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Posts Tagged ‘life’

I love spring.  The bursting forth of new life thrills my soul.  The awakening of the countryside from the drab greys and browns of winter to multi-colored flowers set against the backdrop of green simply makes me happy.

We recently experienced the birth of our 4th grandchild.  My wife helped with the delivery and today Lilah Joy is 7 days old. We actually have two grandchildren now who were born on Good Friday.  Jasper Leland was born on Good Friday 4 years ago.  As I held Lilah last night I couldn’t stop thinking about what a precious gift I held.  As she lay restfully sleeping in my arms she was totally at peace.

I was reminded that this is what God wants for each one of us… to rest in Him, to put our trust in Him, to be His child and be at peace.  Holding this precious child and considering the amazing love God has for us was both humbling and inspiring.  Roman 8:14-17 comes to mind.  We are His children and He wants to be known as our “Abba”, our Daddy.

It seems appropriate that for most of us Easter corresponds with spring.  Jesus’ resurrection marks the ultimate of new life.  There are a number of ways that Jesus coming to earth, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection changed the world forever.

There is salvation.  The price for our sin has been paid and we can enter into a right relationship with God as our Father through what Jesus did on our behalf.

There is freedom.  The power of sin is broken because of what Jesus did.  We can experience freedom from the dominating and destructive habits of our old self because of the cross and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit given to each one who accepts God’s gift of salvation.

Oh, and there is purpose.  We no longer are subject to the whims of a fickle nature.  We are called and equipped to live a life that has God-ordained purpose.

There is praise overflowing.  God gave us new life to live in Him and to live for Him.  Our lives are testaments to the one, wholly, and Holy Other.  God is worthy of our constant praise.  We do this best by living in close communion with Him and responding in prompt obedience to His nudges.

Yes, spring has sprung.  The tomb is empty.  And there is new life… radical…rich…full… abundant new life available to all who trust in and give their lives to Jesus – the lover of our souls.  Rejoice my friend.  He is ALIVE!  And so are we.  Death no longer has a hold on us.  Neither does sin, at least it doesn’t have to.  The only power sin has left is the power we give it.  Let sin no longer reign in your body, but live your life totally immersed in Jesus and His saving, cleansing, healing, delivering power.  Again I say REJOICE!

Be blessed today my friend as you bask in the new life Christ Jesus provides.

As a new grandpa’s prerogative, I included a few pics of our new grand-daughter who helped inspire today’s blog.

 

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When I set out to blog, I made the commitment to be transparent in my writings and never sugar-coat the stories of my faith journey.  It is easy to write about the good things that God does in our lives.  Yet when we slip or when things aren’t working out quite as nicely as we would like, we can easily gloss over or ignore a significant part of life that likely carry’s meaning to many, simply for the sake of putting up a good front.  Today I am compelled to share a recent chastisement from the Lord.  Partly this is to highlight an aspect of God’s nature that is often mis-characterized.  Also, it is because the trap I fell into is very easy to slip into even if it is hidden in plain view.

In my last post, ALL, I wrote about Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandment and what our love of God with all that we are looks like.  What you don’t know is that I wrote that a week ago under what I sensed was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  But I hadn’t quite finished it.  While we have had a lot transpire in our family over the past week, there is no reason why I didn’t finish the post sooner.  I had clear nudges to do so, but I kept busy and I kept putting it off.

For much of my life I have risen early to spend 1 – 2 hours in bible study, prayer, and occasionally blogging.  But for the last week I would wake up very early, usually before my alarm would go off, with a strong sense of needing to spend quiet time with the Lord.  But I would reason that I could pray just fine snuggled in my warm bed.  Somehow one or two sentences in prayer would occur and the next thing I knew it was an hour or more later.  By the time I would arise, it was time to start the day’s activities.  Needless to say, my attempts at a quiet time were rushed, stilted, and not really a time of connection.  It was more like a child rushing through the kitchen late for school, snatching at whatever they can for breakfast before sprinting out the door.  It might have the appearance of eating breakfast, but nutrition it was not.  My quiet times had become like that – an appearance of the right thing, but connection with God and edification, it was not.

Tuesday of this week I did respond to the nudge.  I was up early and I got into the Word.  Afterward I slipped outside where a light rain was falling.  With an awareness of my lack of direction lately I whispered a prayer, “Lord, please steer me.”  Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “The boat has to be moving for the rudder to work.”  Oh my!  I am used to God’s encouragement and gentle correction, usually when I turn in repentance after I realize I have made a mistake.  In this case, I had been a little lazy for several days, but I assumed that getting up early was a good sign on my part.  The rebuke was firm, clear, and thankfully cut through my self-satisfaction.

Since our relationship is with the omniscient God, there is no hiding our true thoughts, feelings, and motivations.  If we are not careful, we can slip into self-deception and “think” we are fine.  But, getting into the Word, spending real connected time with the Father is the antidote we all need.  When we do, He will guide us into the way of truth and life.  And if we need more than a little nudge, He can provide that too.  The important thing on our end is to embrace His loving nudges and His firmer chastisement and follow Him diligently.  It ties into the last post.  When we are giving Him only part of our attention, part of our heart or soul or mind or strength, we are falling short of His high calling upon us.  It is not God who is lessened when we are not fully devoted to Him, but us.

Friends, I pray that your walk will be marked with consistent progress and Godly joy and peace.  But, when you do begin to veer off course, I encourage you to readily accept and embrace the Lord’s loving correction, however He may give it.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  He knows you intimately and His desire is always for your good.  Jeremiah 29:11 affirms this.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Be blessed my friend.  And be God’s blessing to someone today.

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We attended a beautiful and fun wedding this weekend.  By the way, May God richly bless your marriage Ryan and Jessica.  Make God first in your marriage and He will make it the most enriching and fulfilling experience you can imagine.

As we left the wedding party I was struck with the thought – “That’s the setting Jesus often joined.”  His first miracle recorded in John 2:1-11 was at a wedding in Cana.  At that wedding the party was obviously pretty big as the wine gave out early in the evening.  Jesus’ mother noticed and pointed it out to Jesus, drawing Him into the host’s dilemma.  To run out of wine would be a big disgrace.  Jesus responded by turning water into wine… between 120 – 180 gallons of it.  Thus ensuring many more wedding invitations in the future.

This isn’t the only party Jesus attends in the three years of His earthly ministry.  In fact as time goes on Jesus shows up in so many party situations that His detractors began deriding Him for being a “friend of sinners”.  We know that on a couple of occasions Jesus taught thousands at a time out in the open fields away from the towns.  In terms of popularity He was an ancient world rock star.  He was as comfortable seated at a friend’s wedding as He was in the pulpit of the synagogue.  Jesus went wherever there were people in need and He offered them life and hope.

Jesus is unique in many ways, but in the context of today’s discussion one aspect strikes me as particularly profound.  Jesus entered so many different life situations and yet He was without sin.  He lived a perfect, sinless life.  This was essential so that when He died on the cross He was able to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sin.  If He had sinned at any time, then His death upon the cross would have been just punishment for His own sin.  As it was, the plan He and the Father had devised was that Jesus would live a life like all of us, but without sin so that He would be able to be our substitute when God’s rightous judgement punished sin.

Jesus did not come for just the righteous.  Nor did He come for just the Jewish people although He came to and for them too.  He did not come for just the poor and needy, although they were definitely on His list.  Jesus did not come just for the rich, affluent, and powerful although it’s obvious that He came for  them.  He was in the midst of every one of these groups in party and dinner settings.  In all cases He shared words of life that spoke to the group and to individuals.  In many cases He also performed miracles which both met real needs and spoke of God’s real and present power.

As I look through the scripture there is only one group that really struggled to like Jesus – the religious leaders.  Jesus never condoned sin, but He always treated sinners with gentleness and compassion… except for religious sin.  In fact the times we see Jesus angry, and yes He got quite angry, was in confronting sin within the religious leadership.  Greed, pride, hypocrisy were all sins that Jesus confronted head on.  Interestingly even many of these rebukes were delivered in private parties in the homes of the religious leaders.  Jesus was just too amazing a person to ignore.

Now some might point to Jesus’s divinity as the reason He did not sin.  While I know that He was fully God, Philippians says He emptied Himself of all the privileges His divinity might give Him and He became fully human.  He was tempted in every way as we are and yet He was without sin.  So as Jesus entered all these situations which held many temptations, He was not immune to their allure.  He did not fall to them though.  Jesus spent time alone with His Father… consistently… intimately… frequently.  This was the source of His power over sin.  And this same source of strength is available to all who call upon Him and rely upon the Lord God.  We’ll talk about this more in a later post.

The children’s song – “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so” is absolutely true.  Jesus’ engagement with people in any and all situations shouts that loud and clear.  Was Jesus a Party Animal?  Jesus was (and still is) a lover of people and if that requires entering a raucous wedding party, a gay bar, or a high brow dinner party to share the gospel and save a soul He will.  Since we are His hands and feet today, then we must listen to His voice and follow the prompting of His Holy Spirit in this.  Jesus example was to enter places fraught with darkness and sin, yet He carried light, love, and faithfulness to God as He went.  He touched lives, He spoke life, He gave hope.  He expects us to do the same.

Love you all.  Grace and peace to you in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

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