Facebook Jesus

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7

These words of Jesus seem harsh, until you look around and see how Jesus is portrayed today. If you want to get a taste of society, check out Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of Facebook. This and all my  blog posts end up on Facebook. It’s a great way to share thoughts. I love to keep track of family and friends. Facebook is great.

Let’s get a few things straight however.

1. You are not going to hell if you don’t “like” a Facebook post.

2. You are not going to get a “blessing” if you share a Facebook post.

3. Jesus didn’t come to make you rich.

4. Jesus didn’t come to make you healthy.

5. God is our “Provider” and our “Healer.” But just because you aren’t healthy or rich, doesn’t mean you aren’t His child. Ask the Christians in Sudan or China.

6. It’s great to share Jesus on Facebook. It’s much more effective to share Him directly.

Share this if you love Jesus. Just kidding.

Be blessed.

Growing Pains

We had a case of growing pains with our great-grandchild this week. She had pain in her knees. A little children’s Tylenol and a heating pad and she was fine. Many of us as children remember having pains as our bones and muscles and tendons struggled to grow, especially during our “growth spurts.”

There are spiritual “growing pains” as well. There are times when God stretches us. He grooms us for bigger challenges by putting us through experiences that stretch us. It may be a case of putting us in positions in which our dependence on Him is more obvious than usual. Perhaps He puts us with people who challenge us.

Sometimes He works through “hard” scriptures that make us review our concepts of who He is or who we are in His universe. He may move us from a place of comfort into unfamiliar, even frightening, surroundings. The goal is the same: to grow our faith, trust and dependence on Him.

When circumstances aren’t what  you would like them to be, when the things  you have relied on fall, when people aren’t there as they have been in the past, these may be growing pains. The good news in God is taking you to a new place. It may be a scary place, but it’s a place where He is already waiting. He looks forward to closer walk with us. We should be excited as well.

 

Just Look

Look

Every so often I come across something really worthwhile when scanning Facebook. The thoughts contained on this image qualified.

A couple of days ago I posted about the blessings in my life. I wish I could get into the habit of looking back every day and being amazed at how God has blessed me over the last 65 years. There have been challenges and even some tears, but there has always been evidence of not just His presence but his loving, guiding presence. I am going to try to start each day spending at least a few moments looking back and feeling truly blessed.

Just as the past is reassuring, looking forward is always intriguing. There is always a path ahead that we expect to walk. Reality is never exactly the same. Some of the great wonders of life are the surprises God has for us in the future. Almost no day goes exactly as planned. Certainly no year follows the path we have planned in our heads. The days that seem cloudy and challenging when viewed from the past, often turn out to be the brightest and the most inspiring of our lives. The ones that we think will be routine; almost never are. It’s a good idea to look back before we look forward. That will make it so much  easier to look forward and trust God.

Looking around is something most of us don’t do nearly enough. Our lives are so centered on the big three: me, myself and I. Those really close to us can figure into our world perspective. If we are honest, however, they exist on the edge of our existence. We us always prominently in the center. Looking around is so important. It puts our challenges and blessings in perspective. We are never the person most in need within our view. Others are always walking a tougher path with bigger challenges. There is always someone who could benefit from our experience or the excess of blessings we have. The opportunities to serve and be blessed are everywhere, if we will just look.

Looking within is the toughest and the examinations we tend to do the least. For most of us, it’s the scariest direction we can look. There is darkness there. There is history. There are mistakes. There are parts of us that we haven’t surrendered and other parts that we haven’t even acknowledged. When I was a young seminarian, we spent a part of each day in self-examination. It’s a spiritual exercise that all of us need the courage and strength to revive. Once we have looked back and notice how God has guided and blessed us. Once we have looked forward to the challenges ahead. Once we have looked around to the possibilities of service. It’s important to look inside at how God can make us the answer to the opportunities to serve and the future challenges to face.

Just look, backward, forward, around and within. There is plenty worth seeing.

So Blessed

Last week I had the two-year checkup following my knee replacement. I have had absolutely no pain since the surgery. I had minimum rehab. Even my other knee which had bothered me before, hasn’t since. I am so blessed.

This afternoon I will be performing a marriage ceremony. This is an honor and a privilege. Thanks to Roger and Carla and to Pastor Jason. I am so blessed.

I am an ordained minister at my church and get frequent opportunities to serve. In September I will be sharing with our SALT group. I get to do this blog daily and in November I will once again get to go inside Angola and see God work. I am so blessed.

I have a wonderful family with many beautiful women, inside and out. I get to enjoy them with my fabulous grandson Nicky and my awesome grand-son-in-law, Tyler. I am so blessed.

In the Navy we moved over 30 times. Since coming to Lafayette I have lived in the some wonderful house out in the country. It’s been almost thirty years. When my mom first saw our house she called it a mansion. She was a bit over the top. But it’s a fact, I am so blessed.

A few months ago I learned I was losing my biggest client which I had served for many years. Since then I have picked up several new clients and learned of some great opportunities. The transition has been smooth and I look forward to the future. I am so blessed.

I don’t have to look around to realize the extent of my blessings, but it’s not a bad idea to do so. I see people trying to make it through life without Jesus. I can’t imagine that. I am so blessed.

I see people whose families aren’t a blessing, but a continual challenge, providing no support or encouragement. I am so blessed.

I see people in churches where they serve only as spectators with no opportunities to serve. I am so blessed.

I worship how and when I want. I see others whose lives are threatened if the chose to worship Jesus as Lord. I am so blessed.

How blessed are you? Count them. You may be blessed by what you discover.

 

Complete Security

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Our complete security in Christ is wonderfully displayed in the 23rd Psalm. It’s a security that is non-conditional and flows from our relationship with Jesus. He is Shepherd. We are sheep or followers. It’s not dependent on our performance as sheep. It’s expressed in series of positive statements. Our eternal security in heaven is the last ultimate facet of our security, but by no means the only facet. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The basis of our security is provision. We shall not want.

We are promised refreshment, rest and renewal.

He guides us along “right paths.”

We aren’t promised all sunny days, but we are promised fearlessness even in the darkest times. Through His rod and staff we are protected. The victory is His.

Even when surrounded by enemies, we are promised continued communion at his table. He never tires of the relationship, our cup running over.

We are anointed. That is we have a purpose and the power to carry it out.

All this is assured through the promise of his goodness, not ours and his love. All the days of our lives ending with eternity with Him.

Feeling better? Feeling a bit more secure? Our security is sure, unconditional, relationship based and forever.

Fear

 

I have written this blog since 2009. I have mentioned “fear” a lot. I’m not embarrassed by this. I find myself in good company. Jesus mentioned it so much that it became part of his usual greeting, “Fear not.” It’s equivalent has become a common greeting among believers, “Peace be with you.” We mention fear so often because it is such a huge problem. We have lots of fear. We fear disease, death, destruction, loss of family, loss of income, hell, and loss of salvation. Fear is Satan’s greatest weapon.

If you are saying to yourself, “I’m not fearful.” Consider this, do you worry? Are you anxious? Do you have concerns? Those are just other ways of expressing fear.

The opposite of fear isn’t courage or bravery; it’s peace and security. As much as fear dominates our lives; we truly seek peace and security. This is why I am so adamant about Eternal Security. It’s what Jesus came to give us. It’s not the same as “once saved always saved.” If we are secure in our marriage, it’s not that we think we could never be divorced. We just think it’s highly unlikely. If we are secure in our jobs, we still know we could lose our job. We just don’t worry about it every day. We could not be affective in our marriages or our jobs if we were not secure in them. Security makes me a better husband or employee.

You can’t be an effective insecure Christian. I know there are probably folks running around failing to do good works or to grow in Christ because they figure they are saved so why bother. To be honest I’ve never met any of them. I have met many who are stagnant because they are insecure. Insecurity causes us to focus on our selves and our condition. Insecurity causes us to focus on what we do or don’t do and not on what He did. Once we become secure, we can move on to caring and doing for others, to carrying on the Great Commission.

Security doesn’t mean never fearing or never doubting. I wake up in cold sweats frozen by fearful dreams or thoughts. Security means not being controlled by fear. Jesus told us that others would know we are His by the love we have for each other. That’s also how WE KNOW we are his.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4

 A person secure in marriage knows he is loved in that relationship. A person secure in Christ knows he is loved in that relationship as well. You are loved.  Fear Not. Be Secure. Be Blessed.

The End TImes

On Sunday our Pastor preached about The End Times. It was interesting because we don’t hear a lot of preaching on the subject. I’m certainly no End Times scholar. My End Times theology is very simple. I believe Jesus is coming back to reign, that will be wonderful, we don’t know when and until then things will get a lot worse before they get better. I don’t find hardly anyone who disagrees with me on these basics. With that theology I am motivated to tell others about Jesus and wait with joyful expectation.

The fighting starts with things like the Rapture. Will it happen? If so when? I do mean fighting because if you google “the rapture” you will read some of the nasty things said by one group of Christians about another. People are really serious about their opinion. The truth is there is support for most opinions in the scripture and no solid proof of either.

I find a direct connection between one’s basic theology and their opinions about The End Times. Grace people tend to be pretrib rapture folks. By “grace” people I don’t mean people who talk about grace, but I mean people who are comfortable with grace. They believe that we are saved by grace and that we can become real followers of Jesus motivated by gratitude for our salvation and empowered by his life changing grace. They can distinguish between persecution, which we all suffer in widely varying amounts, and the wrath of God which none of us has yet experienced. They can see that persecutions will increase as the end draws near. They know that wrath will only come at the end and that, like in the days of Noah, God can choose to exempt His people from that wrath. After all, what does He have to be wrathful about toward His children?

Grace plus people, however, talk about grace but aren’t real comfortable with the concept. They always feel that something more is required. They don’t believe they have repented enough, or worked enough or gotten holy enough. They understand they don’t deserve salvation. Who does? They are never secure. They keep repenting and working and worrying. Some are long time followers of Christ who can’t help but compare what they have done for Jesus with what others have done and wither under the unfairness. They are like the prodigal’s brother,  jealous of the fatted calf. They never know they are saved. They wallow in insecurity.  For them, deep down they believe they deserve the wrath and aren’t comfortable with the idea that God would spare them, now or during the end times.

Maybe there will be a rapture before tribulation. I hope so and will rejoice in that. Maybe not. I will trust that God’s grace will allow me to get through whatever comes, just like it has all my life. Grace people have a much easier time awaiting the end. They look forward to it with joy. Grace plus people apply the same dread to it that they apply to the rest of their lives. It’s really just sad.

The Walk

Life is a walk, for Christians a walk with God. Looking back on the long path of my walk, one characteristic predominates: faithfulness, not mine, but God’s. There has been much along the path: eleven years in the military without injury or fear, law school in my thirties, loss of a child, false allegations, challenges of all kind. Through it all my God has been faithful. My family has never gone hungry. I have enjoyed a beautiful family, faithful friends and a decent career. I have often wandered from the path, but God has stuck with me.

Looking around at where I am today on the path I have to wonder. Is this where I should be? Was this God’s plan A for me or are we on plan B or even Z? I have walked a long way, but should I have walked faster or even run? How many times have I been turned around or had to double back? Did I fully understand and appreciate all the beauty along the way ? Have I more often helped others or stepped on toes without thinking? Will my passing be remembered with smiles or frowns?

Looking ahead I can see challenging times. I know there is more for me to do, but I am unsure of exactly what or for how long. The path ahead will be different. It always is. There will be exciting surprises and times of boring one-fo0t-in-front-of-the-other. There will be new faces and familiar ones. The road will require more energy, wisdom and love than I have. Of one thing I am sure. My faithful God is already there. Able to supply all that I lack. Giving me the reason to walk on.