Saturday, December 31, 2016

Starting Point, 2017

As we turn the page and move into the New Year, I want to remind you of your starting point. If you’re considering a New Year’s resolution, here’s where faith starts and get’s you moving in the right direction. While it’s true of the New Year, it’s also true of every day, even every moment. These are the essentials of being and living new, as you are in Christ.

With Jesus, you don’t start incomplete; you start complete. You don’t start empty; you start full. You don’t start wounded; you start well. You don’t start broken; you start whole. From your new birth in Christ, your mind is catching up to the truth of who you are as a new creation—a perfect son, a perfect daughter of God already. That’s your starting point! If you’ve been thinking or speaking differently, consider the truth, especially when confronted by your feelings. They’re not always your friends—they can lie—and the Holy Spirit with the truth will help you. That’s what He does.

Colossians 2:9-10a “For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been brought to fullness.”

Fullness.” What’s missing from fullness? That’s not a trick question. Nothing! Not a thing. That happened at the start He made for you. That means you’ve got no room for more because you have everything already. You are starting full-up! He did it. He’s done. And so are you. I know your fleshly mind will tell you otherwise, but that is your starting point.

I want to thank you for your love and care and the many ways you support me and this ministry. Thank you for sharing in the ride that was 2016. Here’s to navigating 2017 together.

Speaking In Kentucky

In two weeks I will be speaking in Hardin, Kentucky, at this fantastic annual retreat. These good people have given me 7 speaking sessions--7!--which is a little like offering to some of you the keys to Disneyland for a weekend. What a thrill ride it will be!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

He Is Always Home

When you receive Jesus, He brings all that He is to you—perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, not fractionally (“Sorry, Ralph, but I’m holding a little bit of myself back”), but all the way, at all times, at every moment, in every situation. Right now. He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, He is the Reward for which you long, He is the Performer you’d like to be. And He is in you. Jesus is the Favor you want, the Success you were made for, and the Glory now in you.

If just now you’re suffering or enduring hardship, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrapheap of humanity. That’s a lie. You were made exactly for Jesus, and for Him with you—exactly. His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship. I know.

So I talk with Him—sometimes I talk at Him more than I talk with Him—and He doesn’t mind! He knows that He’s my best friend, and He’s not threatened by my struggles. Right? I tell Him all of my troubles, I talk with Him about my longings—even the fleshly, ugly ones—and the crazy things that go on in me, including the struggle I feel between the Spirit and flesh that confuses me as to what to do.

And because I’m chatting at Him, whether silently or audibly, it equals what the Bible calls “offering myself to God.” The offering to God is not to “God out there,” or to “God, who will meet me over there,” when I finally make it or when I finally arrive. No. My offering is to “God in here” now, to God who has arrived in me.

The old way of offering our self to God, the Former Covenant way, was to think of yourself as separate from God, who would lead you because He was ahead of you or “over there.” He had to induce you to come after Him. The pressure was on you to follow, and to keep offering to follow. The New Covenant way of offering our self to God is to believe what God knows is true: “Jesus, you and I are together now; you’re in me. I don’t have to look for you over there or just up ahead, because now you’re in here all of the time. You don’t take vacations, you don’t run off or find a better place to live. You’re being yourself with me in here all of the time. You and I are at home together.”

How good is that?

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Those desires are not like you. They’re not your desires.) 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Italics mine.)

And where is that grace centered? Where is that at home? In you and in me.

So offer yourself to Jesus. And where is He? That’s where you make the offering—to the inside, to Jesus who has made you His home. Listen for Him and look for Him there.  He’s great company, and no matter what, He’s always home.

(This is a transcript of the video, “He’s Always Home,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/4IhuxfXrZG4, or scroll down this blog page. You may also subscribe to these regular videos at that link.)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Life With Us!

Jesus is the best treasure we have, and treasuring Him gives the best benefit and adventure we will ever know. If we will help each other keep the focus and intent of our days right there, we will endure far less bickering and worldly angst and enjoy far more love and miraculous grace. That’s the lasting intent of Christmas—Christ with us. Life with us.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

New Life & The Messiah

When I was newly a Christian, there were fascinating and surprising ways by which the Spirit made Himself obvious to me, and how united we were in this new life. 

Growing up, I heard Handel’s Messiah blasting from my family’s living room stereo many times.  (My father thought that anything worth listening to was worth playing loudly and on a good system.  I agree.)  My opinion of Handel’s work then was that it was old, but probably talented and fairly timeless if you liked that kind of thing. 

Some six months after being born again many years later, I decided to do an adult thing and take a date to the Pasadena Playhouse production of—you guessed it—Handel’s Messiah.  I bought tickets and wore a tie.  Anyway, without anybody telling me what it was all about, I was drawn by the lyrics from the get go.  And then this thing happened, the “Hallelujah Chorus.”  The thousands of people in the auditorium utterly disappeared to me, and I jumped to my feet, thrusting my hands skyward…or heavenward, if you like.  I was gone…in another place…in another land…and I was alive in a way I had never known.  Tears poured, and I erupted into a personal chorus, a shouted declaration of “Hallelujah!” over and over again.  I was undone, lost to those around me, and didn’t care.  Actually, and looking back, I was not lost but found amongst the heavenly choir, of whom I am now part, having been moved into heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6).  That was one of the first times I knew that heaven had already become my home.  I fit!  And I knew it.

From that evening to this morning when I played this video, I am profoundly moved in my thinking by Handel’s Messiah from this passing away world where I am a stranger, to the world where I was welcomed and now belong as a son of God—a member of the choir.  “Praise God!”  Or, in this Hebrew rendition, “Hallelujah!”

Revelation 19:5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:  “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”

Hallelujah!



The Day of Maturity

When the delight and effect of God’s love for you becomes a distant enough memory that all you’ve got left is the staged look of it upon your face—and you realize and dislike it—that is the day of hope, that is the day of maturity.  Knowing for real that you cannot do anything apart from Him—and that you don’t want to—is a very great relief, because you’ve been proven and revealed as an authentic son or daughter of your Father.  You miss Him!  And what a good “missing” that is.  Your efforts toward anything in the future will be properly qualified by your effort to know Him.  Oh, how good and necessary that is for the children of God.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Day of Maturity”, and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/SgaS5wjMXZ8, or simply scroll down this blog page.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Day of Maturity

Got 1 minute? There is, perhaps, a kind of maturity that you've overlooked or not recognized. This is it, and it's good.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

New Covenant

Some things almost yell at me, "Are you glad to be a New Covenant baby rather than an Old, or what?!" Absolutely. Phew!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

How to Abide in Christ

A few people have recently commented upon how important it is to abide in Christ. “Ralph,” they ask, “how can you be sure you’re abiding?” That’s a little like asking how blood in my body abides in my body—what work must it do to abide? And, of course, the answer is that the blood, which is an integral part of the body, simply let’s the heart push it around. It goes where it’s pushed, and does what the heart has intended.

A Christian already abides in Christ. That’s an accomplished fact. It’s a done deal.

All of the “abide in me” verses in the book of John were a set up for what was to come but had not yet – the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Through faith in Jesus and in those acts, the set up is now complete; we are in Him, abiding securely. Not only did you receive Christ through faith, but He received you through the cross and resurrection. It’s not just that you’ve given your life to Him, it’s that He’s given His life to you—you’re in Him and He is in you.

Thanks to Him, all we need do now is think about where we abide in order to appreciate our home the most. And when we appreciate where we are, the benefits become more evident and powerful because we’re living by faith in what Jesus did.

But if I think of myself as a transient, a vagabond in Christ, having to ask Him to secure me all the time or if I’m abiding the right way right now, then I’m likely not going to enjoy my home and all that’s there for me. I might even think the benefits moved away or were stolen since I feel so insecure. In fact, I am completely secure and abiding in Christ, since He put me there, but I don’t think I am or that He did. “What must I do?” becomes my question.

And that is where the trouble shows up. Doubt in what Jesus did is poison to our life with Him because we cannot go forward in faith that He was successful. We become susceptible to the lie that we’ve got to do something that He left out, so the flesh offers it’s alternate route of works and self-righteousness. If left unchecked, a cycle of self-centeredness and failure ensues. I know what that’s like. Perhaps you do too. It’s actually crazy—we’re induced to accomplish what He already has. That’s not going to go well.

If you’ve ever fallen prey to that lie, what rescued and revived you was not works—because they never do—but believing the truth about Jesus. You believe that the Son of God was successful at the cross and resurrection, so He now lives in you and you in Him, abiding together forever, just as He wanted.

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Jesus did the work so that you may abide. Close your eyes and think about that—and enjoy your home.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “How to Abide in Christ”, and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/L1ywHTSqCy8, or scroll down this blog page.)

Friday, December 02, 2016

How to Abide in Christ

Got 4 minutes?  There’s a lot that makes us feel insecure with God, and that causes us to worry.  But what if we’re better off than we think?  Might life be easier if so?


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You

For your love, comments, support, and for walking with me in these days as best we can, I am deeply thankful. Though we are most often at a great distance, it is monumental that you and I are together in so much. I am better because we are. From my family to you and yours, thank you, my friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Open Hearted

Although it will be painful at times, it is best to live and love open hearted because an overly defended heart is always looking for a fight. Guard your heart, sure, but do not barricade it. You will be kept from too many people and too much life if you do.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Work of Love

In my posts and videos, speaking gigs and book, I emphasize knowing God, more so than serving Him.  That bothers some people, I know.  Sorry! 

While the two are certainly not contradictory—they go together—serving Him without knowing Him will drive you mad…and empty…and bitter…and broken.  It’s the same with knowing God’s love.  If you try to “be loving” without knowing His love for you, you’ll go mad…and empty…and bitter…and broken.  I’ve seen it.  Haven’t you?

Consider the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.  Before the description of what God’s love is like (verses 4-8), the writer (Paul) emphasizes the same distinction:  knowing or “having” God’s love is far more important than serving Him.  In fact, doing anything without HAVING the love of God is worthless. 

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not HAVE LOVE, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not HAVE LOVE, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not HAVE LOVE, it profits me nothing.

Wow.  That’s a lot of personal gifts, talents, knowledge, effort and self-sacrifice down the drain of worthlessness because I was deluded into thinking that the love of God—the greatest joy and motivator of life—wasn’t worth having.  Fortunately, you and I are not so deluded.

If just now you’ve gotten lost in this world’s insistence of measurable productivity and responsible contribution, and love—God’s love—has gotten away from you, I know what that’s like.  I do.  But much of the story that God is writing through your days is about His love for you and the result of it.  He knows that, as you know and have His deeply satisfying love, you’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to remain in it—or come back to it.  You won’t even need to worry about obedience and productivity and fruitfulness because you’ll be in love—God’s love for you.  That makes everything work right.

Have you got that?  That’s what this life is about.  And what comes from that is the great work of Love with you.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Work of Love,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/BgsQT1qWLa8, or scroll down this blog page.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Work of Love

Got 3.5 minutes?  I know that serving God is a big deal, but is there something more important, something that He wants for you that will keep you from going nuts? 


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Famine Relationships (Know People 2)

In my post from last Friday (“Know People”), I am not suggesting that everyone completely ignore our election and the people involved. I am saying that we have become captivated with macro people—those on a large platform at a far distance—that we can never actually know and the false relationships offered by them, while true relationships available all around us go wanting. We are starved of the benefits of genuine relationship and friendship, and I don’t believe we recognize our famine.

We have formed a preference, we like the presumed safety of talking about people we don’t know, world events and our opinions of them, rather than wade into the insecurity of genuine and caring relationships with people who are actually a part of our days. Commonly, even the friendships we have are stuffed full of discussing macro people of politics, music, sports, fashion and film and the opinions found there, rather than vital issues of the heart, including fears, loves, hopes, failures and successes, and how to navigate our days with Jesus.

Macro relationships avoid those things by offering us a television or computer screen at which to vent our opinions. Even though there will be no response, we think there’s value. We feel better, and we avoid messy, real people. As a consequence, we also avoid the Savior, who is best found and felt in the messy.

He is the way, the truth and the life, and we are distracted from Him by pretended surrogates, which, since they can never truly satisfy the heart of a human, twist us into caricature humans. There is no wonder why we act like idiots and asses—we are deluded away from Him who makes real people in real relationships.

My advice? Get off of the addiction to fake relationships. Don’t accept starvation. Start talking and listening to Jesus about everyone, everything and anything that concerns you, and watch what He will do with you on the inside and the outside. Don’t hurry. He will filter out the false and surrogate, and you will find a purity and authenticity to who you are and what you do with people. You’ll care for them. As you grow in knowing Him, He will share with you what He knows and feels about people—real people you can truly know. He will offer you to people because He is the Relationship King, and has a lot planned for them. Come on people—know people. That’s life. Have it to the full.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Know People

In my view, we have listened to people who demonized Trump and Clinton beyond reality, and those of us who believed them are afraid of the images they created. We do not actually know Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, nor do we know Barack Obama, for that matter. But the media-cast images of these people have found a home in our minds—some to please, some to traumatize; some to make light, some to make dark.

We cannot bear this. We’re not supposed to.

My advice? Draw back from the media, draw away from the personality images they press upon you, and go love your neighbor as yourself. You are far more likely to like what you find, and you will know people in truth. It’s supposed to be that way.

For example, my family and I are hosting a Fall Festival party tonight for the families who live on our street. We’ve done this maybe half a dozen times, and there will be Indians, Mormons, Christians, Skeptics, Republicans, Democrats, Rockies fans and Cubs fans, those who like sushi and those who don’t, those who like iPhones and those who like Samsungs here. And we will do great together. Everyone is bringing food and drink to share—a representative part of their lives—and we will probably find a way to cram everybody into the kitchen, where we will enjoy a holy evening of fellowship.

We will know each other. This is one way that life is found and shared. That other stuff—the flimsy representations the media offer—strangles it. So come on, people—know people.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Battle of the Pharisees

Citizenship is a crazy thing.  And lately, it’s a double whammy of crazy.

If you’re an American and feeling stressed-out today, it’s likely because of dual citizenship—you’re a citizen of God’s heavenly Kingdom, and a citizen of the United States of America on the earth.  That’s going to be messy and probably make a mess of you, since on the one hand you’re learning to relax with God and His perfect judgments, but feeling forced to make judgments about people all around you on the other.  That’s not going to go well.  It’s not supposed to, either.  I’ll try to explain.

God took care of your election to heaven by taking care of all of the judgments necessary for your victory.  All of your condemnation was finished at the cross, and the resurrection was God’s invitation for you to vote “Yes.”  Now that you’ve voted, you’re a citizen of God’s condemnation-free country.  You belong, and there’s no place better.  However, in this world—right now—YOU have to make all of the judgments and condemnations necessary for victory.  What a burden that is.  I hope you’re feeling it.  That’s important.

A citizen of heaven estimates no one by the judgments of this world and after the flesh, and approaches everyone with the knowledge that Jesus is their perfect hope and future for life.  He is it, and there is no other judgment.  A citizen of earth estimates everyone by the judgments of this world and after the flesh, and approaches everyone as though judging the “right choices” is their perfect hope and future for life.  It’s all about judgment.  The citizen of heaven, the “member of God’s household” is growing confident of the Spirit within him, who is right now leading and building him into a dwelling where God is obvious (See Ephesians 2:11-24).  The citizen of earth accepts the mantle of a Pharisee, an earthly judge, in order to instruct himself and others in the building of something better than the other Pharisee might—in this case, Democrat Pharisees versus Republican Pharisees. 

However, the struggle of a Pharisee has always been “what to do about failure,” since not one of them has ever led a successful life.  Not one has ever been anything other than a failure.  But in order to “keep on Pharisee-ing,” they choose the life-navigation style and pathway of pretended success and pretended righteousness.  This explains why there are people who appear to be thrilled with their candidate for President.  They are pretending.  By ignoring glaring failure, they Pharisee-forward, championing their candidate while judging and condemning the other.  This “Battle of the Pharisees” has never been more evident to me than during this election cycle and its two candidates.  The hypocritical and judgmental gymnastics is wearing us out.  Have you been caught up in it? 

I hope you’re tired.  I hope you’re bothered.  I sure am. 

I know that there are very real differences and futures envisioned by Democrats and Republicans, and this election is important.  I’m going to vote.  Please know that I am not condemning you for your involvement in this world’s particular party of Pharisees.  I AM CALLING YOU HOME.  I am not hoping that you’ll repent and quit national interests; I am hoping that fatigue and frustration complete their work upon you so that your homeland, where you really live, will re-capture your interest and you will once again enjoy the full benefits of heavenly citizenship today. . .or tomorrow. . .or the day after.  Soon.

My prayer is that, over the next few days, the judgmental torture devices that are “Democrat” and “Republican” will be lifted from the heavenly citizen sons and daughters.  How does that happen?  A Pharisee does not simply choose to drop pretended success and pretended righteousness.  “De-Pharisee-ing” a deluded Pharisee is the grand work of the Spirit through the good news of God’s gift of a better homeland, where true success and perfect righteousness are free and fantastic.  In other words, God’s election work for victory is this:  Jesus for you, and a new and true citizenship.  It’s way better.  It’s supposed to be. 

Enjoy

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Wow

How beautiful is it that the man who gives up the lead in the eighth inning of the seventh and final game of the World Series (and who shed tears during the rain delay) receives from his teammates the gift of the win in the tenth? I’m so attracted to the beauty of a community of friends, who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and who prefer the goal of shared success to anything else. Wow.

God's Form of Self-Examination



When you examine yourself, what are you looking for?

A healthy, New Testament, grace of God based, self-examination begins not so we can uncover and rectify wrongs with God and man, but so God can show us who we are.  It’s not for penalty, it’s for revival—the Spirit’s favorite hobby with you.

There are many ways we think that God’s got something against us, and He wants to draw us into prayer so He can get His prosecution going.  It’s not true.  When you or I do something that’s not in keeping with our God-given nature, His first effort with us is not prosecution of the deed, but a renewal through what we think about who we are—our nature.  In other words, “Who do you think you are?” rather than, “What have you done?”

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

The Spirit renews us—Hooray!—by restoring to us our godly-natured self-image, which is the only one that’s accurate.  He reminds us that Jesus’ cross and resurrection made us new, and that puts wrongs done in their proper light—they are foreign to us and harmful to relationships, making them much easier to confess and talk about.  We might say, “That wasn’t like me.  I’m sorry that happened.”  Like shaking off leeches, we’re happy to be free of them because they’re not of us.

So if you’re going for some self-examination, have a really good look.  Take your time.  You won’t be alone and you’ll like what He shows you, which is God’s form of self-examination.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “God’s Form of Self-Examination,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, go to: https://youtu.be/_wk5uk4xabo, or scroll down this blog page.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

God's Form of Self-Examination

Do you know what self-examination is for? It’s better than you think. Take 3 minutes to find out.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pancake People

Do you like being shallow?

One should not believe that because I have not said anything about which candidate I support for the Presidency that I do not care which one is elected.  I care.  Okay?

Sadly and tragically, it has been my experience that talking very much about current issues, specific candidates and the like quickly draws people into the shallow end of relationship, and it then becomes difficult, if not impossible, to talk deeply and of the heart.

We lose each other and become “pancake people.”  We become shallow, have heat only for a moment, and lack any real value.

We abandon our inner selves in favor of an attractive and nicely positioned look or prosecuted argument, which then becomes our exterior identity.  Although the apostle Paul warned us against viewing people from a worldly and surface view because it isn’t true, it isn’t enough and it will hurt us if that’s all we get (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), we take hold of it anyway while our depths remain remote and malnourished.  We’re starving ourselves.

Some of us have become quite accomplished as pancake makers, flattening people into shallow, issue-oriented identities like Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, heterosexual and homosexual, global warming alarmist, global warming skeptic, and on and on it goes.  If I accept you as any one of those things, you’re a pancake to me.

There are those who have already made me into a pancake by placing me into a category (Republican, wacko-Christian, white male, or whatever), and that has become for them more real and more important than my true, below the surface identity: 

I am a son of God, who has been loved, hurt, rejected, rescued, betrayed, accepted, disappointed, hurt again, healed and loved again—both battered and buoyed over and over again.  I’ve lived a lot.  I have quite a story.  And those people can’t know me or hear me anymore because they think of me with a worldly ID emblazoned upon my forehead:  “Republican.”  “Wacko Christian.”  Whatever.  Frankly, we’ve lost each other, even if we see each other every day.  We’re pancake people, like it or not.

I don’t like it.  Actually, I hate it.  I despise it. 

I post this in the hope that a few people will be awakened by a good kind of pain found in discovering that they, too, do not like pancake relationships—even if they’ve been the pancake makers, they recognize that they’re starving.  Perhaps they will wonder why people do not talk heart to heart with them—maybe with you.  Why they don’t share their inner fears. Why they’d never confess failure or admit weakness because they’ve never ventured into anything deeper than shallow-end stuff.  Pancakes are the daily special, and the only thing on the menu.  Is that clear enough?

I like playing around in the shallows of humor and cartoons, and post pictures of seasonal beauty and stuff like that, which you’ll sometimes see on my Facebook wall and blog.  Some of you post pictures of your lunch, and I’m actually interested…a little…well, sometimes. 

But I would much rather get out of the shallows with you so we can actually get somewhere that counts, somewhere that’s deeply true and real.  Life is found there, and I want to share.

And if you and I can’t share because we’re too far apart or something, I hope you hunger enough to start telling Jesus how badly you want to be real with Him and with people.  He will be with you in that!  Oh, there’s fear and some pain involved—yes—but there’s real food for real life that you’re supposed to have and give away, because none of us can live on pancakes.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Pancake People,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down this blog page, or click https://youtu.be/DDW1mXoFMpk.  And PLEASE SHARE.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Speaking in Ohio

For my friends in Ohio, I am headed your way this weekend! I will be speaking at GracePointe Church, in Lakewood, on Friday night, October 28, 7-9:00pm, on Saturday, October 29, for two Men's Retreat meetings, and on Sunday morning, October 30, at 10:00am. I would love to meet you.

For more information, go to: http://gracepointelakewood.com.

(If you would like to invite me to speak with your group or church, whether in person or via Skype or Facetime, send me a message, or go to http://lifecourse.org/Schedule_Event.html.)

Pancake People

Have you got 5 minutes?  I’d like to talk with you about something that’s bothering me, something that’s hurting us, and how to grow out of it.



Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Problem with Passionless Christians

For many years I have heard and read people’s warnings to uninvolved, passionless, heatless believers.  Always the cure prescribed was to get more involved, to get heated and fired-up for Jesus by doing more things for Him.  In other words, “Get busy.  Here’s how . . .”

However, whatever is heatless, whatever is lukewarm, be it water or human, cannot heat itself.  It requires something else for heat.

Works do not provide the heat for the non-Christian of what is lacking; belief in the gospel provides what is missing.  Works do not provide the heat for the Christian of what is lacking; belief in the gospel provides what is missing.

Yes, it’s the same for both.  Faith without works is certainly dead, but works without faith are just as dead. 

A focus upon works requires the skilled judgment of motivation, effectiveness, frequency and number.  Some church gatherings have postured heat through a works focus, and everybody examines everybody.  What fun.  Judgments galore.  But even if the pastor or speaker tells the listener to examine his own works—not the works of anyone else—the works focused person will have put himself into the position of Pharisee to himself.  Nobody does well from there.  Who among us could accurately estimate works sufficient to pass a works or heat test with God?  (Shudder.)  The only test, and the only thing upon which we rest is whether or not we are “in the faith” (see 2 Corinthians 13:5-6).  In other words, do you believe?  That’s it. 

If and when the “fire” or the motivation of passion for a Christian should grow cold, works are not the wood that will heat the hearth of the heart.  Works are the result of the Holy Spirit fanning to flame the heart that takes in the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Perhaps the worst thing we can do to a presumably passionless or “heatless” believer is to tell him to have heat.  The best he can do is to try for the appearance of heat, which does nothing for the heart.  What he needs, what we need, is the great gospel—over and over again.  The gospel is that because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we have no worries with God; we may approach Him as a friend, with confidence and without fear, and have been given all things already in Christ for free.  That is the wood for a genuine, heart-held fire made by the Spirit. 

If you or someone you know, Christian or not, appears to lack heat, add the kindling that is the gospel of the grace of God in Jesus—take time with it and with them—and the Spirit will take care of the heat and the works.  That’s what He does, and He’s pretty good at that.  Right?

(This is a transcript from yesterday’s video, “The Problem with Passionless Christians,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/fAy42Z2qlrM.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Problem with Passionless Christians

Got 4 minutes?  If you’ve ever been passionless or bothered by those who are, this video is for you. 


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

Got 2.5 minutes?  There is a lie that has been offered and sold to millions of people over centuries of time, fouling their enjoyment of Jesus and frustrating their lives.  Find out the truth. 


Saturday, October 01, 2016

In Him, Move On

If God is constantly leading us successfully and perfectly in Christ—no slowing, no detours, no stopping—then maybe it’s important that we see ourselves IN Christ as He does, always together, instead of following Christ, trying to catch up. 

2Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

During how much of each day do we try in our mind to get somewhere or to become something when, IN Christ, we have already arrived? And He is always doing something in and through us. Always. Thinking about that might do you some good.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Don't Change

God doesn’t want you getting confused about the change He has made to you when your behavior fails to match up with the change he has made. He doesn’t want you focusing upon your behavior in order to change, but He helps you to believe in the change He has made. That’s how you live by faith. This requires a healthy focus upon the truth so you can discover and grow in the change He has made. Stay the way you are. Stay the way He thinks you are—a born from above, spot-on perfect son or daughter of His. Get comfortable with that change.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Remember

Weaknesses are sickly things in which to offer yourself to Jesus, not strongholds for you to conquer. May I remind you that your days are about knowing Jesus in you, how perfectly capable and wonderful He is where He is happiest to be -- in you?

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Love Is Not Dependent Upon Trust

“How can there be love if there is no trust?” a friend asked.

If love is only for trusting relationships, then it is worldly and not godly. I don’t mean to say that this world’s love is altogether bad, but that it is limited. The best chance for me with God’s love is when I see myself not as a representative of God and with a lot to do, but as a vessel for Him, who has a lot to do in and through me. It is then that I look for Him and for what He is like inside of me. That belief and look changes everything and produces a “coming out,” a fruit of the Spirit, or an affect upon those around me. That’s particularly noticeable to the untrustworthy—both to them and to me, actually. That’s God’s love in and through me, His vessel. And it’s not dependent upon trust.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Upcoming Speaking Dates

I will be speaking with several groups in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area over the weekend of September 9-11. The best opportunity to join me will be at Huntersville Presbyterian Church, on Sunday.  For more information, click http://www.hpcpatch.org/.

In October, I will be speaking at GracePointe Church, in Lakewood, Ohio, on Sunday, October 30, at 10:00am.  For more information, go to:  www.gracepointelakewood.com.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Comfort is on the Way

Troubled? Afflicted? Exhausted? Disillusioned? If you’re at all like me, then that can be part of your Christian experience—sometimes all at the same time. God will comfort you. He is moved by your distress—it touches Him deeply (Hebrews 4:15-16)—and He finds no fault. He doesn't comfort you because you do anything right or anything wrong. Comfort is what He has for you because Comfort is who He is. (Please see John 16:7; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Heavenly Crossing Videos

I’ve got a few friends who’ve gone a little crazy and who need a good repentance. Do you have some friends like that? “Repentance” is a re-thinking that results from a recognition of the truth. Frankly, I have little repentances or “awakenings” pretty regularly. I will become aware of a deception that has affected and hindered me and probably affected people around me. I might say something like, “Aha!” or “Darn it!” and I’m on my way to health.

Evidently, there are some Christians who go fairly crazy concerning what they once believed and share in—the riches of their inheritance in Christ. If they go “crazy”, or are having a “crazy episode” that continues to their passing, their death, I believe they are still secure and rich in Christ. After all, He did the securing and gift-giving to begin with, and, therefore, they cannot lose anything they didn’t earn in the first place; they have been secured by the Security Expert. Sure, they’re crazy as they cross over from this life to the next, and that’s not fun! Not for them, not for anyone around them. But after that they’re not crazy at all crazy. What an awakening that will be.

After I’ve crossed over myself, I’ll want to check out some “heavenly crossing” videos from heaven’s video vault (because you know they’ve got one) of crazy-at-the-end-of-their-days friends and maybe relatives of mine. Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine it: mixed up, confused, earth-trapped skeptic the moment before death, and then instantly enlightened, stunned and radiant, heavenly member the next. “Whoa! So it was true after all! My God!” they might say. And Jesus will be right there with them, smiling and nodding, saying, “Yes, and I have kept you because I am your hope, and I will always be.”

I think I could watch a lot of those videos. How about you?

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

When your reservation is revealed to you, I hope it will be less of a shock—“My God!”—and more of a triumphant blast of a homecoming party hosted by God who began the work in you—imperishable, undefiled, not in any way faded in its perfect majesty. Just as God began, so He will finish on that day. And then maybe others, who follow after you, won’t even bother to check out your crossing over video from the heavenly video vault, because you were already regularly celebrating long before you got there.

That’d be good, wouldn’t it?

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Heavenly Crossing Videos,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To go to my video channel and see it, click: https://youtu.be/bSbqgMF4tdU, or simply scroll down this blog page.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Heavenly Crossing Videos

Got 4 minutes?  I have a few friends who have gone a bit crazy concerning their life with Jesus.  It disturbs me, but what awaits them when they cross over from this life to the next?


Monday, July 25, 2016

Beware Missile Messengers

When you’re close to bursting out and launching a text/twitter/facebook message that reads, “I can no longer remain silent!” or “I simply must comment on this news!” carefully consider what source is motivating your burgeoning burst: the wisdom of this world or the wisdom of God. The pressure to SAY SOMETHING, DARN IT might feel similar in both cases, but the difference is tremendous. The former is screwy to begin with, screwy in solution, and screwy in conclusion, while the latter (the gospel) is eternal to begin with, eternal in solution, and eternal in conclusion. If you care about how we think of you and your missile message, ask yourself, “Is this screwy or eternally based?” and proceed on course with your name on it. To be sure, there is room for both, but being aware of what is influencing you will help your launch control.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sin Stuck or Sin Freed?


Not long ago I was involved in a Facebook thread in which people were discussing sin. One person became increasingly indignant with me—she was pretty much yelling via text—and insisted that, as a Christian, she would always be an “incurable sinner,” whose best hope was “sin in remission.” “Don’t you know that?!” she demanded.

Well, I answered, only if you think of yourself as the unchanged, old creation, the former creation, and as what you do rather than who you truly are in Christ, a new creation. Then you can you say that you are “a sinner.” You will be wrong, but you can say it. Essentially, you will be in error concerning what Jesus did for you and to you through the cross and resurrection. This error hurts you because, not knowing the cure of Christ, you will misdiagnose yourself and treat yourself as though you are sick. This will become a twisted and sickly caricature of Christianity; while perfectly cured, you will deny your health. You will frustrate yourself by looking for health—freedom from sin—based upon what you do, rather than upon what Jesus did. That won’t work. Never has. What He did is your cure and health, not what you do.

To the error-prone Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote: “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7).

So the big question is: “Did God’s cure work for you?” Through Jesus’ crucifixion, was your old self crucified with Him? Was your body of sin “done away with” so that you would no longer be a slave to sin? Since, in God’s thinking, you died with Christ, are you freed from sin? Is what He did your cure, or do you have another diagnosis and prescription? Who is the better Physician—you or God?

If you continue to believe that you are an unchanged, old creation and an old sinner-self, and that salvation “only” rescued you from sins and guaranteed you for heaven, your diagnosis will be wrong, because you will not believe the gospel and enjoy the perfect health benefits of the cross and the resurrection for you. One was for your sins, and the other was for your new life. Those in Christ are no longer “sinners” by nature, since through the crucifixion and being included in that, they’ve had a change of nature in Christ and now share in the Father’s. They are saints by nature, holy sons in fact, and already citizens of heaven—free from sin, as is everyone in heaven.

You cannot have dual citizenship. You are either born of this world and are of it, or you are born of heaven and are of it—alien to this world, and representative of heaven. Which one are you?

I love my citizenship and how I got there through the cross and resurrection with Jesus. I’ve never felt better about sin than after I knew the truth about the cross and resurrection and my being included with Christ. In Christ, I have died already, and sin has no power over me. In Christ, I have been healed and raised, and my nature is righteous—through and through. How about yours?

I hope this helps.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, "Sin Stuck or Sin Freed," and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/NSZcqe9hmCE, or scroll down this blog.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sin Stuck or Sin Freed?

Got 5 minutes to answer the question:  “Am I sin stuck or sin freed?”  I think you’ll love the answer.  Your health depends upon it.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Knowing The One


Whatever persuades you to become preoccupied with the results and benefits of knowing Jesus but not with the reality is deadly. Remembering this will save you from an awful mess.

For example, very often when couples are searching and working diligently on ways to better love each other, what they’re really seeking is the result of Jesus loving them. They can have that anytime. They’re both set up for that perfectly. There is no other earthly relationship better suited for Jesus in us than marriage. And no matter how long they’re married, the set up is the same. When people want to have better relationship skills, what they’re really looking for is the result of Jesus relating to them. He will affect every relationship they have when they’re satisfied with Him. When people are wanting to be more confident, more compassionate, more understanding, more kind, more disciplined, more patient, more happy, more faithful, more peaceful, more gentle, all are the result of Jesus loving and giving Himself in them. That’s Christianity. When they’re knowing The One, they’ll have everything else. He will see to it.

That they’ve not experienced God’s life for them in that way does not make the hope of it untrue, but it might induce them to believe it’s not possible—and off to work they go. So, because God doesn’t have to agree with their form of Christianity, He will work with them in such a way that what they know and experience with Him will pour out of them to others—as if by accident. (But not quite!) And Jesus will become their great treasure and influence of life. The One! That’s the plan.

Galatians 2:19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Prayer for Nice, France

Father, would you make it obvious that you are there, present and intimately with the devastated people in Nice, France? Would you rescue, comfort and heal, and would you motivate and lead your people to love, carry and counsel the wounded and distraught? And would you prove your grace in Christ to the families from all over the world who's children, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers are among the wounded? And while government leaders opine and strategize, would you make it evident again that Jesus is the answer, the Spirit the worker, and the church the vessel--one here and one there--everywhere loving their neighbors as themselves? In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

True Self-Examination

A healthy, grace of God based, self-examination begins not so we can uncover and rectify wrongs with God and man, but so we can know what God has done for us and to us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. This is no small thing! As the new self emerges to us, perfect and radiant to the glory of God, wrongs done will be seen as they are—already handled by Jesus—and therefore, easily admitted as foreign and harmful in our relationships. Health starts with what Jesus did, and consummates in belief and then action, where needed.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

I’m glad that my country has a strong history of searching and working for better ways of doing things before copying what has already been done elsewhere. While some may fault us, I’m glad for our inventive and courageous heart that often struggles for the benefit and freedom of others. No other country does it as well as we do. Yes, I’m a Patriot, and I'm celebrating the United States of America today, July 4, our Day of Independence.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The Great Contradiction You Need

In my travels throughout much of the world, I’ve seen that the more authority and freedom people give to government, the less there remains. I know that’s pretty simple, but in other words, the bigger the government, the smaller the people. I do not believe it can be otherwise. That’s how the kingdoms, that’s how the governments of this world work.

However, only with Jesus is the opposite actually true. That took a while for me to figure out.
I didn’t want anything to do with Jesus when I was in my late teens and early twenties because I knew what giving away authority and freedom meant. I had seen it and studied it in college, and found that history shows the surrender of authority and freedom in the hope of gain is a terribly false hope with tragic consequences. Frankly, I think we’re on that path in America—I can see it. Naturally, I thought then that giving Jesus authority in my life meant the same thing, only cosmic. BIGGER equals WORSE. Way worse. So, naturally and wisely, I thought, I avoided Jesus . . . until I couldn’t. More accurately, until I didn’t want to anymore.

In sum, Jesus is The Great Contradiction to what I’ve found true in this world that competes for authority and freedom—including yours. Jesus has never taken mine away. Never. Not once. Instead, He has given me all of His. What a contradiction.

I have never felt that Jesus was trying to over-rule me or dominate me or take away what I am. From the day that I received Him, my days have been all about discovering what I have received instead of what I’ve lost. Here’s what I’ve found. Jesus actually IS freedom, and He exercises His authority to make sure that I have freedom and that I and enjoy it. Anything less than freedom is not the Jesus I know. I love Him for it! All that He is to me and all that He has for me is the antithesis and the antidote for what passes for authority and freedom in this world. That is why I hope and that is why I work for you to find the same with Him.

I think that when people look to a national or worldly government to find this, or to the government in their church gathering, the government over their employment, the government in the clubs and organizations they join, they’re lost and they’re going to act like it—How can they not?—because they’re maddeningly searching in the wrong place. They’ve been detoured. It will always be terribly painful and disillusioning. Fortunately, Jesus offers himself as the end of the search:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (And these weren’t people who were only burdened by their own problems, but by the government over them.) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (Parenthesis mine.)

Right now when many of us are at least somewhat focused upon the kind of leadership and government we want for ourselves, Jesus says and proves, “I am.” And I can tell you, He is. He is the great contradiction you need.

(This is the transcript of the video, “The Great Contradiction You Need,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/Pi0nnFcWRxc.)

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Great Contradiction You Need

Got 5 minutes?  Here’s why I avoided Jesus for a lot of years.  It has to do with authority and freedom—and the threatened loss of it—all of which is very relevant to many of us celebrating the breakaway and independence of our country this weekend. 



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Confessions & Creeds

(Here’s a question that a Facebook friend offered to me. I have probably “over answered” it, but it got me going. Oops.)

Question: “Do confessions and creeds have a place in the New Covenant?”

If “confessions” means written and formatted apologies to be recited as if the recitation alone accomplishes something eternal, and if “creeds” means formatted and recited statements of faith toward the same end, then probably not…but maybe.

If “confessions” means a truly biblical statement of faith in the totality and finality of what Jesus accomplished for us and to us by the cross and resurrection, then I think there is certainly room for that kind of confession. It won’t move God to do anything more than He has already done for you, but there’s a good chance it will move you into clear thinking about what He has done for you, and result in Spirit produced life and peace. “…the mind set upon the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6), so turning your thoughts to Him who lives in you and how He has made you His happy home is a great thing to do. It’s the best exercise. If a “confession” about the perfect sufficiency of Christ for you gets you to enjoying and knowing life by the Spirit of God, then I’m all for it.

Also, if a “creed” is only a statement tacked upon a wall that is supposed to gain mental acceptance and allegiance by the people of a local church body, and which then strategically galvanizes them into following directions or commands set by the pastors, leaders, administrators, etc., then I am wary in a big way. Big. There’s a lot of damage that can happen to people in that, specifically those who disagree in any way with the creed. They can be made to feel rebellious, not saved, dangerous, un-learned, stupid, and will not long survive in that gathering. I have met more than a few so abused.

However, if a “creed” is something that works in the same way that a good “confession” does (see above), then I’m for it. In other words, if it awakens the Spirit born, new creation person, and if it provides for what God has done and is doing, then I’m cool. For example, “I have a God-given want to assist people to know Jesus in such a way that they become so enamored with Him that knowing Him defines their days and channels their efforts.” What do you think of that? Pretty good, I think. It works for me. It’s mine. I long ago discovered that God made me to know Him, and from that knowing to assist people to the same. I can’t help it—it’s His work in me—and I’m happiest when that’s going on. See? I have a healthy creed. So it’s not a pledge to get people to obey God, please God, work for God, get favor with God, or a pledge to get people to save the world for God—here’s how. I have found that danger thrives whenever someone like me specifically defines and judges for a group of people “the pledge” and the “here’s how.” It’s unhealthy.

However, it is healthy if it’s a statement that announces the goodness of God, as well as what He is doing because He is so good. As I have written in the Introduction to my book (God’s Astounding Opinion of You):

“I believe the current work of God is centered upon the theme found above (Matthew 11:28-30), with the immediate benefit being a happy bunch of God-enamored Christians—it’s what God is doing today. While works for God are important, the work of God in His people should thrill us so much that we become crazy about and gladly dependent on Him. 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.”

So if either a “confession” or a “creed” helps people to know and enjoy God, then that’s great. Otherwise, avoid it, as you would tooth decay. It will rot you.

I hope this helps.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder

While there are many mysteries yet to be revealed concerning yesterday’s mass murder in Orlando, Florida, one thing we do know:  the murderer was not knowing Jesus.  That’s clear.

This is not only obvious but of paramount importance.  Why?  Because the great desire and plan of God in offering Jesus as the way, the truth and the life is founded upon Jesus entering and living in a person, Jesus increasingly known by that person, and Jesus evidencing Himself through that person. That’s the plan.  No one for whom those three points is true (living, knowing, evidencing) would find Jesus leading him or her on the inside to commit murder on the outside, let alone other crimes of violence or theft.  That’s not His evidence.  That’s not what He does.

This is why the gospel message is and must always be one that fosters knowing Jesus—truly knowing Jesus—as the way, the truth and the life throughout our days.  Speaking and teaching about laws (even gun control laws) and rule keeping (even “Christianly” rule keeping) will provide no power to the ones so focused because it is not the gospel that leads to knowing Jesus in an ongoing, day-by-day way.  The ones knowing Jesus as the way, the truth and the life do not need rules because He will be providing His grace, His power and His life—eternal life—on the inside to the outside.  Evidence of Jesus.  That is what He does.  Knowing Jesus looks good on us.

We’re going to grieve and mourn, and we’re going to learn more about what happened in Orlando.  As we do, return to focusing upon God’s offer of knowing Jesus.  He works in people!  His evidence is beautiful—just like He is.  And the gospel we know and the gospel we offer must assist people toward knowing every day Jesus, who is the only way, truth and life for which we become vessels—people of God’s evidence—and for which we were formed.  Otherwise, it is not the gospel.

John 17:3 This is eternal life (Here’s the big deal!), that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (Italics mine.)

I hope this helps.  See you later.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/ct6Q2njcTIg, or scroll down this blog page.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Conclusions About the Orlando Mass Murder

The vicious attack in Orlando, Florida, underscores—Shouts!—a clear and timeless message.  Take 3 minutes to be reminded of what that vital truth is.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Stop Living Like Jesus!

You’ve got to have a look at my friend, Pastor Jeremy White's article to find out how Jesus redeemed us from “the slave market of sin.”  It’s terrific.
http://surrenderedimage.com/Blog/stop-living-like-jesus-35892

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

For Those Who Lead

Got 23 minutes? Speaking to pastors, teachers and ministry leaders at The Grace Conference a couple of weeks ago, here is my heart and most important message about the church.

https://vimeo.com/167686400

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

That's Life

We have been given life from God. That life does not show up after we say to Him, “I’m so sorry” + “I’ve learned my lesson” + “I won’t do it again.” That’s a nifty formula, but it is sin producing, rules-based legalism, not righteousness producing, grace-based Christianity. We don’t live by a proper confession, a good attitude and a promised commitment. Have you forgotten that’s not Christianity?

We live because, in Christ, we’ve been given new life and a new way of living—Jesus Himself and faith in Him. He is God’s life in you and in me. Peel away all that appears to be me, and you will see Him at home, happy and successful. For all who have received Jesus, the same is true. Right? That’s where I’m looking today. I’m expecting Him, and that’s life.

"To them 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, June 05, 2016

Speaking In Louisiana Today

I will speak today, Sunday, June 5, at Grace Life Fellowship, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  My message is:  "The Pressure Is Off: Life for the New Covenant Baby." If you'd like to know why being born during the New Covenant is so terrific, join me for either of two break out sessions. (Also speaking at other sessions are Andrew Farley, Blake Rymer, and Mike Daniel!) For more information:  http://gracelifefellowship.org.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

God's Glory Revealed In You

Romans 8:18 reads this way: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What does that mean?! 

When you receive Jesus, He brings all that He is into you—perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, but at all times, at every moment, in every situation.  Now.  He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, the Reward for which you long, and the Answer you’ve got to know.  And He is in you.  Jesus is the solution you want, the success you were made for, and the glory now in you.

If, just now, you’re suffering or enduring hardship, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrapheap of humanity.  That’s a lie.  His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship.  So, offer yourself to Jesus.  And where is He?  That’s where you make the offering—to the inside, to Jesus who has made you His home. 

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God (and He is in you right now) as those who have been brought from death to life (where’s the life? On the inside!); and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Italics mine.)

Listen for Him.  Look for Him.  Feel for Him inside of you—with you.  This is worth quieting yourself.  Pay attention to the thoughts and pictures that play in your mind.  Talk aloud to Jesus—you may get reckless or even loud—as you give yourself to Him.  You’ll find that He gives Himself to you, and that’s where the life is!  Respond to what you feel and what He reveals, and trust that He loves you far more than He cares about mistakes you might make in the adventure of knowing Him.  It’s okay if you’re a sloppy baby with Him now and then; He’s not going to reject you!  You’re His baby!  If He knows everything, even before it happens, then He knows and has planned for your sloppiness.  He doesn’t resent it.  Be needy with Him!  That’s also where His glory is best seen—in the pressure!

Listen to what Paul wrote to the sloppy behaving, perfect vessels for God nevertheless, the pressured sons and daughters at Corinth:

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay (You know about that jar of clay, right?  I’ve got one too.) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (If God were to show up in a jar of clay, it would be obvious, wouldn’t it?  That’s the plan with you and me.) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.”  2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (Italics mine.)

And what a life that is!  God’s life in you and in me, for us to experience and for others to witness.  That’s the glory—He is the glory now in you.  Finding Him there is the best “finding” there is, and it’s the best treasure hunt you’ll ever go on.
I hope this helps.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “God’s Glory Revealed In You,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/i0IcekKxLko.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

God's Glory Revealed In You

Got 6 minutes?  Mankind is fit perfectly for the life of God Himself—nothing else will satisfy, nothing else will work.  That is the essence of Christianity.  Here’s a great way to find Him alive and effective in you.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Enjoy Your Treasure

Is there a place or two that when you visit, you come alive? Maybe it’s a distance away, like a vibrant meadow or a mountain view or a breeze that brings the scent of the ocean to you. Or perhaps it’s nearby, like a certain chair in the early morning or a walk through the neighborhood.

One of mine is an emerald pool on a secret river in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Since the late 60’s, I have been wading through its long, slow waters and scanning the currents and sinister snags as I hunt what lies within it. The very moment I enter the water I find myself sighing deeply in welcome and relief. It’s as if the Divine Masseuse has begun gently massaging away the cares and deep anxieties that have knotted me up and made me rigid and mechanical.

I don’t like Ralph The Rigid and Mechanical. He’s a fake, a put on. Somehow I can be held captive by him, a sort of hostage from myself. But not in the river. I get myself back.

There is a better way that brings me back to life, and I don’t have far to go to find it.

Years ago God worked in such a way that I discovered Him to be the greatest treasure. Not simply because of His value, supreme as it is, but because of what happened to me when treasuring Him. I wasn’t simply dazzled by what I found, like a pirate might be after lifting the lid on a treasure chest. Instead, the radiance filled me and affected me on the inside, and I became the best Ralph imaginable. I discovered that God knows the real Ralph, the one He fashioned, and He loves revealing that treasure—even if it has been buried. I was filled with the Spirit—God Himself—and my Treasure treasured me. I was forever changed and hooked on Treasure.

After that no commands to obey or give or pray or read or sacrifice were really necessary, having been made superfluous by the one: Enjoy your treasure. It happened again this morning when, resisting the impulses to read the newspaper or to get on the internet and find out what’s happening in the world, I turned my thoughts to Him. “Father, I sure like you and need you today. What are you thinking about? What’s on your mind?”

It didn’t take long before the stone over my heart moved and there He was: Treasure. As a result, Ralph The Rigid and Mechanical vanished, driven away after a simple gaze, and the real Ralph appeared.

Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

No one had to tell the man what to do about the treasure—he genuinely treasured it, and that led him to do what he did. It’s the same with us, I think.

The next time you’ve lost your way, resist the urge to drive faster in order to get where you’re going. You won’t get there. Instead, take a minute or two and get off the common avenue, the activity that allows treasure to remain unnoticed, unvalued, and return to your treasure. Have a look again. He will treasure you back to yourself.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Enjoy Your Treasure,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/hATdDlTcJp8, or scroll down this blog page.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Enjoy Your Treasure

The next time you’ve lost your way, here are 4 minutes that will show you that help is easier and closer than you might think. 



Ungrace

What plagues and hurts Christians a lot? Believing that we fit in this world’s current of ungrace, and swimming as if our lives will be measured by ever improving personal bests.

Monday, May 16, 2016

He Is What You Want

Jesus is well acquainted with failure and sin and faithlessness and betrayal and ugliness of all sorts. He took all of ours at the cross, as though He had made the mess Himself. He knows all about it and is really good with those of us who fall into it. No matter how you are today, no matter how bad your experience, He is what you want. He is the solution. He is the way forward. He may not answer all of your questions, but He will give you life. He will revive you and you will feel better. And that counts.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Thoroughly Blessed

If you believe that God is waiting to bless you based upon your obedience, you will be caught up in a self-righteousness crusade. You will try to hear just right, speak just right, move just right, behave just right, and give just right. You will have your self-righteousness at the controls of blessing. That is a terrible false burden because any vestige of a quid-pro-quo relationship with God—if you do it right, He’ll do it right—has forever been removed by the free gift of Jesus’ righteousness, making you exactly right in Him and having all things already. Because you believe Jesus, He has become everything for you, and in Him, you are well and thoroughly blessed. Think that through. We don’t live by or for the benefits of our righteousness; we live in His.

Speaking In Pennsylvania

Tomorrow morning I’m off to Pennsylvania to speak at “The Dan Stone Retreat,” which is being held at the Salvation Army Ladore Camp, in Waymart.  Not only am I excited to speak with this group of encouraging and loving people whom I met last year (this is the 20th year of the retreat), but I might get to sneak in some fly fishing.  Wouldn’t that be good?  ("Thank you" to those supporting me, which enables these trips. If you'd like to help, no gift is too small. http://lifecourse.org/Giving.html.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

All Blessings

God is not waiting for you to obey Him so He can bless you. The perfect obedience of Jesus took care of all that already. Remember: it's not what you see that reveals what you have, it's where you are—in Him—that proves it. Live from there, because that's a pretty good place to be, don't you think? (Ephesians 1:3-10.)