Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brimming Truth

IN THE FACE OF ALL THE crap we may encounter trying to deceive, there remains that way greater truth./ Somethin well beyond anything this world could ever offer. It's about simply allowin God/ To reach our hearts with absolute truth. Yep, somethin well beyond whatever might attract in this/ Life and instead create a wellspring in our hearts that cannot be compared, truly that can lay/ Well above the wimpiness of this world. For God brings a pure, truthful message unable to be compared.

Identifying Truth

FACT IS AS WE CARRY on about life, truth remains difficult to discern. This racket here, that deceptiveness there. Seems so often a trick or two aims to capture something off of us. But the bigger truth, the One that obviously carries the biggest impact, is about God's sincere, obviously given that He can't lie, interest in capturing our attention to His level of honesty. Given that such thinking truly shines. He presents the idea this way, "But we can trust what God says even more, and God is the one who has spoken about his Son. 10 If we have faith in God’s Son, we have believed what God has said. But if we don’t believe what God has said about his Son, it is the same as calling God a liar." (I John 5:9-10). Heck yeah! If we just approach God's mission of spreading the truth about His Son across the land as something precious, we become way more positive and hopeful. For it ain't anything like the shadiness ever present about us. Instead, when God shines such a message He so desperately wants our abandoned devotion, our pure belief and absolute trust that He has the truth in spades we can never attain on the earth. Holy Father, we do pray that You would always kindly remind us to fully trust your message way beyond anything we can ever have on the earth. In Jesus name, amen! May God open Heaven like a curtain and come down to you with storm clouds under His feet.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Loving God

SO WHAT'S IT REALLY mean to love God?/ Seems that should be easy when He makes us feel awed./ But the truth of the matter is not that simple./ He sees it in terms of loving others with deep candor.

So What does Loving God Look Like?

IN THE HEART OF A BELIEVER, there must remain a quandry: what's it mean to love God? He's invisible, so how do ya actually feel a concern for Him? Great question. Really, it does get tough to actually feel some sort of passion for an invisible being--for we can't really touch Him. But, fortunately, He lays out what true care for the Creator appears like, "We love because God loved us first. 20 But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see? 21 The commandment that God has given us is: 'Love God and love each other!'” (I John 4:19-21). Do ya get it here? Yep, want to truly demonstrate your response of love for God? Love others. That's it. Really not too terribly mysterious or tough to grasp. Ain't it funny that God would choose that path when one would think great worship or lofty prayers might suffice? But no, when push comes to shove the fabric that seems to turn God on is show great concern for those about us. Great God, we do pray that You would help us to show our love for You by loving others. In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love Helps with Judgement Day?

SURELY, MAYBE, ONE OF the things that compels some to become Christians is a basic fear of losing out on Judgement Day. Makes sense in a lot of ways. What worse thing in eternity for their to be a reason that God might turn you away from Heaven? Yeah, that does make sense as a basis to live the right sort of life in order to feel secure about facing God on that Day. But He provides a more sure way of getting to that Happy Place. Explaining it this way, "If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment. 18 A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love." (I John 4:17-18). Who would have thought that caring for others just might be a ticket into Heaven? For does not the church take extreme positions about the exceptional need for better ethics as the path to Heaven? Heck yeah! Yet in this passage we get the happier, truer picture about what God cares for. It's loving others, not stupid ethics. Indeed, seems one could be downright weak on ethics and strong on love and God would be so very happy. Great God, we do pray that You would impress on our hearts your abiding concern that we love others. In Jesus name, amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sharing Faith

WHILE IT CAN OFTEN seem like allowing everyone to know you are a believer is daunting. Truth be told, that sort of thinking fires God's Heart. His ever longing remains fixed on His people always remaining proud of their allegiance to Him. Yep, that's what thrills Him on a daily basis: to simply hear His folks claiming a deep connection to the Saviour. We can find the idea here, "God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God 16 and are sure that God loves us." (I John 4:15-16). Ya see, when the Satan pull tugs at us to pull back and act like everybody else, surely some searching soul loses out. And isn't that what God seeks? Yeah, He remains, always, so hoping that believers will just step up and often let slip their silly faith thinkin. Openness. That's the ticket. To often and surprisingly talk belief whenever the natural opportunity affords. Our Father, we do ask that You would please help us to constantly be open with our faith and then allow those seeking You to find what they seek. In Jesus name, amen! Peace of Christ to you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What Love Looks Like

SO TRUE THAT LOVING stuff is difficult to fully implement. For, of course, the human predicament leads us to often turn our thinking toward our own needs. But the better angle that could, in time, guide us toward a happier place of fondly caring for others tends to be less about our ability to love and more about our fathoming God's love for us. We see it expressed this way, "Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven." (I John 4:10). Isn't it interesting that loving, when you get honest about it, has so little to do with our generation of warm kindness. No, it's so much about God's concern for us. That just maybe, when we fathom the extent of God placing Jesus, selflessly into the world to suffer untold pain for us, that His love is the fabric that beckons us toward ultimately loving others. He's the One who instructs us how to love. So forget about pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps in order to somehow generate better lovingness toward others. Because God, once more fully understood, ALWAYS desires we keep our minds upon His love for us that propels us toward mighty acts of love for others. Perfect Father, we do pray that you would always remind us to keep our thinking upon Your love for us as the basis to be able to love others. In Jesus holy name, amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

God Sees His Spirit as the Answer

SO WHAT'S THE maybe access to power in God that we have today? Seems, from scripture, the answer is surprising to church folks who would never think this way. Since they all squander their time debating ethics and their superior morality, when in God's eyes, the answers are way more spiritual. We see it described this way, "Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit[a] is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world." (I John 4:4). Yeah, seems in the Father's mind our plight, or better said, our opportunity ain't construed in debating ethics. But instead ought to center on a humble welcome of the Spirit to allow His power to make the stretch He wants. I know, I know, church folk seemingly never talk in Spirit terms. No matter. He remains that Power seeking our attention and to finally recognize, whether we admit it or not, He lives in us and seeks to plunk exciting stuff into our lives. Great God, we do pray that you would make us open to ever pursuing the presence of Your Spirit in such a way He can do great things through us. In Jesus name, amen! May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Approach God on His Informal Terms

COMING TO THE PLACE of grasping this idea, that God does truly long for a friendly conversation with us/ Seems both exciting and troubling. For hasn't Religion been preaching so long that God deserves our perilous/ Uptightness and fear to drive all our honorable and holy discourse with God? Indeed, it sure has. Yet to grasp/ A fresher truth, a message of reality found in God's heart seems the way better course. Sinking our heart clasp/ Into a real place of casual talk with God does indeed appear His desire for us.

A Lovely Relationship

COMING NEAR TO GOD is both exciting and terrifying. Makes sense. For how can one actually approach the Creator and Sustainor of life without some trepidation? Yet, in scripture, we find a picture calling us to develop an informal comfort with the idea of easily pulling close to such Majesty. We find it written this way, "Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him. 22 He will give us whatever we ask, because we obey him and do what pleases him." (I John 3:21-22). Yeah, this notion of feeling so at ease with God is actually His design, His purpose for our relationship with Him. Always longing for us to wax way more informal and "at ease" with the precept of reaching His way. Hard to believe, really. That such a Powerful and Preeminent One could desire this sort of casual conversation. But that sure looks like the straightforward intention of this passage. Indeed, letting go and allowing ourselves to more lightheartedly talk to God does seem the proper course to having our prayers answered. So ease up in His presence! Our God, we do ask that You would help us to talk to You more informally and casually and not be so darn uptight in our religion. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love others

IT'S TRUE THAT STRETCHING ONSELF toward caring for others is truly hard./ But it seems, when we can be honest, that such a reach makes God feel warm/ Toward us. And isn't that what we all should strive for, to go the extra mile/ In showing folks that our flavor of faith is actually the real deal?/ Yep, seems our Father's desire every day, is for His people to lay down themselves for others.

On Loving Others

WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE the Christian life is failing, there's one thing to always hold on to: Love. It's the idea that just maybe caring for others is truly the course that proves most productive. Finding a place by caring deeply for those about you seems the better path. Because, God puts out his stance: "My friends, don’t be surprised if the people of this world hate you. 14 Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if you don’t love each other, you are still under the power of death." (I John 3:13-14). Yeah, it's the stuff of life to go beyond barely thinkin of those you know; rather, the calling seems to be about deeply feeling for the folks around you. In this, we become more than mere religous fools, putting on a fake show. When we can sorely make a case often that our heart bends for other people we do get to experience that God connection only love can generate. Making those near us feel great. Really, that's the natural outcome of true caring. And know, when we do it God's way, we shall find His dear soul often reaching for ours. And ain't dat the outcome we should all desire? Holy Father, we do ask that you would help us to love other well. In Jesus name, amen. Peace of the Messiah to you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beating sin God's Way

IT SURE IS TIRING to try and fight sin alone when the better way, once understood, appears all about God/ Providing a way more certain path toward escaping it. Because, it seems, that appears the sort of/ Destiny for sin dealing that God has in mind. Allowing Him to step in, to forcefully push sin away./ Then with that sort of handling, we just might experience His flavor of sin victory!

Losing an Appetite for Sin

THE CURIOUS THING ABOUT dealing with sin is just how much resisting it is more a factor of a willingness to allow God to step in and deliver the cure. While it might seem appropriate to simply resist temptation, the more biblical method seems to revolve around allowing God to step in. He so wants to. He goes on to explain: "God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power[c] lives in them and makes them his children, so that they cannot keep on sinning. 10 You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other." (I John 3:9-10). Thus, the dynamic seems here much more about, when tempted, or even before, allowing the power of God in to seriously limit any encroachment from sin. As that seems God's plan. And isn't it tiring to attempt to fight sin alone? Yep, since Satan is driving that game, to go at it on human terms often ends up failing. While, instead, posing a fight with God's power can truly change the route way better. Our God, we do pray that you would always remind us to turn to You for Your power to enable us to defeat sin. In Jesus name, amen!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finding Life as a Child of God

IT'S THIS UNUSUAL CONNECTION that seems to wait for us when we are willing/ To experience the marvel of being the children of the Creator who waits upon us./ With that, once we get the possibilities, we can share with Him in the blessed/ Relationship that only children can know.

Life as a Child of God

IT STANDS TO REASON, that when we do get the relationship with God, that we're his children, everything should feel different. Consider the promise of such a relationship: It's the connection so intimate, so endearing that only a father can enjoy. But not too distant. When we do succumb to allowing such tightness with God to reign, we read of it this way: "Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ[a] is, they don’t know who we are. 2 My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is. 3 This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ[b] is holy." (I John 3:1-3). So the call remains steadfast in God's eye's, His absolute dedication to nurturing us always. And within that, once we grasp the enormity of such a tight closeness with the Father, that we can allow His beauty to infect our souls. And, finally, as that wonder slips in and takes hold of our hearts, we get to savor the Might of His power steering us places we would never pursue. Dear God, we pray that You would impress on our hearts the great longing You desire for us to be Your children. In Jesus name, amen. God bless you!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Allowing the Spirit a Home in our Hearts

FACT IS, THOUGH WE MAY find getting to a place of comfort distant, God ever desires we meet Him/ On His terms. To allow His Spirit entrance into the fabric of our hearts that can indeed/ Result in stirring us toward places of infinite wonder, the destinations that only the Spirit/ Will ever achieve. Yeah, this struggle holds great fanfare if only we can possibly allow/ His dear Spirit to come so crucially close to our hearts and ring true.

Allow the Spirit to Lead you

WHILE LIFE SURELY seems tough, the Christ has been careful to provide a counselor to make up the difference. The Spirit ever waits to intercede on our behalf. If we will only recognize him. It's the notion that He can truly break into our lives and just maybe stir us toward a place of magical success. We see it written this way: "But Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit.[g] Now the Spirit stays in you, and you don’t need any teachers. The Spirit is truthful and teaches you everything. So stay one in your heart with Christ, just as the Spirit has taught you to do." (I John 2:27). What can this mean? That the Spirit does in fact wait upon us to allow Him to teach us. Finding within our wrestling hearts that sweet spot of promise. And so, our obligation ever becomes to welcome His presence and strive to allow Him entrance and the ability to drive home Heavenly thinkin. Indeed, we really don't need a teacher to instruct us when the Spirit stands ready to drive home eternal truth if we are merely able to create a road for His entrance. Dear God, we do pray that You would help us to welcome Your Spirit into our lives. In Jesus name, amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Think of Him and Soar

TO SOMEHOW OFTEN allow our minds to center on thinkin of Jesus appears quite a reward./ For apart from such wonderings, our souls sort of lay unnourished. Yes, tepid even./ But once we manage to allow our minds to play upon the dear story of Jesus' life,/ We get to share, actually, in His power and desire for those ideas to rule our hearts./ So, the job is ours. Ignore it and likely see a life living merely along the edges/ Of a sweep that could be ours. But willingly enter in to thoughts of Him--and we soar.

Keep your Thoughts on the Message

THINKIN IS BOTH a curse and opportunity. One thing I have seen proven time and again is the reward in centering one's thinking on peaceful stuff or ideas of opportunity. For those things have vast rewards. But as a Christian, there is yet again a better path that surely shall provide far greater rewards. It's the notion of centering thinking on the beautiful message of Jesus and His sweet sacrifice. We can read of it here: "Keep thinking about the message you first heard, and you will always be one in your heart with the Son and with the Father. 25 The Son[e] has promised us[f] eternal life." (I John 2:24-25). Yep, that's the amazing preeminent force of simply pondering the story of the Christ. To get our arms around this again and again, knowing, in God's mind, such reflections offer deep blessings. Ya see, just as considering happy thoughts breeds better health and greater energy, so reflecting upon the wonder of Jesus steers our very being toward places of untold recompense. Isn't it odd to really believe that such ideas could somehow revolutionize our lives? Indeed. But the reality, from Heaven's perspective, is that merely allowing our minds to often enter a focal point upon the Christ shall, in fact, bring us into Their arms. Our dear God, we ask that You would often remind us to keep thinking of Jesus and His Message. In His name, amen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Distance from this World

WHILE THE WORLD SHALL SURELY ALWAYS PULL, it sure seems the preference of our God/ Is for His people to remain distant in a way from ever truly giving their hearts/ To that world that truly can never offer any eternal promise./ And in doing so, if they are willing, He might just show up anytime they call/ Providing a Miraculous touch that can in fact bring sheer relief.

What to do with the World's Appeal

CERTAINLY THE CENTRAL problem of living in this world is the ever present pull to attach our hopes to its offerings. Makes sense in a lot of ways. For how else can you succeed in a job or friendships at work unless you succumb to their pullings. But God sure has different hopes for the lives of His people. We see it expressed this way, "Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. 16 Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. 17 The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever." (I John 2:15-17). So the import of this passage seems to be that we are, along the way, to simply always and often dis attach our hearts from the world. Never One to push us away from work or friendships there, God seems intent on, instead, guiding us toward a way of thinkin that enables us to remain, in a fashion, distant from loving these places. He longs for our affection. And, of course, if we are willin, He stands ready to so come down from Heaven to join us anywhere to reveal His glory so we can have some solace for this act of denying the world our hearts. Our God, we pray that You would please help us to, though in the world fully, to never love it. But love You. In Jesus name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Loving Others

TO UNDERSTAND THE ENORMOUS advantages of loving others seems an opportunity./ Realizing that such a walk provides a fine flooding of light into our consistency./ It's hard, to be true, but also, in the end, the obvious path if we are ever to achieve/ That amazing place of rest that God so want to afford, to reach our hearts with peace./ So the weight of those about us now seems to press in, never allowing us to escape./ But if we can finally allow God to work and speak through us we just might find the/ Level of contentment only true love for others can deliver.

Loving Others Means Walking in Light

TO CONSIDER THE OPTIONS of surviving in light or darkness ought not be difficult. But the human condition, that of wrestling with an urge to be self consumed, remains the limiting factor. So what shall it be? Seems that God has something to add on the concern: "If we claim to be in the light and hate someone, we are still in the dark. 10 But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don’t cause problems for them.[a] 11 If we hate others, we are living and walking in the dark. We don’t know where we are going, because we can’t see in the dark." (I John 2:9-11). So the odds go in our favor if we can get serious about loving others, to become somehow consumed with their plight. Because that gets us into new, precious territory of light flooding our hearts and lives. And isn't that what really feels good? Sure seems to be. Yeah, tredding in darkness shall surely cause us to often bump into unpleasant territory. While light affords such cleaner approaches to even the worst trials that might come our way. Holy God, we do pray that you would help us to love others well. In Jesus name, amen. Peace of Christ to you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Allow the Christ to Rescue

WHAT A TRIAL TO get enticed by sin and pulled away from a fair course./ But, gladly, The Messiah remains ever willing to remove sin that is worst./ So all our duty stands is to simply trust Him and rely on that sweet forgiveness./ Knowing that in time we will in fact experience the peace of a heart transcendent./ The meaning is actually quite clear: Trust the Christ to stand in and rescue/ Us from this stinkin sin for that is what He so wants and stands ready to with sin undo.

Jesus Removes Sins

DIS SIN THING ALWAYS seems to haunt us. Ever pestering hearts trying to somehow find purity. But, fortunately, we have that key help to find the sort of cleansing our hearts desire. Yes, it's again, the Christ. The picture John presents, so gladly from the Father, is the sort of healing that only can come from Heaven. What it means, in the end, is that the Messiah stands up for even weak people striving toward some sense of holiness. Not unlike any mentor guiding a student toward something exciting, something meaningful and enticing. For sin ever wants to grab hearts and tear them toward a place of captivity. John, rather God, explains it like this: "My children, I am writing this so that you won’t sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. 2 Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people." (I John 2:1-2). Think of it. God regards believing folk as his children. Thinking them capable of arriving at a place of true honesty and purity. And so, He is sure to have the Saviour standing in for them and insuring their sins get so totally removed! Dear God, we do pray that you would please help us to rely on your promise to provide healing through Jesus. In His name, amen. May God open Heaven like a curtain and come down to you with storm clouds under His feet. Blessing you.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Escaping Sin

REALLY, HOW CAN SIN be that bad? Doesn't God understand He made us subject to it./ Yes, we are all trapped by the Devil and sin and it can't be fair to ever expect/ That all might be able to escape it at will. For sin entraps and causes anyone/ To falter and stress at its grasp. But, it seems somehow, that God just maybe/ Has found a way to guide us toward sweet purity. Yep, it's His majesty brushing/ Around us that in the end provides the relief bringing wondrous fellowship for all!

How Forgiveness Works

FORGIVENESS, OF COURSE, is a beautiful thing. Provided that the forgivee portrays an honest attempt to live right. Yet, to our chagrin, many folks have a tendency to play religous but not allow God to do much heart cleaning. For they treasure a life of habitual sin when the bad stuff doesn't appear too terribly wicked. But God knows. If one simply takes the time to examine an inventory of sins in a number of places that spell it out, identifying what is sin becomes relatively easy. We read a summary of this idea: "If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. 7 But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away." (I John 1:6-7). Hence the true beauty of walking in some purity, though sinlessness shall never be absolute, is that we gain a communal life not found when trapped in sin. So if you desire a shallow existence, just keep on skipping along with the joys of soaking in sin. And you are sure to remain fairly ignorant. Stupid, even. But simply trying to remain pure and ever calling on God to forgive you sort of assures you a deep, vibrant life that certainly doesn't require perfection. Dear God, we do ask that You would please enable us to remain strong fighting against sin so that You can always forgive us. In Jesus name, amen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

John Experiences Majesty

BEING TOUCHED BY JESUS in certainly unexpected fashion,/ Seemed the quality of experience that John found in His presence./ To know a Saviour up close and personal at a level only He/ Could bring to a broken planet so in need of a lift./ Yet in John's writing we so get to enjoy a vision of Life appearing,/ Bringing sweet relief from all our troubling concerns.

Beauty Before Us

ONE OF THE WONDERS OF life we find in I John is to read of the marvel at Jesus' appearing. The breath taking away sort of arrival that certainly, in time, caught the fancy of John. We read of it: "One who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us." (I John 1:2). So what did John really see? Seems he experienced the joy of actually touching and talking to the Creator of the earth. To find the uplifting fancy of sharing in intimacy with someone actually arriving from Heaven. This obviously caught his attention, seeming strenulously so if you are willing to ponder this passage for the expanse of touch that John experienced. Unlike anything he'd seen before. And thus it seems, the onus sort of like now extends to our lives, to respond to a higher level of entreaty and witness that John experienced. Certainly being stirred by the Christ in his midst. Our Jesus, we do ask that You would enable us to feel the joy that John felt at your presence. In your name, amen!

Friday, April 4, 2014

This Word

HOW ON EARTH did the Word appear so powerfully? Wasn't He supposed to be about bigger things? Like chasing folks that might just happily welcome his teaching. No, it seems His priority ever remained to find sinners. To endear them and somehow draw them toward a happier life. Something worth living. Yeah, that's the approach. Allowing them to realize that just maybe their true opportunity could reside in something far greater. John explains this way, "The Word that gives life was from the beginning, and this is the one our message is about. Our ears have heard, our own eyes have seen, and our hands touched this Word. (I John 1:1). Hence His coming actually appeared in a body tangible, something everybody could see and touch. That's the beauty of a Christ bent on seeking sinners and the weak. Those in need. And so, the obligation ends up in our laps. To in a way savor the wonder of his coming and maybe, in a fashion, allow our hearts to experience His majesty. Dear Lord, we do pray that you would enable use to enjoy your glory. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Salvation

ALLOWING JESUS TO ENTER our lives can be such a sweet place./ To finally feel His dear salvation touching many./ Yeah, that's the essence that our Saviour so impresses/ In this final resurrection. All about simply believing/ And then seeing true hope that can be always comforting./

The Mission

UPON THE RESURRECTION OF the Christ, we find Him putting out the key part of his coming. It's the idea to take His salvation to the world. His dream appeared. Finally, it seems, the Messiah found the essence of His coming. To take the message to everyone, to bring them true life. We read His vision here: "Go and preach the good news to everyone in the world. 16 Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned." Can you read this and share a widespread belief that God shall save everyone? Don't think so. No, the order in this spot is fairly clear. Salvation, to end up in Heaven, is entirely about belief and getting baptized is really all it takes. Not too hard. But, incredibly, so many fail to grasp the enormity of such a simple teaching. Is it because not enough folks push forward to impress this message on others? Maybe. But the fact remains, if we are only willing to allow Jesus to speak through us, we can bring this sweet rescue to many. Great Jesus, we ask that You would please always remind us to be busy sharing Your dear message. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

He Lives!

THE DISCIPLES NOW had to face a sharp reality./ Jesus had indeed been raised to a place of Majesty./ So they indeed did find his body gone and their hopes/ Soon changed into something promising. Their Lord rose/ To a Princely state of power and awesome delight only/ Seen in his wonderful glory. Yeah, that breaking beauty/ Revealed in a Master now risen.

A Resurection!

MISSING JESUS UPON his death, the disciples felt terribly worried. Where had their Master gone? What a tragic end to this great life. They all must have felt so upset and fraught with deep concern. But a way better outcome arrived in this account, 6 The man said, “'Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn’t here. You can see the place where they put his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.'” (Mark 16:6-7). Wow! So they found in fact their Lord had been raised. He did truly come to life. So they now had to respond to a living Messiah. This, of course, thrilled them to no end. Finding that His body had really come to life. Once again, our Christ proved the measure of beauty only found in a reality that God had come close, raising Him to bright power. And so, they in a way got stuck with new pressure. That force of Life forever arising among them, coaching again their lives toward wonder. Dear Jesus, we do pray that You, Lord, would so impress on our hearts the joy of your resurection! In your dear name, amen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tragic Blindness

HOW CAN IT BE that people could choose/ To despise the Christ? It's their loose/ Thinking on display that manages to create/ A future in Hell. Giving Satan a taste/ Of the thinking that he so loves, they/ Choose to say incredibly stupid stuff/ And pile on the Messiah ridiculous/ Statements that convey amazing blindness.

Sheer Blindness

THE THING THAT SO OFTEN seems to tear one's heart is the reality that people often turn toward darkness. When good would do so much better. We see this well at the crucifixion of Jesus when, incredibly, folks manage to express hatred for this man who had merely been about healing and caring for the masses. We find a description here: "The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said to each other, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. 32 If he is the Messiah, the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross! Then we will see and believe.” The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus." (Mark 15:31-32). How is it that these people could manage to attack the Lord? Probably because Satan decided to inspire them toward such speech. And, as so often happens, these fools elect to toss their minds into the trash as they carve a path toward Hell. Thankfully, for our sakes, the Christ remains silent and takes this abuse when He could so easily cause them to evaporate. And it's this discipline that ought to inspire us, this endurance only a Saviour could mount. Holy Jesus, we do pray that you would enable us to appreciate your sacrifice in this story. In your name, amen. God bless you!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Losing It

HAVING A CHANCE to save the Lord,/ The soldiers instead chose to wreck/ Havoc upon Him. Not realizing the / Incredible power that lived before them./ But, thanks to the life He brings to us,/ We do get to see His amazing discipline/ Saving the day. And so, in the face of this/ History, everyone enjoys the remarkable/ Opportunity to finally savor His sacrifice.

Such a Tragedy

ONCE AGAIN WE GET to see folks waxing ridiculous. Having the chance to come clean and due justice to reality found in Jesus,they again elect to lose their minds. We see a record this way, "They made fun of Jesus and shouted, 'Hey, you king of the Jews!' 19 Then they beat him on the head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt down and pretended to worship him." (Mark 15:18-19). With all the wonder created by the Lord among them, these soldiers still manage to lose it and attempt to scare the Christ. Yet, typical of His Power, He just stays silent and takes it for our sake. Knowing he held their very existence in His Hands. Ya see, no matter how much you attempt to portray the Lord as a bad man, truth always wins out. Something Pilate couldn't understand. And so here, we enjoy the wonder of the Messiah portraying life itself and enduring such poor treatment. Hopefully, many will respond to this story with appropriate awe. For the Lord shows us discipline in a measure that transcends human weakness. How can you read this and not be amazed? Our Jesus, we do pray that you would open our hearts with enough faith to ever appreciate your great power. In your name,amen.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finally Seeing It!

PETER, WHILE TRYING to play a game of anominity,/ Found that attempting to hide from his relationship/ With Jesus simply would not grant the hidden place/ He sought. Yeah, he had to finally face that truth,/ The troubling idea that he did in reality know/ A Christ who in fact transcended the weak life./ So Peter had to face up to a harsher place of/ Weakness within him. Finally knowing this/ He came to a place of honesty, allowing tears/ To grip his heart and coming clean!

Emotion for Jesus

AS THE LORD NEARS THE CRUCIFIXION, we do find the extent of those following him hurting. True, it's Peter facing up to his weakness. Reading it here we can sense his desperation: "A little while later some of the people said to Peter, 'You certainly are one of them. You’re a Galilean!' 71 This time Peter began to curse and swear, 'I don’t even know the man you’re talking about!' 72 Right away the rooster crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had told him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.' So Peter started crying." (Mark 14:71-72). What we find here is this idea that even though Peter can try to deny knowing the Christ, he must face up to reality. His friendship hurts bad now. Fortunately, he does at last give in to his failure to protect the Messiah. Trying to play the unknown, he doesn't escape truth. That fact that our big boy has again failed to stand down for his powerful Lord. So emotion grips his heart and cascades him toward places of pain he never could have known. For he has denied the Master! But, thankfully, Peter finally gets it! Realizing he has in fact turned from the One who showed him life. That glorious ruler of the earth. Yes, Jesus, the One of mastery and power extending beyond life itself. Our Great Messiah, we do pray that you would put into our hearts a deep regard for your Greatness. In your name,amen! Peace of Christ to you.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pathetic Trial

THOUGH JEWISH LEADERS pressed so hard/ To convict the Christ, instead all they/ Got is a lack of concerted evidence/ From the people. Nevertheless, they/ Pressed on and exclaimed horror in/ The truth of it He could actually be Messiah./ Not willing to succumb to their wish,/ Jesus merely exclaimed that, yes/ He is God and so their choice to/ Kill Him would forever be a/ Crime upon their heads.

Troubled Prosecution

WHAT WE FIND in the dramatic and horrible final prosecution of Jesus is the fact that those trying to kill him could not get adequate reason for the deed. This ending to his life sheds even more light on the reality of His very glory. Given that He had done so much good amid the people, the Jewish leaders fail to wreck the sort of conviction they so needed. The Christ befuddled them. We see it here: "The chief priests and the whole council tried to find someone to accuse Jesus of a crime, so they could put him to death. But they could not find anyone to accuse him." (Mark 14:55). Once again, the Christ rises above the fray. He so put them in their place and drove them toward a troublesome spot of dis control with their so sought hope to clearly convict. So here again, we find further evidence to his amazing Deity. And the amazing thing, in the account as they try to convict Him of claiming to be God, we see the Lord befuddling them with mysterious responses. Like he didn't care whether they could have some joy in their prosecution. Thus, His impending torture and murder by the cross obviously appear as outrageous. Our Master, we do pray that you would ever remind us of the wonder of your strong life in the face of silly prosecution. In your name, amen.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seek Strength

DENYING WEAKNESS THAT so often pulls/ Is the fabric found in the sort/ Of life our Lord desires. Heck yeah,/ He desires a willingness to get a/ Grip on existing in a frame of/ Walking strong. To be someone/ That holds on to the good stuff./ Thus, our calling must be to/ Hang on and ever be sturdier./

Find Strength

THERE REMAINS A CHALLENGE trying to sort through the wearing struggle of life. It amounts to a pull, to slide back and seek comfort. But, when we contemplate the amazing ministry of Jesus we find a different calling. The desire to find endurance and focus. Yes, this hope remains among one of His greatest desires for people. To finally get it up and say, "Hey, I ain't gonna lay back when the apparent emphasis of the Master is to find intensity." So the present need of the day is to simply ask for that ability to find a lasting strength. We see this idea here: "When Jesus came back and found the disciples sleeping, he said to Simon Peter, 'Are you asleep? Can’t you stay awake for just one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray that you won’t be tested. You want to do what is right, but you are weak.'” (Mark 14:37-38). What we sense at this point is the too wide gulf between the thinking of the Christ and the weakness of his apostles. It's this gulf we must, must transcend. For that is the thing the Lord so wants. Yeah, when we can grow in faith and meet a better place of endurance and lasting strength that we can in fact experience that sweet level of endurance to allow the Master that ability to drive His ministry through us. Dear Jesus, we do ask that you would help us to be focused and strong as you wish, so we can be about your ministry. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Pain Before Crucifixion

I FIND IT WORTHWHILE to ponder the enormity of what Jesus faced near His crucifixion. Why this means so much is that even held in a human body, he still evidently had the perspective of the world's Creator. And so, as He faced this daunting challenge, he apparently felt some fear at the coming pain. Hard to believe with His perspective. But, given the horrendous pain in the sort of death and torture before Him, it becomes more understandable. The Christ prayed to God about it this way: "Jesus walked on a little way. Then he knelt down on the ground and prayed,'Father,[e] if it is possible, don’t let this happen to me! Father, you can do anything. Don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.[f] But do what you want, and not what I want.'” (Mark 14:35-36). In these words we find the sheer horror He felt given that He knew in deatil the sort of pain He must endure. Yet His concluding statement suggests He also possessed that eternal view that did in time pay off. The bigger picture is above all, He allowed himself to suffer on our behalf. Hard to believe given his stature. Holy Jesus, we do pray that you would open our hearts to appreciate the scale of Your willingness to suffer such a death. In your name, amen.

Sweet Communion

TAKING THE TIME to extend one's heart/ Is always better. Seeing that Jesus longs/ For lovely fellowship into people's worship songs./ Yeah, that's the idea. Make it a point/ To remember the beauty of holding that count/ Found in the Lord's Supper.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Communion

THERE EXISTS A RATHER huge opportunity for believers to go deeper. This in the form of connecting with Jesus in a far more intimate way. For that is what he wants. We see Him describe apparently his ceremony of choice this way, "Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He gave it to his disciples, and they all drank some. 24 Then he said, 'This is my blood, which is poured out for many people, and with it God makes his agreement. 25 From now on I will not drink any wine, until I drink new wine in God’s kingdom.'” (Mark 14:23-25). We must understand the beauty of the Lord's Supper as His provision for reaching a way spiritual plane that can, for a time, draw us into His arms to experience the wonder of His touch. This ceremoney, done properly, should result in one gaining a physical sense of His presence and pleasure at such attention. Because, you see, no matter how we may find ouselves, the Christ has an incredible longing to enjoy our focus. And that must drive our response. So if your church does not practice this, go ahead and do it at home. Because, we gotta realize the wonder of such a basic practice to result in electrical encounters with the Messiah. Thus, begin it in worship and prayer, setting the tone and welcoming Him. Then shift to the actual supper. Lord Jesus, we ask that you would remind us to please remember to regularly commune with You in this way. In your name, amen. May God open Heaven like a curtain and come down to meet you with storm clouds under His feet.

Be Ready!

WHILE THE REALITY of living seems to be/ That Jesus ain't comin anytime soon,/ There remains the bigger need of the hour/ To reach for faith to provide that/ Precious encounter this day with Heaven/ On earth that can find a path/ Into hearts so in need of moments/ Of touching the hearts of the Trinity./ So be ready to actually share in that life.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Be Ready!

THIS IDEA THAT God shall return soon has worn a bit thin over time. Sure looks like His ambition remains to convert as many as possible. For that makes Him happy. But the idea that Jesus teaches on this point likely has reaching application now. He says, "No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows. 33 So watch out and be ready! You don’t know when the time will come." Honestly, my expectation is life on earth likely does go on for many thousands of years ahead. But where we are, the emphasis the Christ juts out here seems so relevant to "being ready" now. Ready for challenges. Ready for opportunities by faith. As it's true, few get the enormous strength the Trinity wish to reveal often when our faith allows. So be ready. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would grant us eager hearts always ready for your current visits. In your name, amen!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Words Count

DO YOU FIND THAT people talk with a fair amount of disregard for the impact of their words? I do. And this actually, in the mind of God, presents some huge eternal quandaries. For in his Heavenly lexicon, with judgement in His hands, He certainly seems to care deeply about any harmful words. And the incredible reality is how terribly such words can bring harm to the speaker. Jesus explains here: "Good people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things out of their hearts. 36 I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken. 37 On that day they will be told that they are either innocent or guilty because of the things they have said." (Mark 13:35-37). What strikes me within this is the way troublesome result of saying bad stuff. Forget the notion that everyone is going to Heaven. The Christ absolutely blows that away here. Instead, speaking bad stuff, mere words, can actually get souls into Hell forever. Don't think there's anyway to escape that. No matter if your theology dictates an all caring God who blesses ever hateful atheist with Heaven. Ain't gonna happen. So words do matter and we all should lean on the kind and caring end of the speech narrows. Our Jesus, we ask that you would help us to be careful with our words and always bless when we speak. In your name, amen.

Capture Life in Him

TO CAPTURE A VISION of the Christ is/ Like seeing someone here to rescue all./ You simply can't deny Him, nor in/ Some fashion allow yourself a point/ Of stupidity that manages to blind/ You are anyone else. For this/ Brush with Deity has to be welcomed/ And extended to a place of devotion.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Devotion

WE READ THE STORY OF a woman who pours perfume on Jesus' head and it makes you a bit amazed at her level of devotion to the Messiah. For surely this gift cost her some serious money and, by the negative response of the dinner guests at its cost, you get the idea that the woman went all out to extol her Lord this way. The Christ comments on this: "'Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. 7 You will always have the poor with you. And whenever you want to, you can give to them. But you won’t always have me here with you.'" (Mark 14:6-7). What really drives this story is this response from the Master. He certainly seems moved by her winning style. And so the fairly obvious take away from the account is for us also to live deeply committed lives for Jesus. Like worshipping him often with a passion that clearly displays a heart filled with devotion. To get on our knees and pour out love to Him. It is this emotion that can feel like perfume to His head. And sustains a relationship that shall prove way rewarding for us. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would make us devoted to you like this woman who annointed you. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you!

Sacrificial Giving

THE MEANING CAN BE FOUND somewhere/ Within a place of sacrifice/ That stirs a heart toward that way/ Of serious giving to a level/ Beyond mere surplus. It's totally/ About finding the place of vast/ Commitment pouring fire into the heart/ And stretching to reach a plane/ Toward absolute beauty seen in sharing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jesus Loves Giving

WE FIND IN THE story of the poor widow an explanation of the Christ high regard for giving. The point seems to be that he is moved by giving in a measure that hurts, rather than just out of our surplus. Sure, this does bring pain and potential trouble for less money always leads to risk. But His point seems to be that He longs for that sort of discomfort. We read it like this: "'I tell you that this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 44 Everyone else gave what they didn’t need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had. Now she doesn’t have a cent to live on.'" (Mark 12:43-44). Don't you know that this poor lady certainly took a big step of faith here. For she decided that she would just find a way to keep living without any money. Helps to be a poor widow. But, nevertheless, you really can't diminish her huge faith in action when she gave it all. And so for us, the calling is to give at a level that brings uncertainty and a measure of discomfort. That's what turns the Messiah on. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would make us faithful givers. In your name, amen.

Speaking to the Christ

TO QUESTION THE MESSIAH is risky./ It's not like the Creator gets messy/ With a language He knows so well./ No, He tends to always be insightful/ And pierce through any attempt to fool./ Leaving everyone with a sense like drool/ On their faces as their pants go down.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Man's Response

So when Jesus laid out these two edicts as the most important, his answer seemed to really stir the man who had questioned him. Indeed, he said, "'These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.'” (Mark 12:33). So this guy really seems to get it since he ranked these commandments, and the Christ's teaching, even above the most holy practices of sacrifices and offerings. Quite a big stretch. And if you think of it, I remain amazed that not more of the population are Christian with a such a provocative teaching as this notion of loving your neighbor as yourself. Really, how could there be anything possibly false to that? But somehow, way too many people just skip along through life totally ignoring the beauty of this teaching; fortunately, this guy understood the gravity of it. Yet further on in this story we find another interesting tidbit: "After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions." (Mark 12:34). And is this not testimoney to the powerful impact of the Messiah's teaching? Sure seems to be. To me, the Master has truly come down with the most appropriate response here that does summarize the essence of the Christian life. And folks about him sure seemed to agree. Holy Jesus, we pray that you would open our hearts so we too can grip the importance of these commandments. In your name, amen. I pray the Spirit will bless you and keep you close.

To Serve Others

TO CAPTURE SWEET fellowship, kind closeness,/ That's the point the Christ tried plus/ Inspiring them to somehow reach denial/ Toward a point of deep final/ Compassion of the sort to touch hearts/ In a fashion toward extending smarts/ That finally find one spot of strong service.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Second Most Important Commandment

SO IN HIS COMEBACK TO THE PHARISEES regarding the most important commandments, Jesus goes on to suggest that the second most important one is this: "‘Love others as much as you love yourself.'" (Mark 12:31). This reads easily but in practice is incredibly hard to do. Why do ya think? Likely because our default response to life is to always be thinkin' of our safety and comfort and not that of others. Yet what the Christ commands here, in fairly clear terms, is to instead be way preoccupied with the needs of others. Of course this is fairly easy to do when the other is your kid or your spouse. But much tougher when the others are those people around you at various places. For that is when your leading approach to life will always be to protect yourself. But the Messiah has other ideas. Instead, what he seems to mean is to much of the time in our daily life simply forget about ourselves and be occupied with the cares of those about us. Yeah, hard to do. But really the meaning of what he implies in this teaching. In other words, what the Master suggests is that we give others the same level of care that we would do for ourselves. No matter the cost or inconvenience. Dear Jesus, we do ask that you would help us to be deeply concerned for others. In your name, amen.

To Adore God

SOMEHOW GRASPING the essence of the total love/ For God can actually be quite easy./ Though He remains invisible, the Scriptures/ Clearly show what He is like and His/ Many obvious shining qualities and edearing characteristics/ That make adoring Him actually a breeze.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Most Important Commandment

The Pharisees sought to catch Jesus in some way with a question about what commandment from the Law most important. He answered them directly this way, "'The most important one says: ‘People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. 30 You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’" (Mark 12:29-30). So what does this look like? It seems it falls into the genre of one applying their heart, best of all, when they first get up in the morning, to the task of worshipping and praying to God in order to come clean from the start of the day. Not later. Then, for the one wishing to be this devoted, it plays out best by weaving one's heart to God's throughout the day at ever little opportunity. Then, apparently, God gets the picture that here is a soul truly devoted to Him with everything they have. And so the relationship can flourish and God can feel comfortable involving Himself often in this life. For apart from this level of commitment, there really is no basis for God to get involved; he tends to stand back from those straying unto their own devices. But when the teaching of the Christ is here actually applied minute by minute, the whole sphere of God's involvement gets spiced. For this level of adoration from people toward God is a little like throwing gas on the fire of God's heart. It thrills Him. Great Jesus, we do pray that you would make us a people who love God deeply. In your name, amen. May God touch your heart.

That Flash of Forgiveness

TO ENCOUNTER blessed the wonder/ Of his presence, the pushing/ From His glory, that's the beauty/ Toward kindness and sweetness./ Yes, to touch His darling heart/ And enter into glory, finding/ Joy, that place of dearness,/ A path of purity only found/ in sheer , amazing forgiveness!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Let Forgiveness Flow

IS IT SAFE TO SAY forgiveness is not an automatic thing? Naw, I don't think so. Rather, it would seem, when we are slighted the typical response is to look for our rights. Not forgiveness. But that sort of does not fit with the persona of Jesus as we find him teaching the idea again and again. For his instructions appear to always push first for forgiveness and forever place our sense of fairness below that. He describes it this way, "Whenever you stand up to pray, you must forgive what others have done to you. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins." (Mark 11:25-26). Indeed, his teaching here goes so far as to suggest that, in order to garner his necessary forgiveness, we must always first forgive others. As though Forgivness must forever flow from us. But, from a healthy psychological perspective, this edict makes a lot of sense. Ever been torn up with anger toward those who have wronged you? Sort of eats at you. But forgiveness so easily resolves and heals that. So that disciplines sure seems to offer many benefits. Holy Jesus, we do pray that you would help us to be frequent forgivers. In your name, amen.

Finding Faith

CAPTURING FAITH, YEAH! That's the life./ To find your heart, to see your soul./ Faith! Beyond blindness, into hope/ And vision of power and might./ Seeing you, gripping you./ Finding you, holding you, Caressing you, cherishing you! We so long to meet you/ And finally find your joy.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pray in Faith

IF EVER YOU wanted to maybe summarize the ministry of Jesus in a few words, you can find it here in Mark. Because the essence of this passage appears in so many other places within his ministry. It truly is the key. Funny how rarely you find discussions of faith in church, nor much talk of the Christ. So makes sense their approach and results are so pitiful. But here we find essentially the center of the Bible. If you could boil it down, this would be it. We read it here: "Have faith in God! 23 If you have faith in God and don’t doubt, you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will. 24 Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith." (Mark 11:22-24). Once again we have the rare instance of the Messiah being quoted with an exclamation mark. Maybe because this is important? I think so. It seems the moving attempt by the Master to persuade us to have faith remains at the center of his very life; like that is all that matters. And so if we can jump on something here it appears the response ought to so be forget everything else religous in your life and totally focus your energies on asking, asking and again asking for more faith. I must confess, the first thing I do in the morning is pray at length for a bigger faith like the faith heroes of the Bible. Because I know that is really, at the end of the day, all that matters in this life. So let's keep that focus and make the Lord happy beyond measure. Our Jesus, we do pray that you would increase our faith. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.

Fake Religion

TO WONDER ABOUT THE nature of God/ Seems an understandable question less odd/ Than ignorance that very often plagues/ People striving to exhibit a life to make/ Something beautiful to be found within the heart./ And so to arrive at that place of smarts/ That finally realizes God can't tolerate tart/ Religion so shallow and carnal all it tends/ To generate is the anger of Jesus that never mends.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Fury of Jesus

IT'S A FAIR QUANDRY to pose the question, so what is God really like? For understanding his nature ought to give us a better handle on how best to relate him. And hopefully, all things God are happy and light hearted. For surely God would never be unruly and unkind. Not quite. Instead, in the person of Jesus, we find out what God is like and at times, it ain't sweet. Take his encounter in the Temple. Terribly unhappy with all the commerce he found there, he flipped over tables and uttered this statement: "Then he taught the people and said, 'The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be called a place of worship for all nations.’ But you have made it a place where robbers hide!'" (Mark 11:17). Rarely do you find the Messiah exlaiming anything to where an exclamation point appears in the account. It does here. So it seems the take away from this story is to understand the sharp anger of Jesus and God at things untoward, especially in the religous. Wow, were we to hear his voice better, I suspect we would hear untold anger at what goes on in a lot of churches. Not far from the temple encounter. Hence it seems a proper response to this would be to walk carefully with deep respect whenever we choose to wax religous. Great Jesus, we do ask that you would give us hearts devoted to pleasing you in the area of religion. In your name, amen. God bless you!

Faith Works

THE NOTION OF belief holds enormous promise./ For apart from that a life has emptiness./ It's the idea that just maybe trusting Heaven/ Can lead to greater turns that don't threaten./ With faith all becomes hopeful and possibilities./ And once this finding appears, life works so completely.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Faith Puts Power in our Hands

IT SEEMS A LOT OF LIFE is about cornering some form of control or power over our lives. If you think of it, mental illness is really the experience of losing control over one's life. An uncomfortable sense that you no longer have any control over your behavior. So what about the flip side to that? How would you like to gain a much stronger ability to control your life and achieve much of what your heart desires? Sounds unlikely. But maybe not, for Jesus offers us the most solid path to gaining control over our world that we never could accomplish on our own. We see this exhibited in the following passage: "Jesus asked, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man answered, 'Master,[j] I want to see!' 52 Jesus told him, 'You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.'" (Mark 10:51-52). What we see here is this guy gaining his eyesight due to his faith. In other words, his faith became super powerful and rescued him from a life of shortcoming and frustration. And so for us to begin gaining greater control over our lives and seeing results that satisfy our wishes, we must be sure to exercise faith regularly, just as this dude did. Since faith is the fire. That thrills Jesus and inspires him to grant us the noble wishes of our hearts. Powerful Lord Jesus, we do pray that you would swoop in to us and increase our faith. In your name, amen.

Slavery

TO FIND SLAVERY, that's the goal./ A life of sacrifice, something bigger/ Than just the little stuff everywhere./ What can you live to the Christ/ When he absolutely beckons toward death?/ We can submit and find sacrifice./ Yeah, that's it. Stuff of legend/ That truly makes our lives ring/ Beautifully. Simply accept and cherish/ Endlessly a slave's walk to please a dear Messiah.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Joy of Slavery

EVER BEEN STUCK in a tedious job or maybe working so hard at home? No doubt it ain't fun. But the sort of slavery that Jesus proscribes ought to be happy given the reward that awaits. We find him talking about this here: "And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. 45 The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue[h] many people." (Mark 10:44-45). This came in response to James and John wanting to sit in a place of glory in Heaven. Honestly, not a bad request given they thought they could get it. But the Christ slams them back pretty hard by suggesting an exactly opposite position, given that he chose to live this very life. Talk about a cutting response. And so it seems, should we really want to carry on this sort of life, we do best to always keep before us a reminder somehow of the reward. For that kind of existence has to be wearing. Yet once we get to that joyful spot of feeling good no matter the tasks we face, then maybe we have arrived at the proper position of a slave. Dear Jesus, we ask that you would enable us to be slaves happily. In your name, amen. I pray the Spirit will bless you and keep you close.

The Last Shall be First

THAT THE FIRST should be last strikes a/ Worrisome surprise for those used to/ Their comforts of a postion reigning over/ Everyone with wealth and prestige./ But that worldly position falls short/ Once they face judgement valuing/ Stuff like character and humility. And so their glory fallen, the agony/ Of seeing the last exulted must strike/ Home ultimately forever.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What About the Last?

One of the things I so admire about Jesus is his way of flipping life on its head in a surprising yet just fashion. We find this in a passage where he makes the point that in Heaven, things shall not at all look like our world. Troubling? For some. But for all of those seeking his face this style will surely be a joy with a strong sense of right. Something really not often found in our world. When the wealthy can be unkind and do little for the poor. But in Heaven, says the Christ, all that will play differently. Read this: "But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first." (Mark 10:31). That is the essence of what he speaks, how the Lord turns the world fully upside down and, supposedly, the outcome for many of our world's first, won't be a happy one for eternity since they didn't care for the poor. Though they desperately needed it. And, to their chagrin for eternity, the poor will rule in Heaven in utter and total euhoric joy. Our Jesus, please make us a people who care for those who are last in this world. In your name, amen.

Faith Goes Exponential

THAT SO MANY people could enter our lives/ Remains the mystery of belief and life/ At that place of confluence found in/ A life of hope when we can discover/ The meaning of union with so many./ It really ain't too difficult once we can/ Let go and allow that truth of blessing/ To truly be there entirely due to our Saviour.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What the Reward Looks Like

IF YOU HAVE EVER known anyone who has passed from a way worldly life and then made the drastic change to become Christian, then you know the trauma that person suffers. They lose friends and a previously easy outlook to become one who is now contrained often by legalism that loooks incredibly stupid to their previous fellows. Quite painful. But Jesus suggests, in spite of human troubles that seem to come to the newly Christian, that there is indeed a reward in life that also should be there for those old timers who may come from generations of the faithful. We find his description here: "You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30 will be rewarded. In this world they will be given a hundred times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be mistreated." (Mark 10:29-30). This explanation sure seems to most apply to that soul that leaves a life of sin for the believing one. But the reward should be there for all. And it most seems to come in the form of relationships and their wealth that ought to be bestowed on their brethren. This seemed to sure happen in the first century church. And today, in my experience, to a far smaller degree due to our lack of faith today, it seems to happen to some degree. Though again, just by the nature of the newness, in a much stronger degree to the newly converted. But the point here seems to be that we all should manage to enjoy a broader life due to our faith. One hopefully offering help. Dear Jesus, please do help us to be people who stretch ourselves to help your people, making their lives easier. In your name, amen. I pray that Jesus will bless you and keep you close.

Sacrifice

THINKING HE COULD somehow get in,/ He applied himself to looking within/ And asking the Master about a way/ That could open the door seeming far away./ The Messiah liked him and sought a path,/ Giving maybe a means to bring mirth/ And freedom if he would only sell his riches/ To allow assurance of Heaven's niches./

Monday, March 3, 2014

Real Riches

AS WE ENJOY our lives it sure is appealing to wonder if we ever might land in some serious money. And some folks do. But have you noticed, at the end of the day, such wealth doesn't seem to make them any happier? Curious indeed. But maybe this makes sense when we get the perspective of Jesus when he counsels a similar rich dude: "Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “'There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.'” (Mark 10:21). Quite an interesting passage given that it says the Christ actually liked this, likely arrogant, rich boy. And in response to his appeal to the Master about what he might do to earn a place in heaven, the Messiah gives him this deeply troubling counsel. Now we have to give credit to this fella to come openly with such a heartfelt request. Too bad he refused to comply. But the bigger picture for us here is that in God's mind, the correct dealing with wealth is to give it all to the poor. Ouch! Yet is Heaven not worth that? Of course, seems to be. So should we ever be so fortunate to land in some serious money, we see this path. And maybe the same teaching should be applied for all, since nearly every American is way rich in the world's eyes. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would make us generous and able to give to the poor. In your name, amen. God bless you!

On Being One

The melding of two into one,/ This forever shall remain a thing that can/ Come true provided that the two allow/ His entrance within their unity flow./ It merely requires sweet conversation./ Questions. That's the ticket to mention/ One to another ideas that raise/ Further discussion toward a loving haze./

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Marriage Ideal

ONCE AGAIN THE Pharisees accost Jesus hoping to maybe trip him up on the subject of divorce. Seemed like their interest is to somehow hear him support the divorce option as a fitting way to end marriages, since that is their selfish wish. But typical of the Christ, he seems to favor the longer road, one that tends to protect relationships. Indeed, he speaks of marriage this way: "'He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. 9 And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together.'” (Mark 9:8-9). Here we find the Messiah describing marriage in quite an ideal fashion, suggesting that the union should be so complete and fitting that the couple become as one person. Hard to imagine when you look at a lot of marriages, where it seems the couple can barely stand to be together. But the reality, given that the Master knows best and understands the range of possible love available to a married pair, that a marriage ought to be the soundest relationship on the planet. How is this accomplished? By talking well. That means by each of the couple often asking open-ended questions of the other so their communion can be well beyond what they might encounter from others. A great marriage, first of all, is about this willingness to ask and ask and ask and then listen. That way you so get to know your spouse. And that person, finally, gets to be heard better by the other spouse then they could experience anywhere else. Our Messiah, we do pray that should we ever be married, you would make us into people who are devoted to understanding our spouses so well. In your name, amen.

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

THE HOPE REMAINS to never allow sin/ A place in clean lives stretching for purity./ For that is the fierce wish of the Christ,/ To finally see innocence maybe take hold/ And along with it a form of honesty/ That can in fact win this day completely./ Yep, the wish can be doable, providing/ They buck up and allow a bit of pain without sin./

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Danger of Sin

ONE WOULD THINK that Jesus would emphathize with our failings and willingness to sin, since he made us and understands our weaknesses. Not so. Instead, if we honestly read the words of the Christ we find a radical warning about avoiding all sin at all cost. Get this: "44 So if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! You would be better off to go into life crippled than to have two hands and be thrown into the fires of hell that never go out.[b] 45-46 If your foot causes you to sin, chop it off." (Mark 9:44-46). In other words, what the Messiah is advocating here is such a radical response to sin that he advocates dismembering ourselves to avoid sin! Talk about sheer mania you find in his abhorence of sin. Don't think he takes any of it lightly. Though we might. So if we are to be honest about holding up a true, living relationship with the Lord, not the common fake stuff you find in churches, then we must be deeply strident about avoiding all sins--especially those we know most capture us. What the Master is saying in this passage is for us to get super serious about constantly fighting the pull of sin and the chase of Satan. For we know that all day long the Devil longs to draw us into sin. Then he wins. And we lose. Heavenly Jesus, we ask that you would give us hearts that strongly hate sin so we can avoid it. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.

Treasure Kids

To see them, you wouldn't know/ That peace flows from their beings./ Something so helpful to everyone/ Who happens to get near./ But even few adults finally/ Grasp the enormity of their sweet/ Presence and get to savor this joy./ It's what Jesus tried to get at,/ To always embrace the beauty of children./

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Enjoy Kids

ONE OF THE GREATEST tragedies of life is to hear complaints about children, as though they are trouble. I say this, having raised four beautiful daughters and revelled in their sweetness as little ones, that any time with precious kiddos is a treasure. But I confess, I didn't come up with this fully on my own. Jesus did. So he says, "Then Jesus had a child stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, 37 'When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.'" (Mark 9:36-37). Here we get a full on invitation to embrace children just as though we are welcoming the Lord himself. For if he seems to love kids, we should do the same. It's not like they should ever be a bother. Why? If you spend time with children you find the level of innocence we desperately need in order to achieve a gody life. And, with kids, you notice a level of peace beyond any you can find in other places. Have any trouble sleeping? Spend time with little ones and you will find sleep coming so much better, for peace roars from children beyond anything anywhere else. Since insomnia is the totally the result of a peace shortage. So here, once again, we have the Christ to thank for huge insight into what is best in life. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would always prompt us to love any time with kids. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.

Serve

To get the jist, that remains a challenge./ What are they after? Seems to manage/ This idea of servanthood. A life/ Devoted that way of beyond rife. Something bigger, yes, a way of denial./ Becoming a weak, hapless one--almost menial./ Hence it seems devotion to a cause/ That rings bigger. Servanthood, to give with pause./

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Slavery

When you think of slavery in America, one tends to think of terrible injustice. People being beaten and tortured. The reality is far different. Most slave owners treated their slaves well and just gave them the duty of working hard and attending to their master's wishes. Maybe this is why the New Testament doesn't come out against slavery; in most cases, it's really not that bad a life. Too bad Lincoln didn't get that and leave the Confederacy alone, since they published their interest in stopping slavery. I say all this to illustrate the point that Jesus wants all his people to be slaves. Yes, subservient to others and in a way straining at the toil of always doing the bidding of others. For that is what the Christ did in the world. We find it written about this way, "'If you want the place of honor, you must become a slave and serve others!'” (Mark 9:35). In other words, it seems that what the Lord wants for us to truly devote ourselves to serving others, putting their needs well above our own. Tough stuff. But rarely can one find anything in the Christian life that is comfortable. Yet the reward promise seems to be the reason to do this. Our Jesus, we pray that you would alter our hearts so we can become slaves and focus on serving others. In your name, amen.

Pray

How does one connect the dots?/ To make life come together easily/ And afford a fashion that's quality./ Allowing help from the outside/ So everything finally falls crosswise./ There is a way and it ain't that far./ All it takes is to make room for prayer./

Monday, February 24, 2014

Power of Prayer

I SHALL NEVER UNDERSTAND the lame attention given to prayers in churches. I mean, think of it, if prayer is real and the way to gain the attention and help from the Trinity, why on earth is prayer usually billed as just one more tedium on the church schedule of the day? Hardly anything important. And have you listened to the typical wimpy prayers fired up during the service? As though God ain't really interesed; we do this because we must. Well, Jesus, at the conclusion of this wonderful account where he heals the kid, sheds all that crap about prayer right down the drain. It says, "Jesus answered, 'Only prayer can force out that kind of demon.'" (Mark 9:29). In other words, while faith is the might that brings the healing, you have to actually, physically utter the words for help if you are gonna see any happy results. So this idea from the Christ should so lead us personally to be people of frequent prayer throughout the day. Why not fire off prayers for every little concern given that the Messiah suggests that prayer is the window that actually gets the good stuff going? But it's hard. I know that! Yet as one who prays all day long, I tell you just get in the habit and it becomes way easy once you start to see miracles flying around you. Holy Jesus, we pray that you would please make us people of prayer. In your name, amen. God bless you.

About Faith

An Attempted sweeping touch,/ A wished for contribution from above/ That seems rare to find a place/ In hearts rarely ready to accept/ Faith that would so transform lives./ But if only they would welcome/ Such life quietly beckoning them away/ To a place of tenderness, a shining/ Spot of lasting loving with gentleness./ Yes, faith remains that sweet path/ Providing Heavenly strength and a formative/ Swell toward brilliant beauty in healing./

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Faith Works

THIS PASSAGE IN Mark 9 has to be my favorite one in the Bible. Why? Because we get to see in the most sharp terms the power of faith. I like it so much that I wrote a book about this passage available at amazon.com Kindle Books. In this passage, his apostles having failed at healing a boy, Jesus enters the scene and becomes incredibly frustrated at his boys missing the whole point. "Jesus said, 'You people don’t have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.'" (Mark 9:19). To the Lord, faith is actually a fairly easy comodity to experience, hence his deep aggravation at this failure to do something as simple as to ask God to heal this kid by the power of faith. Most fortunately, the boy's dad enters the scene and does the very thing that the Christ expects, saying, "Right away the boy’s father shouted, I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.'" (Mark 9:24). And that is all it took. The Messiah obviously found his approach the vastly correct way and went on to instantly heal his child. So why is this so hard for most folks to accomplish? I know it is for the teeny weeny scale of miracles happening about us. Why they miss it? I guess totally due to the "I don't want to" prevailing. Faith is invisible and mysterious and I'd rather not participate, thank you. But please allow me, somehow, to persuade you to jump on this happy wagon and start asking daily for more faith, if only to heal and help those you love. Dear Jesus, please grant us a deep hunger for a greater faith. In your precious name, amen!

God Speaks

Appearing out of nowhere, His thoughts break/ The silence in the form of lovely words/ That shatter human security, people's safety./ Never caring for places of weak serenity, He seems to savor displacing human frailty/ To severe all ties to comforts found/ And instead broadcast the greater message/ Of the majesty of His dear Son./

Saturday, February 22, 2014

God Comes Near

IN THE WHOLE of the ministry of Jesus, we so rarely find God interacting with people, nor doing anything to distract people from focusing their attention on His Son. But in this passage we find God showing up big time: "The shadow of a cloud passed over and covered them. From the cloud a voice said, 'This is my Son, and I love him. Listen to what he says!'" (Mark 9:7). The grandeur of God's appearance seems to frighten the apostles; no wonder, has to cause you some worries when the Creator of the Universe, the key figure in the Jewish religion, shows up and starts talking. But a cloud certainly seems more benign than a thunderbolt or a flood. So you have to give God credit for his restraint. Seems that his ambition here is to connect with the apostles in the best possible way. And that ought to give us hope, that he is even now trying his hardest to get our attention and capture our thinking about his ability to improve our stead. The point is: God so wants to come near to us and it behooves us to allow him. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to welcome God to our world. In your dear name, amen.

A Better Shade

Sensing some confusion, He placed that twist/ On all, regardless of all they'd missed./ The calling, to find a life with more/ Than just petty chasing after that store/ Of apparent success seeming to offer meaning./ Instead, He insisted on envisioning a life/ That held much greater treasure and sacrifice./

Friday, February 21, 2014

Contrary Thinkin'

GIVEN ALL THE PRAISE and admiration for the rich among us, as though they have the ultimate handle on life, these words of Jesus tend to seem a bit out of sorts. I mean really, who could possibly desire anything beyond riches or recreation or relationships? That's the stuff that makes life enjoyable and rewarding. Yet once again we find the Christ extolling a different path, something you would never hear the media extol. Kinda crazy. The Messiah puts it this way: "What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37 What could you give to get back your soul?" (Mark 8:36-37). In other words, so what if you have tons of cash and material wealth or, in another way, tons of play time and sex galore with sweet lookin' honeys. Apparently, in the Lord's mind, this stuff falls way short. I love his final statement here: what could we possibly give to regain our souls? So Jesus implores us to adopt his ethic of forgetting about all the sweet worldly stuff; rather, concentrate on building our treasure in Heaven. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would give us hearts longing for your priorities rather than the appeal of the world. In your name, amen.

Death is Life

Experiencing death always felt right./ Now, to somehow make that message bright./ Surely not easy, when all they sought is safe./ Yet there has to be a way, to make death a cape./ Something to bring life, allow pain a route in./ Making hardship a path twoard contemplation/ Of better things, a spot found that's life./ So this He brought, and happily delivered true sight./

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dying to Self Brings Life

POSSIBLY THE GREATEST enigma of the Christian life is finding oneself face to face with the notion that we are to die to our favorite things in order to live the life that Jesus deems best. Isn't that what he means when he says this: "If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life,[e] you will destroy it." (Mark 8:34-35). Funny, isn't it? Can the Christ really intend for us NOT to want to save our lives? Isn't that wise and prudent? Not in his gamebag. No, what the Messiah really wants is for us to develop that life outlook that says: pain is good! My suffering for the sake of the gospel is best! Yes, that is truly what the Lord wants us to finally grasp, that his way painful, terribly uncomfortable life, indeed one ending in tragic deat, is good. Not easy, huh? I would say not. But certainly possible, since the apostles went on to live those sort of lives. And in my experience, when I'm really living this sort of life, curious miracles begin happening around me and the Trinity delights me in ways bigger than I could have ever afforded. So there are truly bigger rewards to the sacrificial life than what we might give up. Dear Jesus, we ask that you would enable us to die to ourselves and please you. In your name, amen. Peace of Christ to you.

Closeness

They patiently wait, ever hoping to hear from us./ And so, the weight of their interest exceeds shallowness./ Placing a sort of surrounding, beckoning caress/ That, in time, becomes easier to confess./

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Appropriate Approach

I ALWAYS MARVEL at the way so many in the gospels end up begging Jesus to heal people. I wonder why? How many adults have you seen begging for anything? I can say, it certainly does not come up in prayers that I have heard. I wonder why? I'm afraid I know it! God is missing from the action. Imagine that, with God so close all the time and Jesus likewise occupied with attending to the needs of people, how is it that people around us are not struck by his closeness and so approaching him begging? Because they ain't feeling his presence. As one who has experienced God's touch and closeness, mainly in small groups filled with heartfelt worship and prayer, I know what it tangibly feels like for God to enter the room. And, interestingly, that is when the prayer begging begins. Granted, haven't seen this in thousands of church services across the country. But I sure have seen it happen. So this day I fully understand the approach of people like these: "As Jesus and his disciples were going into Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man." (Mark 8:22). Once again, we find folks beggin' Jesus to heal their friend. Why? Simply because, being near to him, they have tangibly experienced a closeness with God. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would open the eyes of our hearts so we can feel your closeness and approach you correctly. In your name, amen.

Abundance

Planning the delight with more than enough,/ He tested his apostles, seeking further than their trough./ Not finding anything there, He turned his mind/ Toward Heaven and a depth of provisionly kind./ Not content with a little, He wrought massive food./ Churning it out at a level that surprise it stood./ And sure enough: it did./ Hence the wonders of the sublime arrived instead./

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Celebration!

To understand the dramatic happening of Jesus creating all this food from thin air, one must realize the immense value of food for Jews. Largely due to the scarcity of it. Indeed, they realize a sufficient amount of food always remained a big challenge for anyone, given that most food is grown but difficult to water sufficiciently due to the drought. So it became quite a balancing act to consistently gather the requisite food and hunger often hit when common food shortages appeared. Thus, this massive creation of abundant food by Jesus holds way more impact than were he to do it in our day. Talk about a delight! And you know the apostles danced as they got to pass it out. See this: "After Jesus told the crowd to sit down, he took the seven loaves and blessed them. He then broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples, who passed them out to the crowd. 7 They also had a few little fish, and after Jesus had blessed these, he told the disciples to pass them around." (Mark 8:6-7). So these hungry folks got to enjoy a feast that likely rivaled anything they had experienced in a very long time. And that is the wonder of the Messiah's provision for them. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would always remind us of your ability to provide for our needs. In your name, amen. May the Spirit bless you and keep you close.

He Feels for Us

Constantly caring, unbriddled love/ Longs to sweep us from above./ To reach our chaffing hearts/ And always tenderly apply His smarts./ This compassion shall ultimately break through,/ No matter how distant, we get found too./ Hence a time comes to savor/ A sweet healing touch from our Saviour./

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Compassion of the Christ

ONE OF THE THINGS that surely must be difficult to accept, is the idea that the creator of the world somehow feels for people in need. Surely he has bigger things to do. But no, within the gospels we often find the Creator Jesus expressing the extent of his sense of pain for others. We see it here: “'I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don’t have anything to eat. 3 Some of them live a long way from here. If I send them away hungry, they might faint on their way home.'” (Mark 8:2-3). Granted, in this instance he is beside these folks and so can feel their need. But I suspect, in Heaven he senses all the needs, hopes and trials of everyone all the time in a much deeper way. And that should bring us some serious peace. Certainly needed. So whenever we face trials of any type, the best and appropriate response is to know that the Messiah surely "feels sorry" for us and wants to deliver relief. Of course, in my experience, I have also found he treasures our suffering and so might be slow to respond. But also, time and again I have found that pressing him in prayer brings the needed succor. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would help us feel the range of your compassion for us. In your name, amen. May God open Heaven like a curtain and come down to you with storm clouds under his feet. And tenderly care for you.

Drawing Near

Nearing so incessantly./ Ever crossing to humanity./ Resolute. You simply don’t give up./ Waiting and watching, you won’t stop./ So what can be done in response?/ Simply falling in heart, allowing once/ To feel His gentleness, to keenly see/ The wonder of a brush with eternity./

Friday, February 14, 2014

Humility Touches the Heart of God

I remain so amazed in churches at how arrogant they feel. No wonder so many just give up on church; indeed, I have a friend who simply began meeting in his house with a small group rather than endure the immense selfishness in a church. Why is this? I guess, for starters, we are naturally self-centered and could honestly care less about others or, especially, the needs of many. But a very curious thing seems to happen when God comes close. Of course, I know, he is so far from most churches that do not actually spend much time thinking of him, instead preferring to ponder their own glory. But the remarkable thing that happens when God is nearby we see in Mark 7:32: "Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. They begged Jesus just to touch him." Suddenly, these folks became totally humble and meek, actually begging the Christ to heal their pal. And this, I assure, is entirely a function of nearness to God. Get close, believe me, and your heart becomes way humble. Too bad churches don't care about including God in their services. Yeah, they fire up some wimpy prayers and sound off some shallow songs. But they also so well manage to keep God apart. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to long for your nearness always. In your name, amen.

Greeting Life

Chasing the healing man./ Facing up in ways that can/ Bring needed release to those loved./ Reaching for Heaven above./ Yet the quandary remains./ How to corner His gains./ For He Himself holds power/ To break this impending tower./

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jesus the Center

ONE WOULD THINK, that with the centrality of Jesus in the Bible, his core place in churches would be certain. Not so. Instead, the Master remains a rare person within religion, someone who actually holds little interest for the faithful. Rather, their affection for ethics and their own high place among others seems the prevailing knod. But, fortunately, for those who dare to venture into gospels like “Mark,” we find folks with their head on straight and devoted to angling their way to capturing the healing power of the Christ. We find this here: “A woman whose daughter had an evil spirit in her heard where Jesus was. And right away she came and knelt down at his feet. 26 The woman was Greek and had been born in the part of Syria known as Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to force the demon out of her daughter.” (Mark 7:25-26). What we can gather from this story is the precious willingness of this sweet woman to beg the Messiah to heal her daughter. Though at first putting her off, she persisted and Jesus relented, instantly relieving her daughter of her plight. So at least we find another person who gets it: our Lord is the center of religion. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would enable us to keep you the center of our religious experience, so we can experience your touch and healing power. In your name, amen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dangerous Hearts

As people careen through life without much concern for the outpouring of their hearts, they would do better to hear the words of Jesus regarding this. In his mind, the heart can be both a blessor and a vast curse. Consider this: "What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean. 21 Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, 22 unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness. 23 All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God." (Mark 7:20-23). He makes the point in the context of concern regarding what people eat; as though that could be a problem. Instead, he goes on to drive home the key point that the heart holds huge wickedness, no matter how much people belittle that. I find, especially, his emphasis on faithfulness in marriage such a viable point. How can so many happily skip along and flirt with those they are not married to? Believe me, for many the interest in others beyond their spouse certainly dives into the dark realm of sin, though maybe no sex happens. The sex is really just the pitiful stoppping point to a marriage so easily broken by so many. Thus, we ought to always consider our hearts potentially destructive, and take pains to keep them pure. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would help us to always, always keep our hearts pure. In your name, amen! Peace of Christ to you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Church Indictment

We catch the Lord dealing with the complaint of the Pharisees regarding the fact that his apostles didn't wash their hands in the proper way before they ate. Now this concern of theirs could very well be accepted on a cultural basis, but what we find from the Messiah in response tends to strike more at a deeper problem. Most immediately in the hearts of the Pharisees. Thus the Christ says, "All of you praise me with your words, but you never really think about me. 7 It is useless for you to worship me, when you teach rules made up by humans." (Mark 7:6-7). Now we could easily think, yeah, classic Pharisee legalism at work. So glad we are not like that! Really? I tend to think the very same affliction today resides in probably most churches. I sure can understand how some fine Christian people I love have given up on the church. I don't because I know you can always find a handful of people who are not locked into the legalistic bind that grips so many churches. For example, in the sweet church where I became a Christian and led a friend to become a believer, the pastor told my friend he couldn't wear shorts to church functions. Bad move. My friend just said, "Forget this!" And he quit the faith. But in most churches there are so many similar rules in how people should behave. When Jesus never intended there to be hardly any rules at all. Want to be at the center of the Master's desires? THINK OF HIM. That's it, but something so rare in churches all caught up in studies way far from Jesus. To me, the fact that you can rarely find a study of Jesus in church, is a huge indictment on the machine. Instead, you just get a stupid focus on ethics and proper behavior. Give that up! Think of Jesus, instead. You see his wish for that in the verses above. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would keep our hearts centered on you and not on rules. In your name, amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Begging Works

One of the vast quandries that seems to make an efffective faith live hard, is the notion that Jesus, nor God and Spirit, are like us. The depth of their humility so exceeds that we might ever experience, that it seems our trouble lay in wrapping our arms around the challenge of somehow connecting at their level. One that is always immensely meek. You would never, think, of course, that the creator of the universe should be that simple-minded. But that sure seems to be the case: particularly when you see how readily the Christ responds to those who plead for his help. Consider this verse, "In every village or farm or marketplace where Jesus went, the people brought their sick to him. They begged him to let them just touch his clothes, and everyone who did was healed." (Mark 6:56) What strikes me here, as in so many other places, is how well some folks get the mandate that begging the Messiah is the right course. And sure enough, once that effort gets in place, they rapidly get the healing they so desperately long for. Thus, our equal obligation becomes to talk to Jesus and the Trinity in vastly humble terms, understanding that is how they best think and relate. Dear Jesus, we do pray that you would give us way meek hearts so we can relate to you on your terms. In your name, amen.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Unfaith

One of the nice things we can appreciate within the stories found in the life of Jesus is the extent of fear and loathing that people experience toward him. And hence his inability to help them in any useful way. We see this hear: "The people were very unhappy because of what he was doing. 4 But Jesus said, Prophets are honored by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their relatives and their own family. 5 Jesus could not work any miracles there, except to heal a few sick people by placing his hands on them. 6 He was surprised that the people did not have any faith. (Mark 6:3-6). What we find here is the way some folks managed to take offense at the word that Jesus healed and fed people. Imagine that. Yet somehow many people find themselves able to despise the one who could bring them life, happiness and peace. Obviously, this speaks to the existence of the Devil. For how could anyone possibly find reason to dislike somebody like the Christ who is all about bringing healing and wellness to the masses? It happens, too much. Indeed, when many people become all occupied with the fanciful mysteries that Satan offers, they earnestly place their hearts there and are able to roundly refuse any place to the Messiah. Too bad. But maybe our take on all this needs to be to always realize that a wimpy force shall continue to hound us and seek to cloud our vision so we might count the actions and record of Jesus as unappealing. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would increase our faith so we can always welcome you visits. In your name, amen.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Opening Minds

One of the dire facts of the human condition is the tendancy toward thinking only in terms that we know, to feel comfortable in a universe that suits our safety net. But the grave challenge to this outlook appears in the way that Jesus rarely cooperates. We see it here: "When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost, and they started screaming. 50 All of them saw him and were terrified. But at that same time he said, 'Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.' 51 He then got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely confused. 52 Their minds were closed, and they could not understand the true meaning of the loaves of bread." (Mark 6:49-51). I must admit the response of the apostles here seems a tad far fetched. Given that they had now spent a fair amount of time oberving the Lord performing miracles. But we do see in their response to his walking on the water how difficult they found accepting that he could do such a thing. Indeed, it says their minds were "closed." Hard to believe given their daily propensity to miraculous power. But that speaks best to the reality that people tend to fear things new and press their heart toward the familiar, as they did here. Thus, for us, we must be willing to ever operate in the sphere of an open mind should we wish to allow the Christ to work miracles near us. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would open our minds that we can fully see your work in our lives. In your name, amen.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jesus Feels for People

So often folks think God thinks like us, possessed with his own priorities and interests and really not too terribly concerned with the workings in the lives of people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We see how God thinks in the person of Jesus, when hoards of people chase him at a time he is trying to get alone to enjoy a bit of peace with his apostles. His true persona comes out here: "When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep without a shepherd. He felt sorry for the people and started teaching them many things." The surprise arrives in this passage to see the response when tons of folks chase the Master down in order to squeeze stuff out of him. The remarkable response of the Christ here is that he feels "sorry" for these desperate masses. Strange, ain't it? But that should become the sense we always have of Jesus when we too are faced with trials and hardship. True, like God, he seems to enjoy seeing us suffer. But I suspect, based on this passage, he also feels deeply a sense of pain at our struggles. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would help us to always remember your sweet compassion for us. In your name, amen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Faith in Action

So we find Jairus travelling with Jesus to his home to maybe get some rescue for his daughter. You have to give the boy credit for advancing on the Master with such humility. But surely he felt somewhat discouraged given that the word is his kid had died. Nevertheless, he takes the Messiah to his abode. I mean, what else can he do? His options are exhausted. With the child expired that sort of leaves few remaining options to bring any hope. But the key element, beyond Jairus imploring the Christ to help him early, is this statement by the Lord: "While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from Jairus' home and said, 'Your daughter has died! Why bother the teacher anymore?' 36 Jesus heard[e] what they said, and he said to Jairus, 'Don’t worry. Just have faith!' (Mark 5:35-36). What brings this story to its happy ending is Jairus' willingness to simply have faith! Should be way more complicated given that who on earth has the power to bring any soul back from death? Jesus does. So, apparently, Jairus does the faith thing and that provides the ammo for the Saviour to raise his daughter to life. Dear Jesus, we pray that you would kindly increase our faith. In your name, amen!