Showing posts with the label Relationship

Do I really need this?

My brothers and sisters, if anyone wanders away from the truth and someone helps that person come back,   remember this: Anyone who brings a sinner back from the wrong way will save that person from eternal death and cause many sins to be forgiven. (James 5:19-20) Most of us don't run away from truth - we let little things come into our lives that 'add distance' between us and God. It isn't really all that recognizable at first. The little things come in, crowding out time with Jesus, refocusing our attention away from truth, and silently bringing death where life once dwelt. Compromise isn't always a conscious choice - sometimes it is accomplished without us even noticing. It is always important to have at least one person in your life that is able to spot the little things that might lead to even bigger things. We call that an 'accountability partner' - someone who is willing to 'take notice' and then isn't timid about letting us know they have

Committed, but cheating?

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) What does 'wholehearted' devotion look like? It is more than just being 'committed'. I can be 'committed' to a diet and still 'cheat' on occasion! My 'commitment' may only go so far and then I need to satisfy some craving! When God asks for a wholehearted commitment to him, it doesn't make room for 'cheating'.  There is a sense of 'abiding' that is involved. We don't look to the right or left or behind. We focus on what is right in front of us - Christ Jesus. We 'abide' - remain and are loyal to him alone. We don't 'take leave' from our relationship for any reason. It is as though the 'attachment' we form with him is 'life-giving' and cannot

Treasure Seekers

"Treasure your relationships, not your possessions." (Anthony J. D'Angelo) There are all kinds of treasures we 'seek', 'find', and 'maintain' in life, but the greatest treasure is that of relationship - first with God and then with others. We can never neglect the importance of each of these, for our very sanity and safety depend upon them! Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence. (Psalm 24:3-6) Relationship with God actually brings us to a place in our lives where we are made 'right' in our daily walk. In other words, we have our sins erased, minds renewed, hearts made pure, and spirit energized by him. As a result, we are free to relate to one another in a way unlike any way

Be Jesus

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. (I Peter 3:8-11) We improve our relationship to Jesus through time in the Word and in prayer. We can get down to improving our relationship with others only after we get our relationship with Christ right. Mom always used to say I was to treat others as I wanted them to treat me - the Golden Rule. The only way to treat others right is to be sure the 'rightness of our heart' is maintained through time with Jesus. T

A change of heart

I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:14-19) God's people will continue to struggle with the influence of those 'religious individuals' around them who seek to 'bind' them with rules and regulations. In Paul's epistle to the Galatian church, he recounted the purpose for the Law of Moses - to point out the need for a Savior - but he also reminded them how impossibl

Living FOR, not just with

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:16-17) Choice - to select from a number of possibilities - usually because you know something about what it is you are choosing. I choose one of a couple of brands of toilet tissue because I know the quality of those brands. I sometimes see other choices that may cost a little less, but I don't choose them because I have no clue as to their quality. I choose one brand of dish detergent because I have observed what it does when I make a sudsy water to wash my pots and pans. We make all kinds of choices each and every day, some of them pretty much a matter of 'routine' in our lives. There are choices we make consciously and others we make subconsciously, something we might not even realize we are doing. How is it we choose to serve Christ today? Is it a conscious or subconscious

A heaping helping, please

  Have you ever said of one thing only to act an entirely different way when push came to shove?  We pledge to do one thing, but we do another.  It is just human nature to "preserve" ourself when the times get a little tougher to deal with than we first imagined them to be.  When it comes to loving another individual, we want to save face, come out on top, and not be "found out" for the cowards we really are. When it comes to loving another individual, we are pretty cowardly at times - not willing to face danger, difficulty, opposition, or pain within the relationship.  Face it - relationships can get pretty messy!  When it comes to facing them without fear, we don't do a very good job with this unless we rely upon Jesus within us to actually help us love with the intensity of love he shows us.  We become pretty timid and often are intimidated by the "confines" of love.  Love is truly "messy" business, but it is the "business" we ar

Give First

Since we came into this world, we have had not had to tell ourselves to demand or seek out the things we want, but rather we have had to learn how to deal with all the things we want to figure out if we really need it. We might have come face-to-face with the reality that food was a necessity, but the black patent leather shoes weren't; the school clothes were, but the frilly dresses and designer jeans weren't; the reliable means of transportation was a necessity, but the shiny new car every other year was not.  We will often struggle with trying to decipher the difference between need and want throughout life - simply because the circumstances change and we are called upon to change with them.  In time, we can become a little confused between the two, especially when we aren't aware of this nasty little thing called "greed".  It rears its ugly head more often than we'd like to admit and we struggle with this thing called "contentment" more often tha

I want out...I think...

I don't know of anyone who starts out in family life having figured out how to make a relationship work, let alone how to raise kiddos that are emotionally healthy and well-adjusted. Somehow, we bumble through this 'family life', making the best of the relationship woes we are challenged with and doing the best we can with what we have right in front of us. The knowledge about how to build a solid family is something that God gives as we 'walk through' the various challenges we face.  It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong. It takes knowledge to fill a home with rare and beautiful treasures. Wise people have great power, and those with knowledge have great strength. (Proverbs 24:3-5) Those with knowledge - isn't that what we are lacking? We face a bump in the road within the relationship and then all of a sudden, we realize just how 'inept' we are at handling it. We wonder how we got where we are, not realizi

Carried over the threshold

It never ceases to amaze me what Jesus did to counter the "religious" in his generation and what he still does to counter the religious in ours! A Samaritan woman, coming to draw water for her household, the time of day about noon, has a "chance encounter" with Jesus, the Great Teacher of the Jews. The Samaritans were considered to be "pagan Jews" - not exactly respected by the religious Jews simply because they chose to worship in Bethel or Dan (two places of worship established when Jeroboam was king). They were "replacement" cities of worship - replacing Jerusalem as the one place of worship. Then Mt. Gerizim became the worship center for the Samaritans. To the staunch religious Jew, this was an outrage - for God's presence dwelt within the Holy of Holies within the Temple in Jerusalem. There is not a whole lot of "good will" between the two peoples. The fact Jesus would even "bother" to speak with a Samaritan, muc

Begin, Spread, Maintain

  They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.  But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,   a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:8-9) Obedience is a hard topic to discuss, but a much harder lifestyle to maintain. We WANT to be obedient at ALL times, but we honestly do well to be obedient MOST of the time. How do we get from MOST to ALL? This is the question that has plagued mankind since the Garden of Eden. God's Word seems to be central in what it is we are to use as a 'guide' for our actions, but how is it that we actually get the Word of God to produce the right actions within us when our human nature wants something entirely different? If we look closely, maybe even read between the lines of these verses, we can probably begin to pick up it isn&

Not impressed with weak excuses?

If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place. Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,” will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know—someone not impressed with weak excuses. (Proverbs 24:10-12) Ever get that eerie impression of "being watched" - finding yourself looking over your shoulder, trying to see who may be seeing you at that very moment - almost a subtle form of paranoia brewing inside? Others are watching your every move, but you may not even realize it! What happens to us in the midst of a crisis is sometimes a matter where we are being observed by others - watching, waiting just to see if we will fall apart or keep it all together. When we actually rise above the crisis, it doesn't escape their view! When we see another struggling with a crisis of their own, stepping in quickly to render aid, do you think it escapes the view of other

Permanent isn't casual

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house , becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (I John 4:17-18) Have you ever found yourself complaining about something that is not permanent in your life just because it gives you a little extra pressure or work or resistance? I think we forget where OUR permanency really is - IN God and therefore, IN a life of LOVE. Truth is, we all have a tendency to have a "semi-permanent" commitment in this Christian walk simply because we cannot seem to settle into what God has declared to be our place of "permanency". Since God lives IN us and we live IN him, we don't &

Is this the right direction?

Are you one of those folks who need to "have it all together" in order to "do life"? I bet you  have been pretty disappointed with just how much you find yourself struggling to even get it together in the first place - let alone keeping it together! We constantly limit our potential whenever we think "perfection" is the goal and WE are the ones to actually accomplish this goal! My friends, perfection IS the goal (Christ), but WE are not the ones going to accomplish the goal (salvation and all the "clean up" that comes with it). All we can do is head toward it - Christ is actually the one beckoning us on and he will be the one who gets us over the finish line! I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is

Innumerable pixels

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people . You’ve got to love both. (I John 4:20-21) It can be hard work to really get into any relationship - from our relationship with Christ to the one with our cubicle mate at work. If you haven't figured it out yet, Christianity is not something you "live out" alone - you actually do much better in your growth when it is shared in relationship with another. We "sharpen" each other by the various things we each lend to the relationship. It is the "differences" we each possess that actually make each relationship so important - for it is in the "differences" where we learn to "walk out" our Christian faith. Immaturity demands everybody be just like who we are - matur

Squander no moment

So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life . Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure. But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul; when you reject me, you’re flirting with death. (Proverbs 8:32-36) We began to look at this passage yesterday and I would like to focus on the idea of becoming 'nurturing' individuals today. Nurturing carries the idea of protection. We protect what we value most, don't we? I have insurance on my car, not so much because it is the law, but because it gets me too and from everywhere I need to be. To be without it for any length of time, or to lose it completely, would place me in a position of having to walk long distances in the Arizona heat -

Ignore Religion

  Blessed are you who give yourselves over to   God ,   turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”   ignore what the world worships; t he world’s a huge stockpile  of  God -wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one   compares to you!  I start talking about you, telling what I know,  and quickly run out of words.  Neither numbers nor words  account for you.  Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that’s not what you’re after.  Being religious, acting pious— that’s not what you’re asking for. (Psalm 40:4-6) If you are like me, you almost get speechless when you consider the wonder and power of our God. That is okay because the words we use to proclaim the things we know about God pale in comparison to who he is, the power he possesses, and the intensity of his love for us. If you find yourself speechless at times, don't fret - it is the perfect way to worship at his feet! Just 'give yourself over' to that sense of his presence and bask in just being there. 

We set out

I came across a quote from the journals of Christopher Columbus the other day and it struck me as a very simple way of proclaiming the truth about what happens when a man or woman decides to follow Christ. He said, "Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World." I know very well he was speaking of leaving one shoreline in search of another, but change up just one word in that and you have a pretty cool picture - "Following the light of the SON, we left the old world." This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17) We set out for a 'new world' when we choose to follow Christ, don't we? Old has passed away, new begins and the journey before us is filled with hope, but maybe just a hint of reservation is mixed in with that hope, isn't it? We aren't sure about the journey, so we kind of 'hold back'. If you are like me, it didn't take you long

Cookie-Cutter Images

Do you know anyone who seems to constantly want to do things 'by the book'? There can be absolutely no variation for these individuals - they can never see anything beyond the book. Legalism is the tendency to keep to the letter of the law - it lacks the spirit behind it, though. There is little wavering from the laundry list of rules because there is great determination to do everything "by the book". What we often observe in these cases is a lack of true "spirit" behind the obedience - it is a sense of obligation, not desire - doing things by rote rather than out of a sense of true connection to the one who wrote the rules. It is truly a helpless state of living life to just do things "by the book" without the animation of the Spirit within. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls n

Do I need this?

“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” (John 14:21 MSG) Some might think there are a whole lot of different gods in this world and they'd be correct in their assumption! There are a lot of 'different gods' in this world, all of them man-made gods. Even men who have risen to places of 'adored exaltation' are not really all that exalted. There are a few reasons why Christianity is different from every other world religion in which someone or something has been exalted as the god they worship. We observe the first difference in respect to 'how' one is able to be made 'righteous'. In all other world religions one must 'earn' their way to some placement or position. It is a system of 'works' to become more 'enlightened', 'fulfilled', or 'empowered'. As my pastor so aptly pu