Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Action or Activity

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Many times we confuse activity with action.  We think of being active- simply doing something- doing what needs to be done, although doing something may not lead to accomplishing anything productive.  Activity just means that something is taking place.  Taking action is an entirely different definition.


One definition for "activity" that works here is : any specific behavior,  while "action" is  a deed; something done or accomplished.  Given those two definitions,  it is safe to say that we need to rethink our activities and actions.  They are not synonymous at all.  As we plan our daily activities, we need to ensure that we include particular actions that need to be accomplished throughout the day rather than simply taking up time doing and vegging.  

Will your actions make a difference in the lives of broken people?
Can you see yourself becoming more missional as you become more intentional?
Will you submit to His leading and your personal calling to take action?
See where he leads you and see how it feels.
Check yourself... If God thinks you are ready for the responsibility, then maybe you should stick to praying on your relationship with God, not your decision to do it or not.

Bonhoeffer spoke of responsibility, not simply thoughts.  He was a Lutheran pastor in WWII Germany.  He spoke of readiness.  He shared this openly.  Are you ready to take personal responsibility as you take action? Dietrich Bonhoeffer's involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Praise God Together

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;


all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
- Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV)

There are some things about God that are just so good that we should never forget them.  Some of these things come to our remembrance and we just have to bless the Lord and praise the Lord because they are so good.  They are so good because they come from Him who is so good- the Lord Himself.

He forgives.  He heals.  He redeems.  He crowns.  He satisfies.  He does countless things to bestow blessings upon us.  He does so much that we should readily praise His name.
David tells us "forget not all his benefits" (v. 2).  He calls us to give praise and bless the Lord, joining him in adoration and acknowledgement of the Lord and His goodness (vv.1-2, 20-22).  He offers an open invitation for others to join in the praise.  He says for us to give praise to the Lord by blessing His holy name with the "inmost being" (v. 1).  In other words, give Him all that praise that is due to His name with all that you have within you.
 
You don't owe it to the worship leader.  You don't owe it to the pastor.  You don't owe it to anyone except God.  You owe it to Him because He's good to you.  You owe it to Him because you have witnessed how good He has been to both you and others.  We owe Him all of our praise, every ounce that we can muster.  Praise God.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

People and Procedures

 "Need I remind you of the church motto?. . .You know the church rules. . ."- The Fighting Temptations


At times, we can have those who seem to guard the church's rules and regulations with much more zeal than they advance the Good News.  They know what everyone else shouldn't do and where it is forbidden, even where to find it in the church board minutes and the church's bylaws.  Yet, some of the same people are a turn-off to those new converts who seek to find out where the new members courses are taught or who handles the children's ministry.  They are guarding the door so rigorously that no one can squeeze their way into the church.
 
People need to feel that they are part of the process.  Whether they are in the church choir or on the usher board, people should feel included and considered when decisions are made for the entire church

There are people-oriented processes and procedures that lead to people-oriented programs.  If the process and policies get in the way of working with the people that they are designed to help, then you need to discover a new way to get things done.  The Lord expects His church to serve the needs of His people and give glory and praise to God Almighty.  We are treat people with respect and dignity, operating by the Golden Rule at the minimum in our daily interactions.

Think about the processes that you have in place.  If they do not help people or the church, why are in they in place? Could you explain your procedures and policies to your church's youth ministry and senior citizens without losing anyone in translation? You should be able to do so.  The church is about the people being together as people of God.  It is the ecclesia.  We are His body, and He is the head.  Let the work that you do for the church speak volumes about Him.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Going Astray

All we like sheep have gone astray... - Isaiah 53:6 (ESV)

It is true.  We have strayed.  We have wandered away from the Good Shepherd.  Our own thinking has led us to a desolate and forsaken place, leaving us helpless and in harm's way.

The key question is not why.  We know how we can be as mere human beings.  We understand our own inklings and behavior can get us into trouble.  Yet, we must why we go astray.  Why do we leave the protection of God provided by the Him for His flock? We must ask why and not dwell on the answer but develop a reminder for ourselves of how badly we need a shepherd to help lead us to green pastures and beside still waters.

As the sheep of His pasture, we wander and whine.  We do so as individuals (Psalm 119:176).  We do so as a collective body as Isaiah said in Isaiah 53:6. Since we know this, let us stay under the care of the Good Shepherd.  Let us never leave His protective and provisional care.  We may wander, but we have a loving and kind Shepherd who will seek us and save us, welcoming us back into the fold and accepting us with great joy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Potluck of Praise

46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
-Acts 2:46-47

Christian churches are known for their fellowship.  In fact, it seems like there must have been a daily potluck of sorts after Pentecost in Acts 2.  We see the early church had a common faith that led to a communal fellowship.

In days like today, we need to come together in a similar fashion.  Think about ways that your congregation can share with one another in the joyous fellowship of Christian love and unity.  Let it be casual and comfortable.  Make it just a gathering that allows you to break bread and share praise and praise together. 

Have every family bring a dish with a message of praise placed near it.  Display the messages prominently so that all can see them.  People will not only praise Sister King for her potato salad but also for overcoming the challenge of losing her husband in faith.  They won't only see Brother Gilbert as an excellent Sunday school teacher but a mighty good barbecue cook as well.  Fellowship together, sharing your praise for the Lord as one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ecclesisia

Words of praise escape from the lips of believers


In a chorus of joyful praise!

Called out in His name,

We call out to Him in His name.

Prayers, supplication and praise

Come together as we come together as one.

We are many who have become one.

We were lost who have become found.

We were dead but through Him

We have come to life.

The faith is our foundation.

The altar is our refuge.

This is a body but it is His body.

This is His body,

A body of believers.

We march to the beat of a different drummer

Yet we march as one.

We are many,

But we live as one.

We are the body of Christ.

We are the Ecclesisia.

We are His body.

Leading His Flock

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.- John 10:11 (NASB)

Jesus is the ultimate shepherd.  He states in John 10 that he is the Good Shepherd.  Those who pastor and lead Christian churches are to lead them under the leadership of Christ, the Good Shepherd, for He is the head of the body of Christ which is the church.

Peter shared with his fellow elders that he understood their undertaking in leading the Lord's flock.  After all, in John 21, Peter is challenged by the Lord Himself to feed His sheep and His lambs.  In essence, He said for Peter to care for His flock.  Peter shared with his fellow elders how they were to care for the Lord's flock, not ruling over them as lords but leading them towards perfection in Christ to be eventually presented to the Lord.

Look at how His flock is:
  • Loved by you and your fellow leaders
  • Linked together in unity and love
  • Led by the Spirit and Christian leaders
Leading His flock takes care.  it is rooted in stewardship.  It is a major undertaking to say the least.  As you lead the flock of the Lord under your care, take into careful consideration what you do and how you do it in the name of the Lord.

Additional readings:
John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-11; Ephesians 4:11-16

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Radical and Radiant

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
 - Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV)

Believers are the light of the world.  Jesus said so.  In one of the most well-known of sermons of the Savior and messages of the Master, He simply says: "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).  In the Sermon on the Mount, just after the Beatitudes, Jesus shares that we, as believers and followers of Christ, are the light of the world. 

He speaks of the believer as light in a world full of utter darkness.  The red letters of the Bible indicate that it was Jesus speaking, and the tone of His delivery indicates that He shared His words with both hope and expectancy.  In other words, Jesus shared His expectation of the believer and openly shared that the believer should let his or her light shine before men so that their works may be seen and that those who observed the believer's works would give glory to God (Matthew 5:16).  That sounds like He had hope, believing that the observer of good works would honor and glorify God.  It appears that He had expectations of the believer to be met by letting his or her light shine before the world by doing good works.

As followers of Christ, we should let our lights shine.  We should radically radiate the true light who is Jesus Christ.  We radically radiate by shedding light in a dark world.  It is a radical concept because we tend to point people towards the church or the pastor for insights into who the true light is and where to discover the light that came into the world.  We radiate as reflections of the Light.  He is the source of our light and we reflect Him as we interact with the world.  Get real.  Get radical.  Radiate with your light.  Let others see that the Light exists within you.

If we radiate, our lights can't help but be seen by others.  Others will see our lights shining brightly and give glory to God for what they have observed.  Jesus said that we shouldn't hide our lights.  Jesus said that we should give light to all who are around us.  We should radiate.  In other words, our radiation should be radical in the sense that we penetrate the darkness as the light of the world.

Let's get radical.
Let's radiate.

Beyond Sunday

"...And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:47 (NKJV)




Salvation is not limited to Sunday. God's saving grace works beyond our Sunday morning worship services. He saves sinners on any other day just as good as He does it on Sundays. Unfortunately, we tend to limit our perspective on God's grace for salvation to Sunday based upon traditional views. The truth is that God's grace is intended to work on a daily basis.



The early church operated beyond the Sabbath. According to the New Testament, the newly-converted believers of the Way met daily, whether in the temple or from house to house. The church was a body of believers, not a central meeting place. Since the establishment of the church building as a central meeting place for the body of believers, the church has primarily met on a one-day-per-week basis rather than a daily basis. Therefore, there has been a natural negative impact upon the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel.


If the church only meets on Sundays, then many of its opportunities for growth become limited to Sundays as well. However, God's power is not limited to Sunday only. In fact, even if the church met three days per week, Wednesdays for prayer and Bible study, Fridays for fellowship or evangelism, and Sundays for praise and worship, God's power still works beyond when the church says it is open for business.






So what are we to do? Expand the hours of operation for the church? No. Limit our acceptance of new believers and seekers to Sundays and special events? Certainly not. What I would suggest is to maximize the utilization of the resources and services that we already have in place within the church. Reach out to others in love and offer an introduction to Christ.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Right Your Wrongs

8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
-Luke 19:8-10

Zacchaeus was short, small, nothing much... that is to say physically, socially and spiritually.  Physically, he needed to climb a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Yet, he climbed a tree, keeping himself at a distance from the rest of the crowd, just as the society would have it.  He sought a bird's eye view of theLord and Savior because even one such as he was rich in earthly treasure but very poor in spiritual matters.  Brother Z was a brother in need...whether he knew it or not, it didn't matter because there was going to be one to come by that day who was going to get real up close and personal with him.

• Recognition: Jesus sees Zacchaeus, calls him by name, & pronounces that He will dine with him at his house(v. 5)...despite how insignificant we may be in the eyes of others we are important enough for Jesus to call us out by name. He knows each and every one of us from the lowest to highest, from the best to the worst, He knows us all

• Reception: "So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully" (v. 6)...We ought to receive Jesus with urgency. It's not everyday that He who is worthy makes a personal visit to the unworthy. Brother Z made it his business to get busy...whatever needed to be done to receive Jesus into his home he put a rush on it. He knew it was not a casual affair...Many of ought to look again at what happens here. We might know Jesus but are we still in the know enough to know that He still wants to be received by us daily as Lord & Savior? Lord for the office of prominence that He holds and Saviour for the offer of salvation that comes only through Him.
• Restoration: Somewhere in the midst of glasses clinking for toasts and people talking in fellowship Brother Z said he would restore what he had wrongly taken w/o any provocation from Jesus (v. 8)...Jesus recognizes His change and restores Him based upon his change of heart (v. 9)

We need to the right the wrongs of our past.  Write them down and make things right with those you have wronged.  Be sure to go down the list and face the shame and admit the guilt, and then simply offer to make things right.  Share that you have honestly been changed and live differently now.  Right your wrongs by making things right with the ones you have wronged.

We Live

I basically wrote this piece from the heart, not the head.  Simply, it is entitled: "We Live." Let the words speak to you and see if you can identify with any of its haunting truth.  Also, "Ghetto Survival Kit" is a more politicized piece below.


We Live

Somehow,
Whether we discuss it or not,
Whether we get into it or not,
Even if we can't stand to talk about it too long,
We struggle here and there.
We lose some and win some.
We bleed.
We cry.
Yet, we live.

Somehow,
Whether we discuss it or not,
Whether we get into it or not,
Even if we can't stand to talk about it too long,
We survived the slave ship.
We endured the lash of the whip.
We saw Mama sold down the River.
We survived the plantation.
We fought that other man's war.
Through it all,
We still live.

Somehow,
Whether we discuss it or not,
Whether we get into it or not,
Even if we can't stand to talk about it too long,
We were up during the Reconstruction.
We had little during Jim Crow.
WE had even less during the Depression.
We had all to gain during the Civil Rights Movement.
We shared a dream with Martin.
We felt the anger and agony of Malcolm.
We cried for JFK and Brother Bobby.
We were given hope with Obama.
We live.

We live on.
Through the years and ages,
We have lived strong.
Despite the trials and tribulations,
We have lived well.
With God by our side,
We have come thus far.
So,
As we look towards tomorrow
And recall the days of the past,
We live on.
We live.
We live.



Ghetto Survival Kit (A Community Briefing)
 
This is an A.P.B., Community!
This is an A.P.B., Family!
All People Beware!
All People Beware!
A-L-L PEOPLE BEWARE.
 
Taxes are going up.
The stuff is going down.
The jig is up.
The people are powerless.
That means that they have less power than the rest.
The Rest?
Who would be the Rest?
The Rest are the politicians with pockets full of blood money.
They get it from the dope crossing borders and entering city streets.
They get it from filling ghetto street corners with houses of grease.
They want it.
They get it.
They want it at all costs.
They get it all costs.
How much will it cost you?
No, not them.
You!
How much will it cost you to fill a mayor's belly?
How much will it cost you to line a councilman's pocket?
How much will it cost you to keep them full?
With prices and rates like these,
Hesaven should be taking online orders and charging admission at the gates
Because they surely overcharge you down here in this hellhole.
Is there a rage in Harlem?
Is something afoul in Denmark?
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Don't trust their lying and flattering lips.
Don't let them near the children.
They want to destroy us all for their own gain.
They want it all for their own gain.
Let God judge them.
You just keep away from them.
You just be sure to keep an eye on them.
You just make sure to stay guarded from them and their speeches and pitches.
Keep them at a distance as you escape from their clutches.
Stand afar off and see them for who they are.
In times like themes,
You need every bit that you got to keep from losing all that you got.
In a place like this,
You have to strive to survive.
In a place like this,
You lose when you start listening to their words.
You win when you stay clear of their wicked ways and wearisome words.
Survive if you can.
Survive how you can.
Survive.
Survive.
Do all that you can to stay alive.
Just survive through it all.
Just survive.
Survive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beauty to Behold


The Word of God offers us vivid word pictures painted with imagery and descriptions that touch our very hearts as we hear them read aloud. His Word offers us an explosive collision of senses and emotions as He describes the coming of the Savior in Isaiah's prophecy.  Yet, look deeply at what the Lord says through this man of God.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me...
It is as if the Spirit of the Lord is a fragrant oil or balm that is ceremoniously anointed upon the head.  It reads almost like Psalm 133:2 where it speaks of the pleasantness and joy of unity among the brothers: It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard.  The imagery of the oil comes up again where the prophecy speaks of oil of joy for mourning.  The oil serves as an ointment, and if it is oil of joy, it should help and aid us to deal with and heal from our mourning.

To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion. . .
The prophecy speaks clearly about comforting and consoling all who mourn and those who mourn.  The prophecy has something special for those dealing with mourning.
Just hear those words speak to your heart.  God doesn't just send us someone to "save" us and set things in order in Jesus Christ.  He sends someone who restores mankind into a refueled and refreshed fellowship with God the Father by faith and grace.   The words themselves paint the picture for us.

Ashes are usually a sign of mourning.  Job and David exemplified this as it was customary during a period of mourning.  Mourning? What was dead? We were dead, lost in the darkness of our own sin.  Oil was used to anoint for special purposes and to help purify and cleanse wounds.  How much did we need to become cleansed? His blood covers us and cleanses us, making what was once scarlet become as white as snow.  The garment of praise has been fitted for each believer.  It fits right over all of the stuff that seems to weigh us down and keep us from moving forward.  These garments allow us to become wrapped and clothedin the very praise that arises from within us due to God hearing our cry and plea.

Listen to the words.  Hear them speak to your heart.  Allow them to create new images in your mind.  Let them help you discover new ways to picture how much God loves you today.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Praise Him on Your Own

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so... - Psalm 107:2

The Book of Psalms has been referred to as the prayer book of the Bible as well as the scriptural praise and worship guidebook.  The American Bible Society considers the 150 entries in Psalms as "prayers and hymns." Psalms are literally sacred songs or poems, even hymns.  Essentially, every time that we look into Psalms, we need to understand that someone was expressing how they felt, what they came to realize or observe about God, or to help boost the spirits of others such as the poor, the afflicted, the needy, and those with broken hearts and spirits.

Psalm 107 has been debated when it comes to authorship, whether it is a  Davidic psalm or not, but its authenticity is without question.  The psalm opens with an exclamation: Oh give thanks to the Lord (v. 1).  In fact, it does not just open up with an exclamation.  It offers a twofold rationale for such a claim.  The author says: A) for He is good and B) for His lovingkindness is everlasting (v. 1).  It echoes similarities to: Psalm 33:3's Sing to him a new song, Psalm 22:23's You who fear the Lord, praise him!, and Psalm 34:3's Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.  The reasoning and rationale for such praise and worship for the Lord stems from our relationship with Him and stirs up a response out of us towards Him.  Comparatively, Psalm 96:8 speaks of giving God the glory due to His name- who He is- and bringing an offering.  In essence, our worship comes from our hearts and work through our mouths, hands and feet by dancing, lifting up holy hands, and


I say praise Him.  Praise Him for who He is to you.  Praise Him for what He has done for you.  Praise Him for what He did not allow to happen.  Praise Him!

You don't need a worship leader to stir you up.  The Holy Spirit has already started on you.  Be certain to stay in your Bible, especially Psalms.  If you can't seem to find a way to lift your spirits for praise and worship, even that ye old Baptist midweek Bible study and prayer meeting, I suggest going back to Psalms.  Dig in and get built up.  Dive into it and experience newfound joy.  Let the words speak to you, but don't let them speak for you.  Write your own poems, songs and "psalms." Praise God with your own expressiveness through words. 

Praise Him in your own words.  Praise Him in your own way.  Praise Him on your own. Praise Him!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials- James 1:2 (NASB)

Can you consider your troubles as times to boost your joy? James thought so.  Better yet, James believed so.  He said it to other believers about what they endure as a "testing" of their faith.  James spoke of enduring such trials, exercising patience and evolving into spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).  According to James, we should look at such times as times of hope "wanting for nothing."

Think of it differently.  Look at your troubles and trying times differently.  See them as growth opportunities.  Some will call them life lessons.  Others will consider them moments of truth. Don't get caught up on what they may be called.  Get into understanding that what you experience is to lead to your spiritual growth , eventually making you more mature in your faith.

Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? That may not necessarily be the case.  Look at Moses when the people of God tried his patience.  He did not just speak to the rock.  He struck the rock.  David, a man after God's own heart, was upset when his friend was struck down for touching the ark of God.  John the Baptist sent word to Jesus from jail, questioning if He was the Anointed One or not.  Even Jesus said that there would never be one like John the Baptist, but he questioned the Messiah when he faced his pending execution.  Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? The Bible tells us: no.

The Bible is in our hands and is to be in our hearts.  It should serve as a reminder to us of how we should conduct ourselves as we seek to grow in our faith.  Some tragedies simply rock our world and throw us off a bit.  We need to grow.  We grow as we go through things in life that help build up our faith.  James' instructions were clear.  Let it grow you as you face various trials in life, allowing your spiritual maturity to grow and shine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Ever-Present Enemy

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. - Luke 4:13 (NIV)


Luke provides an account of the devil, Satan, Lucifer, the prince of the earth, the fallen angel, completing his attempts to tempt Jesus in the wilderness and departing from Him. James spoke of submitting ourselves to the Lord and having the devil flee from us. The NIV ends Luke 4:13 with "... he left him until an opportune time." He wasn't done with Jesus then.  He's not done with us now.

If his main job is to steal and destroy, he's not even close to being done with us. He wants our joy.  Do we still have children? He wants to steal our joy. Are we still smiling and laughing in spite of the tears and the heartache? He wants our joy. He won't be done until we are left with nothing and no one. He still seeks that opportune time to sneak up and snatch our joy.

Watch out. He's not done.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eat Like Ezekiel

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.  -Ezekiel 3:1-3 (NIV)

We, as believers, are called to do something with the Word.  Yes, I know Ezekiel is one of those prophets who seems to border somewhere between deranged madman and dedicated messenger of God.  Yet, God calls Ezekiel to do something symbolically that He expects of all of us literally.

Take in the Word.  Take it in daily.  Take it in deliberately.  Take the Word in as much as you can each and every day.

  • Discover the Word: Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll... (v. 1). The ESV says: eat whatever you find here,  while the New King James Version reads: eat that you find.  You need to discover the Word.  I don't mean find the thing that is sitting somewhere on the backseat from your last visit to church.  I mean find out what the Word has to offer.  Don't rely on what others have to say about it.  Discover it for yourself.  Seek out the Word and see what it has to offer.
  • Devour the Word: So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll (v. 2, KJV). Take the Word in.  Eat it up.  Consume it.  Take it into your soul.  Allow it to feed the hunger that burns within you.  Let the Word nourish you.  Feast on the deep mysteries of God.  Open your mouth and eat of what God provides to His children as you discover His Word for yourself.
  • Digest the Word: eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it (v. 3).  Let the Word fill you.  Take it in and let it settle into your soul.  Digest it.  Absorb the richness of God's Word.  Don't let it just pass through you.  Absorb it.  As you consume it, let it consume you.
  • Disseminate the Word: eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel...So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth (v. 3).  The whole point of taking in the Word is not only for our own gain.  You are to share what you take in.  The ultimate purpose is that you consume it to become a connoisseur of it.  As a connoisseur, you can share about its sweetness and richness because you have tasted and seen that it is good.  If we are obedient to God in taking in His Word, we should also be obedient to God in sharing and spreading His Word to others.
Search for it.  Study it.  Stomach it.  Share it.  Spread it.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.- Jeremiah 15:16

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Know Better and Do Better

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

We used to hear a lot about knowing better as kids.  My mom and dad would tell say that I ought to  know better, while my teacher would state in the correct English grammar how I should know better.  The point of it all was that somewhere along the line I should have picked up on right and wrong, what to do and what not to do.  As Christians, we learn that knowing better in Christianity comes from knowing Christ first.  As we learn of Him, we learn from him to live like Him.

Knowing better should lead to us doing better.  That's the assumption and expectation.  That's the thing that is behind the remark: "And you call yourself a Christian..." or "Ain't you a child of God?" In the case where someone else forgot, your best option is to forgive.  You are not sure why.  That's understandable.  How about doing so because Christ forgave you? It's been hard and people sure don't make it easy.  Do what He calls you to do.  After all, you claim to know Christ as your personal Savior and Lord in your life. 

I know. I know.  You ought to know better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tested like the Cross


Can you stand to take the test? I am speaking of the tested strength that withstands abuse amid sacrificial outworking for the blessing and benefit of others.  At the very time that you are offering yourself in a servant's posture, can you stand the ridiculous ridicule of the ungrateful and the shameless? Could you echo the words of Jesus?

 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

I would imagine it would be difficult for us to say whether or not we could stand the test.  Images of Calvary emergeThe prophecy of Isaiah's suffering Savior come to mind.  Would you still forgive despite their harsh and cruel insults hurled at you? Even the two who hung at either side of Him chimed in with the others.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Those who seek to serve like Christ must be willing to sacrifice like ChristYet, our greatest service may be to love. He said He came to serve and not be served.  Are you willing to offer your all for the sake of His name?  And, while we love with our full hearts, we allow our love to cover a multitude of sins with an abundance of forgiveness.  The Apostle Paul spoke of a more excellent way and instructing believers to forgive as the Lord forgave.

How would you react when the very people you are helping keep hurting you more and more? What words would you use at that point? Would you still be loving and kind? Would you pass the test?

Could the Lord count on you?

Would you pass the test?

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
 
Amen Me!