Who is this Man Jesus?


get-attachmentTHE WORD: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” ~John 14:6-7

During this past Spring Semester at CCU, I took a Worldview class that awakened my mind to a stunning reality. I’ve always known there are many religions, philosophies, and ideologies in the world. However, what was most revealing to me in this class was the realization that even within the Church, a worldview called “pluralism” exists.

For many Christians, the Biblical worldview is too strict (and restrictive), too absolute, and too exclusive. They would rather live life believing that God is good, kind and fair, along with a brush stroke of faith that everyone is on their own path that will eventually lead to heaven. It is a form of “coexistence” that is a mockery of what the Bible teaches.

In the book Seeking and Finding God, by Dave Hunt, the author writes, “A conviction that there is a definite way to heaven (and only one) is not tolerated in this day of professed tolerance, because it insists that all roads don’t lead to the same place, that truth does exist, and that there is a distinction between what is right and what is wrong. Instead of such antiquated convictions, ecumenical broad-mindedness is the new wave for the new millennium. We are expected to set aside the rational necessity of being certain about our eternal destiny in favor of a mindless tolerance that promises only to avoid religious arguments in this life but offers no sensible assurance of the next.” (Hunt, 2007, p. 56-57)

So how do I live a life of congruency with God’s Word in a world where so many ideologies seem to be diluting the truth? The authors of Making Sense of Your World write, “The goal of every person is to discover truth about God, not to be found in error or be self-deceived. The question of truth however is not how we might want things to be, but how things actually are. Truth and sincere faith are an ideal combination.” (Phillips, Brown, & Stonestreet, 2008, p. 178)

As I studied various worldviews, listened to videos and read the discussion threads by my classmates, I recognized that integral to congruency in my life within the body of Christ is holding fast to my stance and not allowing the world’s philosophies or ideologies to water down my personal faith. It is my desire to seek unity and wholeness according to God’s standards – and not be compromised by man’s delusional thinking.

The passage that captures my theological perspective is eloquently written in the book of Ephesians:

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” ~ Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT

One day, we must ALL answer the question, “Who was this man Jesus – to me?” Will we be prepared to face our Creator and say with confidence that we became intimately acquainted with His Son?

For me it is this simple: I will continue to be a student of God’s Holy Word, for it is within the pages of His Book that I will receive all that I need to live a life worthy of His calling. “For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” ~ Hebrews 4:12-13

As we begin our day today, my prayer is that the Spirit of the Most High will move in our hearts and minds in such a way that we will not be intimidated or confused by the world’s views and ideologies. My prayer for you and me is that we hold fast to what we know to be God’s truth…and trust that He has already prepared our path and our purpose.

“Papa God, give us courage to stand firm. Help us to be your hands and feet. Give us a Spirit of gentleness so that as you give us opportunities to share your Truth, we do so with love, grace and compassion. In Jesus’ Name…Amen”.

In His Strong Love,
Rose

My Life as an International Drug Runner ~ Part TWO


Brake job (2)The next morning I flew to Kisumu. The director of the orphanage met me at the airport and drove me to his home, where I stayed with him and his family for the next several days. Other than camping, I had never been without running water and electricity for any length of time, but I thought it sounded like fun for a few days. And it was fun.

The people I met were absolutely anxious for nothing. When I asked them why they seemed so content, they told me they believed that if God wanted them to have something more than what they already had, they would have it. If they didn’t have it, it was because God knew they didn’t need it, at least not now. I didn’t hear one word of complaint—not one—even though there were reasons to complain on more than one occasion.

One occasion to complain was when the rear brakes locked up on the SUV on our way back to Kisumu to pick up some supplies. The town was about 55 miles away. The solution? Drain the brake fluid…all of the brake fluid. It made sense, in a way, because without brake fluid there was no way the brakes could possibly lock up. Of course, that also meant we would not have brakes for the rest of the journey, but never mind that.

Keep in mind we had to travel several miles, down hills and around curves that tended to be scattered with people walking and riding bikes, and with little kids herding their cattle alongside the road. And I already mentioned the tanker trucks that flew up and down the roads with what appeared to be a reckless speed.

I asked if anyone ever got hit walking along the road. I was told it happened only on rare occasions. The reason: “People learn by experience to be alert.” So here we are, heading toward Kisumu with no brakes whatsoever. It was kind of like the rush of a wild Disney ride, without the assurance the ride would end well. No one else in the vehicle seemed concerned, so I settled in for the ride. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but notice how alert I was.

I had been told I would be asked to preach while I was there, so I had prepared a couple of messages. My first opportunity came the morning after I arrived, which was a Sunday. The service started with a very lively time of musical worship, followed by a lady pastor who preached from her heart of passion for about an hour or so. Then it was my turn.

My interpreter was doing a fine job (as far as I could tell) translating everything I said into Swahili. I was amazed at how he used the same tone and vocal inflections I used. I confess, a couple of times I threw in a little something extra just to see if he would get it. He didn’t miss a beat.

When I finished and sat back down, one of the leaders whispered to me that I wasn’t finished yet. I assured him that I was finished. He explained to me in hushed tones that many of the people had walked several miles through the bush and along the treacherous roads to hear from God, and they would be disappointed if I didn’t speak for at least a couple of hours.

I was amazed that God gave me a message—every time. It far exceeded anything I had anticipated, or had prepared for. I loved it, partially because it was so beyond me. There was something about the enthusiasm and receptiveness of the people that made it seem so natural. They showed up to hear from God, and they listened intently as he spoke to their hearts. (Part 2 of 5…to be continued…)

Don’t Stop Believin’


TightwireThere’s a story in the Bible that sheds some interesting light on faith. I’m encouraged to know that the people Jesus encountered while here on earth are people just like you and me. They were not super-human men and women with super-human faith.

There was a guy who had a son who was possessed by an evil spirit. The spirit would throw the kid to the ground and make him foam at the mouth and gnash his teeth. (Some of us with kids and grandkids can relate: we sometimes wonder if some strange spirit has invaded their body as they kick and scream on the floor.)

The father of the tortured boy asked Jesus to heal his son.

Here’s the conversation we read in the 9th chapter of Mark:

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” (This strikes me funny. The boy is rolling in the dirt, foaming at the mouth, and Jesus is having a casual conversation with the dad.)

The dad told Jesus, “From childhood. The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Can you imagine saying to the Son of God, “If you can!” Come to think of it…yes, I guess we can imagine that.)

Jesus repeated his words: “ ‘If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

WOW…me, too!

So…what can we learn from this encounter?

First, there was nothing impressive about the father’s faith. The guy said to Jesus, “If you can…” So faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is refusing to allow our doubt to stop us from believing.

Second, it’s okay to be honest about our faith. We do not need to fake our faith. The man said, “I believe; help me in my unbelief.”

I can easily relate to the father of the tortured boy. I believe. And I wonder – not if he can – but if he will.

We sometimes mistakenly believe that the “size” of our faith is inadequate. But I don’t think it’s about the amount of our faith. We do not need to be the Superman (or Superwoman) of faith. I think it’s about whether or not we are willing to “risk” trusting God with all we’ve got. Like the little widow lady who gave her last few coins as an offering to God, it’s not the amount that impresses God. It’s about whether or not we will offer it all.

Possibly we have only a couple of small “coins” of faith. It’s enough! I believe God has some great things in store for those who are willing to trust him with everything they have to offer.

A “Dangerous” Kind of Faith


Shield-of-Faith-Against-the-Fiery-Darts

THE WORD: “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:5-10 NLT

In what ways do I deviate from the instructions of the Lord? How do I compromise? How often do I keep a “safe” distance? What boundaries does God put in place that I continually override with my selfish desires? Do I take the necessary risks when I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me, or do I hold back out of fear? Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear that I won’t be good enough, or smart enough, fear to face a circumstance head on. Is it fear that drives my decisions, rather than obedience to the instruction of the Lord?

Yesterday’s message at our church, Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was about leveraging EVERYTHING I have for the King who gave EVERYTHING for me! I was challenged to take an inward look at what I am doing to serve the ONE who created me. I exist because God allows me to be. He gives me breath…He makes my heart beat. Why would I not want to serve my Creator with all that I am!

What it means to live a “dangerous faith” can be defined within the verses above. Be “strong and courageous” the Word tells us. In other words, DO NOT COMPROMISE! Don’t be foolish and squander your life on the things of this world. Do not waste time by putting off until tomorrow the things that God is prompting you to do today. Let us rid ourselves of laziness and procrastination! Seize the moment! Begin today by engaging in the work that He has prepared for you to do! Look around…the assignments are ever-present! Be ready, be prepared and do not fear! Be courageous because God has promised that no matter what, HE will be with you wherever you go! Trust in His promise and hold fast to the Truth of His instruction. Put on His armor before you walk out the door (Ephesians 6)! Feast on His Word so that your strength is in HIM, rather than in the illusion of strength offered by the world!

And secondly, living a dangerous faith means letting go of the past…cutting loose the baggage that weighs us down; turning away from the sin(s) that hold us in bondage. It may mean letting go of habits that are defiling our body, soul and mind! It may mean cleaning up in the area of “moral integrity”….letting go of the relationship(s) that aren’t God honoring. It’s saying “NO” to those things and those people who hold us back from making Christ the first love of our lives! It may mean speaking TRUTH in love to someone, knowing that the TRUTH may not be well received; and accepting the fact that the relationship may end.

Am I willing to give it my all? Am I willing to live a dangerous faith for the ONE who put HIS life on the Cross so that I may live? THAT my friend…epitomized a dangerous kind of faith!

“Papa God, ‘Thank you” is not enough! We can’t even begin to repay you for the demonstration of your unconditional love on the cross. We thank you that the gift of your forgiveness and your GRACE is just that…a gift. So undeserved! We are so grateful and so humbled by it! Open our minds and our hearts today to take in the magnificence of your amazing gift! Help us, Papa…ignite a passion in the center of our beings…an angst that will not quit….a desire so strong that we will be compelled to rise up and take a bold and courageous stand for YOU! Give us a desire to crave the reading your Word consistently—with no deviation…no compromise from your teaching! And as we read, help us to listen and discern carefully your voice! Bless this day so that in it, we will do Your will and not our own! In Jesus name we ask and pray! Amen”

In HIS Strong Love,

rose

When Life Throws us…Parkinson’s


My younger brother Fred was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It’s devastating news…the kind of news we dread. He had noticed he was having difficulty gripping things, and he occasionally stumbled. Apparently he’s had the disease for a long time; the doctor told him his loss of smell many years ago was probably an early indicater.

I think we all imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with a debilitating disease. I know I have. When we hear about it happening to someone else, we wonder how we would react under the same circumstances.

Parkinson’s attacks the place in the brain that produces a chemical called dopamine. Our brain relys on chemicals to function the way it is designed to function. Without dopamine, things begin to change, both physically and emotionally. Nerve cells use dopamine to help control muscle movement. Without it, a person experiences tremors and stiffness.

Dopamine also plays an integral part in our emotional state by affecting the reward center in the brain. Most of us do what we do–to some degree–in order to experience some sense of satisfaction…or reward. We enjoy the feeling that follows our accomplishments.

And to some extent, we all rely on our feelings–or emotions–to validate our “okayness.” Without emotional validation, we tend to doubt what we “know” to be true. Spiritually speaking, we have inadvertently tied our faith to our feelings. No one knows this better than a person with Parkinson’s, or with some other condition that affects the production of certain brain chemicals.

How well are we equipped to handle “feelingless faith?” Are we able to press on in our faithfulness, even when it no longer seems to make sense–from our perspective. Can we continue to trust the heart of our Father?

I invite you to share your experience. We help others best when we allow God to use our story to spur one another on in the truth.

My heart is heavy for my brother. We are asking God to lead us in this journey. We need His perspective, because our own perspective doesn’t sustain us through these times. Kinda weird I suppose, but I also believe we will all learn some important lessons as we travel this road together.

When Fred comes to you mind, will you please pray for him–and for others you may know who are also struggling–that the peace of God will saturate his entire being in a way that boggles his dopamine-challenged brain!

Catapulted by Faith!


We can never be whole, or holy, as long as we are controlled by fear. And we will be manipulated by fear as long as we rely on our own resources. At times, we have all recognized the folly within for relying on our own resources, so we laid them aside and trusted God. But then we circled back and picked up what we had once laid down. Little by little, without even realizing it, we are once again disrupted by the entanglements of our second nature.

The disruption in our lives sometimes serves to remind us we’re back to operating on our own steam, under the influence of our own understanding of things. Disruption rouses us from our senseless stupor, and once again we renew our focus on God. When we are filled with our dependency on God, we are filled with courage to face the fearful things in life. It’s not that we will never fear again—we will not be controlled by our fear.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is charging through the fear, catapulted by our faith and empowered by God’s Spirit. Our faith must find its Source in God—not in ourselves. Since He is our Source, He must be flowing through our spiritual veins if we are to experience a spirit of power and of love and of composure (2 Timothy 1:7). According to Jesus, who is the Source of Truth, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). The truth is… God’s got it. God’s Way is the way of freedom from the entanglement of fear.

(Excerpt from Holy Libido by Rod Smith, 2012)

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: