Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still Got A Sense Of Humor, Believer? Why not?

If we don't have some joy in our Christian experience today, then they say it's our own fault. Dunno for sure, but I'm still laughin' at some things. Come on, no worries, read further...

Now I know that you might have been through a lot of very hellish junk to get to this point and I certainly don't mean to come off as crass, insensitive or cavalier at all. I never want to rub salt in a fresh or old wound. But God can help us get over the bad stuff so we'll laugh again. 

I read in a Better Homes n Gardens mag: "Laugh Your Way to Good Health." The guy who wrote the article, Nick Gallo, made a cool observation . Nick said, "Humor is good medicine-and can actually help keep you in good health." He cites what William F. Fry, M.D. said, who carefully described humor and laughter as "inner jogging" and says that it's good for a person's cardiovascular system. Perhaps you've read similar stuff from other authors before?

Anyways, comparing laughter to physical exercise, Gallo said that when a person laughs heartily from deep down in his gut, several physical benefits will occur. There's a lowering of blood pressure for a period of time, and a good reduction in their muscle tension. Ever tense up with stress? Let me reword that: Ever get in traffic and go shopping at the mall during this time of the year? Better than any chill-pill is God's advice for the worried and sad people! Doctor Fry goes on to tells us that many people sense a more "relaxed afterglow" of sorts following laughter.

He even concluded his article by saying, "An enduring sense of humor, especially combined with other inner resources such as faith and optimism, appears to be a potent force for better health." Want health on multiple levels today? Appropriate God's joy as you apply His Word! 

Christians express their joy in different ways. Some are more outwardly expressive due to nurture and how God made and gifted em, but above all other people, born again believers should benefit from laughter gobs because we have the most to express gratitude for, and the greatest Reason to be joyful about - His Name is Jesus!

Yes, it's later than it's ever been before, but it's certainly not too late for you to have humor!

Go have a chat with God 'bout it. Of course we aren't to be inappropriate by laughin' all the time or at what just isn't funny.. or to be strangely laughin' "allegedly in the Spirit" as some of my dear friends have done in past decades (don't ask; you don't wanna know about dumb fruitless fads). But I find that life rarely gets so horrible, that we in Jesus can't find something to laugh at ..or some real church friends to laugh with. This is just a natural and wholesome part of living ..or should be.

Think about how it should and shouldn't play out, this laughter stuff.. Christian humor ain't ever dirty, distasteful, hurtful to others, ill-timed, de-edifying, or tactless. It is never degrading of people or of God.

It does have the right tone, timing, topic and tact! It can even have a hook in it (I've personally seen comedy as good bait for the Gospel's sake, in drawing a crowd to listen)! In fact I pray for more Christian comedians and excellent comedian teams, because this can be a real ministry to fish with where other things don't seem to get the Message through. Lots of people will go hear Christian comedians outside of a church building somewhere neutral long before they'd ever darken the threshold of a chapel or church building. Perhaps you remember Isaac Air Freight?

Humor can be a great fishing tool. Sure! Besides, why would any sinners want to hang tight with, or even listen to some pious sourpuss?

The Spirit can give you wisdom coupled together with humor today..for a Purpose! Do you ever ask Him to?

Perhaps you have a gift in this area? Commit it unto Him. Maybe you are like me and have zero gifts in this area. Still use and enjoy clean humor - don't be afraid to laugh in public no matter what "leader" has beat you down!

Some people try too hard to be funny (please don't..) for perhaps the wrong reasons and they are not funny. Not at all—it's sad and very pathetic! You've met people like that. Not really sure about what they are after ..attention, applause, fame? But we don't need people's attention on us really and we can honor the Lord with humor in the right way if we choose.

"But how can God use it, Kurt?"

Well, He can use it to bring joy where none exists and also help outsiders get a glimpse of how cool it is "inside" (in His Kingdom even down here). Jesus still wants people to better see what the Father is really like. Who wouldn't like Him? You know that He's not some bitter, uptight, stiff-necked-kill-joy that's out to wipe out "the masses of infidels" as the Quran describes Allah (who isn't the Bible God..) to be about. Question: Does your life clearly reflect the Bible God because you are in-touch with Him? Got His joy welling up inside you daily?

No the real God is never a dim or cold-hearted Barney, but He is out to help and heal and restore and rescue all who need that. So many still need to be rescued today!!!

Righteous humor uplifts hurting peeps; it lightens their spirits in a very broken world that comes down on us heavy at times. Good humor energizes people's minds in the right direction. We can casually witness with it. 

You can inject Scriptural truth into the convo along with your humor!

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.'" ~ Psalm 126:2

"Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools…You are well thought of, but we are laughed at." ~ 1 Corinthans 4:10

I really thank God for a sense of humor! It helps us people to step back, to not take ourselves so seriously, nor to take this fleeting earthly experience so seriously.

Ever had a brain-lapse before? Man, I have done some pretty lame things that make others laugh hard ..and then that makes me also lose it. ROTFLOL!

I need to get out of myself at times to look at me from their perspective.

You know we aren't to join in and laugh at the filthy stuff and abysmal jokes the world is laughing at or join them in scoffing or mocking at our brothers and sisters. But why not join em (and other Christians..) in laughing at some of the stuff they laugh at you about? Sure, lighten up. Be free and healthy in your thinking!

The world needs to see a more casual, relaxed, joyous Church, rather than gobs of depressed dishonest church folk into religion, or into their own "dignity," self-preservation and image! 

Heaven will be a place of LAUGHTER!!! It's already a spot for humble joy, all out worship, and full-throttle celebration! It rocks and won't ever be a step-on-the-brakes-rad-boring place for dead religion. No, cuz Satan is the religious one.

Never forget that no exciting party down here will ever be close to comparable with Heaven at all!

Listen, God says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength" (Prov. 17:22, nlt). Yes, in the Bible king Solomon tells us about three things that will occur when people have lost their inner sense of humor: 1.) A broken weak spirit, 2.) A lack of inner healing, and 3.) Dried-up bones (Prov. 15:13, 15; 17:22). Who wants have or be a desolate lonely bag-a-bones?

Question for ya, naw three of em instead... Can you laugh at your own mistakes and quirky human foibles? Can you discern well in Christ and restrain yourself when laughing just isn't fitting? In your personal relationship with the Lord (who ain't ever stuffy..), can you enjoy humor all alone, or with your family members in a natural sorta way? Know Him well and you can start! 

O that more children would know God's tender love, holy affection, gentle encouragement, superior wisdom and boat loads of hearty laughter in Christian homes. Too many only know of laughter in video games and on TV while sharp fighting is happening elsewhere. Belly laughter instead of strife in the home is so much better ..for the belly and for the heart, parents!   

If you can't yet answer yes to those questions, then please prayerfully and carefully read the Bible again. You might notice some things about your good natured Lord that you haven't noticed before. You might even feel your strained neck muscles start to relax as your burdened and troubled thoughts are chased away by good old-fashioned laughter! Cheer up, chuckle a bit, obey a lot, and choose to be happy in the Lord. The Spirit makes it easy to be ..and why else? Well, because lives are at stake. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Common Sense And Common Courtesy Ain't Really So Common

"So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets." ~Matthew 7:12, rsv

 

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law."  ~Romans 13:9-10

 

Are people considerate or pretty rude to each other in your location? How are they in the Nation's Capital, in your town, in stores, on the road, and in your church parking lot?
 
Just saw a full-on fight today. It wasn't among Christians this time, but I've unfortunately seen that happen before too.
 
In this high-tech, very connected society that we live in, you'd think that rudeness would have evaporated huh. But there's still way too much craziness to deal with.

 

Have you faced it in your part of the world lately?

 

Ever got stuck behind an incredibly slow-to-respond car at a light ..that already changed green awhile ago.. but because the person in front of you is looking downwards while perhaps texting or reading, you are still there surrounded by angry honkers?

 

Ever feel like joining in to shout out the window at em, "HellllooO sir! The light is about to change to red again and we will all be stuck here!" Sometimes you can't even change lanes and go around them.

 

Hey, I've been there. My emotions can be so hard to deal with when I inner spirit is countering for me to simply back off and die to it! My friends out in the rural country seem to deal much better with stuff like that when visiting, than my friends in the city can. We see stuff like that real often.  

 

What do you do when you are on the verge of reacting in the flesh over a fairly small thing.. like when you feel like saying something ugly to that clerk who is ignoring the customers and taking their sweet time at the store at precisely the wrong time.. when you really want to be on the road already so you can arrive at your meeting punctually?

 

I haven't always passed the tests with flying colors!

 

"Lord, I thought I had already mortified my old man long ago—this old nature that wants to dominate! God, how could you have allowed me to get behind a person like this when I have a time commitment to keep? Feel frustrated! Help me settle down." ..like it was somehow His fault, Kurt. No, this fallen world is our fault not His. god knew exactly what I needed. He sometimes opts to fix me in the fix.
 
Victory is there for you and me to walk in. In fact, I find that when I start out my day with the Word, drawing upon His love and grace early.. those are the days when I tend to leave home prepared spiritually and I do much better with my attitude. Less reacting and more peaceful acting. God knows ahead of time what each of us will face in our day, so doesn't it make sense for each of us to check in with Him?

 

Quickie prayers help me. "Man, I thought I was sanctified already, Lord! Help me love as You do!"

 

"More grace and mercy, Lord. Thanks. Please change me. I'm such a wretch inside! Wanna see em as you do too."  

 

Yeah, I too have my days on the road..and a long ways to go in this spiritual journey of faith. But it helps me to meditate upon the right verses.. via out loud verbal repetition.

 

"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away." ~1 Corinthians 13:4-10, rsv

 

"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back." ~Luke 6:36-38, rsv

 

Yes, in this very social and puterized-society that we live in, there seems to be quite a bit of darkness and temptation to resist. There are real entities to ignore and sometimes to rebuke. You might think you know that wholesome looking person who just "friended you," but then they send you something that is far from wholesome and you must talk... or simply block immediately. We can't let our guard down spiritually..any of us. Don't do it. Gotta be vigilant every day and walk in the Spirit!

 

As we "progress forwards," what have been some of the first things to go in our so called "advanced society"? Well, i'd say that respect of other people and basic common courtesy have gone out the window. It's tradgic!

 

How about there? How often do you recognize common courtesy in your part of the world? Us Christians of all people, should be the first ones to recover common courtesy, especially in a family, at work, or in a school situation where you get "stuck with" if you will.. the same people day in and day out.

 

What are your personal ethics and character like?
 
I know that you know well what I'm talkin' about in this regard - with this subject. I mean consistantly doing, being, and saying the right things as Jesus would have you do. Talkin' about hearing civil spirit-controlled people voicing stuff like: "Please pass", "Thank you, I'm really grateful.", "Allow me to get the door for you", "You are so welcome", "Please excuse me", "I love you" (instead of "love ya"), "May I?", "Please forgive me—I was wrong", or "Listen, you matter to me."

 

It's good; it's learnable!
 
Sometimes I ask myself: What have we as a nation become when the leaders are so selfseeking and constantly over the line? Let's nix rudeness. Do we have too much pressure as a people group ..or training.. in the wrong areas?

 

Do people who should know better by now, after you've been working with em for over a decade, still call you "bud," because they forgot your name and don't really care to learn it. Just heard about that from a friend who has felt bad that this keeps happening to him. Made me think: Why can't more pastors be human one on one? 

 

How often do people where you live look each other in the eye when talking or even firmly shake hands any more?

 

I'd say that moral purity, sincerity, honest decency, and common sense have also bolted from the scene in our fast tempo society as well. Sad! But that's why I'm talking about this stuff. Let's fight ..right to get em back. You and I care and we can choose to bring em in ..if we recognize how we miss it all.

 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16, nkjv

 

"Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you." ~Proverbs 1:20-23

 

"And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?" ~Matthew 20:32

 

Perhaps you have a lot of book-knowledge Mr Mastermind, great, but more importantly, do you have a modicum of common sense and love?
 
Are you known for being one on the take..one who has used people.. or are you a giver? Are you a blessing to be around, or do your own parents avoid you? Have you been sheltered and coddled by other adults all your life..yet when you are done dupping em, you smear em? Stop that! Do you live with a bad attitude, love over-critical-negativity, and view authority figures as uber-evil when not all of em are. Perhaps if you'll get real with yourself, you might just see that you're worse than most and need to repent. If the shoe fits, don't you think that it's time to pull your own weight and grow up in the Lord?

 

We hear, "Hey, I know my rights and I will sue you", "I didn't mean that when I promised it to you—I was just taking longer to decide", "No officer, I'm entitled to it. What's your badge number?"

 

Chil Jill, if you will. Let's all practice some good ole but long forgotten ..common sense. 

 

Obituary for the late Mr. Common Sense

 

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for so many years> No one knows how old he is, since his birth records were long ago lost in a bureaucratic red tape.

 

He will always be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to get out of the rain; Why the early bird catches the worm; and Maybe it was my fault.

 

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spent more than you can earn), and reliable strategies (Adults, not children, are in charge).

 

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of how a six year old boy was charged with kissing another classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

 

Common Sense lost a lot of ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do.. in not disciplining their unruly children at home. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Cal pol, sun lotion, or a Band-aid to a student, but could not inform parents when a student was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

 

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

 

Common Sense lost the will to live when the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; criminals received better treatment than the victims; and when a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

 

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Wise Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Calm Reason.

 

He is survived by his three stepbrothers: I Know My Rights, Someone Else To Blame, and I Am A Victim So I Will! Not very many people attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

 

Where do we begin with this, Kurt? Start where goodness has always originally sprung from, with God in His righteousness. You and I may not be able to change the world in a day, but surely each of us can make common sense and common courtesy more common wherever we go in His Name. We all recognizee that these ole ideas are not at all common anymore ..even among our leadership in Washington who are called upon to be good examples before our children. But both concepts are vital parts of being a good witness where you and I live, believer. Let's fish for people with Christ's kind of common sense and common courtesy!  

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Feel All Alone And Hurting?

Are you having a hard time today because you really miss being with loved ones who have passed off the scene? The Lord understands and is right there next to you ..to help. And you are in our prayers as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do You Like Addition Or Subtraction Better?

Now if you said the former then I would challenge you to simply put the Lord first.

"But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." ~ Matthew 6:33

The young shepherd boy, David, took the time to set his priorities in the proper order and guess what happened? Addition happened instead of subtraction.

Our God has a way of adding blessings unto people that no one else among people or angels or whatever can add! He can give, He can take away, but He just loves to add!

There were times in David's life later on where he didn't do that, and he soon fell into sin ..and then sin subtracted. I can't imagine what it would have felt like to lose a son.

Perhaps you've seen people sin and sin and it only seems like they have addition. Maybe a lot of that is them adding to themselves at another's expense. Whatever, you can be sure that their sins will catch up to them.

Here are some of the things, among others, that God added unto David.. the head of a ruthless giant, a kingdom, a wife (later he took on others), Jerusalem, victory after victory and eternal life!

Check out in the Bible where God explains how David claimed his home, "And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief. And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David" (1 Chron. 11:6).

Yes, David simply sought to know the Lord in righteousness and he put God's kingdom ahead of all other priorities he was concerned about, and all of those things and others were added to him.

King David was one of a kind like you are, but let me ask you this: Does God play favorites?

No way!

Wouldn't the Lord add some good things unto you too if you did the same as David did? Sure He would. God keeps all His promises.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." ~ James 1:17

 Christ's free gift of salvation for those claiming it is complete! And no work of ours can compete or add to this special work of the Son, no, it's all for the glory of God's Son!" ~kVs

"And he [Uzziah] sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper." ~ 2 Chronicles 26:5    

When we put God and His eternal Kingdom first, our lives will take on the proper balance as well and we can express our gratitude. When Jesus Christ preached, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you," what were the things that the Lord was speaking of?

Well, when we check out the context of that verse, "these things" would include the clothes that you'll need to wear, the liquids that you'll need to drink in order to stay properly hydrated, and the food for nutrition to dine upon that your body will need for strength to serve and enjoy life.

God wants to add unto you a place to work that won't harm anyone, a place for you to live, and if you are so called.. a growing Christian person for you to care for, marry and cherish ..'til death do you part. He also to add souls into His Kingdom through your sterling witness for Him. As you live the life and share the Gospel with the people you meet, God will use you to lead them into forgiveness from this wonderful relationship with Christ.

Who or what do you put first? Who or what do you seek? How is that workin' out for you (not that anything other than Christ seemingly to be working out is what should verify anything when eternity is at stake)? Please don't hesitate to turn and put Christ first if you haven't already done that. Way important!

When considering Heaven, Hell, and all of our sins committed, who needs to push mentioning the benefits? But the basic issues of life and then some ..will be taken care of by the Lord when you put Him first.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Keep Yourself ..In What? (Part 1)

Trusting the Lord through hard times is a step-by-step challenge of love that's only possible when we fix our gaze on Christ and His flawless character instead on other flawed people.

How has God's Spirit kept you in Jesus? He can do it!

If you don't mind me asking, believer, are you more in love with Jesus Christ now than when you first started out with Him?

What's your journey of faith been like? Have you been through some interesting times during your walk with the Lord..that you still just don't fully understand, but feel you kinda should?

Are you spiritually jaundiced some, semi-jaded, way cynical or flat out angry after seeing some gifted but immoral, or covetous ministers repeatedly getting blessed when all your plans and straightforward efforts have seemingly crumbled into an ugly heap of ashes before you? Do you feel like you've actually lived Psalm 73 (..not a bad psalm to meditate upon during difficult times)?

Who in the Body isn't bugged to see dear brothers or sisters bite the dust spiritually, or go after strange beliefs, or succumb to temptation and fall?

Man, but for the grace of God go I.

Cheer up, Jesus hasn't forgotten you—He fully understands and will provide!

How about your young or older children; how have they faired through the years? Hopefully none of them have taken a stride from the Master's side.. after all that you've poured in to nurture and minister to them. In faith, keep claiming the promises of God's Word for He is faithful to keep em.

Have you suffered loss and now find yourself in a spot that you never imagined was even possible for you to stop off for a visit in?

Do you feel angry at the Lord for the uber-bizarre things that He has allowed you to go through, after all the personal sacrifices that you've made for His Kingdom? You know that He could have blocked those things right, but for some reason He who sacrificed and got hurt the most, didn't.

Have you suffered bona fide hardcore or lesser spiritual abuse? Have you been deeply hurt by an authority figure, perhaps a Christian leader that you were sure was trustworthy.. and now that makes you wonder if God is cruel, manipulative, or equally fickle as well?

Did the person suddenly turn outright cruel on ya, or slowly turn aberrant in their beliefs regarding the Essentials, or surprisingly just come out of the closet with some long-term horrendous weirdness?

Hey, I am so sorry if that was the case, but where is your focus now? It breaks God's heart when posers play like they are real.. or when He sees His kids fail to grow up!

Perhaps you too have blown it.. it's your fault entirely, and you've already taken responsibility for the blunder refusing to point the finger of blame at anyone else.

Maybe you feel burned out on life..or just need a second chance in living? Jesus has just what you need—Life during life here and beyond!

So glad we serve a gracious God of second, third and the 100th chances!

Listen, no matter what kind of setbacks, trials, wounds, severe disappointments or unexpected ministry reversals that you endured, the Lord can indeed heal and restore you. He can pick you up, dust you off, and re-commission you back into His world-wide soul-winning service!

It's ok to have things completely beyond your control..when they are in His control. You loved God and had such a wonderful plan for your life, but He is thinking of something much better. He wants to give you a new vision—a Cause for you to be involved with! He is so much more concerned with what He will accomplish in you, than what He accomplishes through you. Character matters!

Yup, please know that God fully understands and is still there for you. He has never let you down even one time. He hasn't fallen off His throne for a sec and He isn't half sovereign.

Therefore with that in mind, I challenge you to stay on your knees and keep yourself in the Love of God in spite of any and everything!  Your past close experiences with Jesus are only of value today as they can be translated into your present day spiritual walk. Forget that which is behind and press on.  

The Apostle Paul told his spiritual son, Tim, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3, nkjv). He knew first-hand that real ministry could be real tough, but he wanted Tim to go the distance.. by God's strong anointing.

Personally, I have had the privilege of pastoring in some small and mega churches together with my wife Liney and with some wonderful congregants—churches that were both healthy and some that initially appeared that way but were not. We sadly discovered that they were sick due to the hidden moral failures and wrong beliefs of leadership regarding Cardinal Doctrines. Of course we prayed, appealed with gentleness and respect trying our best to maintain a good attitude and submission short of sin, and in one church this only got us the left foot of fellowship.

No biggy, we understand and still experience joy. No one can take it away! 

Liney and I indeed have a lot to learn still, but we have been through some costly post-CFNI-education! 

Religious leaders are puffed up posers. They so want to look good and be accepted as righteous before the people without the necessary obedience involved. Remember King Saul?  

It's also sad when you see humble Christians who once walked tight with the Lord.. suddenly stop, and for some unknown reason compromise ending up completely off track. Hey, it could happen to any of us.. if we let it. Don't!

That's why Paul instructed Timothy to, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:16, kjv).

We've watched pastors and ministers carefully tweak their online doctrinal statements into brief minimalist versions that leave too much out in attempts to hide their extra-biblical aberrant doctrines that they teach in smaller settings. Forest Gump once said, "Stupid is as stupid does", but I guess we could also add, "Deceived is as deceived says" ..because what we each believe will eventually effect our communication and behavior. 

God wants us judging their message even when we aren't to judge their hearts or eternal destiny.

Liney and I indeed have a lot to learn still, but have been through our share of ministry surprises and nightmares. Expensive post-CFNI-education! 

Jude exhorts believers to: "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (v. 21). What an injunction. I've prayed that God would keep me before, but me keep myself in the love. What's that all about?

Man, if we don't check out the Bible context, perhaps we could miss getting what God wants us to get. The meaning could easily be misinterpreted right? How can we keep ourselves in the Lord's agape? 

Well, check out verse numero uno there. Who is the author talkin' to? Jude is addressing believers who are "sanctified," and "preserved" (a.k.a. kept), a called-out people protected in Jesus Christ.

When were you called and born again? When were you transferred from the kingdom of darkness and death into the Kingdom of light and life?

Jude proceeds through his fairly brief letter saying that some have begun in fellowship with God, but have failed to keep themselves in the love of God. Huh, interesting. I believe what he says. Have you seen any high octane preachers who started out right and ended up all money-hungry and wrong?  

I'm thinkin' I'll speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible remains silent.

In Jude did those once in fellowship not achieve the full potential of God's plan for their lives? No. They failed to keep themselves in the will of God—that place where God's love could bless them in a special way. 

Jude goes on talking about the Israelites who after they were delivered out of Egyptian bondage.. died in the wilderness (v. 5). Uber-harsh of God? No, it was their choice to believe or not, just like it is yours and mine to choose.

They failed to enter in. Into what? Into that full-orbed blessing of the promise land that God had long set before them. But why? Well, it was because they didn't keep themselves "in." Did they experience God's powerful deliverance firsthand? Sure they did, but they didn't come to the full benefits of God's work in their lives. They failed to keep themselves where they needed to be spiritually. Will you?    

Jude proceeds farther about those certain angels who were once in fellowship with the Lord and then bailed out through rebellion. They "kept not their first estate" (v. 6). What exactly happened to those angels?  They wouldn't keep themselves in the love of God so they were chucked out of the Lord's everlasting Kingdom like rubbish airborne in the direction of the dumpster. Where are they now? They've all been reserved for the day of judgment ahead—their own special judgment. 

Think about the blessed people of Sodom and Gomorrah who took all their God-given blessings for granted as well.

Man, it's so easy for any of us to become ungrateful, disloyal, and non-appreciative of what God has freely given. These peeps lived in a primo lush situation—that well-watered green area of the plain. Yet, they certainly didn't value their blessings as they should have (v. 7). What did they choose to do instead? They opted to live for pleasure and missed their missionary purpose. They didn't enter or keep themselves in the will or love of God.  

Jude touches on Cain, who callously rubbed out his own brother. Just then touched on Mr. Balaam, who basically enticed God's chosen people to fall into sensual sin. He touched on the rebellious leader, Korah (which means "Core" in the original Greek), who just couldn't bring himself to humbly submit to God's delegated authority and order. He was annihilated by God's judgment instead (v. 11). God don't play when it comes to haughty wickedness! Our choices have consequences.

And with all these bad examples in mind to learn from.. Jude then exhorted those of his day (which could also apply to you and me now) to, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." 

Keep Yourself ..In What? (Part 2)

Why should you keep yourself in the Love of God? Because God said to and there is no other acceptable way. We know what Jude did not mean here in his book. Jude didn't at all mean for us to keep ourselves in such a way so as to make God love us. God already does. But some effective lies of Satan even in our day are, "Why bother seeking the Lord when He doesn't even love you anymore?" or "You've got to work a lot harder to earn it."  

Yes, Jude didn't mean for you to do many good works and be religious or nice enough to earn God's love. It can't ever be earned via striving and good deeds. We've already heard God address this in other parts of His Bible. Yes, we let God's Scriptures interpret Scripture before the best of men do that. God's perfect love is so there for you already. It remains unsought, unearned, undeserved, and unconditional.

You and I cannot run anywhere to escape from God's sight or His love. He accepts you and cares about you hugely just as you are ..and will also change you as you cooperate.

Guilty Adam and Eve both tried to hide, but their feeble fig-vegetation just couldn't do the job. Hiding out—that's the natural thing that we feel like doing. The Bible says, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Gen. 3:7).

The Bible does not say that you cannot put yourself outside of the love of God. It says, "For God so loved the world that He gave…" (Jn. 3:16a).
"The world" that God loved—sinners like me—wasn't earnin' His love, wasn't out seekin' His love, wasn't deservin' His love, wasn't about His love at all. The world that God loved was about self-seeking and sin. The Lord didn't push, didn't impose, didn't coerce, didn't manipulate, didn't say "If you will just live up to my standards I will give a flip about you." No, He just loved us in spite of it all and did somethin' about it.  

The Lord still loves the people of this world just as they are and now tell us to do somethin' about it, in the midst of their wicked insubordination to His divine order and government. He hates their sin and will judge all sin, but He still loves us all the same. He even loves the ones He already knows will one day chose to reject His Son and go off into Hell.   

Have you ever lost the first glow of love after once being red hot aglow with love for Jesus before? How long was it until you repented? The Spirit can help you learn from that mistake.

Please keep yourself in His love and not lose it ever again.  Please be encouraged in Him today. He has demonstrated His love for you and still wants to demonstrate that precious love by bestowing His special blessings and favor upon your live and ministry.

Question. What three attitudes in verse 11 can restrict a person from God's special blessings? Jude tells us. 1) Hatred of any person, 2) Greed, and 3) envy. Steer clear of em!

Cain hated his brother for no good reason. Balaam saw in his mind's eye if you will, what he wanted most and he went after it. He became mastered by greed so that he enticed the children of Israel to fall into sin. We all can foolishly compare ourselves with others or start coveting what God has given them ..to our own hurt. Inwardly, Korah was very envious and this led to overt prideful rebellion.

What delegated authority is flawless today? None. They never have been in any age. And this fact alone can become a major test for believers working together.. or if you're working under a fake Christian leader.

Perhaps you haven't murdered anyone and feel so above everyone else. Have ya ever gotten angry at your brother, at a relative, or at a coworker?

John says, "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" (1 Jn. 3:15, niv). Meditate upon that in all the translations.  

Jesus said, "You have heard that the law of Moses says, `Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell" (Matt. 5:21-22, nlt). 

Fratricide is as ugly as it gets. Really! Cain was a brother-hater, a killer (see Genesis 4:3-8).

Be angry at the evil ..sure.. but sin not! There's a time and place for rebuking those sinning. There is a time to wisely expose sin, but always keep yourself from people-ward hate and anger. Greedy but gifted Balaam could sure lay down some lovely prophecy, but he enticed God's people to majorly blow it, (see Numbers 22-24). Keep yourself from the love of money.. always!

Korah was a leader and minister with his eyes on the high positions of others (Aaron and the appointed priesthood), but what happened? He forfeited his own position—totally lost out (see Numbers 16). Keep yourself from ministerial comparing and envy, even if there appears to be blatant nepotism, cronyism, or any type of favoritism!

That doesn't mean you must hang long-term with sicko and abusive leaders in a sicko church. Avoid bad partnerships and commitments.

Keep yourself from spiritual sickness and never be self-confident or trust in your flesh.

Guard against hatred, greed, and envy, for these things are out of harmony with God's powerful love. If these things fill your life, you cannot enjoy the fullness of the benefits that God wants to bestow upon you.

The rich blessings of God (and I don't mean they must be material riches), cannot be entrusted to you if these evil things are hindering what the Lord wants to accomplish.

Be warned and admonished today to keep yourself "in," no matter who goes "out"—no matter how you feel or what happens around you.

Married folk, you remember what it felt like as a single person after you met your future bride and how you both refused to ever fall out of love. What a gift! Commitment to God and your spouse is so great. But don't forsake that first bloom of wonderful glowing emotions and love with your first love, Jesus Christ. He did so much more by washing all your sins away! 

Don't lose what you've gained after being rescued out of the bondage of the sin. Don't ever be ripped off by the thief, Mr. Lu-Cifer. Hatred, greed, and envy will indeed rob you of so much that the Lord has already done and still wants to do in the future ..through you. Forgive people. Stay sweet instead of bitter.

Bloom on brother and sister. Send roots downwards and bear fruit upwards. Might sound funny, but bloom on into all that God wants you to become. I'm thinking about different levels of fruitfulness here. 

Reach your full potential spiritually by properly responding to God's grace that'll keep you in God's love!

Does grace doesn't act independently of responses? No. Though God's grace is extended toward you, you must respond to the grace of God if you're to benefit from that grace. All privileges bring different missionary responsibilities if you will. We are blessed for a purpose, but responsibility not acted upon can destroy you. 

Love is an attitude, love is a prayer, for someone in sorrow, a heart in despair; Love is good will for the gain of another, Love suffers long with the fault of a brother. ~Anon.

God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love.. in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. ~Hebrews 6:10

The Father wants each of us to fulfill our respective callings, to finish our race well. We do this trusting the love of our Author and Finisher of faith. See First Peter 1:5 which explains how.. "you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

See how God uses that term "kept" in 1 Timothy 5:22 "Do not.. share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.", or in 1 John 5:21 where God says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.", and then in James 1:27 where the believer is to, "keep oneself unspotted from the world."

Need reviving or restoration? Need a Savior? Just turn and call out to Jesus. 

Beloved, be not like the perverse false teachers. Be in Christ's will holdin' to His Bible beliefs not their's, building yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit as you look for Christ's mercy. On some peeps have compassion with discernment, and others rescue with holy fear, dragging em out of the fire while hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (vv. 20-23). Listen, you can be more in love with Jesus today than ever before! Get real with God and keep yourself in His love, but remember the spear-chucker, Saul, and how he played the fool erring exceedingly.. and how Samson messed around unto blindness, or how David and Peter erred but also humbly recovered. Remember, repent, repeat your first works in the Spirit. I want you to do your part daily by faith.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Be Real Or Be Lonely.. Having Joy Is Your Choice.

Some random thoughts in the A.M. 'bout joy and bein' real..that I woke up with (..before coffee and B4 my son will drop by for a haircut. Yup, he actually asked so we'll see what happens with that lol)..

Q. Where can you find that positive quality of joy outside of Christianity?

I've got it now ..so amazing.. but couldn't find joy for several years and I was raised in a so called "church" where it was supposed to be. Perhaps in the world you can find a look-a-like-version of joy. We've all seen different versions.

A. Listen, real joy only comes from a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Now you know that the top reason for unbelievers becoming born again Christians in any era ..is this: They met a joyful Christian. The top reason for unbelievers not becoming a Christian is this: They met a so called Christian.

Q. Can you avoid becoming a hypocrite while attending church? A. Sure, the ultimate non-hypocrite, Jesus, can help you do this daily.

Yes, the best argument for Christians is spiritual Christians who are free: their full exuberant joy, their inner certainty, their holy anointed lifestyle, their gentle friendliness, their completeness and sincere gratitude. But the strongest argument against Christians and Christianity is also Christians—those who are nominal, sullen, joyless, apathetic, grippy, complacent, smug, legalistic, non-real in their behavior, mean-spirited, uber-somber, self-righteous, inverted, selfish and lukewarm.

Some poser-observations…

1. Hypocrisy hates the truth and Jesus hates hypocrisy. We should too. Get this.. because the poser's self-worth is based on maintaining an illusion of righteousness and godliness to the world, they must continually deceive themselves and others. Beyond lame!

2. Hypocrisy turns peeps against unchanging truth. A person who is outright and obviously evil is for sure ..dangerous, but guess who is even more dangerous. It's someone who purposely comes off as good and righteous when they ain't (See Matt. 7:15; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). It's so sad that many innocent people get misled by posers (See Isa. 32:6; Matt. 23:1-13).

3. Hypocrisy excludes real relationships. Once a person's self-worth get's based on outward appearances of role-playing rather than on genuinely held inner values, that person only associates with people who will confirm their carefully-guarded illusions of self-righteousness and feelings of superiority. It's a pride thang! They shun genuine relationships where they might be confronted. They really avoid a relationship with God knowing that He is best at this confrontation stuff.

4. Hypocrisy makes accurate self-knowledge impossible. True. They opt for a very lonely existence.

It's WAY serious for anyone to reject the truth. But get this as well..it is much more serious Mr or Mrs Poser to stumble others causing them to reject truth by misusing it for your own evil and hypocritical purposes! Stop that.

That word hypocrite in the Bible originated when a Hebrew word with a general meaning of "godless" and a root meaning of "corrupt" or "defiled" was translated into the Greek with a term having the meaning "to play a part." Yeah, and what happens too often.. religious hypocrites corrupt themselves by concealing their true nature beneath an outward show of uprightness. Avoid that at all costs! 

Try to avoid an appearance of evil Christian (1 Thess. 5:22), but never be interested in appearing good spiritually to other people like the posers of Jesus' day did! Why get rebuked by Him when you can live right?

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." ~ Paul, (Rom. 12:9)
"The best mirror is an old Friend." ~ George Herbert 

"Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." ~ Jesus to religious posers (Matt. 23:28)

"And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy." ~ Paul, (Gal. 2:13) 

Of course you and I are not called to preach any Christian minister or Christian. We love to preach Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead.. in a non-preachy or sanctimonious or pushy way! You and I are not here to justify or defend the wrong deeds, words, and attitudes of sideways believers or of religious folk. We are here to walk closely with our wonderful Savior minus all hypocrisy and spiritual compromise.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." ~ James 3:17

"But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." ~ Jesus (Matt. 23:5-12)

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.." ~ 1 Peter 2:1

All posers welcome - come to Jesus to be changed by Him. Don't stay that way another day! Reject loneliness by getting real with God and real believers.. regularly. Let go of sin and take hold of Jesus by faith. Come clean and He'll make you truly clean. 

Sure we are called to always be real.. to love the truth and all people every day 'til we see Christ's lovely face. Do you love people no matter their color or background? He does. 

Yup, we're called to non-hypocritical on-fire living in Him 24/7/365. Are you fully committed or stuck with a divided heart? 

We're called to joyously exalt our perfect Christ among imperfect saints and sinners, to disciple real believers with His Word, and to accurately proclaim His flawless Gospel to the ends of the earth! Please don't wait for a plane ticket to arrive in the mail to get started. And remember that many believers don't have to cross a border or even a city street to begin.