Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Driving Rules

In Or Out?

(Have a great weekend!)

An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, "How do you expect to get into heaven?"

The boy thought it over and said, "Well, I'll just run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, 'For heaven's sake, Jimmy, come in or stay out!'"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Signs For Your Future

(It's the weekend, which means it's time for a little fun around here.)

During a visit to the retirement home, John asked the director, "How do you determine whether or not a person should be institutionalized?"

"Well," said the Director, "We fill up a bathtub, and then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," John said. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No," said the Director. "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Waking A Knucklehead

It was a knucklehead moment. I have a lot of those.

During a sleepless hour last night it dawned on me that I was working really hard at getting life right – praying enough, walking in the Spirit enough, supporting people enough, making enough money—you know, ENOUGH. After all, once you know what to do (and that should certainly be me by now), shouldn’t you simply do it? Isn’t how you do the ultimate estimate?

No, it isn’t. How Jesus did when He lived as a man is the ultimate measure of me. Think about it.

I forget that the ongoing measurement of my life, the way I am seen, the way I am estimated and the way I am judged is not singularly dependent upon me—Jesus became all of that for me. Everyday and all day I am living with His righteousness, His holiness, and His redemption. All that He accomplished has been given to me as my own.

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” (1 Cor 1:30-31)

Let the bragging on God begin because that’s overwhelming. But shouldn’t it be? Yes! The gospel is crazy-good. Believing that it’s true is as much the life of faith as believing that He died for my sins is. And on most days it’s much more energizing. Believing that He died for my sins and was raised to life does something once and for all: it utterly removes my sins, secures my place with God, and makes a new, raised-with-Christ me. Tah-dah! All new, once and for all. But believing that He has given me His righteousness and holiness and redemption invigorates the new me, and propels me into the day—everyday. Now that I’m new, this is how to live new. Believing equals receiving—something great happens to me.

What bothered me in the night was the accumulated stress of not counting on Jesus’ righteousness and holiness and redemption to do anything for me, other than secure my standing and destination. What a knucklehead! When I remember what He did and gave me, my faith rises and my strength increases. All that ugly judgment I sometimes endure from the evil one and from my flesh vanishes. Hooray! I can live again. And I’m reminded that faith isn’t just a bunch of important stuff I believe, but a way by which life and strength and the Holy Spirit work in me, a son of God.

That’s my day and that’s my night. Jesus for me and Jesus in me – my hope of great things.

“. . . God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blow Darts

Because I am immersed in writing my book (to be published by Harvest House next January, 2011), I have not been posting much around here lately.  I hope to remedy that this coming week.

Until then, here's a weekend funny that I hope you enjoy.

- Ralph

Friday, March 05, 2010

Barbados Update

I'm on my way to a meeting, so must be brief.

Sunday's service was truly a wonder. I spoke about God's reconciliation of us, and of our service of reconciliation for each other. I did so little, but stand back and watch God give us wonder and love and awe. God opened our eyes to who we are now--right now--because of Him, and we were dazzled.  What a great bunch are these Bajan believers.

Since then I have been meeting with small groups of men and women who want more than anything to know God.  A team of people from Grace Life Church in Woodstock, Georgia (where I will be speaking this Sunday, March 7), have been here for six months, shepherding them toward their desire.  And they're brilliant.  All I really do is join them.  Everyone here makes sharing my own story of discovering God easy to give.  What a community.

I had a bit of "time off" yesterday, and so went snorkeling in Carlisle Bay.  There I met a scorpion fish, which skewered my hand.  PAIN.  Today my left hand is painful and puffy, to say the least.  Any treatment suggestions?  (Amputation is not acceptable.)

Tonight is a guy's night out, and I'm really looking forward to that.  Tomorrow, Saturday, I leave the island and head to Atlanta for a week.

God speed!





Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A Bloom In Barbados

My goodness. These people are dazzling. As is often the case, they don’t know it.

And that’s often where the pain is.

I’m not kidding—these Bajan (pronounced “Bay-jen”) Christians openly love God. In some ways, they’re like high school aged kids in love; they grin and laugh and tear-up at the mention of their Pursuer’s grace and affection for them. When we talk about Jesus around them, it’s like we’ve taken a peek at their journaled love affair—they get all happy and dreamy and maybe a little embarrassed.

But the Conspirator of this world (the Evil One) has long been sending them the message that they’re disqualified from anything of real value. Yes, God has made His love plain to them and they’re clearly enamored enough to be willing to do anything with Him. For a little while. But past experiences or educational fumblings or unresolved difficulties and tensions add up to scandalous headlines in their own minds that render them bystanders in God’s plan for glory. And pretty soon they begin to believe that someone else, someone who really has it all together, with education and upbringing and neat and tidy relationships should take the lead or help build the church. “We need an expert,” they might think, “and that sure isn’t any of us. I wonder when God will send to us the super Christians we need. Let’s begin praying for them now. Once they get here, then we can really get going. . .”

Have you ever heard something like that? That’s the kind of stuff the accuser of the church throws at these Bajan believers.

But God.

Somehow the mixture of love and sloppiness and belief and failure and hope and doubt has produced a church that is the envy of many—at least it should be. We should be studying them! They are at times so fragile that I think they can’t stand it—“I want to be strong!”—but we marvel at how God keeps them convinced that they’re right on course, right in the center of His will. They’re absolutely convinced that they need Him, and—shock—they openly act like it. How fantastic is that?

Anyway, this fragile and delicate bloom in Barbados has me fascinated and in a little bit of awe.

They’re beautiful.