Thursday, November 25, 2010
"Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep. I must sleeeeeeeeeeeeep. . ."
The effect of eating turkey reminds me of the film classic, "The Wizard of Oz," and the Wicked Witch of the West. Determined to thwart the plans of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, the Witch leads them through a field of sleep-inducing poppies. Have you seen it? "Pahhhhhh-peaz. Pahhhhhhhh-peaz. To make them sleeeeep. . .sleeeeep." As she waved her crooked wand, our heroes nodded off to sleep at the most inopportune time in their journey. Sort of like what happens in this video.
Have a look. You'll like it. (Happy Thanksgiving!)
Since Jesus made me His home in 1980, love—the receiving of it as well as the giving—has become the best and most valuable quality of my life. God seems utterly convinced that love—His, mine and yours—is the vital ingredient of a fruitful and happy life. I am deeply thankful for all of you who help me grow in receiving and giving.
Here’s to fruitfulness.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
If I had the chance to stand up and praise the heroes in my life, I suppose it would take a while. And if I stood up today, perhaps I’d give the most time to a specific group of heroes—single Christian women. From Zagreb to Georgia, and Barbados to California, I admire and respect them deeply. They’re incredible.
While they have become the righteous and holy, new creation daughters of God, they nevertheless endure the faulty, measuring scrutiny of the world. Even from the church.
Even though the apostle Paul suggested we would all be better off single rather than married in our service to God (1 Cor 7), nowadays we don’t actually believe it’s true. Think of the single Christian women in your church and tell me they don’t endure endless prescriptions from well meaning, but Bible disbelieving people as to how they can “be healed” of their infirmity—singleness. Spoken or implied, we mostly think of them as incomplete or crippled, and shuttle them off to Children’s Ministry where they can at least partially fulfill their presumed destiny.
Single Christian women live with the not-so-subtle prejudice that there is something wrong with them, something that can only be cured by a ring on their finger and a man in their bed. Do you think my words are too strong? Then accept my challenge: ask them. Ask them if they believe they are seen and valued for who they are according to God, or if they are seen as something less, something different. Ask them if they feel revered because they remain single. And not just the nineteen year olds; ask the thirty-eight year old single Christian women. Ask them.
While I don’t recommend a curative prescription of giving single Christian women new places of prominence and authority as a way of proving our repentance, I do believe that we need to look anew at our saintly sisters. Do you see what God says is true of them? Do you believe that each is His chosen dwelling place, the modern-day Holy of Holies, made pure and faultless? They don’t need to be fixed-up in order to be useful and whole, they’ve been separated single unto God, at least for a season. How fantastic! For some, it will be a life-long marriage to the One we cannot see.
But can you see them anyway? Can you, by the eyes of faith, see them for who they are—the chosen, twice born, holy and blameless, radiant daughters of God? If you can, I’m certain you will see similar “invisible traits” emerging from the rest of the church too. The temporal shadows of this world—clothing, physical looks and abilities, status, etc.—hide the sons of God already, even from themselves. But you and I see according to The Truth, even when the suggested truth of this world says otherwise. The Truth directs our thoughts about God, and it directs our thoughts about each other. It must.
If we would approach each other according to the truth—let it begin with our single Christian women—then the revival many of us hope for would begin with us. We would thank them for the great example they are to us in their single-hearted, undivided devotion to the Lord. We would encourage the single Christian women to “go for it” with God, to run off at His leading, to be daring and adventurous in their godly situation, unencumbered by the challenges Paul says marriage brings. We would think of them as the royalty they are, instead of the royalty they could become . . . if only.
Knowing something of the struggle they face, we would be their cheerleaders—our team is on the field! Hooray! for single Christian women.
You’re my heroes.
(An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:34b-35)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Knowing God—really—is the only thing that keeps me from blockading my heart (where people can hurt me) and projecting a persona that seems to keep me from pain of some sort. Correct theology, which assists me to God, won’t keep me from blockading and projecting. God alone makes and keeps me free, and that’s what makes me happiest—Him!
He is the key to my heart—and I look to Him to unlock it. He is very good at it, being God and all.
Monday, November 15, 2010
While works for God are important, the work of God in His people should so thrill us as to make us crazy about Him and gladly dependent. And that’s what life is like when you find Him in you as well as around you. The great joy you find will certainly produce sincere works for God, but that’s not God’s first goal—it’s the result.
Works for God are a by-product of grace-filled believers who cannot contain the wonderful, deep urgings and desires of the Spirit living within. This is the inheritance of those purchased by Jesus Christ, and it’s what He’s working toward today.
(Excerpted from the Introduction of my book, "Better Off Than you Think." To learn more about it and/or to order, click http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html.)
Friday, November 12, 2010
I have 100 copies of my book (“Better Off Than You Think”) left before it goes out of print. You may get more information and order it at a low price at http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html.
It will be released again in February by Harvest House in a slightly different form and name: “God’s Astounding Opinion Of You.” In addition to a name change, it will have an added chapter and end of chapter discussion questions.
My first publisher (Evangel Publishing) basically went belly-up as far as publishing goes, and became a printing business. Fortunately, author and friend, Steve McVey, sent a copy of my book to his publisher, (Harvest House Publishing), and they loved it enough to re-do it and re-launch it early next year. How cool is that?
Anyway, if you want to get it for yourself, a book study, or as a gift, don't wait long. 100 copies will be gone quickly.
Have a great weekend!
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
God will so orchestrate things in our lives that we cannot cope, the energy drinks and alcohol and pornography and drugs and recreation and therapies we use to medicate ourselves, notwithstanding. He is not punishing us! Nor has the devil broken through God’s protective boundary unauthorized, now to ravage our lives and plans.
This is not a call to “suck it up” and to muster proper strength so God can do something, but an invitation to proper weakness, “so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)
Only then is God’s grace discovered to be entirely sufficient. And, dear God, it is!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Just this morning I had a strong reminder that Jesus Himself is my hope and life. Sometimes I forget that.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I should/could/might do in order to live the Christian life. I think about renewing my mind, praying, sowing to the Spirit, reading, calling someone to share our faith in Christ, and lots of other ways by which to live in Christ, reaping what He has earned and secured for me. These are all excellent for me.
But sometimes I get jumped by a particular fleshly or spiritual thing, like covetousness (I want a new car/laptop/piano right now), fear (I have no money for a new car/laptop/piano), lust (I’ll get satisfaction some other way, then), or selfish ambition (I don’t have to wait on the Lord because there are lots of things I can do and really excel at, and get my car/laptop/piano). And I don’t mean a little covetousness or fear or lust or selfish ambition, I mean a mountain load—like all of Mt. Sinai is migrating on top of me, and I am unable to breathe.
After feeling the crushing weight of the assault, somehow I remember or am reminded to look to Jesus as the deliverer and antidote for all that stuff. He is the cure! I speak His name, I call for Him, I think about what He is like and that He lives right now in me, and things begin to change.
He’s working—in me.
Jesus is my prized possession who relieves me of covetousness, He is my confidence and my love who drives away fear, my satisfaction who releases me from fleshly lust, my reward who delivers me from selfish ambition, and my bulldozer to push away my personal Mt. Sinai. He really is all that.
I don’t know about you, but I’m simply not able to remember enough about how to live the Christian life, what I should/could/might do, and need Him to do it for me. He’s really good at living in me and likes it when I give Him something to do.
It’s my best way to live—Christ in me.