Glory to God!
Glory to God!
Glory to God!
What would it take for you to be happy? I mean life-is-good, smile-on-your-face happy. What would it take? Most often our response comes out of wherever we are for the moment. Whatever our aspirations are. Our goals. Whatever we’re struggling with. Whatever we’re worried about. Whatever brass ring that’s just out of reach. Whatever dark cloud looms overhead.
For some it’s money. There’s a pawn shop in Garland, Tx that has a sign that reads, “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure pays the bills.” For others it’s status or accomplishment or house or possession. And I don’t want to diminish the things that often concern us. Maybe it’s the house that sits on a hill that you’re striving for. Or maybe, it’s simply the house you’re living in that’s falling apart that you’d repair if you could afford it. Maybe you have a dream car in mind. Or maybe, you’d just like to not have to pray that the car you have will start every morning. For many the answer is relational. And this is the most difficult one of all. The perfect marriage. The perfect relationship. How many marriages have fallen apart because one or both have come to the conclusion: “I’m just not happy any more.” How many relationships are on the verge right now of breaking up because of the sadness and apathy of one or both in the marriage?
How many times have you said: “When I finally get this job, then I’ll be happy.” “When I finally finish this degree, then I’ll be happy.” “When I pay off this loan, then I’ll be happy.” “When I…. If I….”
Have you found that contentment is illusive? What does it mean to be content anyway?
We seek happiness, and I know that some would argue that happiness and contentment are two different realizations, but I can’t help but think that if we could come to the point in life that we were content, we’d then be happy.
Perhaps no Psalm is more loved and more quoted than Psalm 23. It brings comfort and solace because it draws us into the arms of a Father who is so very welcoming and so very sufficient. In verse 5 David pens, “…my cup overflows.” In Scripture one’s “cup” is one’s lot in life. There is abundance in his life attributed only to God. It’s not a situational concept. It’s an internal one. An emotional one. A state-of-being. The blessings of living near the Father. A Father who lavishes His love upon us. His grace upon us. His goodness. His strength. He saves us, and then, renews us. What a description of abundance and belonging. “My cup overflows.” “It is overfilled.” “Filled to overflowing.” Because I belong to God!
The secret? Jesus!
Glory to God!
“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).
“He must become greater, I must become less,” John the Baptist (John 3:30).
“Paul, a servant of God….” (Titus 1:1).
Humility is elusive, because just when you think you’ve got it… you don’t!
For some humility is a gift. It comes extremely naturally. To very few humility is second nature (my maternal grandmother was like this). However, for most, humility is a daily choice that runs contrary to our nature. A decision that is willfully made. Day after day. Moment by moment. To humble ourselves and be ever so willing to become obedient to death, even death on a cross (connect Philippians 2:8 with Luke 9:23) whether that cross is physical or metaphorical. To give up our rights and die to ourselves so that Christ might be lifted up and exalted through us.
When someone is being questioned in regard to a crime by a governmental official they will first be advised of their rights before any questioning begins. The Miranda warning reads, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present prior to and during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to you. Should you choose to begin answering questions, you have the right to terminate the interview at any time. Do you understand you’re rights?” When the answer comes back, “Yes,” the next question asked is, “Will you voluntarily waive your rights and answer some questions?”
In Christ, humility demands that we give up our rights. We give up our rights to be first. We give up our rights to be center stage. We give up our rights to be heard. To be proven right. To be exalted. In order that He might be first. Center stage. Heard. Proven right. And exalted. The cross of Jesus requires that we give up our rights, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. That we would willfully empty ourselves of self. And that in turn, we would be filled by Him.
I wonder how this God-ordained approach might impact some of the struggling relationships that exist today? In particular, relationships that are struggling with God….
Glory to God!
“The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Glory to God!
Today is my absolute favorite day of the year! Tiersa’s birthday! It’s an event. We build up to it for days. Everyone’s involved. The kids do their thing. We collaborate. We plan. We strategize. Dinner. Presents. Cake. It’s a concerted, group effort. And it’s a blast!
When it comes to “my part”, I’ve learned that slow dancing by candlelight to “All I Want is You” by U2 is what makes her heart smile.
God is good! He is faithful! And today has been a fantastic day with the birthday girl!
I love that you love. I love that you love me. I love that you love us. I love that you love our children. I love that you love our family. I love that you love God. I love that you love others. I love that you love our history. I love that you love our present. I love that you love our future. I love that you love with your whole heart. I love that you hold nothing back. I love that out of 7 billion people on the planet God knew the one I wanted and needed. I love that you love, Love. And I love you!
“You are beautiful my Love, as Tirzah….” – Song of Solomon 6:4
Love you Love!
Imagine as Christ’s church our having to meet in secret because of persecution. We tend to trivialize the notion in our Western worldview but the reality is that much of the church of both the past and present was/is forced to gather together in secrecy for the valid fear of oppression and persecution (either by government or society and culture). The first century church and Christians today in Muslim and Communist countries have much in common.
Beneath the city of Rome lies hundreds of miles of “catacombs.” The catacombs are underground burial places where Christians often met for worship and fellowship. For the almost three hundred years after Christ, Christians sought asylum in this underground maze of tunnels beneath Rome seeking to worship God in community with one another and as they were in constant fear of Roman violence.
In these underground tunnels a common inscription has been repeatedly found. Many recognize the symbol as the Jesus or Christian fish (the Greek word ichthus means “fish”) but it served as an early acrostic, which stood for: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior.” (I avoid acrostics at all costs in preaching – but this one I have to let slide….) What we have as magnets on the back of our luxury SUV’s complete with seat warmers, originally served as a ray of hope in caverns of darkness (physically and spiritually) for the early church.
I wonder about our investment of the Christian life. If in our ease of worship and ease of faith we aren’t crippled in our commitment. Not that I’m praying for persecution. But in times of oppression in the church’s history valiant faith has abounded. Why? Because it forced our hand whether we were in with both feet or not.
Here’s my question: Are we? Are we all in? Are we completely, totally, whole-heartedly invested (heart, soul, and self) into the Christian life?
Luke records these words of our Savior: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (Luke 13:24).
We’re tempted to think that Jesus is talking about “them.”
I think it’s about us….
Steadfastness. Dedication. Investment. An investment of self. An investment of life.
We are too often too easily derailed.
We tend to take lightly the things we have not wholly invested in. The things we’re not completely committed to. Arenas in which no sacrifice has been required. The same is especially true of faith. For this reason Christ calls us to make every effort.
Glory to God!
I say it often, and truly believe, if we would live the Sermon on the Mount our world would be turned upside down. That you and I would be altogether incapable of external religiosity because of the inward attention the spiritual kingdom is given in these words of our Savior. When our “righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees” in heart-filled adoration rather than pious observation it is then and only then that the words of His message come to life.
How do you understand the Beatitudes (the Blessings) with which Jesus begins the Sermon (Matthew 5:3-12)? How would you write them in your own words in such a way as to impact you right where you are in life and in such a way that is current and relevant to the world in which you find yourself a part?
I love the way Eugene Peterson does this very thing, paraphrasing in The Message:
When we internalize the message of Christ and realize that He is speaking to us (and not just “them”), it is then that things begin to change for us. It is then that He changes us.
Glory to God!
Jesus tells the story of a man who plants a field of wheat. But while everyone is sleeping an enemy comes along and plants weeds all throughout the wheat and then slips away in the night. As the first green shoots begin to appear the two look the same. But as the grain begins to form the workers soon realize the field is also inundated with weeds.
The farmer immediately recognizes what has occurred and that an enemy has planted the weeds right along side of his wheat. The farmhands are quick to ask if they should pull the weeds out from among the wheat but the owner knows what damage it would cause. “Let them both grow until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn’” (Matthew 13:30).
And Jesus says, “This is the Kingdom.” “The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field….”
He explains the One who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man, and those who belong to Him belong to the Kingdom. And the one who sowed the bad seed is the evil one. “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels” (Matthew 13:39).
But here’s my question: Where do we fit in to all of this? If this is a portrait of the Kingdom – What’s our role?
To be wheat!
Do we uproot? Do we tear down? No! How much damage would that cause? How much damage has it already caused? No, our calling is to be wheat, in a field that is full of both weeds and wheat. To be wheat, and to show the field what wheat looks like.
And the amazing thing about the message of Christ is that the Gospel provides the way that a weed can become wheat. A complete metamorphosis. A change of state. A change of being.
In reality (if I’m not taking this parable too far) when it comes to being a part of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel should confront us of our own weediness (it’s not a real word but I like it!). The Gospel by design compels us to reckon our own weedy nature. Without the Good News of Jesus it is impossible to become or to be wheat.
The Gospel is designed in such a way that the message itself should and must compel us, and convict us, and radically alter our worldview so much so that we seek to live like the wheat we are called to be, in a world that so desperately needs to see what wheat looks like. The message of Jesus allows for the opportunity for weeds to become wheat!
Glory to God!
For the next 5 days (through December 28th) Amazon Kindle will have a promotional giveaway of my book Renaissance: The End of Religion and Beginning of Something New.
If you do not have a Kindle reader it can be downloaded on any device free of charge.
Glory to God!