Is God testing me?

3 02 2019
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Not unlike many families today ours is currently undergoing a season of heartbreak. The usual question that comes to mind is “Why?”. The popular teaching we have heard is God is testing us just like He did the children of Israel (Dt.8:2). This premise says God wants to see if we will obey and love Him. A popular Christian speaker and author recently stated, God orchestrates times of testing to see how we would respond . This is terribly discouraging. I’m not sure that I am capable of ever responding correctly. If it’s up to me then there is not much hope.

Read the rest of this entry »




The Greatest Love Story

1 02 2018

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My wife and I have gotten into watching Hallmark movies lately. Yes, they are sappy, sanitized, and predictable but overall they are enjoyable wholesome  entertainment. Each story is a creative variation on the same plot- a man and a woman discover love and unity in their hearts for each other. It’s the oldest and most mysterious story in the universe.

Each time I watch one I am reminded of that divine truth. The greatest lover in the universe is of course God. He is consumed with love for you and me. In the form of His Son, Jesus, He entered the earth seeking a wife with whom He could become one flesh. His love ignites our love as His church and we embrace in a romantic union (Eph 5:31,32).

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? A man leaves his parents, joins with a woman and the two become one, sharing everything in life together. They begin to enjoy a oneness that not even they can describe. Mysteriously, they know each other’s hearts, thoughts, desires, joys, and pains. They experience what the Bible calls being “one flesh” Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:30,31). As Blake Shelton sings in his current country hit,
I’m talkin’ you and me with the same street name,
same last name, same everything,
It’s a real thing, a how I feel thing.. 1

This is the mystery of our life in Christ. We are joined with Him and are the “same everything” together. The greatest romance story of the universe is being told through our lives with Him, we in Him, He in us, as us. Never consider that you are just friends, you and Christ. He is not just someone you go to for help or look to for strength. He didn’t just die for you, He came to be one flesh with you, to live in you. He wants to live out that great story of love together with you and Him, forever.

Try on a Hallmark or any other romance movie and see if it doesn’t warm your heart and remind you of the story of the Divine Romance. The ending is always the same beginning.

May you discover a new love and union with Jesus. – His Valentine.

1. From “I’ll Name the Dogs”, Blake Shelton, Texoma Shore, 2017.





One of the most devastating phrases in Christianity

30 10 2017

Survey the crossThere is a phrase I keep hearing these days among Christians that I find grievous. It is usually used to excuse some form of failure or sin on the part of a believer. In trying to make what is assumed to be the appropriate spiritual answer the response is, “Well, I am just a sinner saved by grace”. Is this the truth?

While it is true that all men were born into sin, the label of being a perpetual sinner dramatically changed forever in the cross of Christ. First of all, God says that we have been “justified freely by His grace”(Rom. 3:25). That means that we are no longer held accountable for our sins. The blood shed at the cross wiped away the debt of our sins and we are now ok with God (5:8).

Secondly, grace doesn’t just do away with the debt of our sins it also changed the nature of our being a sinner. God says that we died with Christ to sin. Our sin nature or “old man” was crucified with Him. We are no longer bound to something that we are dead to (Rom. 6:6). He says that we were changed from being “by nature children of wrath” to now “being made alive together with Christ..created in Christ Jesus for good works..” (Eph. 2:1-10). He says that we have now become “vessels of mercy” rather than “vessels of wrath” (Rom. 9:23). We have been given a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17), a new self-created like Christ (Col. 3:10). We are no longer sinners but saints. To claim you are still a sinner is to call God a liar.

But, the question always comes up, “What about when a believer sins? Doesn’t that show that he is still a sinner?”. God answers that by describing us as slaves (Rom.6:15-20). A slave is always a slave, following his master’s orders. But what happens when the master is not around? Will the slave do other things than what his master orders? Occasionally, yes. But that doesn’t change his nature. He is still a slave. As slaves of God, His saints, we still make mistakes, that some may call sins, but we are still saints. Are we in trouble with God? No, because we are under grace and grace teaches us through our failings who we really are, sons of God, filled with the nature and life of Christ (Titus 2:12, Gal.2:20).

Unfortunately, Christians too easily adopt ideas and phrases that have no basis in Scripture. Because of that we still live frustrated lives thinking we are just not capable of behaving as God intended. We need to stop calling ourselves something that God doesn’t and start living as we really are, sons of God, being filled with His fullness (Eph.3:19).

Be Jesus





Where is God when I need Him?!

7 04 2017

hqdefaultPerhaps you have experienced this frustration with God, “I have asked and asked and I don”t get any answers. Where is God when I need Him?!” All of our Christian lives we have been taught how to pray to a God we are told is full of love and grace. We are told that we can ask Him and He will gladly help us. But, then, why at times doesn’t He seem to answer?

The faith teachers say that the answer is in knowing how to properly ask in faith. If we only had enough faith we would receive more from God, they say. Still, others tell us that it’s a matter of simply trusting that God’s seeming denials are actually His way of testing us or helping us develop patience. We just need to love Him more by total submitting to His will.

But there is a much deeper issue in place here having to do with the understanding of our basic existence. Read the rest of this entry »





Have you seen God lately?

27 03 2017

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The movie, The Shack, has touched thousands of people with emotional healing, redemption, and forgiveness. It has also helped restore people’s trust in a loving and caring God. But at the same time, it has also opened up a multitude of questions about our conventional understanding of God and the Trinity. As a result, there has been no lack of criticism and warnings that the film should be considered heresy, even though it is only a fictional story.

The debate mostly centers on who God is or how He (or She?) should be perceived. But that overlooks the bigger question. Read the rest of this entry »





Are You A Double Thinker?

12 07 2016

Double MindMost people are very used to thinking in terms of life being divided into “secular” and spiritual realms. Anything having to do with God, church, prayer, or scripture is thought to belong to the realm of the spiritual while work, family, government, and money is the secular, worldly or natural realm. This leads to the reasoning that God, who obviously lives in the spiritual realm, must be invited into our natural/secular world to bring about His will. Prayer is thought to be the process of convincing God to intervene in our physical lives to change our outcomes. As we live our lives in the world we think in terms of God sending us help, giving us the resources we need and the ability to please Him. Everything is seen in terms of how separate we are from God.

Where does this come from? Read the rest of this entry »





What do you see in the Cross?

21 03 2016

Survey the cross

What do you see in the cross?

One of my favorite hymns is When I survey the Wondrous Cross written by Isaac Watts with music by Lowell Mason. Watts wrote it in 1707 as a fresh, new hymn for celebrating Holy Communion. A popular author on Christian hymns writes, “…what makes the hymn unique is the particular beauty of its language and imagery, and the power with which it highlights the most significant event in human and personal history — the cross of Jesus Christ our God.”

What do you see

When I survey the wondrous cross
              On which the prince of glory died, (?)

Do you see or think of that innocent Son of God and Man being crucified for you? Do you think of the horror that He endured for your sake? Of course you do, but has it also occurred to you that it wasn’t just Jesus dying there on that cross? It was you and me that also died. (Rom 6:8) Jesus didn’t deserve to die, we did. Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything. It was humanity that was guilty and sin wrecked. The human vessel had been corrupted by the lie and occupied by the master liar. As a consequence, humanity was guilty not only of sins but of being by nature a sinner. As Jesus “became sin” He bled to pay our sin wages and died our death so that we could be free of the power of sin forever more.

What do you see in the cross? We should see our true condition before God’s grace was poured out. That realization is like going to a doctor and being told to your surprise that you have an incurable disease. Or, it’s like going to a judge and being told, “Yes, you are guilty”. We need to realize..

My richest gain, I count but loss,
              And pour contempt on all my pride.

We need to…

Forbid it, Lord that I should boast,
              Save in the death of Christ my God!

We see our pitiful thinking that we were independent selves, presuming to live on our own or change ourselves. It was Christ who represented

All the vain things that charmed me most,       

and died to set us free from this tyranny of delusion.

I sacrificed them to His blood.

What do you see in the cross? I see the most amazing act of love in all of the universe. It reminds me of God’s true nature. His desire was not to wipe man off the face of the earth because he was a sinner. He was and is only interested in rescuing man from the destruction of sin’s effect on man’s life. He wanted to remove the shame and guilt of sins and replace the sin occupier with Himself.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
            Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
            Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
            Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

This was God in Christ, demonstrating the length He would go to reconcile man back to Himself. He wasn’t pouring wrath out on Christ/men for sin. He was destroying the hold that sin had on our lives so that we could be His again. The overlooked, omitted 4th verse of this hymn declares who we really are now in Him, free from the power of the flesh to hold us back from walking in the freedom of sainthood.

[His dying crimson, like a robe,
              Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
              Then I am dead to all the globe,
              And all the globe is dead to me.]

What do you see in the cross? I see the love that Father God through Christ has poured out not just for me but “in me”. Father God, who is Himself love, has poured Himself into my spirit changing my inner man, transforming my flesh and reaching out to those around me. I never have to ask the question, “Does He love me?” because I am engulfed in His love. Even

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
            That were a present far too small;

nothing in all the world can compare to

Love so amazing, so divine,  

which automatically

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Go HERE to listen again to this great hymn and let the wondrous cross amaze you all the more with Jesus in this Easter season.

Happy Resurrection Sunday  

 

 

 








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