Friday, December 30, 2016

Don't have to be the Great Commissioner!

We are called to go out into the world and spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a way, it's a daunting mission in a world that increasingly looks at Christianity and religion, in general, from a more secular viewpoint. People who have spent much time erecting barriers and walls often do not wish to be approached; sometimes they can be rude and argumentative.

My own record at converting others is very very poor. I could not point to one person that has come to the Lord directly as a result of my testimony or discussions we have had about salvation.

The good news (other good news!) is that we don't really have to hit a home run when we talk to others about God's Gospel of forgiveness. We are not, after all, the agent of conversion; that's God's job. We are reflections of His glory, salt and light if we are living our lives in the Spirit, people who have been regenerated, yet people who still struggle with our own sin and occasional doubt.

Each of us has been granted certain gifts translating into certain approaches to the task of sharing the light of God with others. Having been a career teacher of English, I have used these blogs to share ideas and expressions about how I see God and His abundant love. Have I been successful, through these writings, in at least causing folks to think about things, I pray so.

I have been sharing Christian quotes, now, for years with anyone interested in reading what some very very intelligent and influential folks have to say about God and His created. I, personally, learn a lot from these brief, but often powerful, ideas.

It's all about ripples. It may be the case that many of us have done little things, used by God, to help begin the process of bringing people to saving faith. We may actually be touching many souls with whom we have no personal contact at all; yet, in little things that we do and say, God can use us because He is powerful to save and love.

So chin up! Just do what you do and let God take care of the real work. He's pretty good at what He does!

Praise our God!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merry Christmas.. every day!

It came and went again, very very quickly. All the preparations, planning and opening come and go so fast that it amazes! I hope and pray that your Christmas was Christ-centered and that amidst that framework, you enjoyed family, friends, food and all the other aspects that make this a day which most people anticipate.

I find Christmas magical. It's easy, as a child, to be so excited about opening gifts on Christmas morning, and I can still remember my daughter, Olivia, coming down the stairs with a look of wonderment in her young eyes that reflected the lights on the tree. It has become, for me, even more magical as I have become aware in my heart of the real gift that came down from heaven in a most amazing way, a helpless child, King of the Universe, Christ Jesus among us.

God, in essence, sent God as a tiny baby boy, to save the world from, yes, God. Takes a moment to try to grasp that, doesn't it. A baby born in an animal shelter amidst all the things that one would find in such a place, an event unknown to many who were alive at that time. A plan that surely indicates the sovereignty of God as this child, totally helpless, would grow and walk this earth for thirty-three years only to die for all the sins of the world, providing a way to bring mankind into a relationship with a God who can tolerate no sin.
Incredible isn't even adequate to put this into words.

So, my question is this? Why limit, in our hearts, one day in December to celebrate what God has done. Where would we be without this incredible birth, a one-rime event, never to be repeated? What would have been our hope, our purpose, our eternal future without the birth of Jesus? 

I really do not need all the trappings each and very day. I am very satisfied to join in the feelings and smiles that I associate with Christmas Day; yet, I can easily awake each morning with the realization that once, on a star-lit night, probably not in December, God sent His
beloved Son on a mission that would end in painful suffering, yet bring our only hope to a world that is dark and full of sin. 

Join me, won't you? In your own heart, celebrate this magical birth with thanksgiving and awe. Re-visit, frequently, the accounts in Luke and Matthew of this day of days. Let your mind travel forward to the cross and all that it means to each soul. Merry Christmas, indeed,
each and every day!
Praise our God!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

When it comes to belief....

...wanting to believe is actually being there!

It's tough for many people to believe. Now I can see my cat chase a rat, bring it to me and expect me to praise her. I can believe that she has, indeed, accomplished something because I have the rat right there, often in my bed.

But believing something spiritual is a whole different animal. (had to keep with the cat motif) Believing that which is beyond our senses, which we cannot reach out and touch, something magical, even mystical, brings out the old wall builders within us. For starters, when it comes to believing the gospel and the grace which is Jesus Christ, we have no starting mechanism beyond the wooing of God. He, and only He, can begin the process because we simply aren't disposed to accepting Him. Our natural inclination is to run in the opposite direction. We don't need or want to surrender ourselves and allow someone else to drive the car, so to speak.

While some conversions into belief are sudden and momentary, I would suggest that many others are gradual and 'bumpy.' We stop ourselves just on the outer edges of crossing the line into belief. We just don't completely feel it. Therefore, we take a few steps backward and wait for inner confirmation.

I believe that God, in His wonderful way, has a starting point which we may be able to recognize and grab onto that will allow us to tear down some of those barriers. It is when we suddenly realize that deep within us we WANT to believe. We see our lives begin to change when we go to church, read the Bible, talk with those who are in Christ. We begin to notice that some of the things we observe are very positive to us to the point of wanting to be a believer.

The belief, after realizing that we want it, begins, by God's grace and the Holy Spirit, to grow. In my case, there was that moment, months after I began the journey, when I suddenly realized that the doubts had slipped away without my recognition and I did, in fact, believe whole-heartedly. I even searched myself for those doubts.... gone. It was the most wonderful, amazing feeling of peace. 

Even the most ardent believer still possesses some degree, some moments of doubt. I believe that these are natural to human beings, not dangerous, just bumps. God will allow these to be smoothed over and we will continue our journey toward Jesus.

So quiet down and listen. Does your heart actually want to respond to belief in the Lord and creator of the universe? Do you want to follow Him and have Him live within you? Are you ready to wait a bit for full belief. 

Let it happen. It is the most precious and important decision you will even make, eternally.

Praise God!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The word became flesh....

..and made His dwelling among us!
John 1: 14

Let every heart prepare Him room....

Tabernacle is one of my favorite words to say. In the King James version of the above verse,
it states that God tabernacled among us. It is to say that God, originally in the wilderness with the Jews, was said to dwell in a large tent that sat at the very center of those who had been freed from bondage in Egypt. 

In this verse, John is saying that Jesus, God Himself, came into this dark world full of light and life and chose to dwell among His created. He certainly came in unusual and modest circumstances on a mission to save His people, His church to be, from God's Holy wrath. He had chosen, from before time, to come for one purpose. To live out the gospel message and be our only and best look at the very attributes of God, Himself.

He was despised, his message was not well received and, in God's chosen time, He was willing to lay down His very life to achieve God's loving purpose,  a propitiation for sins that God could not tolerate. A payment that removed once for all the barrier between God and His created.

Well, He left us to return to the Glory He had known; yet, as He promised, He sent His spirit back into the world. For those born of water and the spirit, God has, once again, tabernacled- this time, within His people. Just as Jesus promised to go and prepare a room for those He would eventually call to Himself, we have a room prepared with us for this wonderful Spirit who lives within those who believe, always busy working to change us more and more into the image of our beloved Savior. 

This is the true Christmas story, this is the great Christmas gift, this is the true meaning of Christmas: Christ's birth and rebirth into our very hearts. Joy to the world, indeed. A King born in a manger. A plan that would not be changed. A God who loves beyond out wildest imagination.

Praise this God!!!