Thursday, April 30, 2009

Living Letters

Paul begins II Corinthians 3 speaking of the fact that he and his fellow workers were well known to the Corinthian brethren. Other than his time in Ephesus and his earliest ministry in Cilicia, Paul spent more time in Corinth than in any other mission point during his ministry.

In verse 2, Paul says that the Corinthian Christians "are our epistle (letter) written in our hearts, known and read by all men." In other words, the actions of the Christian community at Corinth were a testimony to Paul's witness and word among them. In verse 3, Paul further states that "clearly you are an epistle of Christ." Not only did the Corinthians manner of life reflect the touch of Paul's pastoral hand, their lives shone with the very radiance of the personage of Jesus.

It might be good to think of each new day as a blank page of letterhead in a typewriter. With each thought, action and word, we type a few words upon the page. What we type reflects what has influenced us. Does our letter shine with the words and message of Jesus or does it contain things more fitting the prince of darkness than the Prince of Peace? Once the ink is applied to the page, it is difficult to remove the stain. Liquid Paper, White Out or a blotter may be used to erase the words, but the page will never look perfect again. Similarly, we who are in Christ have the ability to have our mistakes (sins) blotted out and covered over, but our lives are still impacted by their consequences. We may change our heart, but spiritual scar tissue remains. Thankfully, God has better vision than we do. When He divinely intercedes and removes the words of hurt, hate or hostility from our story, we are in essence given a fresh sheet of paper and told to start again. Though we often fall short, God's love never fails to cleanse the canvas of our lives and make us new.

If a person "read" your life, who do you suppose it would be a letter from? Would it be a "living epistle" of Christ or a nasty note from Satan?

Go and learn what this means,


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The Love of God"

One of my favorite hymns is simply entitled, "The Love of God." It causes one to stop and think about the immensity of God's love for all mankind. The third verse is especially poetic in describing the indescribable nature of God's love.
As a person who has always worked with words (as a preacher, teacher, journalist), I agree with the author that no word of man can describe the love of God. It is indeed "greater far" than anything we can imagine. Remember today that God loves you just as you are and loves you yet still more in order to craft you into the person He desires you to be.

Glad to have been caught in the reckless, raging fury they call the love of God,

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win:
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

John 15: Truth

The text of John 15 centers around the idea of being true, genuine, authentic, real. Jesus says in the opening words of the chapter, "I am the true vine..."
When we think about something being true, we perhaps immediately think of the idea of true versus false. Falsehood had no place in the life of Jesus. He was always truthful...sometimes bluntly so. Remember His response to His parents in the temple at age twelve, "Did you not know I must be about my Father's business?"
He was known to call the Pharisees and scribes a wide variety of colorful phrases to illustrate their faux religion.

In John 15, words come up like true, words, persecute, law, Spirit, testify and witness. With the trappings of parable, Jesus speaks of those who practice the truth abiding in Him. He speaks of the world's hatred of Him and the inevitable hate that will fall upon those who choose to follow Him. He then speaks of the Spirit of truth who will testify of Him after His departure. In the last verse of the chapter, He speaks of how His followers will bear witness of the things they have seen from the onset of His ministry.

Each day the truth of the message of Jesus stands accused in the world. His words are judged in the hearts of men which will one day in turn be judged by His very words. Though persecuted, His followers are called to testify and bear witness to His life, words, ministry, death and resurrection. What do you and I bear witness too? We are almost 2,000 years removed from the earthly ministry of Jesus, yet we still have a powerful testimony to share. Since I met Jesus, I don't think, act, talk or walk the same as I did before. Each day as I encounter Jesus in the words of Scripture, I come away willing to bear witness to the marvelous truths of His teaching. Jesus and the Spirit live through my words and actions. As I abide in the "trueness" of Jesus, the world sees the life of Christ now present in me. To be a Christian is merely to associate, propagate and develop the life, language and love of Jesus in my own life.

Be true,

Old Adam, New Adam

Recently, I was studying in Romans 5 about the relationship between Grandfather Adam and our elder brother, Jesus. So many comparisons can be made between the two men. I just wanted to share some of my observations (and some made by commentators and members of my Wednesday night class)...

Both men are called "son of God" in Scripture.

Adam was the first man in all creation, Christ is the firstborn over all creation (Col.1:15)

Adam's partner (Eve) was birthed from his side in a deep sleep - Christ's bride (the church) was birthed from His side in the sleep of death (remember the Roman lance bringing forth blood and water? What are the elements of entrance into the church: blood and water.)

Adam was the first man to sin - Christ the first man to live a life without sin.

Adam was a thief who tried to steal eternal life in Paradise - Christ promised a thief eternal life in a place characterized as "Paradise."

Genesis speaks of being "the book of Adam" in Genesis 5 and Malachi ends with a curse - Matthew speaks of being "the book (or line) of Christ" and Revelation ends with the removal of a curse.

Scripture begins in a garden with Adam. Scripture ends in a garden city with Christ.

In the likeness of Adam's body, mankind dies (both physically and spiritually) - In the body of Christ, mankind is saved from spiritual death.

Just as Adam's sin gave rise to fallen humanity, so Christ's sinlessness gives rise to a righteous humanity.

In our physical likeness, all mankind resembles Adam. In the Christian's spiritual experience, he takes on the likeness of Christ.

Many more items could be added to these: please add your thoughts in the comment section.
Go and learn,

"He has made everything beautiful in its time..."

Often I feel as if life is moving in a turbo-powered, speed-of-light, fly-me-to-the-moon rocket ship. There seems to be no time to slow down and savor the moments that truly make life extraordinary. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that "there is nothing new under the sun," but he also says the following in 3:12, "I know that there is nothing better than for men to be happy and do good while they live."

Is it really that obvious? Happiness often alludes us because we place our priorities on things that can never satisfy. The next assignment, a new promotion, a more advanced degree or a better relationship are often our focus. As Beyonce recently sang on a Direct TV commercial, "Let me upgrade, let me upgrade..." Instead of enjoying the present season of life, we rush ahead to get to what we assume will be greener pastures. In these moments of rushed movement, we often not only miss opportunities to do good, but we also create conflict and eliminate our happiness. We need to remember the words of Jesus to the storm and servants of Galilee, "Peace, be still."

Only when we stop our striving for advancement can we look around and see all the beauty that God has made for us in the present moment. Our happiness depends on our ability to realize good in the present and leave the future in the hands of God.
Have a great evening,

Welcome to GaL

Hey guys! Most of you that are reading this have probably been following some of my other blogs (Lebanon church, DBSA, Broken.but.Blessed). You are probably wondering why I decided to start yet another blog. I have always included an element of my personal spirituality in each of my blogs, but I wanted to create a forum to share some of the things God has been sharing with me over my 14 years as a Christian.

I teach/preach at least four times a week and also enjoy a decent amount of private study for a 24-year-old. I am a follower of Jesus not because of I see in the Christian community but because of what I have personally experienced as a Christian. I plan to use this blog to tell my God Story and I hope you will share yours as well. We always are standing upon the brink of eternity with one foot here and one in the beyond. I hope to share some of my "mountain top" experiences with you through this blog.

Remember always that it is what we give up rather than what we take that makes us rich,

Go and learn,