In Christ I Stand

Growing up, I would go to the used book store and traded for comic books to read. The comic book heroes I grew up with are very popular today. My favorite comic book hero was Captain America. 

Yet, a boy must put away childish things to become a man. My heroes became the real servants of God we are told about in his Holy Scriptures.  They  were human just as you and I; but they all had a common truth, a common thread that elevated them above all else. By their love for God in devotion to him and faith in God to trust him and obey his will, he gave them  the wisdom and strength to live their lives. It is the power to stand and live in the only way that is right and good and true. It is the power to stand and live in the only way that gives life its fullest meaning and purpose. It is the power of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

 God’s love is eternal. Its power is forever. His love in you is the unfailing strength of his son Jesus Christ, our precious Lord and Savior.

 The strength of God’s eternal love is his almighty sovereignty. Living in Christ you will live by that power. There is nothing in your life that can overpower him. He cannot be stopped. His love is with you no matter what happens. The power of his eternal love is his full righteousness. He will never mistreat you, hurt you or lead you wrong. He will never betray you or turn his back on you. He will never sin. The power of his eternal love is his faithful devotion. He will never fail you or desert you. His is fearful of nothing and is intimidated by nothing.  

 You can trust him with your whole life. There is nothing that man can do or hell can bring, there is nothing in life or death, that will keep him from you or turn him away from. We will walk with him through anything until he returns to take us home.

“Till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

Romans 8:31-39

Self Examination 

At times I feel rather inadequate, even unworthy, when writing or teaching or speaking about God and our faith. Obey the commandments of God. Follow the teachings of Christ. Do the right thing. Becoming the kind of man who will live that way. These are not always easy for me. Since my dad passed away, I have been in a wrestling match with myself. My spirit has made me go head to head with all that is my good, bad, and ugly. I will not be blind to what is good about me and I do not want to hide my weakness, flaws, and failures. 

So, why am I talking about this? To have an intimate relationship with God, others, and yourself, we must know the truth about ourselves. Self-examination is both a humiliating and uplifting struggle. Yet, it is an essential element of our spiritual growth and development. The question is how does this work?

       First, what will God do? He pours out his grace on us.

1. God will perform spiritual surgery on our true self, the person that we really are (Hebrews 4:12-16).  

2. God redeemed us to forgive our sin guilt and damnation and to break the power that sin  has over us (Titus 2:11-14).

3. God will teach and train us to live free of sin (2 Timothy 3).

       Second, what will our faith do so that God’s work can flourish in us? We trust God with our life and soul. 

1.  Face our own image in the mirror and and be willing do something about it (James 1:19-25). Don’t get angry and argue with God but listen to him with the intent to obey.

2.  Accept God’s love which we do not and can not earn (1 John 4:9-10, Romans 5:5-11). 

3.  Seek and clothe yourself in Christ — his mind, spirit, truth, and authority (Colossians 3:1-17).

4. Be persistent and bough some days will be more frustrating then others (Philippians  2:12-18). 

5. Turn your deepest desire, hope, purpose, and meaning to seeking God and his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:19-34).

The struggle for spiritual maturity and growth will continue. If we pay attention to God, he will continue to keep us and make us into what he wants us to be. If we pay attention to ourself, we continue to let God’s work flourish in us. God is always faithful and he will help us to be faithful in the midst of our struggle with ourself. (Romans 7:17-25).

Global Warming and God’s Sovereignty

I will not use my time here to discuss the validity of global warming. It is not a spiritual or religious matter but a science issue that has been politicized.  However, it is an issue believed to have a global impact that requires more than an individual response.

Yet, the debate does evoke a discussion of spiritual and religious matters, truths and principles, fundamental to Christian faith and thinking.  I will attempt to  briefly state them clearly.

First, there is no conflict between science and religion. Pure science and pure religion are in harmony. And neither has a prejudice for itself and against the other.  The struggle has been and will always be with people, with the Christian who will not trust the scientist and with the scientist who does not believe there is a truth beyond the natural realm.  There are two bodies of truth for us to learn and by which to live. Revealed spiritual truth we know from the His Word and the discovered natural truth we know from His creation.  Both bodies of truth are from God and teach us about God, ourselves, his will, and our life in all matters  (Romans 11:33-36).

Second, there is no conflict between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. There are two fundamental principles of God’s sovereignty. He gives mankind the responsibility to execute his will and he holds us accountable for that execution.  God designed the earth to sustain human life (his will) and by his sovereignty gave mankind dominion over the earth (our responsibility). Then, he will judge us for the execution of his will  (our accountability to God for his will). So it is man’s responsibility to use that dominion to protect the earth as he uses it to sustain his existence.   Then, fundamental to the whole relationship between God and man is that God allows us to face the consequences of our choices and actions — even if such consequences threaten our very existence.  That is a key element of our accountability to His sovereignty (Genesis 1-3).

Third, the mission of the church is salvation by the gospel — not political engagement or social activism. Clearly our world needs social change in all arenas and communities. Clearly political engagement of the people is an essential duty of our nation’s citizenship.  Individually the Christian will engage the public arena to influence the cause of righteousness.  The church will engage the public arena to give benevolence to troubled lives,  convict souls of the gospel and righteousness to believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation, and  nurture and train the church in the ways of God.  The church impacts social change and influences political actions by seeking the conversion of souls to believe no matter she finds them.  While I an individual believer will engage the world from my faith, the church must not lose site of her single mission– the salvation of the lost (Matthew 28).

Whether global warming is real or not and what to do about it, is not a theological or religious discussion and so I will leave that in the arena where it belongs.  Yet, as with many of this nature, the thrust of the discussion goes to the heart of what folks believe to be truth on all sides of the discussion. Christian and unbeliever alike needs  to see clearly what is right and good and true and not be trapped by the political and social and economic agendas that pollute and twist so much of what we hear (2 Timothy 2-3).

 

 

Our Common Ground

     All peoples everywhere are connected across all points of differences by our common ground, what many call our common humanity. Not saying that all beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences are equal. Certainly they are not. The point is that though we appear to be different from one another on the the surface, our inner selves truly have many things in common.

     We share the same human flaws and strengths, the same human fears and hopes. We all need encouragement, comfort, sympathy, compassion, and fellowship. We all want to be loved and belong. We all need redemption. We all are created in the image of God and we all are given the desire to seek Him. This common ground is the basis for our unity, harmony, and peace.

      Jesus Christ teaches us to treat one another’s common ground — “interests” — at least, as equal with our own. He does not teach us to over look the differences. He teaches us recognize the greater value of our common interests. He then demonstrated by his life how we do that. He left his exalted place on high, humbled himself before his creation, and gave himself to be the sacrifice for our salvation. The Son of God became a servant.

     There is unity in common ground in spite of differences. When we focus on the differences, we cannot see, do not see, or simply ignore the common ground and the unity, harmony, and peace will go away. When we build on what makes us different, we become divided. Yet, when we build on our common ground, we become one. That is what God designed his Son’s church to do. When we do that, we do not become politically correct. When we do that, we become the beacon of divine love living among men.

Philippians 2. Matthew 22:34-40.

To Those Most Important To Me

I am an armchair philosopher and theologian. I am an armchair sports analyst and political analyst.  I am an armchair sociologist.

I am not an armchair person.  I live my life fully engaged with other people. I live my life fully engaged in a higher purpose than what can be known by our material senses.  I have an identity that defines me and I am devoted to that identity.  So, I live my life desiring something that is greater and higher than anything this life itself can give me.

You see, I am not an armchair Christian.  It is the higher calling, the higher purpose, for which I live. Being a Christian is what identifies and defines me.  Christianity is from God through Jesus Christ.  You desire God and not this world. You follow Christ and his path of righteousness not this world and its way of selfishness, lust, and pride. You walk by the Holy Spirit of  God and not the defiled spirit of this world.

Do We live it perfectly? No. We are flawed by sin. We are devoted to God and to Christ. Yet, we do not always get it right.  Still, God is faithful forever and he blesses you everyday with his love.

And that is why I am writing these words. I have been thinking a lot more these days about my life.  It brought me back to something I had written a few years ago.

The following is a tribute I wrote to those people who are the most important to my life, the most important to me.

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made my life right and good for he has blessed me with five great loves. His righteous love makes my heart pure and wise. My lovely wife Angela’s faithful love makes my heart humble and strong. My precious daughter Christy’s trusting love makes my heart tender and complete. My son-in-law Nathan’s love has enriched my heart with the joy of friendship. My sweet granddaughter Kaitlyn’s love makes my heart young and tender again.

If I loose everything and had to start over with only God and my family, I still will be the most blessed person on all the earth.

God is always faithful and you can always trust him.  As you worship and serve him, as you follow Jesus Christ to obey Him, God will enrich your life from the riches of Heaven. He will strengthen your spirit to live your life no matter what is in your path. He will teach you his wisdom and judgement to discern truth and practice.  His mercy is everlasting, judgement is righteous, and compassion is endless. So, he will send into your life those people who will bless you.   Cherish his blessings.

Exiles

It is a dangerous path for our nation and her people that our culture has taken an intolerant stance against religious liberty, reasonable faith, and moral soundness. If this way is not turned and rejected, God’s people will become the aliens in our own land.

God has told us from the beginning that anyone who seeks an intimate relationship with him will become an exile in this world. This is the nature of our relationship with God. Were you ever not liked by others because you befriended someone they did not like? So, God teaches us to devote ourselves to our desire for Him and give that relationship everything it takes, and to keep our eyes open to anything that would move against God and pry us from our desire for him and our commitment to him. Then we take up the life of love because that is how we live and express our desire for God.

We hold dear to all of our liberties the right of public dissent, to openly question an idea, thought, or position contrary to one’s own. We must have the courage to “rage against” the spirit that would seek to suppress the liberty of any group or individual.  With God, we will stand on his eternal truth. We will reject any stance not found in His truth. We will not refuse your liberty to speak and practice and we will claim that same liberty to speak and practice.

We hold dear our love for God and our faith to follow Jesus Christ. We may be hated and rejected; despised and ridiculed; isolated and cast out; oppressed and persecuted; attacked and abused. We will become exiles for our intimacy with God. We will not be afraid to engage the public arena for the liberty to live without fear of oppression. We will engage the public arena for the opportunity to show you the life lived by a desire for God.

Now, because of our intimacy with God, we will reject sin and anything that will come between us and God. We will also refuse this intolerant spirit that is taking hold of our nation. Liberty demands the tolerance of everyone’s right to believe, live a moral life, and worship his God. True tolerance demands the right to reject another’s belief, definition of morality, and the God he chooses to worship. Intimacy with God will teach and train us to do this in the spirit of humble faith but bold love.

Remember this. We do need religious liberty to speak and practice our faith, morality, and worship without oppression . We do not need religious liberty to be intimate with God and have fellowship with him. This fellowship with God is a spiritual relationship. No matter what any group or culture would do to us, there is no law of man and no force of man that can take that away from us.

John 15:18-26. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

Father, Renew My Spirit

        I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time — where I’ve been, what I’m doing and the relationships I have now, where I’m going, and what will be my final destiny. I have come to see that life is change and the opportunities to make my life a good one. I have come to see that it is all about living my relationship with God in every arena of my life and myself.

     Amidst all of the noise and nonsense, all of the hurt and tears, all of the pain and weakness, all of the meanness and cruelty, all of the garbage and waste, all of the evil that surrounds me, I need to be reminded that I have a soul. I need to remember that I am a man. I need to renew my spirit. I will daily turn to God and he will heal my heart, clear my eyes, and straighten my knees. Only God can remove my callous scars and replace them with the tenderness of His mercy and compassion. Only God can remove the anxiety in my chest and fill it with the peace of His spirit. Only God can take away the guilt of my soul and wash me clean with His Son’s blood. You see, only God can restore my spirit. Only God can love me and give me hope. Only God can make me strong to live my life. Only God can make me whole and good and right in all of the wonderful and amazing ways He works in our lives. You see, God is my Father.

If He is not your Father, you are alone and lost. So, my wish for you is that you will expend yourself in nurturing your relationship with God. Throwaway the trivial things of this world and get rid of forever the pettiness and sins you are holding onto. Embrace the goodness of what God has already given you and open up your heart, spirit, and life to the opportunities and challenges he is yet to place in your path. Invest yourself in someone and share with them all the good person that God will make you to become. Then you will discover the joy, hope, peace, and love of life that God has always wanted us to have.

Psalms 139:1-18 Think about how intimately God knows you.

Matthew 7:7-11 Think about the promise Jesus gives that God will find you and give you life if you will seek him out.

God’s Love for All Sinners

Everything about God’s will and actions towards us and
for us begins with His love for us; how He feels about
us and values us, how He feels about sin and hates sin;
and how he acts on that love within the parameters of
His own righteousness. We are His precious treasure and
He hates anything that would seek to harm us, which is
Satan and his sinful, evil, wicked rebellion against a God.
God redeemed you and me at great cost to himself. That
is the true nature of love. That is the heart of Jesus Christ,
for us all. He paid the ultimate price for our redemption.
This love of God is the glory of the terrible cross on which
Jesus was nailed and it buries forever the shame of our sin.
So, it is said that we are never more like God than when we forgive one another. Amen! God humbled himself to forgive us our sin (Philippians 2:5-11).
Will we humble ourselves to forgive one another? (1 John 4:7-21)

Righteous, Godly, and Holy 

Righteous, godly, and holy. This is the way of Christ.
This is the truth, character, nature, perspective, and meaning that defines the believer’s life. It defines the believer’s practical daily spiritual life and the truth found when he devotes himself to follow Christ and his way of life. The way of Christ is one that desires God and seeks an intimate fellowship with him. The spirit of unbelief and rebellion against God rules the way and life of the world.

The way of Christ transcends the life of the world. Righteous is engaged in what is right and just – what makes us right with God and each other. Godly is engaged in the mentality that reflects what is good – what is from God that can be found in us. Holiness is en gaged in what is devoted to God and serving him. The life of the world is driven by lust, self-centeredness, and pride. Christ brought to us righteousness, godliness, and holiness. The Holy Scriptures teaches and trains us to live in the way of Christ.

How God sees us; what he does for us; what he desires for us; what he desires from us are rooted in his righteousness, holiness, and godliness. The result is a life that seeks to please him and to be free from the control of the spirit that rules this world. That requires the grace, mercy, love, power, and truth of God. It requires the faith, hope, love, trust, and devotion of the believer. They all fuse together in Jesus Christ who is our Lord and Savior.

There is so much more to say. We will discuss this more as we meditate on these things more closely. For now, one last thought. The believer in Christ sets his life on God, in God, and for God. For the believer, everything is of God. Righteous, godly, and holy. They are the nature of our fellowship with God. They are the character of how God and I relate to one another.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Titus 2:11-14

Walk In God’s Law

God’s law is nothing like man’s law.

Man’s law is the product of a fallen and corrupt race. Man’s law only restricts, encumber, punishes, and is corrupted, twisted, and enslaved by its own bureaucracy. It is cold, impersonal, and powerless because it cannot change the heart and soul of a man or woman. Man’s law cannot save.

God’s law is living and sharper than a double edged sword that has the power to lay a person open to the truth about himself.  It exposes us to ourselves then teaches us how to be right and good and true.  It is the product of his almighty power and wisdom. God is our only Savior and his will is our only salvation.

Read Psalm 78:10

The psalmist is warning the people of God of the destruction that arises when each generation fails to teach the rising generation to trust God — to trust who God is, what he does, his will and his power, and to trust his law. Yet, we must also teach them the great blessings of following God’s law and encourage them to live in God’s way.

In the way of God’s law, you will find an inner peace that calms the soul like no other and a joy that lifts the soul to the greatest heights of goodness and righteousness and truth. In the way of God’s law, you will find the strength and will to take the next step and keep on going. In the way of God’s law, you will find the deepest comfort of knowing you are living in a way that will give only goodness, hope, love, and the right direction — and correction — to every life you touch.

Walk in God’s law and you will not go wrong!