Posts Tagged With: freedom

Father, forgive them …

I continue to ponder the paradox of forgiveness and the offensiveness of the Good News of Jesus.

Today, let’s turn to the Lord’s prayer. In one petition, we say, according to one version, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those indebted to us.”

I particularly like this more than saying transgressions or sins because it quantifies our guilt: We have a debt towards God greater than all the taxes of the world. Our neighbor may owe us a hundred days’ wages.

Like all large numbers, infinity is hard to grasp. The offense, the debt, that our sin creates towards God is hard for the human mind to grasp.

However, when we see that our father or mother, our sister or brother, perhaps your husband or wife, your sons or daughters, your neighbors, coworkers, or fellow citizen has offended you will often have in mind particular numbers of offenses and the exact punishment which you believe is due them. Perhaps you think they owe you a dollar for the soda you purchased for them. Perhaps you think you should kill them for not comprehending that you are a person of honor and dignity and should be respected as such.

The moment we think of the offense of a transgression or sin, we humans are apt to think that we deserve X in compensation for our trouble. We seek to justify our anger.

Maybe we think they started it, and we are just exacting a just revenge, at least in our minds. Perhaps in the back of your mind, the repeated offense has become chalked up against your relationship with that person. The weight of the offense becomes tremendous. You feel you MUST execute vengeance. Your self-righteous anger rises and your virtue falls.

Lord, have mercy!!

As long as we hold onto the burden of bitterness, we are unable to release the pain of the past. As long as we hold onto past offenses, we are unable to embrace fully the future Open Door. As long as we focus on what other people have or have not done for us, we will forget what God has done for us.

Here is the offense of the Gospel, the Good News. The Good News beckons us to reorient around God’s promise of freedom which was secured on the cross and in the resurrection. 100% guaranteed … if we will accept the challenge of living by trusting God rather than seeking to defend ourselves against other people all the time. The natural human heart revolts against this acts of mercy. It cannot comprehend how the death of Jesus could pay, once for all, the sins, the transgressions, the debts of mankind.

Perhaps you will say now, Oh, but I am a nice person. I don’t get angry. I just keep track of what they have done to me and don’t let it happen again.

Are you any better? Has not hatred overtaken your heart? You love those who love you and ignore the rest. Is this nothing more than a polite ISIS? Do not even the pagans do this much?

What makes Jesus so offensive is that he commands us to look for ways to risk our comfort. He could have just said, Meet once a week and remember the good times we had. Encourage each other and get better.

Instead, he said, Go, make disciples of all nations! Preach the Good News to all creation! Repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem, wait in the city … WAIT!!

The disciples were instructed to hang out in the very city where their Lord was murdered in cold blood in the cruelest manner possible. Wait? Wouldn’t it have been wiser to run? Why not go where there were receptive crowds? Why not preach about Moses preparing the way for the Messiah and hinting at the coming kingdom? No, they were commanded by the Holy Spirit to rebuke their own people for rejecting their own King and then to invite them to follow that King in being immersed as a pledge of a good conscience towards God. They did not manipulate or maneuver, they just said it like it was in a way that the people could understand.

That is boldness. Some admire and replicate that boldness. Some shy away and become ashamed of the Good News. Some attack such witnesses. Boldness comes at a price: love. Boldness that does not love is mere cruel boasting.

We have a choice before us: follow the humble way of peace or strive in violence. One is marked with 666 the mark of the beast; the other is marked with the stigma of Jesus.

Choose whom you will serve.

I worship Jesus.

Lord, have mercy on me and all who hate me.

Categories: Cross, Good News | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pure Love

Last week we looked at how human relationships should always have a measure of what might be called relative “hate” when compared to the Love we should have for the Lord Jesus. That is, our love for Jesus should be so strong that we are willing to strive with others for the truth. This is a loving thing to do, but some will interpret it as hateful.

There is no need to be contentious, but we should contend for the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So, then what about love, is there no such thing as love? Or, are all relationships marred by “hatred”?

Love is an attractive thing and forms when there is some kind of agreement. We should love God 100%.

This means we should always say God is right and sin is wrong. If we sin, we should love God more than our sin, and confess the truth about our sin. It is a high standard. We all fall short.

To Love God is to hate evil and to delight in wisdom that is pure. It is to do good and pursue peace.

So then, what does love look like in our human relations:

1. It is natural to agree with oneself. If we discover we have made a mistake, we should love ourselves enough to repent and turn from the evil of our hearts. It is assumed that those who are wise will love themselves in this sense. Those who are wise will not prefer themselves over all others. Indeed, the most loving thing is to put others ahead of oneself.

2. We should love our families. While family members may not always agree on everything, we should do the best we can to ensure their well-being. We should share the Good News with our families. To hide the Truth of Jesus from our families is an unloving thing. To let a family member do evil without seeking to speak to them directly about the wrong is to do them a great disservice. They may think you are hating on them when you kindly tell them that they have sinned. But in fact, correction and rebukes are signs of love. So is teaching your children to live godly lives. Training your children how to live in today’s world in a way that pleases the Lord God Almighty and yet is sustainable is a good thing. Providing for family members is a good thing and a sign of love. Those who do not love their family members are worse than unbelievers.

3. We should love one another. That is, we should love other Christians as Christ loved us. If someone identifies as belonging to Jesus, then we should come alongside them and support them and prioritize their wellbeing. In a day and age when the family of Jesus is growing rapidly as new believers are born again all around the globe every day, this could keep us busy all the time. If you find you are “witnessing” to a Christian, the goal must always be to build them up in the most holy faith and to help them draw closer to Jesus and not to be a stumbling block to any Christian unnecessarily. This is done mostly through getting acquainted with saints in your church/congregation or small group. But it should also extend to supporting the persecuted church or training believers in ministry around the world. We must not stop there though.

4. We are to love our neighbor. Jesus made it clear who our neighbor is: anyone we encounter in need, even if we do not know them or necessarily have any ethnic or national or political reason to agree with them. Loving our neighbor means breaking out of the mold and showing kindness to strangers. We must not only greet one another, we must also go to places where there are people who have yet to be greeted in the Lord’s Name. In today’s world where our neighbor may be discovered through a broadcast or website about tragedy in a distant land, the heart is called to expand to a greater degree. Whenever we learn of someone hurting, we should be sensitive enough to feel their pain. Wisdom teaches us not to focus on the problems of the world lest we become insensitized and numb in spirit. PRAY when you watch the news. Pray when you are in public, only in your heart and not for show. Pray wherever you walk. Pray while you study and read. Pray while you watch. God will lead you to your neighbors.

5. We are to love our enemies. You say, this is a tall order … HOW? Does someone offend you? Forgive them immediately and do not hold any grudge. If someone attacks you, pray for them. Do good to them. Show kindness to those who are cruel. May God’s kindness lead them to repentance. It is not enough to restrain from evil, we must bless. Do not return insult for insult. When cursed, blessed. When struck, shake hands. You do not have to invite ruin by aggravating an offended person, simply show kindness and be joyful. You cannot make everyone happy. Do not worry about that. Love anyways. If they hate you and seek to do you harm, that is their business. Bless and do not curse. Encourage them when they are down. This will not be easy. When people see you treat your enemies like this, they will call you a fool. They will say that you have lost your mind. They will say you are mindless. Keep loving. Love is foolish only to fools. Better to be an idiot in the world’s eyes and beloved of the Lord than to be rich in the world’s eyes and destitute of mercy on the last day.

Now you see why loving can seem like hating. If you love your enemies, you will seem to be hating yourself. You may end up dying as you proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the nations.

You may be rejected and poor as you apply the teachings of Jesus.

You will lose all and gain all if you follow Jesus.

In this world, you will count all as loss. In the world to come, you will lack nothing if you lack no love here. To have love, you must give love. God’s love is available to all. It is holy, pure, undefiled by sensual, sexual lust. It is innocent of evil. It is clean and enduring forever. It blazes away evil and shines in the night of wickedness. Stand, and shine the light of God’s love to the world, even the nations at the world’s ends.

For Americans, remember, to love not only America, love those who are assaulting her freedoms and love those who are attacking her people. Love your enemies and be perfect. Go to the nations. Preach the good news of the Lordship of Jesus. Stand against evil and for freedom, even if you must lose your life in the process, but there is no need to take their lives to share the sacrifice of Christ. Love is about giving life, not taking it. Celebrate the victory that is yours in Christ Jesus rather than the wars fought on domestic and foreign soil. Love your enemies.

Categories: Good News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Angry Drunk to Sober and Silly

This week, I would like to share a Guest column by J.S. A friend who wanted to share the following story.

I was lying across the design table. I was one of a team of four doing a full-scale drawing of a new Corvette. As part of a job shop, we were seeing if the engine would fit in the engine compartment.
We had to lie on the table to do the drawings, because we were each doing a different part of the car. While there, I was actually daydreaming about going out afterwards and having that first drink, knowing that it would not be the only drink.

I always had alcohol in the car wherever I went. I would have a pint that was open under the driver’s seat and an unopened pint under the passenger’s seat. I also had a fifth in the trunk so I didn’t run out. I was loaded.

I should have been stopped by the police and given a ticket or been taken to jail, but I wasn’t. I deserved to be though. By the grace of God, I never had an accident, not even any close calls. It is a miracle that I was never even stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Eventually I was fired from that job for being drunk on the job.

My drinking, of course, was exacerbated by the fact that I was bipolar and had gone undiagnosed for years. It had gotten so bad that I was growling at people. It wasn’t funny. If only I could go back and erase that or make it right, but of course that is not possible.

Another job I had was as a technical illustrator, and I had a bad morning, so I went down to the bar and had two quintuples (10 shots of alcohol) and then topped it off with a double. Afterwards, I went back to work, but of course I was useless the rest of the day.

I was married at the time, and it was a loveless marriage. I loved her but she did not reciprocate. She said the only reason she married me was to get away from home. When I got angry, I would take one of my World War II daggers and hack the walls, making an awful mess of it.

I had another job working in the Ford Motor Company on the technical illustration team. Scientists and engineers would produce rough sketches, and we had to turn them into professional drawings and lettering. I often worked overtime on the part-time job. When we worked overtime, the company would pay for us to eat out. I would drink my dinner. I would have liked to have been hired there, but I know that my drinking stopped me.

I have had so many jobs that I cannot remember all of them. I was always fired from the jobs or quit over the way I was treated. It wasn’t that I was treated badly, I just couldn’t get along with anybody and was drunk all the time. I even went to sleep with a bottle of liquor in hand.
My drinking started when I was 22 years old and had continued for years. I remember having the thought, “I’m 22 now, I guess I should start drinking and smoking.” That was a dumb decision.

Earlier when I was a teenager, I had been involved somewhat in church and had enjoyed participating in First Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I had played the part of the tribune in a play called the Robe and even made my own costume.

Years later when I was living with my mother, I decided to check the church out again. It was a different pastor, but he spent a lot of time with me. I put him through the wringer because I was still drinking, though not as heavily as before … and he always forgave me. He would come and see me and I would be sloshed. The pastor would talk me through it, and I would stop drinking for a while until there was another crisis of some sort. But eventually something happened.

In 1974, one night in late October, It suddenly dawned on me that I had not had a drink in weeks. Not only had I not had a drink, but I didn’t want one even though the house was full of booze. I stopped smoking cigars at about the same time.

I even had had incidents at the house. I would be misbehaving somehow and the police would come and take me to the nearby psychiatric hospital, because basically I was crazy. This one night, when it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a drink, I couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t even want a drink. I took every bottle of hooch that was in the house and poured it down the drain. That was a lot of alcohol going down the drain. In those days, the liquor would have been worth about $100, quite a bit for that time.

I maintain that I didn’t quit: the Lord took it away from me. It had controlled me.

On a hot day in summer, I would sometimes have 1 bottle of beer usually just part of the bottle and not the whole bottle. The rest would be left on the table. It was not like when I was drinking the hard stuff. I am no longer compelled like I used to be, by the grace of God, I was saved from myself.
I’ve been sober since 1988. I know He took out insurance for me, because now if I ever get a whiff of hard alcohol, I gag.

Sometime later, after I had been seeing a Dr. Longacre for depression for a long time, I mentioned to her what I was dealing with, and she diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder. After the diagnosis, I began being medicated to counter the disorder. The Lord worked through the psychiatrist at community mental health to keep me stable and restore my emotions. It took about 7 years to maintain an effective balance. I take the medicine regularly so that I do not return to being looney.

My mother is now dead, but I wish she could see that I am now sober and sane. While I have hurt many people over the years and wish I could undo all the damage, I cannot. As I was reminded recently by my pastor, I cannot go back, but I can go forward and make a difference in the days ahead for the glory of God, though I am one of the least of His subjects.

…and here is a glimpse of God’s mysterious ways of protecting us:
I was getting off work one Monday, and had the impulse to go to a music shop in town. I didn’t know why since I had been there just two days before. As I was pulling into the parking lot, a tie rod broke, making it so I could not steer the car. If I had not been just creeping along pulling into the parking lot, I would have been driving 70 miles an hour down the freeway. The car had to be hauled away by a tow truck and the manager of the store was so helpful that he drove me home a significant distance. Surely that was divine intervention as I remember wondering, “Why am I going to the store, I was just there two days ago.” Then this happened. God was watching out for me.

Categories: Testimony | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Translation Day

Today is Bible Translation Day with Wycliffe Bible Translators

This video details the current status of translations around the world.

Historically, whenever the Bible is made available in a new langauge, it motivates educational transformation. Regular reading and application of the Bible has also renewed love in marriages, restored health to bodies broken by bad habits (both mental and addictions), ended civil conflicts, and changed economies as people became increasingly productive and stopped busybodying about everybody else. But most importantly, the Bible communicates the way in which we can be restored to God.

God has revealed His plan for humanity. The Bible opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …” and closes with, “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints. Amen.” This is my favorite Scripture, the section between and including those two blessings.

I am thankful today, that I not only am alive, but I have Bibles in several languages to tell me why and portable on my phone to remind me regularly. I am thankful for those languages that are getting the Bible into them even as I write. I am thankful for God’s promise to complete the work He started. I am thankful that His promises never fail. I am thankful that I have enough access to the original languages and critical editions of the Bible to know that the Bible is trustworthy and reliable transmitted down through the generations to today. God’s Word has not failed.

We have failed often to obey God’s Word, but God will accomplish His Word and His Work in our lives. The Law & the Prophets prepared for it. The cross & resurrection of Jesus guaranteed it. The Apostles proclaimed it. More and more, the nations are believing it. Do you believe? What are you thankful for? Have you read the Bible lately? What encouragement did you receive from the Bible lately?

I have been encouraged that Jesus ate with taxcollectors and sinners. This means that God loves government agents and anti-government forces alike. He loves you. He loves you so much He has been thinking about you all day long. He is hoping you will take up His love letter soon. Read. Relax. Relate.

Yes, this is the call of God’s word. In relation to God and others, it is a simple message: Learn. Let go. Love. God Himself will hold you close if you will reach out to him. …

Categories: Holiday, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redeeming the Time – Making the Most of the Moment

In Ephesians, we are exhorted to buy back the time, or as the Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it: “making the most of the time, since the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16);CEV;HCSB;MSG;NIV

Life is not to be wasted: no frittering away time with cheap sins and silly chatter. Get to the Good News.

This need not be boring. Is God boring? Is God bored? God is interested in your life and thinks about your life all the time. Are you boring? God is constantly supervising a universe that could easily implode were it not for the fact that He sustains the constants and restrains evil.

God is active is redeeming people today. Are you?

Are you redeemed? Are you out of the slave market, or are you always looking for another dollar and another way to serve yourself? Are you confused by all the options that the modern world offers you? OR … Are you free to serve the Living God?

Jesus is calling sinners to repentance. Are you calling sinners to repentance? There are two options, sin or repent and call sinners to repentance. If you think there is such a thing as holy selfishness, you are wrong. If you want to draw near the Lord, labor to share His Name with others. It is not a heavy load.

Jesus is the root of all joy. So when you share Jesus, you are sharing joy. If someone rejects joy by rejecting Jesus, you can keep your joy because you are being honored by suffering the same rejection that they gave to the prophets. If your message of joy in Jesus is received, you have the joy of sharing the Love of your life with another and growing the family of God.

If you receive Jesus as your joy, all of heaven rejoices with you and you will probably want to share Jesus with others.

Are you happy? Are you joyful? Jesus likes it when you look to Him and when your eyes meet His in the secret place, He will smile at you. The smile of King Jesus will give you LIFE!! Oh, friend, don’t look to your own resources. Look to Jesus. Don’t waste your life on lesser things. Let every little detail of your life serve to glorify God.

If you are a carpenter, build up the Kingdom. If you are a plumber, drain away the old ways. If you are a doctor, bring healing. If you are a government employee, admininister justice with mercy. If you are a missionary, go in the power of the Lord and help others find peace with God.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have to do each day!

Let God help you through the day and you will find your load lighter.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have sinned and how far I am from God’s mercy!

Did you know that you cannot escape God’s mercy in this life. Seek Him while He may be found. Cry out for His help! He will come to you in a moment.

Do you not understand?

Pray for wisdom.

Are you sick?

Pray for healing.


Jesus loves you.

Every moment, focus on the work God is calling you to do. In those slow times, pray for others or simply thank Jesus that you have found rest for your soul.

My heart is happy because I got to talk to someone about Jesus today. This is my mission in life: to talk to people about Jesus and to listen to God’s heart about those I see. He loves people. So I usually have something to talk to Him about. I must confess, sometimes, I find it hard to be quiet, so I will go do that now: be still and know that He is God. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in the earth.

Categories: Evangelism, Good News, Prayer, Revival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus is not a Religion, Jesus is the Resurrected Person.

Some object to all talk about Jesus in public life because they say Jesus is controversial. Actually, I don’t see how. Most people will say pleasant things about Jesus.

However there is the religion Jesus and there is the person Jesus. With the religion Jesus you have to do a-z to get in the right mindset. Sometimes this false Jesus just goes under the name mindfulness or muhammed or the book of mormon or some other amount of martyrdom (witnessing.)

The True Jesus is a person, fully God and fully human who heals. There is something about the True Jesus who cannot be contained within the bounds of law or religion. He heals when worthless physicians are off duty. He touches when others would wash their hands clean. He speaks up when others call for plea bargaining. He never tried to start a religion. He simply reminded people of what reality is all about: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and secondly about loving your neighbor as yourself.

If you are not loving your neighbor, you are not following Jesus … No matter how much you claim to love God. If you are not loving God, you cannot truly love your neighbor because you may not tell them the historical realities of the resurrection. If you are not telling others about Jesus, you neither love God nor your neighbor.

Jesus is God, so if you love God you will talk about Jesus. Jesus loves your neighbor more than you do, so if you love your neighbor, you will tell them about the One who loves them more than you do.

Some would say that love is religious. So do you call it a religious act when a man loves his wife? Do you call it a religious act when a mother loves her children? Do you call it a religious act when a manager genuinely cares for the welfare of those under their supervision? Do you call it a religious act when government officials show mercy and do justice in their realms of influence?

Perhaps these are all religious acts, in which case, there should be no law against religion or the free exercise thereof (which, by the way, is what the first amendment to the United States Constitution is all about). However, most people around the world see religion as a bunch of rituals done in order to gain favor with god/gods.

Christianity cannot be constructed as a religion by this measure though. The very suffix to the word indicates that it is Christ-like -character-. There can be no law against certain characters or other characters just as there should be now law against honest, compassionate speech.

Let honest and loving speech be freely available to all. And let all the false ideologies and -isms perish. Let the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God.

False testimony is telling lies about true events which you have observed is wrong. Thus anyone who denies the historicity of the resurrection is guilty of false testimony. The resurrection of Jesus has never been disproven. So to speak of the resurrection of Jesus is a historical act with legal ramifications. It implies that all governments must submit to Jesus as the King of kings, Prime Minister of prime-ministers, President of presidents, Boss of bosses, Lord of lords, etc. He is in charge.

As we anticipate celebrating Resurrection Day around the world, prepare to be a martyr: a witness.

If you are in court during this time, take your day in court to speak of Jesus the great Judge over all the earth. If you speak with a stranger, mention the resurrection of Jesus.

We are, after all, simply talking about historical facts that have humane, daily implications.

Please comment and share stories of how you have spoken freely of King Jesus and what the results have been.

Categories: Evangelism, Good News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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