Archive for April, 2011

Out of Obscurity

…for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 NRSV

MP900442283[1] I received an email recently that asked a good question. The question was: Can you name the five richest people in the world? Other questions followed. All of them asked for the names of people who had achieved various kinds of worldly fame and recognition. The interesting thing about those questions was I didn’t know the answer to any of them. All those famous people were blank faces, who went unnamed on my questionnaire.

Then the email closed with the question, who was the most influential teacher you ever had? I could answer certainly answer that question!

Those questions reminded me how fleeting fame and notoriety really are. They also made me realize it’s often the person who operates in the background that has the greatest and longest lasting impact.

MC900444830[1] After Jesus rose and went up to heaven, his work was left to a group of mostly poor, uneducated men and women. They had no wealth to buy advertising time, no political platform from which to launch their message, no popularity to help them get the attention of the people. All they had was the truth about Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Of course that was all they needed to turn the world upside down!

You and I can be people like that. We can work to faithfully serve our Lord and love those around us. We probably will not win any awards. I’m pretty sure we will not get our pictures on magazine covers. But God can and will use our lives to continue changing the world for Jesus Christ!

Jill Carattini writes, “In the kingdom of God, there are none so obscure as to be hidden, no life lived for Christ that goes unnoticed.”

Whether famous or not, the truth is that God knows us. God knows us very well. Our names are written in the annals of heaven. There is no obscure life in God’s family. We each are a vital part of the body.MP900406708[1]

We are also people of influence. We have the truth and the power to proclaim it. We have the message the world so desperately needs. Now it’s time for us to come out of obscurity, and be known for doing the work Christ is calling us to do!

There’s Joy Down In My Heart

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy… I Peter 1:8 NIV

If Jesus is risen, then I think it is safe to say that I’ve got lots of reason for joy. In fact, I would say that there’s joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!

That’s because the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not just a truth I believe. It’s the truth that has changed me. It has taken my sin and washed me clean. It has healed my hurts, satisfied my longings, filled the darkness with light, and turned my sorrow into joy!

Friends, believe the good news, with Jesus comes joy!

Risen

What Do We Know?

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Corinthians 1:18 NIV

00384891 The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection seems like foolishness to many. I imagine that if they knew of your faith in Jesus Christ, they would think you a fool. For them, the idea of a dead Jesus risen from the grave is more myth or fairy tale. It’s a nice story, and maybe there is a moral in there somewhere, but that’s about it.

From their perspective, it really doesn’t make any sense to bet your life on a dead Jew, who lived two millennia ago. Sure, he was a good man and a wise teacher. But today people are a lot wiser. We know a lot more. So what Jesus said was okay for the simple-minded people of ancient times, but not for us.

The problem with that line of thinking is it makes our thoughts, our ideas, ourMP900385346[1] personal perspectives the starting point for determining truth. Everything else is judged against what we believe. What arrogance! How could any of us even begin to pretend our ideas are the standard against which all other ideas should be measured.

Fools think they know it all. But what do they really know? That’s the issue raised in today’s thought-provoking video. The most troubling part, is that many don’t even know how wrong they are, and are missing out on the opportunity to have power of God at work in their lives!

Click here to watch the video. Then let the truth that was proven true in the resurrected Jesus be the standard around which you build your life. Trade in foolishness for faith in him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Not Just Alive

Abide in me as I abide in you. John 15:4 NRSV

MP900313878[1] After a week of remembering what happened in the last days of Jesus’ ministry on earth, it’s time to move on.

That’s because it’s not just what Jesus did when he broke bread and shared the cup with his disciples that mattered. It’s not just what happened on the cross that made the difference. It’s not only that the stone was rolled away and the tomb was found empty that gives us reason to rejoice.

Now it’s time to do more than remember. It’s time to realize what’s happened to us. Jesus is not just alive. Jesus is alive in us! Now we are alive!

Look around – Jesus lives in you and in believers all around you. That’s the message of today’s video. Click here to watch it. Then live like Jesus is alive, and is alive in you!

Stop Doubting & Believe

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”John 20:27 NRSV

MP900435912[1] This was the moment for which Thomas became famous. He firmly refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He wanted to put his hand in Jesus’ side before he would let himself believe. Thomas required tangible proof. He had no interest I believing the ravings of bewildered men having what seemed like grief-triggered hallucinations.

Of course, Jesus knew exactly what Thomas needed, and he gave it to him. Then Jesus called Thomas to faith. In that instant, Thomas stopped doubting and started believing. His faith drove him to proclaim Jesus as Lord.

Faith puts doubt to rest.

Thomas is best known for his doubting. But Jesus told him to stop doubting and believe. That was Thomas’ whole problem. He didn’t really need to put his hand in Jesus’ side. He needed to stop doubting and start believing. MP900422224[1]

Jesus knows that as long as we doubt, we can’t believe. Doubt and faith are opposites. They make up an either/or proposition. We are either doubting, or we are believing. We simply can’t do both at the same time.

As long as we doubt, we can’t believe.

Doubt fills our minds with questions. It wraps our heart with the feelings of uncertainty. It casts a shadow across our path and blinds our eyes to the truth. Doubt suffocates faith. As long as we make room for doubt, there will be no room for faith.

But it works the other way too! Faith pushes away doubt. Faith floods the mind with truth. It opens our eyes to God, and our ears to God’s voice. Faith connects us to the Spirit’s power. Faith overcomes obstacles. Faith pushes us in new directions. Faith activates action!

So how do you stop doubting? Begin by doing what Jesus said to do, believe! As long as you are believing, you are not doubting. As long as you are believing, doubt can’t get a grip on you.

MP900422834[1] It’s time to let go of doubt and embrace faith! We face the same choice as Thomas did. We can cling to the doubts that lurk in the dark corners of our minds, or we can believe in Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and he is alive!

Greet Jesus with a heart of FAITH, today!

 

Prayer:

Jesus, I struggle with doubt too. Without seeing you, it is sometimes hard to be sure. But I know the truth, and the truth is you are alive. Live in me today, and help me to continue believing in and responding to your word each and every day!

Amen.

Believe copy

Our Chatter: God’s Truth

…I lay down my life in order to take it up again. John 10:17 NRSV

MP900427673[1] I imagine there was a lot of chatter in Jerusalem during Jesus’ trial and execution. There must have been whispers of wondering, spoken by those who didn’t understand why the man they hailed as king was being treated like a criminal. Then there were the shouts of the angry mob, that echoed across the stone courtyard outside Pilate’s headquarters. There were also the rumors that flew up and down the city streets, spoken by onlookers watching a beaten man, wearing a crown of thorns, carry his cross.

So much chatter. But Jesus had only a few words to say. “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

MC910216396[1] There is chatter, and then there is the word of God. God always has the last word, and that word is always good. Of course God had the last word after Jesus was crucified. That word was very good. In fact, it was the best word of all: “He is not here, he is risen!”

Today’s video contrasts our chatter with the truth that continues to transform the world. To watch it please click here.

From Doubt To Faith

“Do not doubt but believe.” John 20:27 NRSV

Mountain Crucifix The disciples watched as Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified. Their hopes were dashed, and their worst fears came true. At that moment the faith they had in Jesus must have seemed like foolishness.

What their eyes witnessed told them it was over. No more miracles. No more words of truth. No more dreaming of sitting at Jesus’ right hand in the kingdom of God. No more faith.

With Jesus’ suffering and death, Thomas went from faith to stubborn doubt. As far as he was concerned the story that Jesus was alive was a fairy tale. He was unwilling to be fooled again. Only putting his hands in Jesus’ wounds would convince him.

Jesus met Thomas, and gave him the proof he needed. That moved Thomas from doubt to faith.

I have doubts too. I imagine you do too. Jesus’ love and grace are able to meet us where we are, just like he did with Thomas. Today’s video recounts the struggle Thomas had and the power of our resurrected Lord to move his heart to faith. Please click here for the video.

Then give thanks to God for bringing life out of death, and for bringing us from doubt to faith!