through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.
That, folks, is what we are to examine! Are you walking in the simple faith that Jesus has provided everything pertaining to “life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”?
I believe that the enemy of our faith catches us in a trap when we submit ourselves to a perpetual “I” exam! Peter gives encouragement that was never designed to be self examination or to put a noose around our necks. Rather, it was to focus us on the only thing that matters, the only thing that effectively finalizes my right standing with God as a sinner saved by Grace. You are the Righteousness of Christ because Jesus passed the test! There is no more self-examination, no more condemnation and no more on and off faith, based on how well you are doing at any given point in the day. For too long this has been the theological and doctrinal proclamation of those bound by their own self-righteousness and sin sniffing. Admittedly, I was once an authority on both of these prideful traits!
Examining Faith with Simplicity
It can be made simple! Start your day with the affirmation that you are in Christ! Ask yourself the question, has Christ died for me? Has He completely restored me to right standing before the Father and hidden me in himself? If the answer is yes then you pass the exam! Not only that, but even though you are a weakling, you have also graduated into living with Him by the Power of God toward you!
2 Corinthians 13:4
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
Take some time to let the reality of this passage soak in. Converse with the Lord and pray through each verse, every day until you can naturally defend the assault of self-righteousness and your adversary the Devil who ever lives to complicate a simple walk of faith!
Why you will hear a lot about SIMPLE here.
It is becoming increasingly harder for Christians to understand their purpose, lead their families, build their careers, and most importantly understand God’s voice. As time goes by, folks who gravitate towards religion rather than relationship begin to embrace perspectives that are not scriptural. They adapt scripture to propagate their spiritual pride. They then manipulate others with spiritual prowess and Biblical knowledge; everything seems to be in its perfect place but, at their core there is a continual battle raging. Our adversary is at war with us and wants to twist our understanding of God’s Word. Perpetuated by misnomers and the selfish motivations of religious folk, our failure and lack of desire to drink from the cistern of the Water of the Word has left us dry. There are many believers today, some who are considered to be folks of profound faith that will tell you that where the Lord is leading them and how to navigate it all for His glory is foggy or indiscernible and that a walk of faith in Christ is difficult at best.
It has taken many years for me to understand the path that the Lord has had me on and for many those years in ministry, construction, and various other occupations I have stumbled on and off of it. After a season of repentance, confession, and devotion to renewing the simplicity of a walk with the Lord it has been on my heart to share the simple truths of Christianity; Simple Faith; and a genuine, intimate, real-deal relationship with Jesus; that for so many years had evaded me and clouded my walk with the Lord because of my own sinful pride.
God Justifies the Ungodly!
Here is the Good News, (Romans 3:20-4:5) God justifies the ungodly who trust in him. God acquits the guilty! While I have frequently stumbled in life, God has been gracious! This understanding is crucial to the success of folks who desire to walk closely with the Lord, and are wanting to enjoy their freedom to be who God created them to be but who struggle with depression, isolation, their own sins, hearing from the Lord, and moving past the mistakes of their past. There are many who live in a perpetual state of condemnation or have been unable to accept forgiveness. They carry with them a constant reminder of their faults. This comes from many angles. Churches, family and loved ones, even friends often do not know how to navigate the messy side of forgiveness. Ultimately restoration through the justification of Christ is immediate but the rest of His followers have a tendency to dole it out over long periods of time and as they see fit. I have been on these types of journeys and have been learning how to walk in the full-on provisions of Christ. It is something that we as Christians need to revel in and I have committed to share this message and my story with those who will hear it, one on one, and in simple settings. It is my story! It is just one of the many things the Lord has began in me; Post Churchianity, post religiosity, post the acknowledgment of my personal depravity and forgiveness of my real and hidden sins, and all the other things that cultural christianity didn't want to bother with because it left their rooms messy! In His presence (His room) I, the ungodly, have been justified! I, the guilty, have been acquitted! Simply put, I am forgiven!
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.
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!
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!
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!