Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Living Dangerously In The Hands of God...

Let's let the truth of God's word penetrate your heart this morning- otherwise we can only speak the words of truth to others & there is no transformation. When we are open we can receive truth and through God's grace transfer it to others & they will be changed.

In Luke 20 Jesus said, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

Not all teaching, nor teachers are the same. What does Jesus teach immediately following this warning?

Luke 21:1-4
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

He goes on to say, "Watch out that you are not deceived... When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened."

"There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven."

Strange- He says, 'do not be frightened' and yet there will be 'fearful events'. Could that help us see what it means to 'live dangerously in the hands of God'?

"But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."(v14-15)

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life."(v34)

Message- But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping....'

'Parties, drinking and shopping'- That is most defintely not living dangerously in the hands of God!

Let's move to Acts 18 & see what Paul shows us about living dangerously in the hands of God.

"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."(vv 9-10)

We will hear messages like this from Jesus.

Look what happens when Paul is dragged before the authorities- is he worried about how he will defend himself?

Acts 18:14-16
Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." So he had them ejected from the court.

"Do not be afraid...I am with you..."

Our source of strength is meant to come from the Lord, not oursleves.

Acts 18:21
"I will come back if it is God's will."

Paul continually acknowledges God's leading in his life as the only way to go, as do others:

James 4:13-16
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

Psalm 23:1
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

We are not on a treasure hunt where a distant God leaves clues for us to find; instead God says, 'Do not be afraid I am with you!'

Ask yourself, 'Do I want something to say, or to do more than I want Jesus Himself?'

We get our instructions on a need to know basis because we don't really need to know a lot since God is right there with us!

What matters is that we are open & ready to learn from unlikely sources (a widow with no influence or money), prepared for whatever God has to say to us through the Scriptures, through reliable teachers and the gathering with other followers of Christ sharing the ongoing and always unpredictable common life. Think of how God worked throught the stories from today- Ginger, Marilyn, Bryan & Glen.

1 Thessalonians 5:10
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

We'll close with the message Glen shared this morning that he heard from the Lord through Tree 63,

Walking Home With You
Here is the sun to light your day
Here is an answer when you pray
Here is the dry road through the sea
What more could you ever want from me?

Written directions to my home
A promise you'll never be alone
Here is a lamp unto your feet
What more could you ever want from me?

And when you fall, I'll wait
I am always awake
All of your days I'm walking home with you

My body bruised and broken down
Precious blood spilled on the ground
I paid for your life up on that tree
What more could you ever want from me?

And until that day you stand
Here in my arms, here's my hand
All of your life I'm walking home with you

When we acknowledge that truth with an open heart we begin to live dangerously in the hands of God.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fear and awe...

...seem to be the norm when we're following Jesus.

Mark 10:32
They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear.

Check out what James & John ask Jesus next. Ever asked God something dumb like that?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Revelation 3:15-22
"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!

"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Some things are hard to understand...

It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to save 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases. Bono

Matthew 25:34-46
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Proverbs 14:29
Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Many of life's greatest burdens...

... begin with the letter 'G': guilt, grudges, grievance, and grief.

How are you doing with yours?

Are you able to let them go?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seemed fitting given it's election time...

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that's it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it's good or evil.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome to refinery work...

There are days that can feel like hell along the spiritual journey, hurting with the intensity of a fiery furnace for what seems like an eternity. But if we will submit to God's refining process it will all have been worthwhile and we may be presented as 'perfect in Christ'.

1 Corinthians 3:9-16
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

1 Peter 1:3-7
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nothing is more helpful to reduce pride than the actual experience of self knowledge. If we are discouraged by it, we have misunderstood its meaning. Thomas Keating

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spiritual discernment is more about sensing God's gracious presence than it is about making the right decisions.

In the kingdom the answer to How? is always Yes!

"I am spare change in God's pocket. He can spend me however he chooses." John Wimber

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Marriage check up...

"How would I like to be married to me?”

Colossians 3:18-21
Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master. Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don't take advantage of them. Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end. Parents, don't come down too hard on your children or you'll crush their spirits.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The only reason for being is for the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

John 12:24
Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

There's no life like it...

In His love God has made it possible for you to to live,

...with confidence about who you are, why you are here and where you're going.

...with being able to relate to others in a way that brings you closer to them rather than driving them away from you.

...with being able to be the kind of husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter God intended you to be.

...with having your emotions under control so you are not continually dragged down by your fears, anxieties and worries.

...with being able to experience peace and joy whenever you want to experience peace and joy.

...with knowing how to be content and satisfied because you understand what real contentment and satisfaction are.

...with being able to live a life that is meaningful, satisfying and productive for eternity.

...with being able to impact others for time and eternity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

accept me the way i am - completely unacceptable

Many moons ago, when I was still a teenager, I bought a T-shirt for my best friend that read, 'Accept me the way I am: completely unacceptable.' I laughed & thought it perfect for my buddy Mark.

We all long to experience unconditional acceptance. Our first step to finding it is admitting our need for acceptance. We must awaken to our need for God and each other.

I am sorry for those who have never gotten into trouble because they really cannot share my experience. It is one thing to experience compassion intellectually, or even to give it. It is quite another thing to receive compassion when one knows that all one is entitled to is justice. Robert Greenleaf

Hebrews 4:14-16
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2 Corinthians 1:3-10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.

4:7-12; 16-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Self-sufficiency is synonymous with pride.

Faith is the opposite of anxiety. If you are anxious & are trying to control everything & if you are worried about many things, you don't have faith says Jesus. You do not trust that God is good and on your side. You're trying to do it all yourself, trying to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.

We need to giveaway control. That's the test of our faith. People of faith don't have to control everything, nor do they have to change people.

John 15:5
"Apart from Me you can do nothing..."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A human being’s highest achievement is to let God be able to help him. Søren Kierkegaard

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Living loved

As Christians, love is the meaning of our lives, and our days are to be spent becoming more and more proficient at giving and receiving God's love. Compassion, worshiping God through mindful availability, blessing others in community - all these are fancy ways of talking about something so elementary yet something so central and profound: receiving the love of Christ, so we can give the love of Christ. Judith Hougen

1 Corinthians 13:3-10
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Children Are The Good Life

Psalm 127:3-4
Don't you see that children are God's best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hang in the battle...

Acts 14:21-22
After proclaiming the Message and establishing a strong core of disciples, Paul & Barnabas retraced their steps, putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn't be easy: "Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"We never forget our best teachers—those who imbued us with a deeper understanding or an enduring passion, the ones we come back to visit after graduating, the educators who opened doors and altered the course of our lives." Claudia Wallis

Is there a card you want to write, an email to send or a phone call to make letting one of these special people know how much they have meant to you?

Romans 12:6
Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The fellowship of the brokenhearted...

Join us fellow cracked pots as we learn to walk more honestly with God on Wednesday night @ 700 PM. All are welcome!

Being at the end of your rope is a great place to be. Don’t you apologise for being upset right now; for being wiped out. For being frustrated, for being at the place where you’re going "I’m not sure if I’m a Christian or not", "I’m not sure if I believe in God or not", "I’m not sure if this is a bunch of crap or not", "I’m not sure if I believe this stuff or not" – woo hoo! I’m glad you’re there. I’m so tired of people who go "I just love Jesus, I just love God, I don’t know why, but I guess it’s the way I should be" Oh please, I want someone going "I’ve tried you, God, I’ve reached out to you, God. I’ve done everything I know how to do, God, and I’m not sure this is working out. This doesn’t make sense to me. How can you give all these people Cadillacs on television and yet you can’t feed half the people in the world. How come you cured that person of a back ache and you can’t cure my dad form cancer? Come on, God. Show up! I’ve just about had it with you!" You know I think God is in heaven going "Man, I like you. Man, I love you. You can get mad; you still got some life in you. You still have some passion in you. You know how to get angry. I like you."

It's not about perfection; it's about our intimacy with God, or our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, flawed, broken; those kinds of things are the ingredients of spirituality.
Mike Yaconelli

Monday, September 08, 2008

We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way he chooses, or else we may walk right past a burning bush. Dallas Willard

How close are you willing to go to the fire?

John 14:18-20
I will not leave you orphaned. I'm coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you're going to see me because I am alive and you're about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I'm in my Father, and you're in me, and I'm in you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

disappointment with dog

Our little puppy can be quite a handful at times. One minute she's adorable, a veritable receptacle & outlet of unagenda'ed love, & the next she's snuck out & gone and made another one of those 'messes'. Just when it seems she's on the verge of getting the potty thing, we discover a little yellow puddle, or small brown pile.

It's at those times I can get angry or I can realize that there are some things you just can't rush. It would be great if she'd do what I wanted when I wanted it done; life would be so much easier. Could she clean up after herself too? I do like a comfortable little happy life you know. Inconveniences are to be avoided at all costs.

Our dog's name you ask? 'Angel'. I forgot to say that maybe I'm dyslexic, too.

Are you disappointed with dog?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A grateful person or a complainer?

Quiz: Are You a Complainer?

"Father thank you that I have life, and that my life is filled with touches of your love. Help me to love others along our journey together."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Are you trying to out-god God?

Acts 15
It wasn't long before some Jews showed up from Judea insisting that everyone be circumcised: "If you're not circumcised in the Mosaic fashion, you can't be saved." Paul and Barnabas were up on their feet at once in fierce protest. The church decided to resolve the matter by sending Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to put it before the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem.

After they were sent off and on their way, they told everyone they met as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria about the breakthrough to the non-Jewish outsiders. Everyone who heard the news cheered—it was terrific news!

When they got to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas were graciously received by the whole church, including the apostles and leaders. They reported on their recent journey and how God had used them to open things up to the outsiders. Some Pharisees stood up to say their piece. They had become believers, but continued to hold to the hard party line of the Pharisees. "You have to circumcise the pagan converts," they said. "You must make them keep the Law of Moses."

The apostles and leaders called a special meeting to consider the matter. The arguments went on and on, back and forth, getting more and more heated. Then Peter took the floor: "Friends, you well know that from early on God made it quite plain that he wanted the pagans to hear the Message of this good news and embrace it—and not in any secondhand or roundabout way, but firsthand, straight from my mouth. And God, who can't be fooled by any pretense on our part but always knows a person's thoughts, gave them the Holy Spirit exactly as he gave him to us. He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him.

"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?"

There was dead silence. No one said a word. With the room quiet, Barnabas and Paul reported matter-of-factly on the miracles and wonders God had done among the other nations through their ministry. The silence deepened; you could hear a pin drop.

James broke the silence. "Friends, listen. Simeon has told us the story of how God at the very outset made sure that racial outsiders were included. This is in perfect agreement with the words of the prophets...God said it and now he's doing it. It's no afterthought; he's always known he would do this. So here is my decision: We're not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master. We'll write them a letter and tell them, 'Be careful to not get involved in activities connected with idols, to guard the morality of sex and marriage, to not serve food offensive to Jewish Christians—blood, for instance.' This is basic wisdom from Moses, preached and honored for centuries now in city after city as we have met and kept the Sabbath."

Everyone agreed: apostles, leaders, all the people. They picked Judas (nicknamed Barsabbas) and Silas—they both carried considerable weight in the church—and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas with this letter:

From the apostles and leaders, your friends, to our friends in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Hello! We heard that some men from our church went to you and said things that confused and upset you. Mind you, they had no authority from us; we didn't send them. We have agreed unanimously to pick representatives and send them to you with our good friends Barnabas and Paul. We picked men we knew you could trust, Judas and Silas—they've looked death in the face time and again for the sake of our Master Jesus Christ. We've sent them to confirm in a face-to-face meeting with you what we've written. It seemed to the Holy Spirit and to us that you should not be saddled with any crushing burden, but be responsible only for these bare necessities: Be careful not to get involved in activities connected with idols; avoid serving food offensive to Jewish Christians (blood, for instance); and guard the morality of sex and marriage. These guidelines are sufficient to keep relations congenial between us. And God be with you!
God isn't mad at you- He's mad about you! Seems like a fitting quote since there is a whole lot of people getting mad in Acts 15.

We usually get mad when someone infringes upon our beliefs and our rights. Even as Christ followers we quite often act like we have an Evangelical Bill of Rights, giving us the--

Right to eat whatever I want
Right to drink whatever I want
Right to dress however I want
Right to spend whatever I make however I want
Right to choose my career

In reality, we give all of this up to God when we enter the Kingdom. And our entrance is all about simply accepting God's grace. Nothing else is added. Otherwise we aren't trusting in God's grace after all. We need a "Declaration of in-dependence on God."

That's why Paul got so bent out of shape by the circumcision thing. The Israelites were quite fond of the act, even naming a place, 'The Hill of Foreskins'! (Joshua 5:3)

Now it doesn't matter if its circumcision, dancing, smoking or any number of other activities we often want to add to clean people up to show that they're worthy of God's grace- once you do that it it isn't God's grace anymore!

One of the basic principles of grace is that it is 100% pure. One drop of legalism added to grace will pollute the entire batch. No matter how good the law or the person adding it might be it always comes back to haunt the one who adds the legalism. We can never add one law without adding THE LAW.

Sin boldly...but believe more bolder still. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. Martin Luther

There is no right way. There is no best. There is no perfect. It's not a competition. Not when it comes to faith. Not when we're talking about our relationship with the divine. In the end, it's about grace; it's about something you don't do. It just is. Cathleen Falsani, A Field Guide For Grace

John 15:5
"Apart from Me you can do nothing..."

In our denial we say it the other way, 'Jesus, apart from ME you can do nothing.'

We believe that we can out-god God!!

So we become Grace Police and Grace Monitors. Here’s how we do it: We get in, God forgives us and we’re in and then we say, 'Okay, look, Jesus is a busy guy. God’s a busy god, so we’ll help him. And we’ll make sure that anybody else that gets in, we’ll just kind of clean out all the riffraff before they get to him.' That's exactly what was happening here in Acts 15 that we see expanded upon in Galatians.

When we still hold on to how things were, our arms aren't free to embrace today. Rob Bell

The early Christ followers were getting a new identity, and living a new reality- the FULL dependence on the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit in order for a new activity to occupy their lives: to reconcile others to God and each other.

Let The Outsiders In!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Sermon from the World
Congratulations to those who feel entitled, for they grab whatever they want.
Congratulations to the carefree, for they shall be comfortable
Congratulations to the pushy, for they shall win
Congratulations to the greedy, for they shall climb the food chain.
Congratulations to the vengeful, for they shall be feared.
Congratulations to those who don’t get caught, for they shall look good.
Congratulations to the argumentative, for they shall get in the last word.

Congratulations to the popular, for theirs is the kingdom of this world.


Matthew 5
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Which reality do you live in? Are you experiencing God's grace & peace in abundance?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh how the years go by...

What you are, they once were. What they are, you will be.

This inscription is at the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, beneath a pile of the many bones contained there. I find the inscription challenging as I send the kids off to a new school year, including our oldest to his first day at Junior High.

Many parents are saying today, "Where did the years go?"

What have you and I been doing? What really matters in our life?

We'll all be bones sometime soon. Can we finish the way Paul did?

Philippians 3:7-16
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Monday, September 01, 2008

No complaining...

This little video is from Jon Gordon's NoComplainingRule.com

It reminded me of an old Richard Foster quote-

“Starting now, go 24 hours without saying anything negative, anything dishonest. No complaining, no whining, no gossip, no excuses, no minimization, no rationalization, no denial, no defensiveness, no blaming. Don’t pass judgment. This includes body language: no eye rolling, no sighs of exasperation, no cold shoulders, no clucking of the tongue. For 24 hours, assume the world can exist without you correcting everybody and managing the flow of information.” Richard Foster

How do you handle complaining? Are you a complainer yourself? What do you complain about?

Philippians 2:14-16
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.