Archive for March, 2011

Touched & Transformed

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead… 1John 1:3 NRSV

Religion can do many things for people. Some turn to religion to find meaning and purpose. Others look to escape the harsh realities of life. That’s good because most religions offer ways to find meaning, and techniques designed to distract us from the daily grind.

But I don’t follow Jesus to to find myself or to anesthetize myself from pain. I follow Jesus because he offers me God’s love. Even though I don’t deserve that love, he gives it anyway.

We are As a grateful recipient of God’s grace and Jesus’ love, I can truly say that I have been not just changed, but I’ve been transformed. Nothing in my life has touched me so deeply, or changed me so completely, as God’s grace given through Jesus Christ.

That’s why I follow Jesus. What about you? What motivates your faith? Have you allowed God’s grace to touch you, and Jesus’ love to transform you? There is no greater love and no more abundant grace to be found.

Let Jesus touch and transform you today!

Advertisements

Act Now!

Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything. Ecclesiastes 11:5 NRSVMP900385802[1]

John Wesley wondered if we don’t understand how life enters the bones forming in the womb, how could we begin to know what God is doing and will do with each of us? How could begin to explore the all the purposes of God and methods of God’s grace? Some things are just beyond us.

If we don’t know what God is going to do today or tomorrow, or what God’s plans are for the future, then what are we supposed to do? Wesley suggests there is only one thing to do, use the present opportunity. Take what you have now and use it for God’s glory. Look at the needs in front of you right now and respond to them. Grab hold of the situation God is giving you, and step through the open door. Act now!

I agree. In the face of mystery, act now! That’s all we can do.

Consulting Crystal Ball for Future of Earth We don’t have a crystal ball that lets us see what the future holds or what God is going to do with us. All we know is what God places in front of us at any given moment.

A wise person uses what they have. A wise person responds to present needs. A wise person acts now!

God is Good: All The Time

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! Psalm 79:4-5 NRSV

My life is full of sharp contrasts. At one particular point in my life IMP900289439[1] was enjoying the blessings of God’s goodness, envisioning a road paved with success, and looking forward to a bright and comfortable future. In the next moment I was dealing with a cancer diagnosis, wondering what the future would bring for me and my family.

I’m sure my experience is not unique. Life’s twists and turns toss all of us around. We all have times when we are praising God, and times when we are falling on our knees pleading for God’s help.

Being on the other side of that difficult time in my life allows me to look back and affirm that God truly is great. envious eyeGod is truly good, all the time. Never has my Good Shepherd left me alone. Never has my Savior failed to bring me through. Never has God let me down. Of course the ways God has worked in my life have often been unexpected, and have carried me down paths I never imagined.

Today’s video gives the very personal witness to God’s sustaining goodness experienced by a young widow. She describes some of the challenges she faces after losing her husband to cancer, and she highlights the sustaining power of her faith. Her experience of God’s goodness and trust in her Lord is an encouraging reminder to all of us that God is good: ALL THE TIME!

Click here for today’s video.

Unbound & Let Go

The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:44 NRSV

MP900432877[1] Jesus reaches into death’s darkness and frees his friend. Dead Lazarus steps out of his tomb alive! As Lazarus emerges, Jesus orders the burial linens to be removed, and Lazarus to be let go.

In this amazing scene, Jesus did what he always does, he set the captive free. For three years he had been traveling through cities and villages doing just that. When he found a life overrun by evil, he cast the spirits out. When he found a life broken by disease, he gave a healing touch. When he found a life shattered by shame, he gave forgiveness. When he found a life chained to fear, he gave hope and courage. Then, when he found a life robbed by death, he restored it to life. No matter what bound the lost lives around him, Jesus Christ set them free!

Jesus sets the captive free.

That tells me Jesus’ authority can reach across every social, economic, cultural, psychological, biological and spiritual barrier there is. There is no life that the touch of Jesus cannot restore. There is no need that he cannot meet. There is no bond that he cannot break. There is no captive that he cannot set free!

Today, the word of Jesus Christ carries the same power and authority it did for Lazarus. He knows what is holding you back. He can see what is keeping you down. Whatever spirit binds you, whatever disease racks your body, whatever sin saturates you with shame, Jesus has come to set you free. He has given the word, and that word is, let them go."MP900409291[1]

Now, it’s your turn to step forward in faith. Take Jesus at his word. He has come to set you free. Let his presence heal you. Let his power restore you. Let his love make you a new creature!

Step forward in faith.

As you do, you will discover new life. Old things will begin to pass away. Yesterday’s failures will become tomorrow’s victories. The cross you carry will be transformed into an eternal crown!

Let Jesus Christ set you free, today!

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you set the captives free. Now set me free. Let your word unbind me from all that holds me down. Then fill me with new life, so I might live as a witness to your grace and power!

Amen.

Freed copy

 

Are You A Cast Member?

Wherever you are right now, you are probably doing something. You may be at work, at home, standing in line, going somewhere or leaving somewhere. Whatever you are doing, why not do what Martin Luther suggests?

SacredCan work be sacred? Absolutely! When done faithfully, and in a God-honoring way, our work can be an occasion for showing how Jesus Christ has transformed us, for touching other’s lives with God’s love, and for spreading a little bit of joy!

I spent a few days at Disneyworld in Orlando. I never cease to be amazed how the workers there are able to transform an amusement park into “the happiest place on earth!” One reason they are so effective is they are all called cast members. Even the people who empty the trash are members of the cast. So all the employees see themselves as having a role to play and a mission to accomplish.

You’ve probably never worked for Disney, and maybe you haven’t thought of yourself as a cast member. But when it comes to following Jesus Christ, and carrying out the Great Commission, we are all cast members! We all have a mission and a ministry!

So wherever you are today, try thinking of yourself as a cast member, working for the kingdom of God. See your work as your God-given opportunity to send a message, and to be a person who makes a positive impact for the Kingdom. See what you do today as sacred, and make it all well-pleasing to God!

Be The Good News!

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. Luke 16:19-22 NRSV

Jesus’ story pointed out the chasm between the comfortable lifestyle MP900446698[1]of the Pharisees and the grave needs of the poor. I don’t know what motivated this rich man. He obviously didn’t want to know anything about the pain just outside his walls. That may have been a convenient way to live, but it was ultimately foolish, as Jesus pointed out.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in myself, or my own pleasures, that I too miss the struggles, the needs, and the very real pain that’s all around me. The story of Lazarus reminds me how foolish I am when I refuse to see or do anything about the pain and suffering just outside my door.

But I have to confess, as I read this story I often think it is talking about someone else, someone other than me. After all, I am not rich. But I do enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and I there are times I think more about maintaining that lifestyle, than the needs of hurting people.

MP900427635[1] Commenting on Jesus’ story, Jill Carattini writes, “There are far too many…Lazaruses who are still waiting, waiting for men and women of faith to be the good news they proclaim.” Her words remind me that I am to be the one who, like Jesus, answers the cry of the needy, stands with the grieving and comforts the sick. I am supposed to be the good news I proclaim!

There is nothing wrong with feasting sumptuously. There is something wrong with self-indulgence that completely ignores the opportunity to love and touch the world with the living truth of Jesus Christ. Wise people see and respond to the needs around them.

Why not pray with me today: Lord, help me to be the good news I proclaim!

Broken Becomes Beautiful

But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Acts 3:6 NRSV

MP900341649[1] A man’s body was broken from birth. He was seen as little more than a lame beggar, one of the many broken people who sat at the temple gate looking for alms. For most of his life his brokenness got him peoples’ pity and their money.

Then one day Peter and John came along. They were fresh from being filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit opened their eyes to see that brokenness is more than an opportunity for pity. It is an opportunity for Jesus’ love to make something beautiful. So Peter took him by the hand and did something no one else dared to do. He shared the healing power of Jesus Christ and lifted the man to his feet. In that moment a broken life became a beautiful witness to the healing power of Jesus’ love.Faith

That’s what Jesus came to do. That’s what the cross is all about. The redeeming work of our Lord and Savior takes our brokenness and makes us into new creatures in Christ!

I think we turn away from brokenness too often. Or we stop to pass on our pity, while forgetting to try and transform that brokenness into something beautiful.

Today’s video shares the story of a young woman who uses the artistic talents God has given her to turn pictures of human brokenness into portraits of hope and love. Click here to hear her speak about her work. Then take a minute and ask God how you can use what He has given you to touch brokenness with the beauty of Christ’s love!