Saturday, May 30, 2015

Raise Your Hand

Would every holy and blameless Christian please raise your hand? If you’re reluctant, then the great conspirator has moved you away from the gospel of Christ concerning you, perhaps focusing you upon your life apart from Jesus, and you’re suffering from the pain of accusation. It’s a lie and it hurts. Move back to the gospel. Remember and recover. Through the crucifixion and resurrection, you have been made holy and blameless – even flawless.

Colossians 1: 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish (flawless) and free from accusation – 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Parenthesis mine.)

Raise your hand?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Healthy View

Just in case you’ve become transfixed and trampled by the aches and pains of this world (as I sometimes am), here’s a vital verse from which to be renewed and transformed in the midst:

2 Corinthians 4:18 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.

This doesn't mean that we ignore the aches and pains of this world, but that we view them from who we are and where we are -- in Christ -- which “graces us” to live as sons and daughters of God, aliens in this world.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Be Careful How You Motivate

Be careful how you motivate. While there are those who point to Matthew 5 as a way of motivating each other to be salt and light in this world, remember: Jesus did not tell us to TRY to be salt and light in this world, He said that we ARE salt and light. In view of the New Covenant, telling people to TRY to be what Jesus thinks they already ARE might well imply that Jesus failed to actually make the change He intended to make, and that people need to become rather than to believe, to change rather than to embrace, to work rather than to rest. That is not Christian.

Through faith in Christ’s cross and resurrection, you have already been made holy (you’re not going to get holier), you have already been made righteous (you’re not going to get righteouser), you have already been made perfect with Him (you’re not going to get perfecter). You’ve been made clean and close, fit with Him forever, just as He intended. Before you go to heaven, there will be no last minute modifications, no bit of re-tooling or re-engineering, and no final scrubbing, because you’re fit for heaven now. You’re heaven ready.

And salt and light? You already preserve and display the handiwork of God, you already add invaluable flavor to a world in need of it, and you already are a beacon of God’s grace in an otherwise dark and frustrated world. He did it. The cross and the resurrection actually worked.
Believing that, and believing it again and again, will provide motivation enough. (For your kids, too.) You ARE salt. You ARE light.

Embrace who you are.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Be Careful How You Motivate,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see this video—and there are more than 100 others on my YouTube channel—click, or just scroll down my blog page. Photo credit, Jesse Millan:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Be Careful How You Motivate

There’s a lot of junky, stress-producing motivation coming at you, stuff that frustrates and wears you out.  Take 2.5 minutes to find out what’s truly motivational because it’s accurate and deeply effective.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Love Covers

My favorite day to be on Facebook is Mother’s Day. Most of my friends are fairly gushing about their mothers and their appreciation and love for them. There are beautiful and sometimes ancient pictures of mothers and grandmothers, gorgeous family scenes and family stories, and I love these people. Like. Like. Like. Like. On and on I go, “liking” my way down my Facebook newsfeed, loving people with whom I have so much in common, I am reminded. Love does that.

I deeply enjoy the New Covenant letter of 1 Peter. And there’s this particular verse that comes late in the letter that I want to highlight. Leading up to that verse, Peter reminds the readers (including you and me) that, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they had been given everything God could give them for free. They all shared in an incredible glory, which means that we share in it, as well. “Grace and peace be yours in abundance,” Peter writes in chapter one. In other words, you all have everything with God because of Jesus, and you have peace with God also because of Jesus. You’ll never lose what you haven’t earned.

Peter then tells them that they had been given a rich inheritance already that could never be diminished, which was being kept for them by God Himself, even as they bashed around in trials and suffering. No matter what, they were secure because of God, The Security Expert. The Word Himself had re-created them of an imperishable, indestructible nature, the same as their Father’s—for always.

Peter continues by writing about their personal significance, their glory shared with God in that they were by design God’s chosen people, royal priests, and together a holy, set-apart nation so that, united with Him, they may proclaim the goodness and greatness of God. Can you imagine the joy they must have had at the reading? He then cautions them about ugly and confusing desires they might experience, which, while having nothing to do with their security and purpose, might hinder and harm their experience. “Watch out for those, don’t let them get you,” he warned.

Peter then wisely counsels them about suffering, which they were evidently experiencing to a higher degree than most, telling them that, while remaining aware of God with and in them, they were to endure it with God, just as Jesus had. Peter elevates their expectation as to what might happen with God in the ugliness of their days: “Think of what He might do with you and in you, right where you are.” He then sets some light guidelines for wives and husbands, as well as for those who might suffer for doing good. The saving grace of all relationships is to keep in their hearts and minds the knowledge that Jesus is their perfect benefactor—their Lord—in everything. He will see to it that they have everything they need for life and godliness. That’s how He is in relationships.

Further, Peter tells them that he understands that they will all suffer abuse from friends and maybe even family, who, because they did not understand the change Jesus’ had made in these believers, strongly denounce and ridicule them for their lifestyle changes and beliefs. “Why aren’t you at our wild parties?” These believers, changed by God, had suffered enough with sin in the past, and now enjoyed being free of it. They were no longer slaves to sin. Of course, not everyone was going to appreciate that. Right?

And finally, Peter writes this little, exalted and magnificent sentence: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

My goodness. In this day when, in my view, we are calling out and seemingly bent upon exposing fellow-Christians for their sins, thinking we must confront them or they’ll get away with it, Peter commands that we truly love first, which covers them over. Wow. He’s not alone in this, either. Paul said as much in Ephesians 5, and elaborated upon it in his first letter to the Corinthians by saying that love keeps no record of wrongs, and that love protects by covering each other. It doesn’t mean that you just cover something over (a wrong or a sin) or that you keep no record; it means that authentic love from God does that. God’s love does that for you. God’s love isn’t looking to expose your sin; instead He covers it. (See 1Corinthians 13:4-8.) In other words, in the security and Love that you know from God, love deeply and be safe places for each other. That will be effective for each other. You all have so much in common, including security from God and suffering in this world, so walk together in love.

(This doesn’t mean that a habitual abuser of people, for example, is to be tolerated and enabled; people need to get away from that person and deal with him. Paul wrote about such things in 1 Corinthians 5 and 1 Timothy 1.)

In the light of all that has happened to you through Christ, in the light of who you are in this world (royal priests!), and in the light of all of the pressures coming against you in this world, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Just like love covers on Mother’s Day, when just about all we write and talk about is love.

That’s what was pictured for me on Mother’s Day, when just about all we wrote and talked about was love. It was beautiful, because love covers.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “Love Covers,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click, or scroll down this blog page. Theme pic © Nicki Varkevisser

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Love Covers

If distrust, frustration and anger at people have become a big part of your daily experience—people elicit more of a pain in your neck than a warmth in your heart—here’s a short video that will help clear away the emotional debris and get love going again.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Right Now

The ministry of the law, which rightly condemns you, brings out your failures, but the ministry of the Spirit brings out His success for you—and the gift of it!  Always.  That’s what He’s doing with you right now. If you, a believer in Jesus, are hearing or sensing or knowing anything else, then you’re not tuned-in to God.  Check your channels, check your dial, because He’s saying something fantastic and deeply satisfying to you.  He means for you to know all about it, and He knows that it’s the greatest, most pure motivator ever.  (See 2 Corinthians 3:6-11.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Black Plague of 'But Nots'

If you’ve grown weary and sloppy in your Christian “race to the finish line,” perhaps it’s because you’re worried that you’re not running well enough—it’s plaguing you—and you’re concerned that God is not only disappointed with you, but He is removing some of the blessings secured for you by Jesus as a way of punishing you.  Here’s important truth to get you going again. (Written & video versions.)