Monday, September 21, 2009

If it doesn’t look like Jesus, sound like Jesus, smell like Jesus, it probably isn’t Jesus.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being…” (Heb 1:1-3 NIV).

The reflection in this picture does not lie. The image below is the exact representation of what is above. What does Christ-likeness look like? Ask a leader in any church and you might get a description of a good solid church member who attends faithfully, tithes regularly and serves willingly. Then there is the man who walked into our little congregation two weeks ago. He was easy to look at, young, muscular, handsome and friendly. He had no church history so his muscle shirt and colorful language were normal for him. After church he burst into his aunt’s kitchen exclaiming, “I think I #*@#*ing got saved!” He described the unfamiliar stinging of tears while we were singing and a burning in his heart while he listened to the preaching of the Word. Being a tough guy he was confused by these sensations but his aunt explained that those were normal responses to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The young man returned to the church on Wednesday evening. As he sat and talked with the pastor about his sinful life, his need for a savior became clear to him. With his head in his hands he confessed his sins, unaware that his tears could be heard hitting the carpet. As he lifted his head he said, “I feel so light, so clean.” He had received forgiveness from Jesus and made Him Lord of his life.

There were immediate changes. The cussing that had sounded so natural now seemed uncomfortable. The next day, he crawled into his pickup to go to the family job that paid his bills but he didn't even start his truck. He just couldn’t do it anymore, it was illegal and he knew it was wrong. The next week he went back to see his family, the familiar cussing, fighting, and screaming greeted him as he entered the house but somehow it didn’t feel natural for him anymore. Before long his brother got angry and told him never to set foot on his property again or he’d shoot him! However, later that day he went to his brother’s place and mowed all his grass for him. Is this young man changed? You bet he is!

He returned to church the next Wednesday and again he and pastor sat at the back, his head in his hands and those tears reverberated as they hit the carpet. This time he was crying for his brothers and his parents. He loved them and he knew they didn’t know his Jesus and he couldn’t bear it.

Now I have a few questions for you.
#1 - Do you know this Jesus and how do you respond to His Holy presence?
#2 – Is your desire to be Christ-like stronger than your need to have money/security?
#3 – Has the love of Jesus compelled you to put down your pride and love your enemy?
#3 – When was the last time you cried for your lost friends and family?

Christ-likeness may not look like the church lady in her Sunday best, but then again, it might. One grandmother in our church knew nothing of this young man’s journey yet she quietly gave him a brand new soft leather bible this Sunday. She blessed him with words of grace and encouragement as she handed it to him.

Christ-likeness ~ if it looks like Jesus, sound like Jesus, smells like Jesus, it must be Jesus.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives….We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 1:1-2:11 NIV).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

His Timing is Perfect

When the shutter is timed just right my ‘Pita’ dog can fly! Timing, when it’s perfect we love it, when it is off, it’s terrible. The timing in a car need only be off one iota, whatever that is, and the car will not run smoothly. If one person in the band is out of rhythm it ruins the whole piece, and when our hearts are out of rhythm with the Holy Spirit, it ruins our peace.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:25 NIV). When that still small voice whispers in your ear, don’t dismiss it like you might a child who interrupts your train of thought. The One who set each planet spinning at just the right speed knows the timing of your life, and when He speaks His timing is perfect!

I was traveling when a friend in another country crossed my mind so I prayed for her as I sent her a quick email. Ten minutes later my phone rang and she told me of how much she needed that prayer today. She was overwhelmed by a decision she needed to make and her husband was working overseas. We only had a few minutes so I prayed for her on the phone. “Father, please let her know you are with her, hold her hand and walk with her through each moment of this day.” When I finished she was crying and could not talk as we hung up.

I went back to my computer and saw that she had replied to my email before she called me. As I read it I understood her tears. “You can’t imagine how I needed that today! I just wish Jesus could hold me by the hand and not let me go. I need Him so much today, to make a big decision. I wish you were here to pray with me.” The Father had wanted to tell her through me that He heard her prayer and he was holding her hand. His timing is perfect!

“For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what [you] ought to say” (Luke 12:12 Amp). There is “joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment--how good it is!” (Prov 15:23 Amp)
(Photo credit ~ Marjorie Dixon)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From Loving to Living

I have a lot of loves in my life. My God, my husband, my family and friends, and yes, my dog too. Then there are all those things I love to do. I love to ride, motorcycles and horses, I love snorkeling, talking with friends, (I recommend you do NOT discuss this one with my husband), good music, live theatre, musicals (don't bring that up with Paul either) and skiing. Then there are those things that I think I love. I love the idea of being fit, but seldom exercise. I love the idea of having lots of books but seldom read, I love the idea if writing but put it off for over a year. It reminds of the tree in this picture. It looks like it started growing up and then got side tracked. It meant to be a straight, tall tree but time passed and it got harder and harder to straighten out so it just made the best of it.

There is one other love that I sometimes let slide. I love the idea of knowing God, really knowing Him, and hearing Him speak to me, but there are days I put Him off and ignore Him. Oh, I can be hard on others if they are not faithful but still want God's blessing. The Word is very clear, 'Blessed is the one who does not slow down... stand around... or sit down' but "instead you thrill to God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night" (Psa 1:2 MSG). That person, the one who really loves God and His Word, will be like a tree solidly planted by the river... bearing fruit in each season of life, reaching their God-designed-purpose and destiny.

The distance between loving an idea and living the ideal makes a huge difference in the outcome. Loving the right things and then pursuing them with all of life provides the destination and the motivation. That may sound like hard work but a wise teenager in our church recently surprised me with his wisdom when he said, "If you choose a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life." And the God of all creation says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut 6:5 NIV).