We Have Jesus

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Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

When you have no one to turn too, remember that Jesus is always there with you. No matter how dark, how hopeless, and how alone you may feel, Jesus cares. Don’t give up and don’t give in and please, don’t run away.

Sometimes I want to, and if you are really truthful you do too. When we run from our despair we will only find more of that which we are trying to escape from. And that goes for whatever it is; grief, hurts, depression, guilt, sin, fear, death, it will only circle around and meet us again.

So let’s avoid the traps that have snared people since time began and turn to He who was a man but sinned not. JESUS.

That’s it, no more need be said, I am so glad that…we have Jesus!

Complaint’s Flowing Like A Rap

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I got this down! I can mix in a few complaints and whine sessions throughout my day without any effort at all. In fact it comes so naturally that I can flow in and out of it like a rapper throws down his rhyme.

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Many of us have found a way to expertly incorporate this not-so attractive human characteristic into our lives.  It is so easy, anyone can become an expert without hardly any effort at all, breaking down a litany of grievances and personal injustices to anyone within the sound of our voice.  Now, it may sound like I am complaining about complaining, and in a way that’s true.

On the flip side there are those who literally never complain, yeah, it’s almost sickeningly sweet to those of us who think we are “keeping it real.” I mean life isn’t all that great is it? No matter what the situation they see the brighter side, they are always smiling, ready to encourage someone, whistling a happy song, yada, yada…

 

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So what’s wrong with that I ask myself, and of course you who are reading my rantings at this very moment. NOTHING! You see every time we give into negativity we handicap ourselves a little more from experiencing the joy in life. For two reasons, first it reinforces a wall of negativity we build in our lives that refuses to truly acknowledge the good that surrounds us every day. Secondly, we infect people around us with this downer stuff that not only makes them look at us with a wary eye, but also causes them to be brought down just a little more.

 

I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. Philippians 4:10-11(MSG)

Isn’t that the key, really? Contentment in our personal lot in life, for though we are all created equal, many times our circumstances are not. I think the acceptance of our individual lives will take us a long way towards this contentment. Maybe a better viewpoint might be seeing the uniqueness of our lives and finding our place in this world. We all come from a different place, some of us have suffered great injustice, personally, physically, emotionally, mentally, and we somehow feel it gives us the right to complain. I say we listen to the words in this scripture and finally realize the contentment we can have isn’t in our stuff, our past, our hope for the future, in another individual, but in Christ Jesus our Lord. When I think of my weakness and failures but then filter my life through His grace and love for me I am lifted up beyond that place of negativity.

Lets make today a “complaint-free-day” and remember the grace we have received and live it’s message with joy!!!

 

Demystifying The Altar

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There is something on my heart today that I want to share. It concerns a pretty basic part of the Christian faith, and yet it is not used by most. Week after week and month after month, people go to their place of worship to sing, hear a message, see their friends, and go out to lunch. Year after year it is the same thing, but I believe there is something missing from this equation.

The altar.

I want to ask you when you last stepped from out from your seat, took that long walk to the front, and knelt before God publicly. You see, we sometimes tend to think it will be embarrassing, that our friends will judge us and wonder what deep, dark secret we are carrying there. There seems to be some sort of mystery to this place in the church, it’s like there’s this force-field surrounding its perimeter and we dare not go near it. So we go through our routine, week after week, month after month, and nothing changes, literally.  Do you realize the power that resides on ones knees before God, and before anyone who might be present? Or are you afraid you might show some emotion and be perceived in a way you don’t care for?

I went to the altar this past Sunday. I was a mess, having struggled all morning to keep my emotions in check. Through prayer time, worship rehearsal, conversations with others, I was ripe for the altar. God was showing me His grace, making clear that He loved me; and by the time the altar was open, I had to put my guitar down, and move to it’s steps. I was weeping openly and I could not control it, though for some reason I tried.

It was a holy moment in my life, and it was a needed part of my walk with Him. I wasn’t embarrassed, it was too intimate for that, I wasn’t aware of anyone else in that room, it was God and I.

Whether you go to the altar to express your love and praise to Jesus, or you have a relationship issue you need to talk to Him about, a need physically, emotionally, spiritually, whatever it is you need to be there. There is power in a physical demonstration of your need for God, it is humbling yourself without being concerned what anyone thinks. This is between you and Him and there is no mystery to that. Quit carrying that burden, hasn’t it been long enough? Haven’t you yet exhausted all the feeble wisdom you have and still don’t know the answer? There is an obstacle standing in your way that you are powerless to conquer, and your routine won’t help you defeat it.

So, the next time you have the opportunity to be in a place in which you and God are so close that you can feel His loving arms around you, go. The altar is open, no one is judging you, in fact, they should probably be right there with you dealing with their stuff. I can tell you from experience that there are things that no amount of counseling will fix apart from a sovereign time with our almighty God.

Go ahead; Gods freedom, grace, peace, and life are waiting for you, the altar is open.

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No, It’s Not Included In The Price!

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Haha…My wife and I are at a worship conference after arriving last night. I have a 10 am seminar to attend and I am an early riser so I ventured to the eating area with my laptop. I read the paper, looked online at the schedule for the conference while waiting for breakfast to be ready. We try to find places that include that important first meal of the day. So 6:30 rolls around and they open up, I mosey on over and grab a plate and get a few things when the guy running the thing asks for my voucher. I’m like, “the room included breakfast we are here for two nights”, obviously there has been a mistake. So I head over to check-in to find it is my error. “That will be $9.95 he says” I already have food so I have to pay. But you know what, the food wasn’t any better than the free breakfast you get at the other places. Dressed up a little but not that good. Maybe it was the price, I don’t know.

So I am asking myself what I can learn from this.  I don’t usually ask this question unfortunately, but I thought to myself there must be a lesson here.

I think of the guy asking someone else for something and now I remember the word “voucher” was used.  But I wasn’t paying close attention, I was in the middle of something else. Then I recall that they didn’t say breakfast was included, they merely said it is served at this specific time.  Yeah, a couple of details it would have been wise to pay closer attention too.  Was it an expensive lesson? No. after all it was only $9.95, but I could have avoided the embarrassment by paying attention. Instead I am paying the host at the checkout.

The moral of the story is to pay attention to details, listen carefully, and don’t assume.  We would all save needless cost;  from that of  a simple meal, to great heartbreak for ignorance we could easily avoid if we would just be wise. So let my miscue be a warning sign for you today. What are you taking for granted, and what are you assuming is the truth.

It might be wise to evaluate what you believe or think to be true about any of a number of things. Maybe it’s a good time to raise the sensors, check your surroundings, evaluate your assumptions. You may be wrong about some things that heeded now, could provide great relief in the future!

When You Cry

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If you haven’t lately, or since you can remember it might be time. This morning I am crying for a few things that come to mind, but it must be said they aren’t all tears of sadness, anger, or self-pity. Many emotions can go into a tear as you and I well know. Why is it we tend to go off alone in those times, times we all share in our experience as humans? What prompted my tears today was a bit of reminiscing as I listened to some music from my past. That’s one of the things about music that I love so much, and dislike, how it can take you back to a place or time you once knew.

I was listening to Creed, and the Winans; not as odd a couple as you might think. In my case I remembered years and years ago how I used to sing the Winans songs in church, “When You Cry, Together We Stand, Please Believe in Me,” and a variety of emotions struck me. Creed’s songs “Torn, My Own Prison, and Weathered”, all strike different chords in me from a totally unrelated time of life. Then there’s Russ Taff, Linkin Park, Switchfoot, Paul Baloche, George Clinton and Parliament, not all spiritually uplifting but part of the mosaic of my life.

And it’s in this moment when I hear the song “When You Cry”, that I am touched. I am in this place of leadership, ministry, relationship with others, and I am still alone. It is clearly true that we are all alone to an extent, for no one can walk the road we are on, feel the depth of our fears, doubts, longing, or sadness. Only one can be there with us through the pit of hell and the soaring beauty of the heavens, and that is God. So while I feel overwhelmed, unheard, even marginalized, He walks with me every step of the way. Since that day as a boy of 10 I asked Jesus into my heart He has been with me, I know this to my very core. I realize it’s not important for anyone to hear me but Jesus, that my words are just that, that my life’s vapor is quickly fleeting. I know that the way I thought life would go isn’t even close to reality, that my sin was far worse than I could have conceived, and that the Joy I sought was a mirage because it wasn’t true joy at all.

So I am here now, and in no hurry to take the next step, my heart is tired, and my body is weak. That is where I am…and that is where God can miraculously take over. Its when we fall into a heap at His feet with the truth of what we are apart from Him, that God can move in us. Conversely it is when we think we have the answers, that ours is the voice of authority, in the pride of what WE have become we silence the voice of God.

Do I have all the answers? No. Do I have more questions now than when I set out on this journey? Yes.

Lord, Help us to seek you in all the times of our lives, to remain humble, teachable, and loving. Don’t allow the difficulty of life to harden our hearts to what your call is upon each of our lives. Right now, come alive in us, quicken our bodies, our minds, and our spirits to the revelation of Christ in us. Today, we turn to You, the tears we cry are for the ultimate joy of knowing you.

Revelation 21:4

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”(NIV)

We discard our fears, our regrets, and choose to hold tightly to You with a love and devotion that transcends the meager time we are here on Earth. We love You and look forward to an eternity with You.  Amen!

Revelation 22:5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (NIV)

The Other Side of My Door

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Great post by my wife Susan on her new blog!!!

Originally posted on mylilypad:

 It was time to take out the trash again.  Like most apartment communities, we share a large bin with several other neighbors and each are expected to do their part to keep the area clean.  But, I have often been annoyed by what seemed to be the laziness of another neighbor. Several times they have left a plastic grocery bag of trash just inside of the gate surrounding the trash bin.  Why would someone just leave it on the ground and not bother to put it inside the bin?  Was someone sending their child to take out to the trash and they couldn’t reach high enough to throw it inside?  Each time, I considered calling the management office to complain (after all, we don’t want raccoons or rodents tearing up that trash, do we?).  Instead I would walk back to our home, vowing to try not to complain, as I…

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Pause To Give Thanks

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Nope, it isn’t thanksgiving, or even the month of November where so many people purpose to be thankful. Its January 19, post all that holiday frivolity and the new year is in full swing. It has been challenging personally, I am getting stretched beyond what I have ever experienced before and it is very uncomfortable.  You may be in a groove in which not much has changed over a rather long period of time and you might not know of what I speak. Then again being in that place itself can be difficult, same old same old, nothing new or exciting, and that can be a bummer. No matter what the situation it’s really good to give thanks, kinda a no-brainer but harder to do than it seems.

We have so much to be thankful for in every stage of life, and I speak as one who has suffered. Probably no more or less than anyone else, but this morning I am realizing how good life really is.  I  am married to the most wonderful woman, who has been gracious and loving to me, and I know I don’t deserve such a blessing. She is the picture of grace that God has given me, undeserved, unmerited favor, there is no way I could have expected anything so wonderful after all I had been and done.

Right there is more than enough to give God thanks for, but there is so much more. I can even be thankful for difficulty in my past knowing that it is all part of a marvelous tapestry being woven. A human life, and every one has value to God.

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So think about it…many things might come to mind immediately, or it might take a moment or two. Today let’s take a minute, pause, and be thankful.