Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is a testimony?


What is a testimony? Some believers think that it's just a brief account of the way the Lord has worked in their life. While that may be true, our testimony is much more than simply a short story or a brief encounter with God. In fact, a Christian testimony is a long obedience in the same direction.

Three important aspects of our living testimony is our character, our conduct, and our conversation. The character that believers demonstrate is to be filled with truth and with grace. This Christian character includes a spirit of obedience. Do we follow God's instruction on occasions but ignore Him the rest of the time? An obedient spirit follows His guidance, no matter what. In times of trial, we remain faithful. In times of hurt, we remain strong. In times of insult, we remain humble. In times of struggle, we remain obedient to the calling that has been laid out for us. An obedient spirit follows Jesus in all things. At times our action may outwardly display obedience, but nobody except God knows what lies within our heart. He sees our true character, and it should line up with the story we tell others to glorify Him.

The second aspect of our living testimony is our conduct. In other words, what we do defines our relationship with God and with others. If what we say conflicts with our behavior, then we cloud our witness. Believers and unbelievers (especially our family) will never believe our words if they see actions that contradict the testimony of what we believe. Our conduct should never cloud our declaration of faith. This aspect of our testimony proves the genuineness of our faith. The way we act should confirm who we are in Christ.

Finally, a third aspect of our living testimony is our conversation. As Psalm 107:2 states; "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." It is this aspect that propagates the power of Jesus' resurrection within our lives. It is our conversations that grant an opportunity to tell others what God is doing in our lives. Our words can be significant to an unbelievers who doubts the existence of God or the divinity of Christ.

I want to be known as a man that lived his long obedience in the same direction. I pray that is may always include a living testimony of character, conduct, and conversation! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

1 John 3:16: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."



Happy Memorial Day! You Know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Those who come in the name of the Lord find PEACE!


Luke records the crowd shouting these words as Jesus enters Jerusalem, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” to which we are also blessed with. The crowds were shouting what the angels announced at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest and Peace to men of Good will.”

Jesus Christ is the author of peace, the Prince of Peace. In this learning laboratory of mortality, we find that peace comes as we put Him first in our lives. We come to know that He lives, that Christ truly paid the price of our sins, our poor vision, our weaknesses, by suffering personally for each one of them, and that He has become our Advocate with the Father through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, to enable us, lift us, save us, and redeem us. He alone can bring peace to us through the gift of His Spirit.

The Savior’s words found in John 14:27 are literal and are for you and I: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you;  I do not give to you as the world gives, Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”

Jesus Christ wants us to have rest and as we feel His love, we do feel guided along the “still waters.” We can feel this even in the torrent of trial and the slashing winds of stormy seas at various times in our lives. When we think God has turned His back on us, wonder how or why He could allow a certain innocent suffering or emotional pain, we can find out that He is always facing us. He never turns away. He never abandons us; He never causes harm or injury, but He sometimes allows evil that others do to run its course, that the wicked may be judged and because no one can be forced to be His follower and friend. Those who willfully inflict evil will suffer at the end of the age.

Yet the peace is only found in the Name of the Lord. Who is the Son of God? He is the Coming and Returning King. We can be blessed, tell others, and receive peace in the Name of the Lord. Those who come in the name of Jesus are convinced that there is Strength In the Name Of The Lord, that there is Power in the Name Of The Lord, and for tomorrow there is Hope In The Name Of The Lord. Yes, Jesus followers are blessed because they come in the Name Of The Lord, they desire to tell others of His Name and they live in peace for today and the hope of a great destiny.

Who is Jesus? He is the Son of Man, Friend to Sinners, Anointed One, the Coming King, and He is the King that will return. 

You are prepared to welcome him in your heart today? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alone or Not Alone ... equally terrifying.


Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British author, inventor and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. Although I disagree with Mr. Clarke’s religious assumptions, he is credited with this one saying that speak clearly the feeling of our culture. He said, “Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” (Visions : How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century (1999) by Michio Kaku, p. 295)

Jesus entering Jerusalem on first day of the week of His crucifixion enters with great pomp and circumstance and he has come to declare that we are not alone in this universe. Mr. Clarke’s quote is speaking about alien life, I am addressing spiritual life.

If you believe in a huge explosion established life and that mankind is here alone…it is terrifying.

If you believe that a great and powerful creator created this world and is actively working among his creation … it is terrifying.

I am happy to declare my allegiance to the truth that a great Creator is here. He is working among his people. He is to be respected. He is not to be taken lightly. He will not be mocked. He left eternity and entered into history so that you might have a destiny…He is love.
  
Mr. Clarke died in 2008 a sinful man without any hope of knowing that we are not alone in this world, that the coming King came and will come again. He became so judgmental of religion that he was lost in the facts that clouded his faith. He had no hope and truly died a tragedy. 

He wrote in his personal "Credo," an essay published in 1991, Clarke writes, "No intelligent person can contemplate the night sky without a sense of awe. The mind-boggling vista of exploding supernovae and hurtling galaxies does seem to require a certain amount of explaining." Yet, he was so captivated by his own awareness that he could not see the hand of a loving God reaching to touch his own world.  He never discovered peace, nor did he find the only path to the very thing that would relieve that which terrified him.

The coming King has come and he will come again. Don’t be so caught up in your own life, your own terrifying existence, that you loose your place in eternity.

The Son of God stepped out of eternity into History so that You and I might have a Destiny. Are we prepared to meet the Returning King? 

I am ready and pray your are as well ...  you know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The mission that changed the world!


When Jesus read the Isaiah text to the Synagogue crowd it would have been understood, by every Jew listening, that…
            (1) those words applied to the Messiah, the Anointed One, and
            (2) they referred to the year of Jubilee.

The Jews had a custom, ordained by God, that not only would every seventh day of the week be  a Sabbath, a day of rest, but that every seventh year would also be a Sabbath, when the land would not be farmed, and so on . . .

And after every seventh Sabbath year (that is, every fiftieth year) there would be what was called the “year of Jubilee.
In that year,
            all slaves would be set free,
            all those whose poverty had forced them to sell
                        their lands would receive them back again, and
            those who had lost family members into slavery
                        or imprisonment would be reunited with their loved ones . . .

So you can see why it was called “The Jubilee!” That is what Jesus said His mission was  . . . A mission is a calling: an objective or task that is his to carry out. What the Law prescribed and what Isaiah promised, Jesus fulfilled!

He came to bring good news to the poor, the kind of news that was supposed to have them dancing in the streets every fifty years! He came to bring broken families together, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to heal the hurting!

He came to free the slaves, to open the doors of darkness, to untie people’s hands, and to unfold their wings! To proclaim the year of JUBILEE! But not just one year every fifty—that was already supposed to be the case— but Jesus came to bring a worldwide Jubilee every year, every day, that would speak good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, healing to the brokenhearted, forgiveness for the guilty, freedom for those who feel controlled, release for those who feel trapped, deliverance, laughter, relief, joy … JUBILEE!

That was His mission  . . .  and it is our mission as well.

Our mission is not merely to go to church for an hour a two a week. Your mission is to take joy and praise and worship and healing and fun out in public, out to the streets, and share it with the world around you.
                                               
But in revealing Himself as the Anointed One, Jesus introduces His mission ...  then expects us to adopt his methods ... and apply His guiding principles. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Method....to LOVE PEOPLE!


A method is away of doing something: a way of carrying something out, especially according to a plan. His method is the piece to the puzzle God has been building from the beginning of time. Most people miss the incredible impact of what Jesus said in that synagogue in Nazareth.

After all, there were many texts that applied to Him as Messiah.

But he didn’t choose those texts, though they are prophecies that refer to Jesus.

Instead, Jesus turned to Isaiah 61:1. Why? What made Him choose that passage?

Jesus’ mission statement made it clear that people are His priority. 

Of all the texts He could have chosen, He chose a passage about sharing good news, proclaiming freedom, bringing healing, releasing prisoners, about compassionately meeting people’s needs. These are the methods of the Spirit of Christ!

You see, Jesus’ fellow Jews in His day knew they were called by God to be a light to the Gentiles. … But they really didn’t like Gentiles. They didn’t like Samaritans, They didn’t like Romans,  They didn’t like tax collectors,  They didn’t like women … or children …but Jesus did.

And the kingdom He introduced, the new way of life He made possible, the purpose and calling He intends for His followers, is a “new and living way,” one that has enough grace for everyone, which excludes no one and spreads Jubilee everywhere.

Now get this…it is important. The established church…you and I that have been in church for years…MISS THIS. Jesus’ mission was not about bylaws, constitutions, budgets, or meetings. The purpose of the church is to sharing good news, proclaiming freedom, bringing healing, releasing prisoners, about compassionately meeting people’s needs.

The people called out by God to be his people are not to trust in our own ways. Bylaws, Constitutions, and Meetings are not scripture created…but MAN CREATED! They are not bad, but these things are not our mission. We are so caught up in our agenda that it is ingrained in our DNA and we start to turn away from Jesus’ mission in order to obtain our agenda. We become critical of people that do not support our agenda or worship differently, and we turn our eyes away from Jesus, we turn away from his Methods.

You are to give as a member of the Body of Christ. You are to serve as a member of the body of Christ. You are to be concerned as a member of the Body of Christ. You are to read your bible, lead your family, and be an example as a member of the body of Christ.

The method­ of your mission, given to you by Jesus, is love. Your method is not argument or ridicule or politics or protest. Your Method is love.

 It is to spread healing and hope and joy and Jubilee everywhere you go.

So, accept the mission, adopt the method, and apply His Guiding Principles.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time for an evaluation ... Healthy or Sick?


Jesus answers the Pharisees in Luke 5 with…the healthy do not need a Doctor. The sick need a Doctor. The question arises… “Which are you? Healthy or Sick?” It is time to do an evaluation…

Everyone is sick with sin…everyone is burdened with a nature that separates us from God. Jesus told another story on how to differentiate the sick and the healthy. In Luke 18:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Harry Truman said, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."Our prayers are not about us, but about God receiving the credit. How do you pray?

Paul defines your evaluation in Philippians 2.3: "Count others more significant than yourselves."

Do you view yourself as needing the Son of God or Not needing the Son of God. Are you healthy or sick?  Evaluate your Position…

You know I love ya, Don
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sinner ... Jesus is your friend!



Why do we make it so hard? We ask today…who is Jesus? He is the friend to sinners. Sinner: in ordinary speech, it means someone who is deeply depraved, evil, bad. However, that's not what the Christian faith means by the word. In Christian belief, 'sinner' is not a moral description, but a relational one. Sin is the broken state of our relationship with God. There's a distance, a gap between us (with the rest of the created universe) and God, a distance far too wide for us to cross over, a distance bridged only by God's act of coming over onto our side of the gap through Jesus Christ (God-with-us) and the Spirit that Jesus sent in His place. The nicest, kindest, most spiritual, and most virtuous of us is a sinner. The vilest, darkest, crookedest, most evil of us is a sinner. Everyone in between is a sinner. God loves each and all of these sinners. And Jesus is the friend of Sinners.

Perhaps it would be best to use a word, which lacks the moralistic overtone of 'sinner'. That overtone undercuts the Christian message of grace for those on our human side of the divide. I would love to look at the good and pretend the bad away, it's so much happier -- but it is unreal. The words often put forward to replace 'sin' and 'sinner' fail to catch enough of the negative quality of that divide: it is very bad for you (in fact, fatal) and is far from what God wants for you. Because the broken relationship is so bad for us, it has profound and deep effects on all of us and all we do. It is a part of our human identity and character (that which makes each of us who/what we are), whether we want it to be or not.

The Bible has all sorts of words to describe sin. The most striking of these is Heb. mešubah (infidelity); the covenant people Israel was chasing after other lovers, as the prophets described it. In the Hebrew Scriptures, other words include ‘ahar (transgression, law-breaking), ma’al (trespass), ‘awon (straying, wandering), tum’ah (becoming unclean), beged (disloyalty, treason), and peša (revolt, rebellion). The image of sin, which the New Testament most picked up on, was the idea of an archer missing his mark (Heb. chatta’t, Gk hamartia). Anyone who does these is in some sense a 'sinner'. The origin of hamartia is the reward from competition; due to missing the mark badly or often, the archer has no (ha-) share in the allotment (mer-) or prize.

Notice that these are word-pictures, metaphors that help to describe something that has so many angles that no mere word or even phrase can quite hit the mark. You can picture someone straying from the path into the dangers of the woods, getting lost. Another image is being soaked through and through with pig-mud. Some of these are relational, others personal, or ritual, or societal. Sin is so pervasive, it colors everything we do. We all do these things, in all sorts of ways, thus we are all sinners. Jesus is a friend to sinners.

You know I love ya, Don