Get out of the Bath and into the Street.

One of the prominent complaints about Christians is that they are “Holier than Thou” or self-righteous. The sad truth is that the complaint is often justified. A real Christian is the last person to be self-righteous. A Christian knows that he is worth something only because of Christ.

Part of the problem is that we continue to focus on cleaning ourselves up. We need to get out of the bath and into the street. OC reminds us: “Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God.” Some of us need to hear that again. “Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God.” If we didn’t spend so much time in the tub maybe the dust on others wouldn’t offend us so.

But you might say, and are probably saying, “But aren’t we to be holy?” Of course but,  “[p]ersonal holiness is
an effect, not a cause.” Our holiness is an effect of His redemption of us. Our holiness doesn’t cause anything. Isn’t it just like us to come to God recognizing we can do nothing about our condition. He creates us anew. We become new creatures. We become proud of what we have done when we have done nothing.

It reminds me of all the Saints fans who now proclaim “We’re going to the Superbowl.” When the Saints were the “Aints” the proclamation was: “They’re terrible.” But I digress.

Remember to be “holy” means to be “separate.” “Paul did not say he separated himself, but – “when it pleased God who separated me. . .”  As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character.”
We are holy; that is separated by God for one purpose – to proclaim the Gospel of God.

So climb out of that tub, towel off, hit the streets, tell ’em what He’s done and
Be blessed.
Nick

Romancing the Lord

I remember when Rosemary and I  first fell in love. On our very first date we talked like I had never talked with any other person. As our relationship developed we would talk with each other almost constantly. During our early years together, I was in the Navy and our separations were frequent. The letters and tapes we exchanged during those separations are priceless momentos. Even now I brighten at the sound of her voice.

Communication is the fuel for the fire of romance. The intensity of the relationship can be measured by the quality and frequency of the communication.

OC today advises, “Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance.” Before I knew the Lord, His word was often grating. It made me uncomfortable. His written word sounded archaic and cold. Not like now. A word from Him, written or heard, can brighten the darkest day or cure the deepest concern.

How’s your love life? Is your communication constant, warm and lively or is it rare, chilly and dead?

A vibrant relationship places the words of the loved above all others. “Never ask the advice of another about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will nearly always side with Satan. “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” One of the many unique things about our God relationship is that it is spiritual. And as long as we are fleshy creatures, we will tend to attach more importance to fleshly communications. Until we are confident in our God communication, we will rely on human confirmation. The only cure for this is to focus on and increase our God communication until our confidence level in the accuracy of what we hear is so high that fleshly forms of communication fade from our lives.

Another thing that separates the God love affair from others; is that His Word is so much more important than ours. In our earthly romance, communications must be mutual. With God, He already knows our thoughts before we speak. As OC says,  our word to Him should be “Speak” and our response should be “listen.”

Take some time to Listen to a Love Song for a Savior.

Listen, Love and
Be blessed.
Nick

 

Right Words – Wrong Spirit

I had a tough meeting this week. Other participants at the meeting had engaged in misrepresentations and unethical tactics. I had the “goods” on them; enough to blow them out of the water. I was prepared to come in guns blazing. The Lord checked me. I came in with the truth but with a loving spirit. All worked out well.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Having the truth on our side, having the “right words” isn’t enough. Our message is never effectively delivered if it is brought in the wrong spirit.

The Great Commission is about spreading the Word in His Spirit. Anything less is destructive.

“We have shown our ignorance of Him in the very way we determined to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, we hurt Him by our advocacy for Him, we push His claims in the spirit of the devil. Our words sound all right, but our spirit is that of an enemy. “He rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” The spirit of our Lord in an advocate of His is described in 1 Corinthians 13. (The Love Chapter)

Have I been persecuting Jesus by a zealous determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty and yet have hurt Him in doing it, I may be sure it was not my duty, because it has not fostered the meek and quiet spirit, but the spirit of self-satisfaction.”

We have the words of Truth; let’s make sure we deliver them in the Spirit of Truth and by doing so we pass  blessings and
Be blessed.
Nick

RIghts Crazy

We have gone “rights” crazy. We believe we have the “right” to practically everything. Even animals and plants now are proclaimed to have “rights.” There is much complaining and protesting over a perceived loss of our “rights” to the government.  In this atmosphere, OC’s words seem strange, “Every time we stand on our rights, we are persecuting Jesus.”
It is easy to see rights abuse in others; but we need to look in the mirror. Are we entitled to all that we have or all that we want? Being “rights” focused is being self-focused.
In the purest sense, we have no rights. We deserve nothing. Everything we have is a gift.

This is not to say we should not fight to live in a “free” country or to preserve our heritage. These are good and proper battles. Let’s not forget the founder’s words when referring to  basic “rights” of all men, they were “endowed by their Creator.” What God has given, we should not allow man to take away.
But as OC says, “The Spirit of Jesus is conscious of one thing only – a perfect oneness with the Father, and He says, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” All I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly. This will mean that I can be easily put upon, easily over-reached, easily ignored; but if I submit to it for His sake, I prevent Jesus Christ being persecuted.”
We need to stand not on our rights, but on Jesus, the source of all that’s good.
Abide in Him and Him alone and
Be blessed.
Nick

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Bobby McFerrin was one of those one hit wonders. He released Don’t Worry Be Happy in 1988. It was the first acapella song to hit number one. It’s lyrics were simple. It’s tune and Bobby’s voice was Caribbean. It made you think of a tropical island free of care and worry. It struck a chord with the public because we all really don’t want to worry. We want to be happy. We’re just not very good at it. In America, the luxury that surrounds us breeds distraction and worry. Intellectually, the Christian knows that the answer is to be careful about only one thing, our relationship with the Lord. But we care about so much more. I have been monitoring Amana Prayer Partners since May of 2008. I have copies of hundreds of prayer requests. Maybe one day I’ll write a book. I don’t recall a single prayer request focused on a care about one’s relationship with Christ. We pray about illness, about job security, about the salvation of others. We pray against bad weather or “evil” politicians. It is a good and right thing to bring such petitions to our Father and we have seen miracles in His answers. But the nature of our requests does say something about our focus.
In the “confessions’ department, I saw a movie last night which I can’t recommend because of violence and language, Book of Eli. Eli (Denzel Washington) has been on a journey for 30 years, walking west across America after a cataclysmic war that turned the earth into a total wasteland. The world has become a lawless civilization where people must kill or be killed. After the war and the “Big Flash”, Eli was guided by a God to the last remaining copy of the Bible and given the task of protecting the book and taking it to its final destination. Eli guards the book with his life, because he knows that the book is the only hope that humanity has for its future. The movie conveys a powerful message that we take the important things for granted and get so hung up on the trivia.
We need to cling to our God and His Word.
Don’t Worry. Be Happy. It’s possible. We don’t need a tropical island or a Jamaican dialect. We need to cling to what’s really important and shrug off everything else.
Happiness and Blessings.
Nick

Keep It Simple Stupid

I tend to make things way too complicated. Periodically I have to do housekeeping on some part of my life. In essence, I have to remove the “extra” stuff that I throw in and get back to basics. As usual, OC says it well:
“How are we going to be simple with the simplicity of Jesus? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, obeying Him as He brings the word of God, and life will become amazingly simple.”
So it is with the church website, Amanacf.org. I recognized some weeks ago that it had become too complicated and I have been working for weeks on redoing it. In fact, making it more complicated each time.
Finally, I asked myself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” I had to answer I want folks to connect with us and to connect with Jesus. It’s a theme we focused on last year; but I think it is a perpetual theme. Doesn’t that say it all? So I have greatly simplified the website with that theme in mind If you are familiar with the site you will see some things are missing. If you miss something, it’s up to you to get it back. Let me know what you miss and it will come back. In that way, I hope the website will be what God wants it to be and nothing more.
Of course, if you don’t like something. Complaints are allowed.
I will continue to work on it as time allows. I hope it will always be a blessing. I am not offering any explanation because if using it requires explanation I have more work to do.
Get simple with Jesus. Check out the web site and maybe
Be blessed.
Nick

Give God Some Elbow Room

Saints in the Superbowl. Many thought it would never happen. On WWL, the New Orleans news station, once the winning field goal was made, the announcer proclaimed, “Hell has frozen over.” One newspaper called the dramatic win, “Divine Intervention.” With a name like “Saints” it’s inevitable that there will be “spiritual” references when the team is referenced. Some are light hearted; some completely irreverent.
I spent Sunday afternoon and evening watching the game with family, frantically texting those who were not physically present. Even Rosemary, my wife and self-proclaimed non-football fan, jumped off the coach and screamed when the last interception occurred. She was in the ladies room for the winning kick. Maybe she really still isn’t a fan.
But shouldn’t I have been in church? I wasn’t and I am sure I’m not the only one. I think OC’s words for today deserve consideration:
“As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God – to give God “elbow room.” We calculate and estimate, and say that this and that will happen, and we forget to make room for God to come in as He
chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never looked for Him to come? Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is
the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way. However much we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that at any minute He may break in. We are apt to
over look this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. All of a sudden God meets the life – “When it was the good pleasure of God. . .”

Are the Saints, “God’s Team?” No probably not. Did He “intervene” in the game? I don’t know. I don’t think so.  But we need to get out of our little boxes. We need to be where the people are. Sadly, God isn’t always at the church building and sometimes He’s at a party.
Don’t make your God too small or too much in your image.

Sometimes you might just miss a blessing where you least expected it.
Go Saints… yes I mean the team…
Loosen up and
Be blessed.
Nick

Nicky – The Human Saw

I met a great person yesterday. I have known this person since he was born; but I feel like I really met him yesterday. I spent the entire day with him. I watched my grandson Nicky break boards in his Karate class in the morning, we saw Avatar together in the afternoon and watch the Ragin Cajuns play their best game of the season last night. It was a long day but a great day. I have always know he’s a “great kid.” But he is a great person. We love many of the same things like karate, scifi, and basketball. He’s smart, personable and lovable.  He’s a wise person. I thought it was cute to name the little video of his Karate class, “Nicky – The Human Saw.” He got a kick (this is Karate after all) out of it; but pointed out that I should change the name. He advised: “That’s not what the video is about. It’s about a whole class breaking boards; not just about me.” Yesterday I admitted I wasn’t as smart as OC; now I have to say I’m not smarter than a second grader.
That’s what Paul found out after persecuting Jesus for years. He was a great person. It took a personal encounter. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim, he was brought into a vivid, personal, overmastering relationship to Jesus Christ. Paul was devoted to a Person not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s, he saw nothing else, he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
Spend some time today, while awaiting kickoff, to get to know someone for more than the role you’ve assigned to them whether it’s “spouse” “co-worker” or “grandson.” Make that relationship personal.
And while you’re at it, why not do more today than going to church. Maybe there’s Someone else who you need to know a bit more personally. Do I have to paint you a picture?
Like Paul and Nick, get knocked off your horse, and
Be blessed.