A number of people have donated toward the high cost of sending me to the people of Barbados, for which I am very grateful. Because of the island’s glitzy image as a tourist destination, many do not know that 20% of the Bajan people live below the poverty line. I will be meeting with them beginning tomorrow, Saturday through Friday (Nov. 29 – Dec. 5), and welcome your prayers.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
May I remind you that Paul did not write, “He who began a good work UPON you…” but “He who began at good work IN you…” The good work upon you is all done, and it was perfect. All that remains is His work from within—not to fix you, but to fascinate you with how good and faithful and capable He is with you for your days. (Philippians 1:6)
Monday, November 24, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
It’s happened to the church, too.
We seem ever to want to be motivated by crisis, by calamity, by a good cause and a good appeal, by a big need, or by a big kick to our backside. I know the church doesn’t really want that, but it seems like it does. And I sure don’t like it. It’s not that we shouldn’t be motivated by a sudden event, it’s just that we can become addicted to the energy and appeal of the moment. And there is something much better, something more true and constant, something given by God Himself. The church was made for it. You were too.
God’s love produces confidence and daring and assurance and peace and rest and hope and, well, everything we need for life. God’s very being is love, so if we, His sons and daughters, attempt to do much of anything apart from love, we fumble and act unnatural. We feel it, too. Like something’s seriously out of whack in us. And it is. When the behavior of the Corinthian Christians went seriously crazy, the apostle Paul pointed them back to the love of God because it is the prime motivator—it rescues and refreshes and compels the people of God (2 Corinthians 5:14).
God’s love works. That’s the New Covenant way: God in us, and God toward people and God toward situations that would involve Him in us.
I’m reminded of what love did to the Macedonian Christians not long after God first lived in them. God gave an amazing grace to these people who lived in “extreme poverty” such that in their joy they gave what little they had so others could hear the gospel. The Macedonians were in love with God, having first been won-over by His love for them. And that love “welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2). Do you get the combination? They hit the big time! God was in them toward some kind of brilliant display—in this case, giving.
There’s no need and there’s no room for laws about your money, because you’re ruled by the grace of God in you, not law. Laws hijack love, stuff it in a closet and tell it to “Shut up! You’re too sloppy and unreliable!” and instead offer you method, calculated and loveless measurement, and ultimately, condemnation. That’s not the New Covenant way. That is not what the Macedonians had. They had the love of God Himself, and that, or rather, He moved them.
Paul then wrote to the Corinthians that they, too, should “excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you (I have no law!), but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others” (2 Corinthians 8:8, italics mine). Was it a test of whether they would give or be stingy misers? No! It was a test of love—love was the issue—and Paul was concerned about how love was issuing forth from the Macedonians.
That’s why the Macedonians gave – they were in love! They didn’t give motivated by an appeal to sacrifice, they didn’t give to make sure their tithe was on time, they didn’t give because others were in need, and they didn’t give because it was the right thing to do. They gave because they were in love, and that made their giving “acceptable” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Their gift wasn’t acceptable for any other reason but love that brought it forth.
(By the way, God’s love might compel you to actually give nothing sometimes. Are you okay with that?)
The foundation of the New Covenant is that you have no covenant to keep—Jesus took care of that—you have the Holy Spirit in you to notice and to follow. And He loves you! Love is His primary evidence in you.
And that’s what drives me bonkers for the church, frankly. I want believers to know and be motivated out of a burgeoning love affair with God. I don't mean that we should never give unless we're right then invigorated by a love we can feel, but I fear we've gotten used to giving without it. We've learned to motivate and to be motivated by something else. That's what makes pushy pastors and manipulative motivators out of our leaders. And I don’t think they like it any more than we do.
So let me sum it up: If we're not behaving well and doing good, it's because we're missing God’s love. That’s it.
If your motivation is low right now, what should you do? Go get some love. You need it and can’t live without it—not well, anyway. If your giving lacks, if your service is stunted or reluctant, if there is gossip in the church and “sin in the camp,” go get some of His love, because for you, love works.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Your Money & The New Covenant: LOVE WORKS,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/XzZZdSRGQus, or simply scroll down below.)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
What makes giving or keeping our money godly? How can we know? Do we need standards by which to estimate the authenticity of what we do with money? Here’s a pure and simple way to consummate God’s grace in you by following His love. You were made for this.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
And yet, they do identify you and me in the pain and frustration as the sons and daughters of God, heaven-born citizens, foreign royalty in this world. For real. Knowing that, we are renewed and transformed in the understanding. That's good. That’s gold. Frankly, this is why many of us love hearing how others find God in the midst of suffering. It redeems the suffering into something more, something better than just suffering endured.
In 2 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul kind of spilled out on paper what the Spirit was showing him in suffering, even likening himself to a fragile, clay pot with the greatest of treasure within—God Himself. Summing up his findings, he wrote to the heavenly colony at Corinth:
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. (That doesn’t mean our hearts don’t feel challenged or hurt.) Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (Italics mine.)
Even in weakness, trapped in a sometimes rebellious and unruly, clay pot body, God is working in you. So don’t believe the lie that your struggles identify you as a perpetual struggler only, disqualified and doomed. They do not. You have been qualified completely by God who is working His life within you in the struggle—the life without beginning and without end. This is eternal life, and it takes some getting used to.
This is the game we’re in and these are the days we’re enduring for His glory in us—the evidence of God in us. It’s a quality struggle.
(This a transcript of yesterday’s video, “A Quality Struggle,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/sdo58Tq4IcI, or simply scroll down this page.)
Monday, November 17, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Do you ever grow weary of fumbling and knocking your way through life and wonder, “What the heck?” Give a couple of minutes to this and see if you don’t come away with hope and a greater awareness of God’s life for you. This is my favorite thing! (Written and/or video versions.)
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Believing that fact is the challenge, earning it is not. Anything that teaches less than that makes you crazy. Maybe you’ve noticed.
The gospel loses its dazzle when you believe that you must work or serve or tithe in order to earn blessings from God. Tell me that you don’t become like the elder brother of the prodigal, working in the fields to earn what you have already been given. Now that’s crazy.
However, you live best when you live by faith in the complete sufficiency of what Christ did for you—not just forgiven, because of His perfect sin removal system, but given everything that He has. Everything from God for you is all for free. The earning is all done, and you can rest.
Taking dictation from God, Isaiah wrote and Jesus fulfilled centuries later, chapter 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! ("Well, if I have no money, how can I buy?" Believe and come near in order to see that it’s all yours. . .for free.) Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (italics mine).
The apostle Paul, himself dazzled by “it’s all free,” wrote to the Ephesians, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)
Your life with God is not about a sacrifice you make, but a belief and a trust and a rest in a sacrifice He made. Because of Him, it’s all free for you.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “It’s All Free,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. Too see the video, click http://youtu.be/yidEJnSb1TA.)
Friday, November 07, 2014
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
After the election—tomorrow—perhaps we will begin to remember again who we are and where we are, and how the Kingdom of God in us always compels us in truth and love. Maybe some of you will do us a favor and help us regain our thinking, not by shaming the crazy Americans—that’s never the God-given way of bringing us back to our senses—but by telling us the truth of the gospel, the good news of what God has done through Christ for us. That will be the power we need to revive us.
Until tomorrow, see you later.
(This is a transcript of the video, “Election Day Insanity,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/vKDu_fWYUNo, or scroll down.)
Sunday, November 02, 2014