‘SINtense!


Verb TenseKnowledge of the tense of a verb can sometimes be critical for accurate interpretation of the Bible. For example, consider the following verse:

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because his (God’s) seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Look at the verb sin. At first glance, the verse seems to imply that one who is “born of God” can never commit a sin, and yet Scripture teaches us this is not a reality:

1 John 1:8 – “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
2 Chronicles 6:36a – “…for there is no one who does not sin…”
Ecclesiastes 7:20 – “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
James 3:2 – “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

When we understand that the verb sin is in the present tense, it becomes clear that John is saying that one who is born of God cannot habitually commit sins as their general pattern of life. The verb “practices” is also present tense and conveys the same thought. All believers commit sins, but not habitually or as their lifestyle. (Note the importance of a Biblical definition of sin, which not only includes intentional disobedience, but also “missing the mark,” and the “sins of omission” – knowing the right thing to do but neglecting/refusing to do it. The “sin” highlighted in 1 John 3.9 is the sin of “omission or commission, in thought and feeling or in speech and action.”)

Application: If our lifestyle is a lifestyle of continual sinning with no desire for holiness: Hebrews 12:14 – “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord,” we must examine whether we are genuinely new creatures in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” and born from above: John 3:3 – “Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’” and 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?”

Armed with this knowledge, we can understand that a proper understanding of 1 John 3:9 requires a proper understanding of the verb tense.

May the Author enlighten our minds to receive the truth of his Word, and may we walk in the Light and by the power of the Holy Spirit!

(adapted from preceptaustin.org)

A Call for Your Heart ~ (Part 2)


imagesCAV88UL8The voice we once heard…His voice…is now a distant cry. And yet it’s there…that voice calling out…longing for our return! “Come out…come out and resist.”

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James 4:7

So how in the world do we begin to resist when everything around us tells us to ignore the call? Our flesh is weak; the cravings for instant gratification are strong.
The Word of God is clear. It is a bold statement, a present imperative – a calling for decisive, effective, definite obedience. An imperative leaves no room for options. It’s a God-given command.

If you have breath in your body, and have the ability to read what I’ve written, then please pay attention for a moment!

Jesus endured an unimaginable death! With a cat of nine tails embedded with chards of glass and metal, the Roman soldiers ripped the flesh from His body with 40 lashes, until His body was spent and disfigured. In mockery, a crown of thorns was driven into the flesh on His head. He then picked up His cross and drug and carried it through the streets of Jerusalem, up the hill to the place called Golgotha. There His body was thrown on the cross, and nine inch nails were driven through His feet and hands…he was lifted up…His disfigured and bloody body put on display. The crowds cheered and mocked Him as His mother and disciples anguished for the Son of God….Mary’s precious son, the disciples’ Master and friend…God’s gift to mankind.

There on Calvary’s cross our Savior in this final hour looked up to the heavens and said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Mercy and grace on display for all the world to see! He didn’t have to endure this death! He could have wiped mankind from the face of this planet and rescued Himself (and the few who believed). Instead He endured the Cross so that you and I could experience His redemptive power of mercy and grace! Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price! He CHOSE to pay the price for US!

I love the Message version of Romans 5:6-11: “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!”

Jesus’ words, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”…they resonate so loudly! Do you hear His voice? Do you hear Him calling your name? He died for you; He longs to have relationship with you! He chose you…He chose me!

He tells us in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other”.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” ~ Hebrews 10:19-24

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and will not faint!” ~ Isaiah 40:28-31

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” ~ Hebrews 10:35-36

“Papa God, I pray for those that hear Your voice today. Ignite a fiery passion in our hearts! Place Your favor in our lives as You have promised. Give us courage and strength to surrender our baggage and carry on in our journey with You! Purify our thoughts, purify our hearts and help us day by day to persevere and grow stronger in our relationship with You! Help us understand that our source of power is in Your Holy Word! Help us to treasure it and take it in every single day! In JESUS’ name I ask these things, amen.”

His voice…His calling. Your heart…His heart…choose to obey and persevere! ~ In His Strong Love ~ rose

Making Friends with Your Shadow


ShadowWhen we deny our “shadow” in order to maintain the appearance of holiness, we put ourselves at risk of being swept away by the evil we deny.

In his book Make Friends with Your Shadow, Dr. Miller makes a provocative claim:
“Movement towards the achievement of wholeness or completeness (or “perfection” in the sense of Jesus’ use of the Greek word telios) is accomplished not only through the continued infusion of goodness, righteousness, and morality, but also through the “owning” and conscious incorporation of one’s dark and shadowy side into one’s self. I am not a complete person until I incorporate into my conscious self that dark side of my person which is every bit a part of me as is that bright self which I parade before the world.”

This type of activity goes against the grain of our desire to “look good” to the world around us. How much energy do we expend trying to conceal the undesirable part of who we are? We somehow got it in our head that an authentic Christian should appear to be unblemished—should create the illusion of perfection in the sense of appearing to be flawlessness.

Could it be that perfection has more to do with authenticity—being “real”—than it does with pretending to be something we’re not?

There are times when we’re surprised to hear how “one of our own” has been swept away into a sinful scenario. And then we remember we have been swept away too, maybe not in a public way, but swept away just the same. It’s happened to me. Looking back on those times, I can see how I set myself up to fall by allowing my pride to get in the way of being real. I pretended everything was good when it wasn’t. I denied the truth about my shadow.

And we all have a shadow. It’s an area of vulnerability within us. It might be a tendency to twist the truth, or possibly it’s an evil imagination, or a secret prejudice. It could be a secret craving for an illicit pleasure. Or maybe it’s a bitter tongue. Or laziness.

I realize it seems terribly risky, but when we are committed to living life in the flow of God’s Spirit, we must become transparent. We must acknowledge the “dark” side of our thought life, and the ungodliness of our inclinations. It is imperative we embrace the truth of who we are, and be willing to take the risk of letting someone we trust walk with us as we make friends with our shadow.

Bird-brained Christians


bird in handHave you ever been accused of being a “bird brain”? If so, it probably was not meant to be a compliment. Birds are not known for their intellectual skills. Nevertheless, Jesus tells us we can benefit by observing their ways: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” ~Matthew 6.26

Jesus had just finished teaching the disciples how to pray. We can easily remember the parts of the prayer with the acronym ACTS:
1. Adoration…declaring the “ultimacy” of God over all things.
2. Confession…admitting our frailty.
3. Thanksgiving…living with a sense of gratitude that God in his ultimacy looks after us in our frailty.
4. Supplication…asking for what we need to sustain our life…today.

Which brings us back to the bird illustration. Jesus is referring to the part in the prayer about asking for our daily bread… “Give us today our daily bread.” ~Matthew 6.11

Whether or not we realize it, most of us are hoarders. No, we’re not the hoarders who stack piles of useless trash to the ceiling, leaving only precarious walkways through our stuff. We’re the kind of hoarders who have food in our fridge and freezer, and in our cupboards and pantry. At what point do we become a hoarder? The moment we have more food than we need today. But it only seems reasonable to prepare for tomorrow, doesn’t it?

Seems reasonable to me. But if so, why didn’t Jesus direct our attention toward squirrels? (Possibly he was no more fond of squirrels than I am, but that’s a topic for another time.) As a kid, I liked to watch squirrels bury acorns in the dirt. They knew instinctively they needed to “squirrel” something away for the winter. But Jesus did not tell us we should look to squirrels for life lessons. He pointed to birds.

God designed us to depend on him. One of the most difficult concepts for us to grasp is the “daily bread” part of our dependence on him. We get excited when God provides in a miraculous way. You know, the times he comes through in the “nick of time.” We enjoy telling these stories. After the fact.

But we struggle to believe he’s going to do it again. It’s as if we wonder if God has a limited number of miracles up his celestial sleeve. Our faith is sometimes limited to God’s past provisions, and we strain to trust him for our daily needs…our “today” needs.

Yet, God wants us to live in continual awareness of our utter dependence of him. And we run the risk of forgetting this when we have stuff. While we might consider a full fridge and full pantry a blessing, the “fullness” is a blessing only if we remember that everything we have is because of God’s provision.

But some say, “I’ve worked hard for what I have.” Yet we forget God is the One who gives us breath and strength to work for what we have.

How do we know if we actually believe everything we have is because of God’s gift to us? By the way we respond the next time we have a need—a need that is beyond our own ability.

Some of us would be more comfortable if Jesus had told us to pray for our weekly bread, or better yet, for our monthly bread. Then we could coast along for a while…on our own…in oblivion to our helplessness, apart from God. And whenever we wondered if we had enough stuff, we could meander over to wherever we stash our stuff, and take a quick peek. Then we could relax in our self-sufficient little bubble. But bubbles burst.

Or, we can fix our attention on God, who in his goodness provides everything we need. Daily. And we can get on with learning to relax in him, rather than in our stuff. Like the birds of the air.

*The ACTS acronym is attributed to Dr. Dent, professor at Northern Baptist Seminary.

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The “Unconverted Conscience”


What is an “unconverted conscience”…for a believer? It is the suppression of that “still small voice” that is trying to push through the barrier of our self-centered conclusions and choices. When we are honest with ourselves, we admit that when we come to a crossroad in our life, more often than not we tend to make decisions based on our past experiences, rather than taking the time to ask God for His wisdom. We all do it. It’s called our ‘default mode’… the way of our fallen nature.

The Holy Spirit has a way of speaking to us that is unquestionable! Consider the simple verse in Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The truth of this verse would resonate in our hearts as a command rather than a suggestion if we would simply stop dead in our tracks when we are about to take a left turn, instead of a right. He is ready and willing to lead us, out from the control of the residue of our fallen nature. He declares in Jeremiah 29:22 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is His bold promise to you and me! He WILL, because HE IS the “Great I AM”….able to convert our conscience to be in tune with HIS calling…His perfect will.

So how do we discern the voice of God from the clamoring noise of the world? Perhaps it is time to begin our prayer time with Psalm 139:23-25 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” In order to experience a conversion of our conscience, we must be willing to allow Him to purge the impurities that cloud our perspective…even when the process hurts.

Let His mercy and grace find a resting place in your mind and heart today! Experience a “conscience conversion” that will pave the way for a life with purpose! He longs for relationship and desires obedience! So take time today to BE STILL…and take a moment to listen…really listen!  “…acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”  ~1 Chronicles 28:9 ~ In His Strong Love ~ rose

Hey people, take your places!


Possibly you’ve heard a movie director shout into the megaphone, “Okay people, take your places!” If we’re paying attention, we’ll notice God is calling us to do the same thing. The Director of Life wants us to find our place in the story. For many of us the flow of our spirits has stopped because we lost our place in the scheme of things. How have we lost our place? As silly as it sounds, some of us have elevated ourselves to a place we do not belong. We are pretending to be God. Whoever would have dreamed up such a silly idea?

Possibly you have heard there’s a difference between you and God? Actually, there are several differences, but one of the big differences is that he doesn’t think he’s us. He’s not trying to be us; why are we trying to be him? We need to let God be God. It’s difficult to word this in a way that makes good sense because God will be God whether or not we let him be God—in the grand scheme of things. His God-ness is not dependent on whether or not we approve of him being God of the universe. He is the “I Am.” Nothing is going to change that. So a better question is whether or not we’re letting God be God in our lives.

A Leap of Faith…


Christ followers accept the Father’s teaching with the same unquestioning trust a child displays when he believes what he’s told by his dad. My son Derick illustrated this principle to me in a way that has always stuck in my mind. I was attending Purdue University at the time, and I lived with my family in a mobile home park near the campus in West Lafayette. Whenever I got an opportunity, I enjoyed hanging out with my young sons, Derick and Aaron.

During one these special times we were wobbling a Frisbee back and forth between us when somehow it landed on the top of the trailer. So I did what any safety-conscious dad would do. Rather than boosting Aaron up, who was lighter, I decided on Derick, because he was older—about five years old. Aaron was two, and my better judgment told me he was a tad too young to be on the roof alone.

As I boosted Derick up onto the roof to retrieve the Frisbee, I reminded him to be careful. That’s what good dads do. I didn’t want him to learn from experience what it felt like to fall from that height. Derick tossed the Frisbee to me, and then asked how he should get down. I told him to jump. As soon as the words—or rather word—left my lips, he was in the air, headed in my direction.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but afterward I wondered how much more free-flowing my life would be if I was as trusting of my heavenly Daddy as Derick was of me at that moment. At the time I was just focused on catching him. He was in the air, and the only thing between him and the concrete pad was me.

There’s no need for a Christ follower with the mind of a trusting child to understand why it’s safe to trust. We just do. And we don’t need evidence to prove what God has told us. Our faith is never bolstered by studies and discoveries that prove by science that the impossible may be explained by scientific knowledge.

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