Monday, June 30, 2014

One step at a time..hopefully in one direction!

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

It's an interesting walk! I just recently purchased a pedometer on Amazon. I was 
fortunate that it didn't arrive by drone! Once hooked to your belt, it measures each
footstep, keeping a mileage total until you reset it. Since things are quite hot down here
in Florida right now, walking sometimes looks like cruising the aisles at Walmart. I have
been quite amazed how far we all walk each day just being us... errands, trips to the mailbox,
etc. It all adds up.

Well much is the same with our walk toward Sanctification. It's actually a walk that
won't be finished while we are here, away from our real home. It's a slow progressive
journey led by the Holy Spirit of God toward being the person God originally created us
to be. Once we are in Christ and the Spirit is within us, nothing will prevent us from
continuing this walk short of our absolute rejection of the decision we have made to be

I took a 180 degree turn yesterday morning. I won't bother you with the details, but it
was frustrating to come to the quick realization that I had back-slid a bit. I simply did not
do what I needed to do and fell back into life-long habits I continue to battle. But that's
the way this journey goes. None of us, even with the Spirit within us, keep going in a
perfectly straight direction. We meander, if you will, even sometimes, like yesterday,
turn completely around. The good news is that we are loved by a patient, stubborn, determined God that will succeed in bringing us in line with the glorious image of
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

I was quickly convicted by the Spirit and my two loving children, felt mortified
to the marrow, and then reminded myself that even the reversals will not stand in the
way of this great, grace-filled journey.

So onward we go, head held high because we will one day be in the presence of our
God and will absolutely, thanks to Him, belong there!

Praise God!

Friday, June 27, 2014

He didn't mince words!

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."  John 10: 18

Anyone who takes on the task of studying the words of Jesus presented to us in the Holy
Bible through actual witnesses of His walk, can see that He simply never wasted a word. Even when He knelt down beside the adulteress in front of her accusers and wrote
in the dirt, one can imagine that what was written there was important. That whole
scene is so amazing. Every word spoken was for a reason, carefully chosen and meant 
to be considered and cherished by those who heard or would later read.

The sermon on the mount amazes me each and every time I read it. It is, without question,
the finest piece of teaching and prose ever said. 

So the scripture above is very telling in the fact that Jesus is speaking of His part in the
tri-une covenant, a part he took on willingly and steadfastly as He walked toward Calvary
with the potential salvation of all those separated from God in the balance. His giving
of His life for the sake of His sheep was voluntary in the sense that He had the power
to turn away from this task. Having the power and using the power were, of course,
completely different because He never wavered, despite the bloody drops of sweat and
the plea to take up the cup, from what He knew must happen.

Before time began, God knew that there would need to be a spotless lamb, a
great high priest, a sacrifice that only Jesus could complete for there to be any
chance for our salvation. All three members of the trinity were in the planning and
the implementation of the plan. It was carried out and is, to this very day, being
carried out for those who would bend their knees and admit that they are lost
and in need of a Savior. It is the only plan that could have worked, the only solution
for the innate sinfulness and chasm between God and His created.

What a glorious blessing; the grace of a God who reaches out in love and gives
to those who would accept. I hope you have made that choice and that the words
in your heart are full of praise for this amazing God.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The wonderful gardening of the Holy Spirit

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  Gal 5:22 23

I have always loved planting things and watching them grow. When I lived in my home state of Ohio, tomatoes and roses were my favorite and most successful endeavors. Yet, there were any number of things that I loved to watch grow. My sweet daughter, Olivia, and I planted an acorn. Our expectations were met and then some when a beautiful red oak tree
emerged and grew to a lovely specimen.

Well, as you know, there's some great gardening going on inside each son and daughter
adopted into the family of our Heavenly Father. The gardener has a wonderful green thumb
and is known far and wide for His successes in gardening and elsewhere. He is cultivating
the fruits of the spirit inside of us as we are moved along the road to sanctification. He will
not be  bothered by the weeds planted by satan, our own less-than-steadfast efforts or
any other roadblock, for He is the Spirit of God. Enough said.

The wonderful things about these fruits being grown is that they are, essentially, the
very characteristics of blessed Jesus. They are essentially the very attributes one sees in
the life and ministry of God on earth. They flow out of His words, His deeds, his very
essence, and they are available to us as we are being sanctified.

Not seeing much growth or noticing new branches? Well the gardening work can be slow and tedious, but if you just concentrate you should be able to notice those little shoots
of new growth. Do not worry because this gardener is patient and steady as He does His
glorious work.

All the more amazing is the fact that Jesus, the walking representation of the Father,
was providing for us the only true look at His Father.

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!  John 14: 9

So we are also being transformed into the very likeness of the living God. Wow.
I just want to work hard at knowing and glorifying God and enjoy the wonderful,
growing fruits that are being cultivated within me. How amazing is our God!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lest you have forgotten...You are Forgiven!

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”  Hebrews 8: 12

'Cause we all make mistakes sometimes
And we've all stepped across that line
But nothing's sweeter 
Than the day we find
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
    Forgiveness   Toby Mac  from Eye On It

Sin is interesting once one becomes a Christian. (meaning Jesus is happening
in our hearts) We are different in our relationship to sin, even though we continue to sin and will do so until we die. We need to be careful in the ways we react to and think about the
sin that is an on-going part of our nature.

There is, to a certain extent, some bliss in the ignorance one has toward his sin when he
is not convicted of it by the Holy Spirit. But once we are reborn into Christ we are no longer
unaware of even the smallest of our sins. It's no longer okay to make excuses, pardon
ourselves with a variety of reasons or act as though no one has noticed. Even the smallest
of sins puts us at enmity to God; He cannot tolerate or accept any sin, and He notices
our sin...always. It feels really bad to realize that we, even on our best days, cannot live
up to His high standards.... yet....

We have been forgiven!

It is frustrating to want badly to stop falling into temptation, to avoid sinful thoughts and
actions only to find that we are repeating them. I (and this is surely not original) look at sin
as Satan In Nature. We are born with a sinful nature as a direct result of the original sin
against God in the garden. That serpent was the devil. The great deceiver. Even though
it surely is not acceptable to ignore these repeated slip-ups, we can always strive to
go to God with our confessions and seek His help. 

The power of confession lies not with the person who makes it but with the God that hears it!  Lucado from Grace

God wants to know that we are contrite and opposed to our sins. He wants us to come
to Him with our heart-felt wishes to be better because of His forgiveness.

Perhaps the most meaningful use of energies that come from all this lies in the
ability of those who have been forgiven to forgive others as a result. Despite our
fallen nature, our repetition of sinfulness, God has promised us that He will not
remember our sin because He looks upon the righteousness of His beloved son who
is there at His right hand in our behalf. How could we not, therefore, be forgiving
of others?

It's best to put on that armor of God and do battle against Satan with all the help of
God and glorify Him for the grace He has shown, is showing and will continue to

He is a loving gracious Father God. All praise, glory and honor to His name.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It'll all come out in the wash! (God's wash)

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Problems! They just seem to happen, don't they. We all experience them, so God being
sovereign and in complete control, we know that they are a part of life. Yet, have you
noticed that they don't necessarily come one-at-a-time? Without meaning to sound like a
Morton Salt commercial, it pours, sometimes, when it rains. Just when you think something
else cannot go wrong, oops, it does.

Well, if you've been to my blogs before, you will know that God does, indeed, give us more
than we can handle. Yep, on purpose. You see, we were never meant to depend upon ourselves, John Wayne forgive me, to solve all or even most of life's problems. We aren't
up to the challenge because we weren't supposed to be. If we are able to work out a problem
and come up with a positive solution, it's really because that's what God intended.

Seems like some folks just have more than their share of tough situations. It's really hard
to compare, but I am sure that we all, in God's time, will suffer through times that seem
so very dark and difficult. It helps to have support from family, friends, fellow Christians,
but in the end, we have to depend on God.

Once we become aware that we aren't up to the task(s), we best reach out to Jesus. I would
suggest that we "lean-into" Him, as I heard in a recent sermon. He, Jesus, is the shelter,
the hope, the strength, the comforter, the shepherd that takes care of His flock. He is
willing and able to hear, accept, understand and see our problems to whatever culmination
that God has planned. Not only is Jesus able, He is aware and waiting for our calls
for help. It is what He does. He is Jesus.  

So, go ahead, lean on Him. Let His loving arms embrace you and lessen your burdens.
Let Him guide you to more still waters and rest for your troubled soul. It's what scripture
tells us to do. That makes it the truth, and when it comes to difficult life problems, that
truth, and only that truth, will set you free.

Praise our loving God!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Yes, Virginia, that's manna in our back yard!

The food miraculously sent to the Israelites during their forty years sojourn in the desert (Exodus 16; Numbers 11:6-9).  (catholic encyclopedia)

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6: 35

Give us this day, our daily bread....

It was food needed as thousands of Israelites traveled across the desert searching for
the promised land; people who were made to travel much longer than necessary due to their
failure to heed God's commands. It, along with water provided in mysterious ways, was
totally sustaining.

There's grace and then there is grace. There is salvational grace, grace provided by
God that, though not deserved, allows His creatures to be saved. It is the grace that
most folks think of when grace is discussed. It is a monumental gift that pulls us out of
conflict with God and into adoption as His sons and daughters through, and only through,
the work of Jesus Christ.

But there is another very important grace; it is provisional grace, that grace which
allows us to survive. Without this grace, we would not live. This is a grace that is given
each minute we exist, one that provides the necessary life-giving things like a beating
heart, breathing lungs, an environment so closely fine-tuned that the slightest change
could well mean extinction.

When we get up out of bed, when we fix meals to eat, when we travel to work or
school, when we accomplish anything, it is through the provision of our Father in
heaven...we didn't allow or cause any of it to happen. 

So how should this make is feel? Well, I'd start with a good dose of thankfulness!
It's really no secret why we should glorify God, is it... without the glory of God we,
his clay, would not exist. He is a sovereign, loving, all powerful and all knowing
God. We.... are served well by remembering His grace each and every time we

Praise God!

He's preaching to the it's me!

21 tthat they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that uthey also may be in vus, so that the world wmay believe that you have sent me.  John 17: 21

Well, it happened again. I am sitting there in church listening carefully to the pastor
preach when it occurs to me "that he is preaching right at me!" What he is sharing with the
guidance of God, is totally about me, related to me, is a description of me.... you get the
picture. Almost makes one want to slink down in the pew and disappear, in some cases.

But yesterday, no slinking occurred. the message was about the importance of joining a local
church, both the benefits and the responsibilities associated with that membership being
discussed. It was my final day as a frequent participant as I am moving out of state to
join my beloved daughter and son-in-law.

This local church became of primary importance in my life for the three and one-half years
that I have attended. The people there in this small congregation were immediately
accepting of me, gave me guidance, taught me many things that my soul NEEDED to know
and provided welcome fellowship. The people truly modeled the idea that those in Christ
are brothers and sisters, not just for life, but forever after, as well. I met wonderful, kind,
generous, sparkly people who will forever be in my heart.

After all, that is what benefits those who join a church where they live. That's the
responsibility of those who belong there, to reach out and gather a new person in and
guide their spiritual life. 

I will miss these folks, this church. Due to what happened there, I will, at least
in spirit, always be a member there.

Praise God for Crossroad Christian church!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How could.....

Thursday, June 5, 2014

He walked the walk!

 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28: 16-20

It was the Great Commission. Jesus was sending His disciples out into a hostile world where
they would face many of the same issues that He faced as He basically turned the world
upside down. He wasn't what the messiah was supposed to be like. He didn't overthrow the
enemies of the people of Israel and act the part of the King that He was. They failed to
recognize Him and, in fact, gave Him up to be crucified.

But these disciples were armed with the Holy Spirit of God and had the privilege to have
witnessed the walk of Jesus during which He taught with words and with actions. He would
never have said, "Do as I say and not as I do." He wouldn't have passed out WWJD jewelry
to his disciples so that they would know what He wanted them to do and say. They had
lived the earthly ministry with its great miracles and its major disappointments. His death
had brought a horrible end in their eyes and they scattered and hid for fear of their lives.
Yet, He rose from the dead and came back to them.

Perhaps the most amazing look at the modeling of Jesus came in the upper room during
the Passover Meal, the Last Supper. Here Jesus would kneel before these men who He
knew would react just as they did. The King of Kings knelt before them and washed and
dried their feet, a true example of the love and humility that he expected of them. He
washed the very feet of those who would deny Him, offer Him up to be crucified and
refuse to believe that He had risen again. It was the unselfish, loving example of serving
others that went on display before them; it was a lesson in caring for and loving others.
it was the type of thing that brought glory to His father and expressed His love and 
compassion for His followers who would begin the great task of spreading the good news
to the entire world.

No one was like Jesus. No one could ever be. Our goal is to allow the Spirit within
us to work at transforming us into creatures more like his image. What a glorious
image that is; what a truly great God He is.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The job description that defeated Satan

Hebrews 4:15: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Here's a tough job description for you...Just go and be perfect! That's "prefect" as in no
errors, no mistakes, no slip-ups, no yielding to know... be perfectly righteous and without sin. It's very hard to even imagine such a crazy thing, and to
make it even more difficult try leaving a perfect situation and totally humbling
yourself, try having the weight of the salvation of the entire world resting on your
shoulders, try having your Father send you with that task. Not just any Father;
the God of the universe.

Yet, that is what faced Christ Jesus as he walked this earth for about 33 years. Daunting
enough to know that you were marching toward Golgotha and death on a tree, that you
were facing the great tempter, whose very existence centered on seeing that you would
not succeed, but this job called for perfection. 

Not ONE sin. Ever. None at all. In order for Jesus to become a propitiation for our
own raging sinfulness, He had to be perfectly spotless, without blemish. His death upon
the cross would not have been sufficient to allow God to see us in the light of the
righteousness of Christ. He had to be perfect in order to be lifted up as an intercessor
for us at the right hand of God the Father. And boy oh boy do we need that

Don't know about you, but I begin sinning before my feet touch the floor in the
morning. Not a great way to be perfect, but that's the amazing thing, because Christ
was perfect, we do not have to be. We have the Spirit of God helping us to work at
being more like Jesus as we are sanctified. 

But there was only one Jesus. Only one Son of God. Only one who could take on this
task of perfection and succeed. He came in humility and service, He sacrificed Himself
for His sheep, and He will return in powerful, radiant glory to finish the work of
judging this world and crushing the devil forever!

Come Jesus, we are waiting with awe and patience for your return!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Just wanted to share...

By Dr James Allen
  from the Life and Times of Jesus   Michael Ruszala

"One Solitary Life"

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
  from the place He was born
He did none of the things
  usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but Himself.....

Nineteen centuries have come and gone....

All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that have ever reigned    put together...

Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life!

from Grace: More Than We Deserve   by Max Lucado

Have you ever been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace?
Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of the neck
and shaken to your senses by grace? God's grace has a drenching about it. A
wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it.
Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God-secure. From
regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly. Grace
is the power that calls us to change and then gives the power to pull it off.

The Christian is a person within whom Christ is happening!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My non-phony testimony

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3    

Here's how it has gone. I was sprinkle baptized at a very early age. What followed was
sporadic church attendance, including some Sunday School teaching. Amazingly
enough I entered my sixth decade on this earth totally ignorant. Ignorant of simply
the most crucial information out there: information about God, Jesus, Redemption, the get the picture.

God, in His amazing grace, tapped me on the shoulders in a house church in Oxford, Ohio,
where my sweet daughter and eventual husband were going to college. Then events led
to those two getting married, moving to McKinney, Texas and I followed eventually.
I attended the little church (big things come in small packages!) where Matthew's family
attended and the journey began.

Now, Bruce, one of the elders, was rather adamant about my being baptized, so adamant
that it was quickly scheduled and completed. My son-in-law did the honors and there
I was, baptized. I repeated the words that I believed in the Jesus, the Son of God and
wished to give my life to Him. And I did.....

But where were the bells and whistles? Where were the fireworks, streamers, party
horns... those feelings, inside, that would lead me to believe that a change had been
made? They weren't there. I was a bit shocked and disappointed. I really, in my heart,
had no faith at that point...did not know Jesus at that point and just felt weird.

Well... what followed was a slow progression of blessing. I began attending a Sunday
school class, led by a wonderful friend who loves donuts, and he began to teach me many
things that I found myself wanting to learn. I attended the services on Sunday and
was blessed by a great "pastor," began attending men's Bible sessions on Wednesday
evenings and found myself more and more comfortable. 

Let me cut, here, to the chase. As this progression continued, the Holy Spirit was
at work within my heart. Still no bells and whistles; yet, I could tell in small, subtle
ways that things were changing. 

From the moments after a baptism, that may have happened too quickly, to where
I am now, there has been a great change. Suddenly, I have NO doubt that I love and
adore my Lord and Savior Jesus. I have NO doubt that I have been forgiven my sins
and NO doubt that the words of the Bible are the truth and those of God, Himself.

No bells and whistles but lots of wonderful joy, assurance and "faith." Yes, faith.
And all of this happened in God's good time and with God's love and grace. How very
very lucky am I! All of these wonderful folks who have guided and cared for me are
my family and I will, one day, dwell in God's house with them for a very long time.

It's a story that may be like others; the point is that it's a story that is waiting for
anyone who kneels down and asks Jesus to come in. I hope you will do so, today, if
you haven't already. That's a fervent hope!

Praise God!