The things that have happened to us often suggest that the real script of the play we're all living in is "God is indifferent" rather than "God is love." Deep down in our hearts, in the place where the story is formed, this experience of God as indifferent drives us to write our own scripts. Job apparently lived with this anxiety about God even before his tribulations descended upon him, as evidenced by his exclamation from the ashes of his home and his life: "What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me" (Job 3:25, emphasis added).
Job was a God-fearing man and yet something in him suspected that faith in God did not necessarily translate into peace and safety. Of course, Job had no inkling of the discussion going on in heaven between God and Satan. It was a debate over whether the foundation of God's kingdom was based on genuine love or power. And astonishingly, God was placing the perception of his own integrity as well as the reputation of his whole kingdom on the genuineness of Job's heart. (See Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10.)
Indeed, when we consider how central a part Job was given in the drama God was directing, we are confronted with the reality that we, too, could be in the same position. It seems that the part God has written for us is much too big and certainly too dangerous. Paul confirms this thought in Ephesians when he tells us, "The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence" (1:22-23 The Message). Every human being is of great significance to God, but those whom God has drawn to believe in him are center stage in a drama of cosmic proportions.This post was taken from the book, Sacred Romance by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I love watching a herd of horses grazing in an open pasture, or running free across the wide, sage-covered plateaus in Montana. I love hiking in the high country when the wildflowers are blooming-the purple lupine and the Indian paintbrush when it's turning magenta. I love thunder clouds, massive ones. My family loves to sit outside on summer nights and watch the lightning, hear the thunder as a storm rolls in across Colorado. I love water, too—the ocean, streams, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, rain. I love jumping off high rocks into lakes with my boys. I love old barns, windmills, the West. I love vineyards. I love it when Stasi is loving something, love watching her delight. I love my boys. I love God. Everything you love is what makes a life worth living. Take a moment and make a list of all the things you love. Don't edit yourself; don't worry about prioritizing or anything of that sort. Simply think of all the things you love. Whether it's the people in your life or the things that bring you joy or the places that are dear to you or your God, you could not love them if you did not have a heart. Loving requires a heart alive and awake and free. A life filled with loving is a life most like the one that God lives, which is life as it was meant to be (Eph. 5:1-2).
Of all the things that are required of us in this life, which is the most important? What is the real point of our existence? Jesus was confronted with the question point-blank one day, and he boiled it all down to two things: loving God and loving others. Do this, he said, and you will find the purpose of your life. Everything else will fall into place. Somewhere down inside we know it's true; we know love is the point. We know if we could truly love, and be loved, and never lose love, we would finally be happy. And is it even possible to love without your heart?This post was taken from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The heart is the connecting point, the meeting place between any two persons. The kind of deep soul intimacy we crave with God and with others can be experienced only from the heart. I know a man who took his daughter to dinner; she was surprised, delighted. For years she had been hoping he would pursue her. When they had been seated, he pulled out his Day Timer and began to review the goals he had set for her that year. "I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the restaurant," she said. We don't want to be someone's project; we want to be the desire of their heart. Gerald May laments, "By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest level of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?"
We've done the same to our relationship with God. Christians have spent their whole lives mastering all sorts of principles, done their duty, carried on the programs of their church . . . and never known God intimately, heart to heart. The point is not an efficient life of activity-the point is intimacy with God. "You will find me," God says, "when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). As Oswald Chambers said, "So that is what faith is—God perceived by the heart."
What more can be said, what greater case could be made than this: to find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart.This post is taken from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It's undeniable: the new covenant, accomplished through the work of Christ, means that we have new hearts. Our hearts are good. Or God's a liar. Until we embrace that stunning truth, we will find it really hard to make decisions, because we can't trust what our hearts are saying. We'll have to be motivated by external pressure since we can't be motivated by our hearts. In fact, we won't find our calling, our place in God's kingdom, because that is written on our hearts' desires. We'll have a really hard time hearing God's voice in a deeply intimate way, because God speaks to us in our hearts. We'll live under guilt and shame for all sorts of evil thoughts and desires that the Enemy has convinced us were ours. God will seem aloof. Worship and prayer will feel like chores.
Of course, I just described the life most Christians feel doomed to live.
Now listen to Jesus:
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:44-45, emphasis added)
Later, explaining the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus says,
The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15, emphasis added)
Jesus himself teaches that the heart can be good and even noble. That somebody is you, if you are his. God kept his promise. Our hearts have been circumcised to God. We have new hearts. Do you know what this means? Your heart is good. Let that sink in for a moment. Your heart is good.
What would happen if you believed it, if you came to the place where you knew it was true? Your life would never be the same. My friend Lynn got it, and that's when she exclaimed, "If we believed that . . . we could do anything. We would follow him anywhere!"This post was taken from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes it feels like our hearts are breaking.
And sometimes we worry that we will lose our minds.
Both our hearts and our minds need protection.
When we let go of the defenses that have protected us for so long, and we allow ourselves to be honest and vulnerable, it sometimes feels like we will 'come apart'. In these moments can find courage in God's promise of protection. God's peace can guard our breaking hearts and our troubled minds.
Notice that God's guardianship of our heart and mind is 'in Christ Jesus'. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly that God is 'for' us. God can be trusted to guard us because God cares about us. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly that God understands the dangers to our hearts and minds. God can be trusted to guard us because God knows from personal experience the dangers we face. It is in Jesus that we see most clearly God's power. God can be trusted to guard our hearts and minds because God has the resources to do what needs to be done.
The peace of God is not a 'blissed out' euphoria that helps us minimize or ignore our problems. God's peace does not participate in denial. This peace is not another Novocain, another 'fix' to alter our mood. It is the gentle guard that protects us so that we can face reality. It is the security that comes from knowing that God pays attention, that we are not forgotten, that God is with us, that we are loved.
Guard my breaking heart today, Lord.
Guard my troubled mind.
Let your peace do its work in me, Lord.
because I am in danger and I need your protection.
Guard me with your peace today.
Guard my heart and mind.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
A sower went out to sow some seed . . .
A man fell into the hands of robbers . . .
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one . . .
There were ten virgins with ten lamps . . .
Think of it. You are the Son of the living God. You have come to earth to rescue the human race. It is your job to communicate truths without which your precious ones will be lost . . . forever. Would you do it like this? Why doesn’t he come right out and say it—get to the point? What’s with all the stories?
We children of the Internet and the cell phone and the Weather Channel, we think we are the enlightened ones. We aren’t fooled by anything—we just want the facts. The bottom line. So proposition has become our means of saying what is true and what is not. And proposition is helpful . . . for certain things. Sacramento is the capital of California; water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But proposition fails when it comes to the weightier things in life. While it is a fact that the Civil War was fought between the years of 1861 and 1865, and while it is also a fact that hundreds of thousands of men died in that war, those facts hardly describe what happened at Bull Run or Gettysburg. You don’t even begin to grasp the reality of the Civil War until you hear the stories, see pictures from the time, visit the battlefields yourself.
How much more so when it comes to the deep truths of the Christian faith. God loves you; you matter to him. That is a fact, stated as a proposition. I’ll bet most of you have heard it any number of times. Why, then, aren’t we the happiest people on earth? It hasn’t reached our hearts. Facts stay lodged in the mind. Proposition speaks to the mind, but when you tell a story, you speak to the heart.
And that’s why when Jesus comes to town, he speaks in a way that will get past all our intellectual defenses and disarm our hearts.This is an excerpt from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
“You know what your problem is? You need to get into church…” This was a line from a very loud conversation going on behind me while I ate my lunch at my favorite restaurant a few weeks ago. The two ladies were good friends and you could hear the relationship in their voice. “I have tried to go many times, but things come up and I have been so busy… plus I have gone a couple times, for several months in a row, and they seem to really cast judgment on me when I miss a couple Sundays.”
50 years ago, in public, it was acceptable to call out people and tell them to get into church. It was a matter of spiritual health and in a lot of communities, it was expected. People took the concept for granted, and assumed everyone in Mayberry went to the Baptist church downtown. This is not the way it is anymore…People get uncomfortable when you tell them that they need something they may perceivably be lacking. In 2013, you simply can’t do this… Wait?!?! Is this true?
Actually, when you think about it, everyday, we see a similar campaign in every avenue of media. When, back in the day, you would see a television preacher on every major network, and churches packed to standing room only, you now see physical health/ wellness oriented programs that show how you can get rock hard abs in 5 minutes a day, and spin classes with waiting lists.
People don’t seem to feel judged when their friend calls them out for skipping their run for the last 2 weeks. They get back to it. When we hold people accountable to their spiritual growth, in today’s society, we are in danger of making people feel uncomfortable. Granted, we should not be hounding people (grace must abound) to get into church, but I just think we have it backwards.
The concern in our day (my goodness I sound like I am elderly) has transitioned from spiritual wellness to physical…that which is supposed to be eternal to that which is temporary (our body). The gym has become the church.
Let me just put a disclaimer to the above subject…Our body is a temple and should be kept in shape to honor God and what He gave us, but entire communities are now birthed from relationships found on the treadmill (and those who run marathons)…and many will not go to church because of hypocrisy they find inside (might I note those who do not follow their nutritional plan).
We have accepted, as a culture, that we are in need of change. We are told that we should eat eggs and then the next week we shouldn’t. I just think the change must go deeper than a number on a scale.
That’s my two cents.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/07/16/healthy-is-the-new-holy/
If you stumble into sin, believer, don't give up; don't allow hopelessness to consume you, the deceitfulness of sin to blind you, or the weight of shame to defeat you. In the morning and evening prayer we pray, in part, the following: "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall" (Ps. 16:8
). Christ is
at your right hand, and this fall shall not be final for you; He took the final fall.
Yes, you may feel as though your worst day has cast a shadow over you that will never break to show the light of day, but, happily, you're wrong. God, in Christ, has declared you to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:21
). Of the righteous we read: "for though they fall seven times, they will rise again" (Prov. 24:16
NRSV). You will rise, friend, because Christ will lift you up. He took the ultimate fall in order that you should rise.
No one knows how many times I've had to encourage myself, thinking these thoughts, repeating the words of this post to myself. How I didn't play dead but arose from sin is a testimony to God's sheer grace. This post is as much an exhortation to myself as it is for anyone else experiencing difficulties or tragedies, whether self-caused or otherwise.
What do you do on the worst day of your life? Rise: not because you're inherently worthy of being named righteous. Rise because the one who took the ultimate fall declares you righteous. Rise because, though you sinned, though you deserve the fate of the wicked like the rest of us, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1
But rise, too, because you neither honor the Lord nor serve the body of Christ by remaining fallen. Don't play dead, possum. In Christ you have been made alive (Col. 2:13
). Play dead to your old, sinful nature or past. But in Christ, even when you sin, don't play dead -- don't remain defeated. In Him you are more than one who has conquered all spiritually negative realities (Rom. 8:37
). "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1
You can avoid re-offending others by rising, and thinking healthy, spiritual thoughts: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil. 4:8
). All offenses begin with thoughts. We are instructed to destroy arguments raised up against the knowledge of God.
But the apostle Paul also added, "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle
raised up against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:5
NRSV, emphasis added). How many thoughts rise up against the reality of God's holy existence and righteous standards? We are taught to destroy such thoughts, to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5
I picture such thoughts as personified. I imagine capturing them, putting them into a prison cell, while Christ stands watch over them as Guard. If I fail to do so, then I may entertain such thoughts, have them affect me emotionally, and then obey them. When I obey them, I sin. "But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved" (James 1:15-16
But when you sin, no matter the degree, take it immediately to Christ. "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9
NRSV). Don't let sin drag you into a hopeless, despondent, dejected place, out of which you feel impossible to escape. By His grace and forgiveness you rise up, and you keep rising up. You don't rise up only once. You will need to rise up every time you fall.
More than that, you will need to rise up every time you think
about a past fall. Such thoughts about your past have a tendency to paralyze you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Paralyzed, you will play dead. No: in Christ you must rise up from the guilt of your past. Though you fall seven times a day, you will rise -- you must
rise (Prov. 24:16
The Lord foreknew every sin you would ever commit when He by grace through faith in Christ saved your soul. You don't ever take Him by surprise by any thought, desire, or action. In Christ He has already declared you holy, sanctified (set apart from the world and for His service and care), and righteous. You don't let Him down because you don't hold Him up.
You are becoming more and more like Christ (Rom. 8:29
), slow as such may seem, and your heavenly Father understands completely all of your eccentricities, particularities, and unique qualities. This is how, you see, you keep on rising. Give your defeats to the One who defeated sin, death, and hell (1 Cor. 15:56-57
; 1 John 3:8
). Give your hopelessness to the God of hope (Rom. 15:13
). Whatever you do, don't play dead, possum, but rise. This post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/saturday-devotion-dont-play-dead.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"How do I know when it's God talking to me or the devil?" This is a question that I get quite a bit in my correspondence and conversations with people.
I have met different people who discern God's will or God's voice in curious ways:
- One person told me that the plant on his microwave will blow in a certain direction that tells him the next thing he thinks/hears is God talking to him.
- Another person told me that when he spends time in prayer, he has the window open. If the curtains blow out, the answer from God is yes. If the curtains suck into the window, the answer from God is no.
- Yet, another person told me that when he prays, he stands as still and as upright as he can and while he's praying about a decision, if he leans to the right, the answer is no. If he leans to the right, the answer is yes.
- I have also had people (who were not psychotic) tell me that God tells them answers thru the people talking on the television.
- Another individual told me that he looks for signs. For example, he was contemplating whether to take a job in Wyoming and he saw someone wearing a Wyoming shirt shortly after praying. He wondered if that was God leading.
Jesus had a little something to say about this. He says that wicked and adulterous people are always looking for a sign.
It seems to me that much of what Christians call discerning God's voice amounts to not much more than folk religion. Folk religion is unreflective religious beliefs based largely upon feeings, cliches, devotional literature and "evangelegends."
Folk religion is not God honoring. In my discussions with those five people above, I can assure you that they came up with some pretty goofy ideas about what God was saying. God is clear, He says if anyone lacks wisdom, we just need to ask Him.
As Christians, we now have the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. We no longer need to consult the urim and thummim.
Nor do we need to cast lots
to make decisions.
However, if you read my post yesterday, I wrote about how the devil tries to remind of our sins and failures. How, do we know when its the devil is giving us a hard time or God's Holy Spirit convicting us of something that needs to change?
The answer is simple. The devil hates you. God loves you. Once you get that concept firmly in your mind, discerning which voice is which becomes less problematic.
Now, I'm not saying that we have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I'm not wanting this to be caricatured.
My experience is often it is not the devil speaking to me but it is my own sinfulness getting in the way. My own sin nature speaks to me.
Nevertheless, if you hear a thought that says, "you know, you really are a pathetic excuse for a Christian. You are such a hypocrite, you are so selfish."
Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? I can tell you that thought either came from your own sinfulness or the devil (or maybe even both). Do you see what that thought does? It cuts you down at the very core of your being it attacks you as a child of God. It's like being blasted with a shotgun.
Now, let's say you hear a thought that says, "you know, you just spoke about how you didn't like that style of worship. Did you consider that worship can take many forms? You need to apologize for what you just said."
Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? Do you see what that thought does? It is clear and concise. It doesn't attack you as a child of God. It's like a single bullet shot right into your pride.
So, are you seeing the difference? When you have a thought and it feels like you have been blasted with a shotgun, that the thought was so diffuse, you can bet that it's not from God...
God's Holy Spirit is a sniper. He shoots clean and hits his target.
There is no collateral damage.
When the devil speaks, its to entice you away from God. To destroy how you view yourself before God.
When God speaks to you, it's to attract you to Him.
Paul's words ring true when discerning the voice of God, "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It was kind of a surreal experience.... We had just arrived at our mission in Quito and here I was less than 48 hours later standing at the graveside of a man I didn't know and hadn't even met.
I watched as the gravedigger dug the grave by hand. He would occasionally stop and put his chin on top of the shovel and seem interested in what was going on as he rested. There was hardly anybody there. Just the man's wife, a couple of other people, the pastor, myself and the Ecuadorian gravedigger. Being one of the few English speaking churches in town, the widow called the pastor with whom I served on staff and asked that he do the funeral. I was there as support.
The story of this man's life ended sadly. He was a very successful American businessman who had visited Ecuador frequently and ended up buying some lucrative property in Quito so that he could retire. He had quite a nest egg. His goal in life was to retire with his wife at this property in Quito and live a life of ease and luxury.
What was interesting was that this man and his wife arrived in Quito about the same time my wife and I had arrived. We may have even been on the same airplane. What he hadn't considered, as he grew older, was that his health wasn't as good as it had been in the past. Quito has an elevation of over 9,000 feet (btw - Denver has an elevation of just over 5,000 feet) above sea level. People who visit Quito often come done with Soroche (altitude sickness). The symptoms are very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The stress of the Soroche that he was experiencing taxed his body and his heart stopped working.
So, here we have a man who saved his whole life, gathered quite a bit of money and bought some nice property in Quito so that he could retire, and within 48 hours of achieving his goal, he died. From what his wife described, it also appeared that he died without knowing Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus talked about this. He said, "Now what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?"
Jesus, who taught a parable about a man who amassed fortune and trusted in himself, said, "You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?"
Having a goal is not bad in and of itself. However, if your goal excludes God and is just to please yourself, know that you may never reach it. If you do, it won't last forever. Everyone dies.
Then there is reward or payment.Yet, if you have a goal and it includes God and pleasing Him, you WILL reach it.
"Don't store up treasure on earth..."
Make heaven your goal.BE HOLY.BE A MAN