Posts Tagged ‘God’s Love

18
Oct
10

Come as You Are; But You Won’t Stay That Way (Re-post)

As I was reviewing the statistics for this blog, I noticed the post that has received the most views of all was on February 9, 2010.  It was refreshing and powerful for me as I went back to read it again.  So, I thought I would re-post it today in hopes that it will be a powerful word of truth to someone today.

Jesus was a controversial figure in His day…during His earthly ministry.  He spent time around those whom the religious community considered the scum of the earth (Luke 5:29-32).  He reached out to them in love without expecting them to “clean up” before He would have anything to do with them.  This is where we get the idea for the old hymn, “Just as I am.”

I’m glad that we don’t have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.  His love and grace calls to us to come and experience His healing touch.  Contrary to some post-modern thinking, however, we don’t come to Jesus and stay the same.  It isn’t an “addition” of Jesus to our lifestyle.  He doesn’t accommodate His truth to our situation.  It is a transformation that takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Actually, it would be a cruel thing for Christ to accept us and then leave us as we are…in our sins.

I am a new creation…and I’m becoming a new creation.  It is an event (salvation) and it is a process (sanctification).  Thank God it is real!

Check out the video below “Come as You Are” by Northland Church.  Celebrate your new life as you watch.  If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, go here to find out more.

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15
Oct
10

An Easy Way to Make a Difference

The focus verse for Hydrate this week is James 2:18.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Faith and works are inseparable for the true believer.  If we are the recipients of the tremendous grace of God through salvation, how can we help but want to share that grace with others?  Real salvation will result in real concern and love for others because we have experienced real love from the author of love:  God Himself!

We need to ask ourselves, “How am I expressing the love of God to those around me?”  Is there a way to make a difference in both the eternity and present  life of people with whom I have influence?  The love of Christ motivates us, the Spirit of Christ guides us to be intentional.  How will you let Him use you?

Look around you and pray for God to show you the needs of the community in which you live and the world beyond your locale.  Submit yourself to be used by God to meet these needs and open doors to share the life of Christ through the gospel.

If you want to take an easy first step of making a practical difference, click on the Blood:Water Mission link on my page and complete the activity.  The sponsoring business will make a donation to the organization which provides clean drinking water and AIDS care for people in Africa.  Let that activity then be the first step in a long list of ways you become involved in touching the world with the love of Christ and His gospel.

Celebrate!  Comment and share the ways and ministries through which you are making a difference.  I would love to hear all the ways God is at work through you.

28
Sep
10

Unclogging the Stagnant Pool

I was in a resort area a month or so ago and passed by a motel that touted its great rates and nice accommodations.  As I glanced into the outdoor pool, I noticed that the water was a very gross greenish brown color.  It was obviously NOT in a condition to be used.  As much as this place of lodging wanted to promote its value, the message of the stagnant pool said “Don’t stay here.  You’ll be disappointed.”

This morning I met Steve.  He’s a mild-mannered guy who has spent the past 20 years as a contractor, building homes and working with the skills of his hands.  About a year ago, he came upon hard times and hit “rock bottom.”  Remembering the faith of his childhood from which he had strayed, Steve turned to God in despair and God responded with love and forgiveness.  Steve proceeded to find a church to attend, devour the Scripture and look for opportunities to fill his life with worship, study and growth.  He became so engrossed in pursuing his spiritual journey that family and friends cautioned him not to burn himself out…find a balance.

It seems God was already at work to address this concern in Steve’s life.  In his walk with God and God’s pursuit of him, Steve began to feel that something was missing.  It became apparent that the missing part was service.  “I want to do some kind of mission work where I can use my skills,” Steve said.  He has found the key to the “balance” that he needs…a “drain.”

What I mean is this.  The Dead Sea cannot sustain marine life because the salt content is too high.  Although fresh water enters the sea, there is no outlet.  The lack of an outlet makes the body of water lifeless and stagnant.  With the best of intentions, we may become students of God’s Word.  We may soak in everything we can from study, worship, preaching, etc.   However, if there is no outlet for serving, sharing and dispensing what we have gained, we can become spiritually stagnant.  Steve has found a way to unclog his stagnant pool of knowledge and growth.  Fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not only spiritually necessary, it is practically beneficial.  It keeps the stream flowing well.

Have you experienced spiritual stagnation?  Is there a nudge of the Holy Spirit calling you to serve in a particular way?  Where have you found an outlet for serving?

15
Sep
10

Family

I’m attending the D6 Conference in Dallas this week.  Today, our lead pastor presented a lab on the Hydrate Model for taking faith back home.  He did a great job of making the case for the paradigm shift that is needed in our churches.  To open his presentation, he showed a video montage of his life with his (now) wife and the children with which they have been blessed.  I couldn’t help but tear up a little as I watched it…thinking about my own family and how important they are to me.  I’ve been blessed to be married to the same woman, my only wife, for 27 years and we have a wonderful daughter who is 21-years-old and loves God and endeavors to serve Him.  I am so blessed.

I have not been the perfect husband or dad.  I’ve made my share of mistakes and bad decisions over the years, but I realize how much I love and am loved as a part of this family God has given me.  So…today I celebrate my family and thank God for them.  Time passes too quickly and life tends to become a blurr.  Let’s endeavor to carefully choose how we spend our time so that we don’t miss all the opportunities we have to be together with those whom we love…to experience the blessing of family and to impact one another for God’s greater purpose of bringing glory to His name.

Thank you, Lord, for my family!!

Okay folks…all you lurkers out there…speak up!  Celebrate your family and share how they are a blessing to you!

02
Aug
10

Thankful for the Grace

I haven’t seen or heard Mark Lowry in a long time.  He is a funny man, but in this video he shares (in his own unique way) about the amazing grace of God.

I am amazed by the grace of God.  To think that He gave such a great sacrifice for me, and everyone else, is overwhelming.  That grace is available to all who will call upon His name…the name of Jesus.

How has the grace of God touched your life?

02
Aug
10

I Quit!

Those words speak of frustration, anger, defeat and a decision that one can’t continue with the status quo.  It can be an immature response like the child who doesn’t get his way and takes his marbles and goes home, or, it can be a mature response that indicates one has determined their effectiveness in a situation has come to an end and it’s time to move on.  Author Ann Rice recently made this decision concerning Christianity.  You can read an article about it here.

The author of such well-known novels as “Interview with the Vampire,” Rice reported a conversion to Christianity from atheism some twelve years ago, returning to her roots of Catholicism.  What has precipitated her departure from Christianity?  She cites her disgust and horror at the “quarrelsome, hostile,” and “disputatious” attitudes of Christians.  She wrote, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian.  Amen.”

What is my reaction?  I am saddened and affirmed all at the same time.

I am saddened that in the realm of “Christianity” Ann was so overwhelmed by all that she saw as negative that it drove her away from the church.  This is essentially what she is doing…walking away from the church (especially the Catholic church).  Some would say that’s a good thing.  However, regardless of the sect, the truth remains that God ordained and established only two institutions:  the family and the church.  As flawed as it has become over the centuries, it is still the church through which Christ has determined to establish His kingdom here on earth (Matthew 16:16-18).  The universal church is thriving.  Not every local church is succeeding.  It is the extreme, culturalized, Americanized, misconstruing of the gospel by local churches that sends the messages that drive people like Ann Rice away.  This saddens me.

It is true that when the church stands for truth, purity and holiness, there will be those who choose to leave.  The world system will not tolerate the teachings of Christ and His Word which contradict self-centered, destructive, immoral choices.  Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).  So we (Christianity) should not get too upset when the world expresses hatred toward us.  The problem is…in our stand for holiness we have a problem with attitude.  Somehow many have come to believe that Christians hate them because we stand in opposition to their choices, policies, lifestyles, behavior, or agendas.  We must return to the idea of tolerance that says, “I do not agree with or condone your beliefs and practices, but I can still love you as we discuss our differences.”  It is interesting that Jesus showed wrathful confrontation only to the religious pharisees and exploiters of His day.  However, to those who were living an “unreligious” life of sin, He confronted in love, desiring to offer forgiveness and call them to turn from their sin.  It was a confrontation nonetheless, but in love.  We must follow that example.

Secondly, Ann Rice’s statement is in some way an affirmation of a feeling I have had for some time.  I seldom refer to myself as a “Christian” anymore.  As she has pointed out, the history of Christianity and the current cultural impact of misguided and (should I say it) unregenerate among the church have given the term a bad taste.  I prefer to call myself (when there is a need to do so) a Christ Follower.  This is what Ann is getting at.  She and I will disagree about the acceptance of certain behaviors within the realm of the Kingdom.  But I understand her disillusionment.

Honestly, I think if Ann Rice were to get connected in the right place of worship and service in the Kingdom, she would perhaps reconsider her exodus from Christianity.  It is possible to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ and confront the immoral and relativistic values of our society in a way that pleases God and influences culture.  We can be salt and light without hating (or appearing to) those we are called to love.  There will always be those who respond to a Christ Follower with hatred and hostility, but may it never be the Christian who initiates the hostility.

What do you think?  Is the church to blame for driving people from Christ rather than drawing them to Him?

06
Apr
10

Keeping My Judgmental Heart at Bay

It is my privilege to share a guest post today from Justin Davis, a pastor on staff with Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.  Reading his post reminds me that the only thing that keeps my judgmental heart in check is the grace that I’ve experienced from God and those in the community of faith who love me and walk with me through the issues of life.  I hope this will be a challenge and blessing to my readers.  You can read Justin’s blog here.

Judgmental People Make Me Sad by Justin Davis

I had coffee with a good friend a few weeks ago. He knew that I had taken some hits since returning to ministry. There are people who think that I shouldn’t be in ministry because I was unfaithful. There are some that think the restoration process we went through wasn’t long enough, exhaustive enough, rigorous enough. There are people who read our blog, or watch our video or listen to me speak and make a judgment about the condition of my heart, and they don’t even know me. He was angry about it, and wanted to encourage me and let me know that he not only believed in me, but he would defend me to anyone that judged me.

He asked for my thoughts…was I mad? I wasn’t mad…surprisingly, I was sad. I just told my friend that my heart was sad. I’m sad for them because they will never experience God’s grace the way that God longs for them to. The grace that cost Jesus everything, the mercy that placed Him on a Roman cross, the love that allowed Him to die in my place, is partially lost on the judgmental heart. That makes me sad.

As I was driving back to the office, I was feeling really spiritual. I was feeling so much more holy than all of those judgmental people. I don’t have a hard heart like them. I don’t try to limit and ration the grace of God in other people’s lives, like they do. Then it hit me.

I realized that I am “those people”. So often in my life, I am the judge and the jury. I judge by someone’s appearance or marital status, or body odor or skin color. I compare myself to others spiritual life, parenting style, decision-making, financial status. I make assumptions about others purely by outward appearances. That makes me sad.  Every time I choose to judge, I rob myself of experiencing God’s grace to its fullest.

The antidote to judgmentalism is gratitude. Being thankful and undone and overwhelmed by our desperate need for grace eliminates judgmentalism in our life.

Living in the truth that Jesus is my only hope; Walking in the reality that while I may look better than you on the outside, I am just as broken and fractured on the inside. Realizing that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross…allows judgment to die in my heart.

Maybe you aren’t experiencing the grace and mercy and wonder of God like you desire because you are robbing yourself of its gift by judging others.

What do you need to be thankful for that will allow you to be less judgmental?




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