December, 2011

Loving Opportunities

The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that we are to love universally and personally. That can be overwhelming and it causes many to retreat and not to love at all. Again, we need to look to Jesus. He didn’t cure or even physically touch every person He saw; but He used every opportunity to love. He turned no one away. That’s our guide. We need to be opportunistic. That requires constant guidance. It’s why we have the Holy Spirit to guide us as to when and how to put His love into action.

I’ve often thought that Jesus could have done so much more if He had spent less time alone in prayer. That’s another example of faulty human reasoning. It’s the time alone with the Father that fueled Him to be an opportunistic lover of men. If we want to love as Jesus loved, we need to spend time with the Father, as He did.

This time alone with God isn’t time for tell Him all we need. He already knows that. It’s like time spent with a friend, time sharing our hearts. It’s time listening and loving. By doing that we learn what concerns Him and we become attune to act on the opportunities the rest of our day presents.

Listen to the Father and learn to love like the Son.

Be blessed.


Loving Your Neighbor

Jesus was a radical. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, He radically changed the parameters of love. He made it at once universal and personal. Before Jesus, enemies were tolerated, if not permitted. By making the victim in His tale a Samaritan, Jesus changed all that. Samaritans were despised by Jews. They were outcasts. It was inconceivable that one would be called to love one. But so we are. The category of “enemy” is eliminated. Everyone is our brother.

But more over, Jesus required that love of neighbor be personal. It’s not good enough not to harbor ill will toward men. We must clean up their battered bodies, soothe their wounds, fill their empty bellies. Jesus is radical.

With these radical criteria we must examine our “love lives.” Do we still consider whole groups of people unloveable because of their race or religion? Do we cross them off because of their attitudes or even their actions? Do we require that they first love us or, at least be nice to us? If so, we fail to love as Jesus loved and as He demands we love.

Do we love with good wishes and kind words? If so we fall short. We are called to roll up our sleeves and be examples of love in action. We are to do more than feel sorry for the widows or weep for the orphans or sympathize with the prisoners. For the Christian, love is an action word and there is plenty to do.

Get to work and be blessed.


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Peaceful with My Mind on God

You will keep him in perfect peace,
      Whose mind is stayed on You,
      Because he trusts in You.       

Isaiah 26:3

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

The key to the perfect peace we all seek is to keep our mind on God. The enemy, therefore, tries to keep us focused elsewhere. If we will but use the check list of Philippians 4:8, our minds will keep a right focus. That’s a huge challenge.

How embarrassed would we be if our minds could be read? Would those we love ,still love us, if they could know the thoughts that sometimes come? We all think we know people who “say what they think.” But even the most outspoken person we know, doesn’t completely dump his thoughts on the world. For most of us, most of the time, our heads are sewers filled with dirty, ugly, base lies, in other words, the opposite of the Philippians 4:8 checklist.

What to do? We have to begin the cleanup, one nasty piece at a time. We have to work to be vigilant about our thinking. The moment we realize we’re off track, we have to turn our thoughts around and “renew our minds.” Once again, the plain speaking NLT is helpful.

New Living Translation (©2007)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

As with everything else we get in trouble when we try to do it ourselves, when we find our thoughts slipping, we need to pray. It can be, and should be simple. One word will do, “Help.”

Father we desperately seek the peace you promise those who will keep their minds on you. Lord keep my mind on you. Amen

Be single minded and be blessed.


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If You Love Him Talk to Him

Okay so we agree that we need to have relationship with Our God. How do we do that? Talk to Him, out loud. I am not a fan of the style of preaching that consists of constantly telling the congregation to say this or shout that. It all seems pretty artificial to me, but I do believe we need to audibly talk to God.

It’s not that God can’t read our minds. He certainly can. But speaking out to Him makes our words to Him real to us. When we vocalize, we hear ourselves. We put emotion into our words. They become more real. Trust me. Try it.

Do this. Think about what you would most want to say to Jesus if He was sitting right across from you. Just the one most important thing. Now get off by yourself. This is necessary so others don’t think you are nuts. In today’s world, that’s probably in your car or truck, on the way to work or the store. Turn off the radio and tell the Lord what’s on your heart. Tell Him like you would tell a friend, with honest feeling. You don’t have to use special “praying” language. You don’t have to drop your voice an octave or assume a pompous tone. Nor do you need to be timid and meek. Talk straight.

Now just shut up. Don’t reach for the radio. Spend some time in quiet. You may be surprised at what happens.

Love Him with your whole being and start with your mouth.

Be blessed.


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Really Loving

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25 NLT

It’s not much in dispute that relationship, first with God and then with men, is the most important thing. It’s just not much in practice. The reasons are trust and control. As Christians we say we turn our lives over to Christ but we don’t trust Him to be in control. We believe we have to drive and provide the gas. As long as that’s our attitude, relationships will never be first. Our priority will be money and getting things done. Money, because we need it as provider and getting things done because we believe it all depends on us.

If you need confirmation ask yourself, “What’s the first thing you think about in the morning? What’s the last thing you think about at night?” It you’re honest it’s probably about money, getting it, spending it, not having enough of it to last until payday, Or it may be about doing things, what you need to do, what you forgot to do, what you wish you didn’t have to do.

Let me use myself as an example. I have been on a campaign for some time to “seek first the kingdom.” It plays out this way. I do my blog before I do anything else. Then I do my ministry related stuff, websites or Kairos or whatever. I feel I have been pretty successful in doing that and God has rewarded me by giving me the things I need. The last thing I usually consider at night is the subject of the next day’s blog. The next morning God, or my indigestion, has produced an idea and I write it and send it out before I do anything else. Often while I’m still in bed working on my iPad. I feel pretty good about that.

But consider I’m not putting relationship first. My first thoughts even when they are about the things of God are not about God. Even when they are about serving those I’m called to serve, my family, church, prisoners; I’m not thinking about the people as much as what I need to do which, no doubt, will benefit them; yet I’m not really thinking about them.

I know part of this is a guy thing. We find value in what we do. Love God with all your soul, body, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. That clearly means put God first and others next. But even when we try, we end up trying to accomplish that by doing things.

Father, I want to put you first, not just the things that are important to you. I want to really love the people you have given me to love and not just by doing things for them. Help me God.


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