The Gatekeeper

I sat, arms defiantly crossed over my body as my leg, also crossed, bounced slightly, up and down, up and down. Worship music was playing and the singer was encouraging us to just be held. I thought, rebelliously, I don’t want to be held! I just want this situation to go away and everything to be normal again.

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Where Are You Looking?

This can be a difficult one—fixing our gaze on Jesus, especially during this challenging time of a pandemic, shelter-in-place, and social distancing. When we focus on the challenges and struggles before us there can be a tendency to miss the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Instead we can allow ourselves to focus on the length of the tunnel, or the stale and dank air in the tunnel. 

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Sunday is Coming!

May we each bear our cross for whatever situation we currently find ourselves with the strength and peace of Him who bore the unimaginable cross for our sins. And, may we help each other bear our crosses together.

I am thankful for you WordPress family! Of all the social media platforms you are my favorite. From around the world you share your kindness, grace and love of Jesus.

It is Good Friday but Sunday is coming!

Shalom!

The Big Lie

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

Satiated by their finished meal, the open fires casted a slight shadow over them as they and His disciples continued to listen intently. Preoccupied with the many things they had heard that day and evening were cause for consideration.

One of the things that caught their attention was Jesus telling them He would be ashamed of them if they were ashamed of Him and His words. Oh the deep, painful, and overwhelming sorrow they felt at these words.

Many of us probably associate ashamed with shame. Let’s stop right here.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1.

If you believe in Jesus there is no longer shame or condemnation on your shoulders.

In our verse today (Mark 8:38) Jesus is teaching that being ashamed is two-fold. It applies to those who haven’t accepted Jesus and have misplaced their trust and confidence in the big lie—someone or thing other than Jesus.

It also means Jesus will be ashamed of those who erroneously think, wrongly identify or align themselves with anyone or thing other than Him. I understand this is hard to hear for many especially because Jesus ushered in the new covenant of love.

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

It is because of love Jesus gives the warning in our verse today. The adulterous and sinful generation began the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit and it continues to this day.

How you share this truth matters. It holds much weight. Yes, there is an urgency and we want others to know Jesus loves them. We also want them to know they don’t have to believe the big lie. 

I encourage you to think about all the practical ways you can share Jesus. Smiling at strangers, picking up those items that fall off the shelf at grocery stores that others pass by, paying for the order of the car behind you in a drive-thru. These small steps help build our confidence and trust in Jesus and prepare us to move onto the bigger assignments He has for us.

How will you share Jesus today?

Shalom!

 

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Profit and Recognition

Believing in Jesus is not a for-profit lifestyle

The stunned crowd regained their presence of mind and realized they were hungry. They took some time to share a meal. Sitting around an open fire they pondered what the Teacher had said as they ate fig cakes, raisin cakes and loaves of bread. They drank wine from wine skins to quench their dry and parched throats.

As Jesus began to teach again He was talking about profit and gaining the world. Fist bump, now He was speaking their language. Surely the tax collectors in the crowd were salivating. Wait. Did He just say forfeit? What does forfeit and gaining the whole world have to do with each other?

Believing in Jesus automatically makes you His disciple. Hold up, I can sense and hear some of you saying, this isn’t what I signed up for. I hear you. I’m sorry if the discipleship part was or has been left out of what you’ve been taught. It is still eternally better than the alternative. Everyday I am learning something new about what it means to truly follow Jesus. We can learn together.

Believing in Jesus is not a for-profit lifestyle. Nor, is it for worldly recognition, or, any recognition. How can it be when our heart’s desire ought to be revealing Jesus? Profit and recognition stand in stark contrast to Jesus. Thursday’s post encouraged you to ask God to reveal to you what area’s from your past need to go. Could ego and pride (recognition) and acquiring vast wealth (monetary profit) be included in what God is showing you? It has been for me. I grew up with depression age parents. We always had everything we needed (and this ought to have been enough) but rarely did we have the things we desired. I fell into the trap of credit cards, yes that is plural, at an early age. Praise God for His divine wisdom and guidance. It wasn’t easy allowing myself to be set free from those chains but His plans are always best. We’ve also been working on pride through the years. That is an ugly root. Here’s the thing, when we choose to spend time with Jesus He lavishes us with His love. We begin to desire to change because of Him and for Him. He is so patient as we learn to trust Him and discover the changes that become apparent in our life.

Is it okay to profit? Sure it is if we use it from a kingdom perspective. When we profit it is our responsibility to do good, help and benefit others. In regards to forfeit Jesus is speaking to those who have not made a choice for Him. They may profit and gain recognition but will continue to carry the penalty of sin on their soul causing them to live a part from the light of heaven with Jesus.

Be bold with me today in the way you speak, the way you behave, and the way you share Jesus. Let’s be disciples according to His word. The world needs your smile, your hello, your compassion, your resources—money, time, talent, prayers. The world needs you to love them like Jesus.

Shalom!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

Opposite Day

Continuing their journey, the midday heat has dissipated and the cool of the desert evening is beginning to surround them. He and His disciples approach a large crowd holding torches to light the quickly advancing darkness. A donkey brays somewhere in the distance and the birds chirping begins to quiet as the desert settles for the night

He invites the crowd to come closer along with His disciples as He prepares to teach.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Mark 8:34,35

The crowd is stunned by His words. His disciples, well, can you hear their thoughts? Deny ourselves…take up our cross…saving our life means losing it…losing our life means saving it? This is not opposite day or is it? The disciples have heard Jesus teach many things but this has them scratching their heads.

  • Deny is the Greek word aparneomai and means to utterly refuse to recognize the original source involved (Biblehub.com).

  • Cross is the Greek word stauros and represents unspeakable pain, humiliation and suffering – and ironically is also the symbol of infinite love! At the cross, Jesus won our salvation – which is free but certainly not cheap! (Biblehub.com).

Be encouraged! The Cross is not a symbol for suffering in general. It represents the trials, challenges and hardships we experience in life and are able to endure because of the power of Holy Spirit in us.

  • Lose is the Greek word apollumi meaning to be lost or utterly perish.

  • Save (my favorite of today’s words) is the Greek word sózó meaning to heal, preserve, rescue. Rescued from the former version of ourself and delivered into divine safety.

This is all fine and dandy but what does this actually look like for us? When we deny ourselves we are refusing to recognize the version of ourself prior to Jesus. This reminds me of Lot’s wife that turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back. I am not suggesting that we will turn into a pillar of salt for looking back at our former self, in fact, many of us are still working through area’s of our life that have to do with who we use to be, reconciling those area’s and receiving God’s abundant healing. Once we have both feet on the ground and can move forward, then, looking back is useless. I pray the power of Holy Spirit in you to see you successfully through any healing He is doing in you from your past. You’ve got this!

The Cross, oh the blessed Cross. Thank you Jesus for the Cross. Because of His death on the Cross you and I don’t have to endure that torture. We don’t have to live apart from the light and love of God. We don’t have to continue in sin because we have been set free! However, we all have, will and will continue to have struggles, trials, hardship, muck and yuck in our life this side of heaven.

Because of Jesus we aren’t lost and won’t utterly perish. We are rescued, healed and preserved by Him. We are saved.

Denying ourself for the sake of the gospel is the least we can do for what He did for us. With His help explore the area’s of the old version of yourself and ask Him what needs to go. Ask Him to help you let go. Ask Him for His help to endure the cross you are bearing. He is faithful to always help.

Jesus invited the crowd to come closer. He invites you too.

Shalom!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

She Was Considered Righteous

Perhaps she felt there wasn’t another choice but to live the life she had fallen into. Maybe her parents were ill and couldn’t care for her rather she had to care for them. Was she once married and her husband left or passed? Were there young mouths to feed? Did tax collectors charge her exorbitantly to live in her meager homestead? Or, perhaps she was exploited beyond her control and considered an ‘untouchable’ according the the custom and culture of the time and left to fend for herself and that of her family. Whatever her reasons she had become a prostitute.

I sense her desperation. Distraught, lonely and hopeless even while living among family and friends. Suddenly, two men of God appear requiring her assistance. Inherently, she knew the right thing to do. She may not have lived righteously up to this point, held by the bondage of her sin, but life was about to change for her and her family.

He has also set eternity in the human heart…Ecclesiastes 3:11b.

All along her heart knew eternity and like so many she found herself lost along the path of life. But now…now her decision to help these men for the sake of God was considered righteous.

Let’s choose to stop striving and connect with eternity that sits in our heart. Ask Holy Spirit to help you continually hear His soft voice wooing you closer, deeper and more intimately to His heart. In this place with Him lavishing you with His faithful and unending love you truly can do all things through Him.

As we learn to connect with eternity in our heart let’s also reach out and teach others, especially those that have been marginalized, to connect with eternity in their heart also. Can you imagine what the world will look like when we do?

She was considered righteous. She was Rahab.

Shalom!

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Faith, Deeds, Life

The man standing at the back of the gathering in the square shouted, “That is preposterous!” Another jumped to his feet, robes gently billowing in the late afternoon breeze, and demanded, “What is the meaning of this?” As I watched the crowd was becoming restless and I could sense a small uprising mounting. I could taste the dust in my mouth as the people milling around kicked it up in disbelief wondering, is James telling us faith is the catalyst for good deeds?

They were taught to take care of the widows and orphans, give to the poor and be a good samaritan. That every good deed they produced was of their own accord and had absolutely nothing to do with faith. Faith was something in Yahweh.

Faith is not passive and genuine faith is the reality that we align our life too through Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit.

As your faith grows so will the deeds God wants you to be involved in. Faith and deeds go hand in hand. Our responsibility is to remain open to all acts of deeds He places before us asking Holy Spirit to help us be courageous, bold and obedient.

Further, our responsibility is to move when God instructs us to. To fill the needs He places before us. Whether these needs are financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. Healing, great healing, comes from our faith which leads to deeds that God works through to offer healing to others.

May our good deeds be known by our growing faith in Jesus. May our faith be genuine and always active as we continue to seek Him and His righteousness.

Shalom!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.

People Don’t Care What You Know

Until they know you care (President Teddy Roosevelt). I’m on a soapbox this morning! It started with reading an article about the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state. A little history, well, because I love history. The land D.C. sits on was taken from the state of Maryland and the 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia do not vote for a senator but do have a delegate in the House of Representatives who does not have a House floor vote (Yahoo News 360).

There are several reasons for and against the District of Columbia becoming a state. Now, I’m not going to get political here but this comment caught my attention. “Political bribery is what the creation of states has been all about, with some exceptions. Whenever there’s a desire to create a new state, all Congress has to do is vote for it. But like animals on Noah’s ark, states have historically entered the union in pairs, with lawmakers using new states to maintain the balance of partisan power — or at least try to.” — Alan Greenblatt, Vox. Noah’s Ark? Of course that caught my attention! And if CA has its way it would change the histrocity of granting statehood in twos [but that is another political debate].

What really has me on the soapbox is the people reason for not wanting the District to become a state [in my opinion if we hadn’t taken God out of almost every area of life the world would be a much better place but I digress]. I don’t care what color your skin is, I don’t care what color your hair is, I don’t care what lifestyle you live, I don’t even care what political party you participate in.

What I do care is that you know you are loved.

When we choose to love others right where they are we begin to see past race, creed, nationality, addiction, homelessness, sexual orientation or a dozen other stereotypes the enemy uses to keep us fearful of simply loving. As the Church we need to learn to love like Jesus. We need to learn about others, their passions, what drives them, their dislikes, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry and truly listen and genuinely care.

As a believer in Christ you have the mind of Christ. It is your responsibility as a disciple of Jesus and an ambassador of eternity to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, speak like Jesus [in modern vernacular but you get the point] and love like Jesus. To build relationships and share what you are for…JESUS! And what you’re against-the enemy twisting and perverting your ideology and theology that causes you to perhaps operate from fear. To which I heartily rebuke in Jesus Name, Amen!

What does Jesus do? He loves and shares Himself with all people.

Let’s be like Jesus.

Shalom!

If you don’t have a Bible but would like one please email me by clicking on the contact me button at the top of the page or if you’re viewing from a mobile device click on the menu button in the upper right.