Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Common Sense..." Not That Common

The title of this blog are words my boss often uses... Not that I want to agree with him about people in general, but in a lot of areas it's true... I assume it's because we've become so adapt to getting the quick answer to everything, whether it's Google for a question, calculator for math or a phone call for an opinion we have every answer we think we need at our fingertips.  It is unfortunate, we have forgotten how to think for ourselves, using common sense to find answers to a lot of questions using the mind God gave us.  The funny (or not so much) part is, we think we are so wise and independent when, in fact, we don't really follow our own thought process, our opinions and decisions at all... We just look it up and whatever we are told or we read now becomes our decision, thought, rule and opinion. We are so quick to "look it up" on the computer but so slow to "look it up" in the Bible when we have questions.  We ask everyone we know and sometimes people we don't their opinion on what God thinks to how he deals with certain people and circumstances instead of consulting the words he's already spoken into our lives through the Bible!  CRAZY!

If there was a manual written about the one person in life we would like to please; that man or woman you have your eye on, the company you are trying to get a foot in the door at or the customer you just need to please, and we didn't even glance at it before making direction changing decisions...  That person you love married someone else who did take the time to read the pages of their life, the company you were applying in threw your resume out before even an interview or the customer went to a company who seemed to care about their needs more than you; you would completely deserve whatever you got! Somehow, the common sense application of this principal to the Word of God is lost.

I had a conversation at work a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking about common sense, what my boss always says and how those words and thoughts apply to God.  I was told "you don't even need a Bible to tell you how to get into heaven..."  As you can imagine, that statement both got my back up a bit and peaked my interest... I responded with the obvious question "Oh really? So, how do you think we make it into heaven?"  The answer came quickly and I'm assuming had some prior thought to it "Use your common sense.  Be a good person.  Be nice to people, help people, don't hurt anyone."  I've heard about this school of thought before but have never been directly confronted it. I had been praying God would open a door of conversation with the person in question so I could be a witness, unfortunately my answer was quick and to the point... "Well, the Bible says you can't make it into heaven on good works alone and that our righteousness is as filthy rags in the eyes of God."  (Let me pause here to advise all my readers who witness to do so with love, patience and a soft, kind word.)  The response I got was "That's what your bible says!" and a door closed, pretty much in my face.  Ouch, I felt horrible... Luckily, I work with this person everyday and I didn't have to leave it there. I walked to my computer and sent this e-mail that I thought I should share with you (especially if you don't necessarily agree with me on needing the Bible.)

E-mail:  "Just to clarify, I feel really bad... I was not implying anything or trying to offend you, and you're partially right... You can use common sense when it comes to getting into heaven but common sense also would say that just because someone is known to others as being a good person doesn't mean you are going to invite them to move into your home with you and your kids... Even if that person had no where else to live, you would have a prerequisite of a close relationship with that person or the person would have to be a family member or personal friend. Heaven is God's home, He will only invite people who have built a close relationship with Him... The Bible explains what he expects as guidelines to that relationship, what pleases Him, what makes Him angry, what saddens Him, Insults Him, excites Him, interests Him and what his plans for a relationship are.  Although not everything may be a heaven or hell issue, if I personally am going to stay in His house I want to make sure we are both comfortable in a room together.  They say a mark of a great relationship is when you can just be together in silence and I want to be that comfortable with God if I'm going to be in His house with Him. I want to know Him personally and I want Him to know me... And the Bible is my manual to everything he loves, hates thinks about, plans and does so I read and follow it to the best of my ability in order to make sure I'm doing all I can to make my relationship work.  I want to make Him happy to have me around. I don't want to leave anything to chance, He could let me in as charity but I want Him to want me in his home as much as I want to be there with Him. I (and anyone else) would be crazy not to use the Bible as the inside track to God...  When it's an open book test you bring the book and usually have it all marked up from studying and finding clues to the important issues; why not do that in life!"

The response I got back was one of automatic defense "I'm probably going to hell anyway..."  That's a response I hear a lot and I'm sure you do as well, or you've used the response yourself.  I'm always bothered by those words and here is my answer:  first "Don't be stupid, hell is not something to take lightly or joke about... It's scary, if you only knew one minute of the reality of that place; you would run me over trying to get your hands on Jesus!"  second "If you believe you're going to hell then CHANGE DIRECTION!  I can help guide you but the Bible makes it clear in Acts 2:38 "Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The salvation plan gets mixed up sometimes, so allow me to clarify:  Repentance is not crying your eyes out beating yourself up (although that may be part of what you do) but it is a turn around, a decision to STOP living life the way you think is right that's taken you so far down the wrong path; START living life the way Jesus teaches is right.  Baptism according to the original word of God is "to be submersed in water" as a symbol of the burial of your old way of living, taking off what you were getting ready to put on the ways of Christ. Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit is not as you might imagine receiving a gift on your birthday or Christmas morning... I've heard a lot of people excuse that step in the salvation plan because you don't have to receive a gift; let me ask you a question "how many of you wouldn't get offended if someone refused a gift of help or love from you?"  Enough said... Besides, this is not a Birthday or Christmas morning kind of gift, it's more like a blood transfusion or bone marrow donation.... If you don't accept that gift of life, you WILL die.

So there it is people, even if you didn't NEED the Bible why would you leave life to chance and not use the "cheat sheet" supplied by the Teacher!?  Are you CRAZY!? Accept what He has given us, it's the free guide to getting an A+ grade and moving up!  Let's go!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Right Reaction

I'm a pretty healthy person, all in all, but sometimes when it comes to direction in my own life I feel blind!  There are 2 choices and both seem good to me so which one should I go with, without knowing the future how do I know which choice is better... When I do figure out which choice is best for me how should I approach it?  When Jesus speaks to me how should I respond, what is "the right reaction?"

I was reading a story about a blind man in Mark 10:49-52 the other night and found the answer I've been looking for so I thought you might want to know what I've found!  I believe if we follow the actions of the blind man in this story we can ALL have our miracle, healing, recovery of whatever we have lost and promises!  I'll explain the what the steps to "the right reaction" are but first here is the story I read:

49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call for him." So they called out to the blind man, "Cheer up! Get up on your feet! Jesus is calling for you." 50 He threw his coat to one side. Then he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to be able to see."  52 "Go," said Jesus. "Your faith has healed you." Right away he could see. And he followed Jesus...

The right response:

THROW THE COAT!  The coat  represents whatever may get in the way of you getting to God, whatever may weigh you down or distract you by it's bulk. Look at what is a danger for tripping and get rid of it!  You wouldn't run down the street with a coat dragging on the street making you stumble so don't do that spiritually!  When God shows you things that are slowing you up, dragging you down and causing you to be unsteady on the move; don't hesitate, throw those things away from your life! Getting rid of the bulk and distractions in our life is the first step to getting closer to God, it's a process that we will most likely never complete fully but keep peeling back the layers of distraction until we can run to God and not worry about falling on our face before we are within His reach!  Let's do that right now through repentance (a complete turn around, a change of mind, heart and intended direction) from whatever the things in our lives we know hold us back and a sincere search of our lives to rid ourselves of the dangers of distractions! 

"Jesus, I know you've been showing me things that are keeping my time tied up and away from spending it with you, thank you for loving me enough to help me realize what I'm doing wrong!  Forgive me for not acting on cleaning and myself up and freeing my time up for you sooner.  I intend on making today the first day of getting closer to you and this is my first step toward you."

JUMP UP! Be excited, know YOUR TIME IS HERE! Don't hesitate or lallygag, jump at whatever chance the Lord is giving you!  Your year is here, get to God as quickly as you can!

"God, thank you for the plans you have for my life! I am responding to your promises right now with no hesitation, I believe Jesus, help the parts of me that haven't been quick to believe in the past.  Today is the day I doubt no more!  I believe your plans for my life are greater than even I can imagine and that you are able to make them happen!  I'm so glad you have chosen me!  You are so awesome in my eyes and I lift you up in my life!"

GO TO JESUS! Remember it's not u who will do the work alone, you need His help so go to Him and let Him help you!  He is standing there, waiting for you to come to Him, watching your every move with anticipation your next step will be in His direction!

"I take this time to get myself back on the road to where you are, Jesus, I'm running toward your heart!  I love you and even if it is one shaky step at a time I will continuously walk with you from this day on!  I want to be with you and I will take all the steps I am able to be in your presence everyday."

ASK for what you want!  Be specific in asking...  We show our faith that Jesus can perform a miracle sometimes simply by asking him for the miracle!  Matthew 7:7-8 "Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in! For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10 "Here's what I'm saying: Ask and you'll get; Seek and you'll find; Knock and the door will open! Everyone who asks will receive. He who searches will find. And the door will be opened to the one who knocks."  I'm not preaching "name it and claim it" but if you have a promise from God or you know his will in a situation, for heaven's sake and for your own, ASK!  Matthew 16:17-19 "...On this rock..." (the revelation of Jesus being God and the power in his name) "...I will build my church. The gates of hell will not be strong enough to destroy it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. What you lock on earth will be locked in heaven. What you unlock on earth will be unlocked in heaven."  Asking unlocks your miracle; you may have to ask more than once but keep asking and fighting for what God holds in store for your life!

"Jesus, I have unfulfilled promises from you in my life... I know there are reasons of timing and hold-ups of my own mistakes but God, I want you to unlock those promises in my life!  Jesus, I lock up all I and/or other people have done to stand against your work in my life and Jesus, I unlock you will for me!  I unlock blessing and favor over myself, my church, my family, my friends, my blog readers and my City! YOUR Kingdom come Lord and YOUR will be done, in Jesus' name!"

FOLLOW JESUS Perhaps most important of all, once Jesus gives you your miracle follow him!  Don't just walk away and be happy with one encounter with the miraculous, stay with it, learn from it, increase your faith for it and SHARE IT!  If you stay around Jesus and create a relationship with him through following His word, talking to him, asking him questions, being quiet and listening to what He is trying to tell you then you will eventually be able to share in His ministry...  Helping other people get to their miracle, teaching others how to get closer to Him and show them where to find Him (if you're walking with Him they will see Him with you!)

"Jesus I know even if I don't see the promise today you are working on something for my future and I thank you for your marvelous works!  I worship you now, before my miracle is visible to me.  I worship you now, after so many miracles in my past, after you proving your love for me on the Cross, after you reaching for my heart through people you have set in my life, through circumstances around me and through your word!  God, I will do what I know you want me to do now and commit to continuing in your ways in the future.  Let my actions now be witness to you that I will continue to move closer to you and follow your word in the future!  Where you go, I will follow.  What you ask me for, I will give even when it's difficult.  I will also try my best to pay attention to what I think will make you happy and do those things even in advance of you asking.  I love you so much, you are the best thing in my life and I don't ever want to be without you!  Thank you for your promise to never leave or forsake me, to be with me until the end;  I will keep myself following in the footsteps of your word and keep my eyes on you to follow you closely!

Jesus help every one who reads this blog get a taste of your love for them!  Open their eyes to what they can do today to take a step closer to you.  Give them courage and strength to make that step!  Love on them God!  Surprise them with a special blessing from you, a love note from heaven!  Whisper comfort, healing and life into their lives and situations!  Help me to pay forward all the love and encouragement your have lavished one me.  I commit to doing something unexpected and uplifting for someone I see (whether I know them personally or not; whether small deeds or large) by the end of this week! Amen."

So, if you haven't already, go back an pray the prayers at the end of every action step with me!  Let's follow the pattern of "the right response" together and, once we get what we are after, follow Him so we can pay it forward to someone else!

PS. once you get what you're after there should be a developed hunger for more!  You can't live off of one meal physically and you can't live off of one touch from the hand of God spiritually, you will become dependant on Him, addicted to His presence and that is the perfect way to be!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pigs or Promise?

What's more important to you, your promise or what you must lose or leave behind to obtain that promise?

In a story recorded in Mark 5 spirits were cast out of a man... He had been battling with lunacy, self-mutilation and possession for years.  He made a cemetery his home, had nothing to call his own (literally not even clothes to wear), no job, farm, friends or family; he had lost everything.  The very moment Jesus spoke into his life he was healed, delivered and made whole!  That's no small miracle by any standards! For me, the story is not in the miracle itself(after all miracles followed Jesus everywhere he walked) it was in the reaction to the miracle... 

See, when this man received his miracle some nearby herdsmen who witnessed the divine moment lost 2000 pigs in direct relation to the miracle...You would think they would be happy to know their children could play outside safely, their wives could walk past the cemetery alone and they wouldn't have to fear the "crazy cutter" any longer; but instead, they were only concerned about some dead pigs!  How crazy is that!?  These people just witnessed an undeniable miracle and instead of running to tell their families and friends about the miracle they ran to tell them they've lost pigs..? I'm not trivializing the loss, it was a lot more than some bacon on the table at that time it would have been a huge portion of their livelihood but after seeing one miracle of such great proportion before their very eyes and knowing the story of Job one would think they could put two and two together realizing the miracle worker could also perform a miracle fore them to restore all they had lost and more!  Further to the reaction of the herdsmen, the reaction of their families and friends; after hearing what had happened none had enough foresight to see the good in the situation! They too missed the thought of asking the miracle worker if He could perform a miracle for their own families and they would have to know they were no less deserving than the possessed man who actually didn't even ask for his miracle!

When we continue to read the story I've dubbed "pigs or promise" in Mark 5 the families, friends and all the countrymen do ask Jesus a question.... Or command him and action, rather... "would you leave!?"  We easily come to the conclusion the people who asked Jesus to leave asked the wrong question... We clearly would have reacted differently... Or would we? Better yet, do we?  I'm sure you are aware, as am I, of unfulfilled promises in our own lives... But is it because we are more concerned about giving up some pigs?! Stepping into the unknown of giving up what we've always had for something greater that seems just out of reach is scary but don't let a few pigs become your excuse to stand still and not move forward!

Obviously I'm not speaking of literal pigs in our generation but the pigs in this story can represent a safety net, comfort zone, something we depend on, something we know how to do for ourselves without help from God or anyone else or they can represent actual things, distractions, something we feel responsible to do...  None of those things or anything else in our lives should EVER become bigger than our promises and miracles God is wanting to perform for us!  So think about it, if you could have your miracle within one year but you had to give up the pigs in your life, would you? And not just would you, but would you do do gladly? If you hesitate in your answer, is that possibly why you have yet to see your miracle? Is Jesus afraid you might ask Him to leave your life once you get that promise?  It sometimes is a choice between pigs or promise... Make your choice now and if it's a struggle for you to give something up, pray about it better yet, break it's importance to you by fasting it in advance! Make your promise more important than pigs!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Footnote to:

If you haven't read you should before you read my response below... Plus it's something we all should learn and if we already know should refresh our memory.

This blog is more of a footnote I'm adding onto "Don't get bitter, get better." Basically because this short blog touched me and got me thinking so I am passing it on and adding my two cents in case my readers don't actually read the link... WHICH YOU SHOULD!! :oP

People who choose to heal are easily noticed... They are the ones who can make it through anything (and most have had to make it through a lot of hardships!) They are the ones with a smile on their face. The strong ones who amaze us all in the midst of their battle.  Of course, you can also pick the others out from a crowd... They are the ones who lose so much of every good part of life during the smallest adverse circumstance. The ones who lose the smile of their younger years who have misplaced their laugh no matter how funny the present moment. The people who can't find the breaks as they spiral down into a life of bitterness, anger and hatred.  The great thing is, you can choose which category you are in!

I know from experience, there is a time of clarity in every situation (no matter how confusing or severe) there is a moment you realize "I need to let this go... now." or "I need to get hold of myself" possibly even "OK, I need to pull myself up by the boot straps and move past this!"  That's the time when you must listen to that little voice of warning. I know that voice can sound a lot like fear and we all want to be strong but it's not fear at all, it's a warning we must heed!  If you take the time to explore the reasons behind that short sentence that floats through your mind you will find it's because your anger is about to turn into a plot of revenge, your sincere hurt and pain into bitterness against any future possibility of love that involves any risk to you or your fear is about to construct walls of steel and barbed wire around the heart that's been battered by the person who just turned their back on you.  I know the pain you're facing, the fear every other person will leave just like him or her, I know how you spiral out of control so fast you wonder if you're going  mad... But, mind over matter, DO NOT ALLOW yourself to continue down that road, I know it is difficult and it will take more than one decision to "get past it" but that's the first step and if you don't take it, who knows what you could break in the process of getting off that ledge in the future, if you ever get the chance.

You must choose the better path!  Take the first step down the stairs instead of waiting for years when you have to be rescued or, even worse, jump and hope for the best... Your future steps may not be clear now, you will get frustrated when you can't see all the way but if you take the first step the next will become clear...  You may even take a step back in the wrong direction but just take control of your thoughts and fear forcing yourself back into the right way... Eventually you will be at the point of your destiny, standing in amazement at how far you've come through just putting one foot in front of the other, taking it day by day, moment by moment, lesson by lesson.  And at that moment you will realize, it may have been a long recovery with some rehabilitation and speech therapy (learning how to be positive and trusting) but all you have left of the darkness and fear is the scar of a fleeting memory that you've turned into a triumph and smile!

In short, Allow healing instead of picking at the scab of a bad memory, fear of abandonment and pain of the past... If you have to put a band aid of distraction over the pain, do it; let your healing process start without you... but begin healing now! Choose to heal just like the person who was in an accident and learned to walk again because of determination in spite of the doctors prediction! 

"Healing rain is falling down" so, as my grampie would say "get under the spout where the glory comes out!" HEALING IS HERE!