Archive for June, 2011

Blest!

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV

Fanny Crosby was blind. She wrote the words to the well-known hymn, Blessed Assurance. How could she have felt happy and blest when she couldn’t even see? She thought that she lived in physical darkness so she could bring people out of the darkness, and into the light of Christ’s love.

I am not blind, but I share her conviction that I am richly blest by the light and love of Jesus Christ. That light and love has changed everything for me. Jesus has put the past behind me, and is making everything new!

Join me today in affirming the new life you have in Jesus Christ. Let’s sing with Fanny, and tell the world that we too are happy and blest in Jesus!

Blest

Bridges of Love

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Ephesians 4:15 NRSV

MP900447728[1]In response to a recent posting, one reader left a comment that got me thinking. They pointed out that not only should we speak the truth in love, as Paul tell us, we should use love to build a bridge that is strong enough to bear the weight of the truth we are trying to get across.

The image of building a bridge of love is a powerful one. Bridges allow us to cross otherwise impassable chasms. Bridges support us when there is no ground to stand on. Bridges allow us to make connections that would be otherwise impossible.

The problem with bridges are that some of them are not very sturdy. They may be unable to bear the weight of those who try to cross on them.

MP900442723[1]When we have a truth we want to share to help someone, we better be sure there is a strong enough bridge to bear the weight of that truth. Truth is not always light. It can hit us like a ton of bricks. It may also be difficult to bear. Only when carried across a strong bridge of love, will that truth be able to have the desired impact.

That tells me that I don’t want to just speak truth in love. I want to lay a strong foundation of love, support and understanding. Then, when I am ready to speak the truth, the bridge we travel together will hold us and sustain us until we reach the other side.

FaithJesus did that. He laid a foundation of self-sacrificing love that was so deep and strong that the truth he spoke could be heard, accepted and embraced.

This week, why not build bridges of love, so the truth you witness to draws those who listen to God!

Life-Changing Stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10 NRSV

Herbert Benson, a well-known physician developed what has become known as the relaxation response. This is a state of physiological relaxation that helps treat a range of physical illnesses. The key to the relaxation response is taking time each day to focus on just one thing. That thing might be a word or phrase, a sound or a picture. 

MP900422325[1]Many people who try the relaxation response find it difficult and frustrating. The first thing that happens is that their minds begin wandering. Keeping centered on one thing is particularly hard for minds conditioned by years of information overload. But with time and persistence many people learn to discipline their focus, and begin to reap powerful results.

Today’s video is not about relaxing, or healing. It’s about being still, which is a key to inner healing and well-being. God wants us to be still, so that we might know and experience the fullness of God’s presence and glory. The problem is that being still doesn’t come easily or naturally. But that doesn’t matter. God still says to be still.

MP900402576[1]Take a moment to be still and watch today’s video. Let its message remind you of what being still actually involves. Then give God a few minutes of your full attention. What you discover will deepen your faith and possibly change your life!

For today’s video please click here.

Where Do You Live?

Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Psalm 84: 4 NRSV

MP900178930[1]What is your soul’s address? Where does it really like to hang out? Where does it most want to be?

The loveliest of all dwelling places is in the presence of the Lord. What could be more glorious? The psalmist knew that being where God dwells is a truly enriching experience. He knew that just being in God’s presence was enough to ignite his joy, and put a song of praise on his lips! The psalmist had discovered a heavenly happiness that depended on God’s glorious presence!

God’s presence brings a heavenly happiness!

As we read his words, we can tell where his heart was. Clearly, he was comfortable and quite at home in spending time with God. I imagine that any time he had some free time, he would slip away and go right to God’s house. This was a person struck by awe, and consumed by praise!Happy business man with other business people walking besides him

Does that sound strange? Is it odd for a person to be consumed by a passion for living in God’s presence? Well, it may be rare, but if you are anything like me you probably find it refreshing and inspiring! Who wouldn’t want to know that kind of happiness! Who wouldn’t want to have that kind of positive, life-affirming desire?

MP900289561[1]Over a hundred years ago, Johannes Brahms recognized the passion and power of the psalmist’s words. He was so moved by them that he included them in his Requiem. Brahms’ music reminded those who heard it that death is a permanent release into the glorious presence of God! No longer would a person enter and leave God’s house. With death, joy is complete, and worship becomes eternal.

But the living also enjoy the glorious presence of God! We experience God’s presence right here and right now. Each and every time we turn to seek God’s face, and open our hearts to God’s love, God draws us into God’s presence. God draws us in and brings us up close. Then God enfolds us in sweetness of God’s love!

God’s presence is for right here and right now.

Let’s do as the psalmist did. Let’s steal a spare moment, and go into God’s presence. Let’s bring God’s presence into the moments of our days.

Let your soul fly into God’s presence! As you do, you will live a most joyful life!

Live in God’s presence, today!

Prayer,

Glorious God, all who seek will find, and all who ask will receive. I am seeking your presence. I am bringing you my praise, and asking you to enfold me in your love. Meet me where I am. Shine down your light on me! Amen.

Bless

Drink As Much As You Want

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. Isaiah 55:1-3 excerpts NIV

MP900443670[1]Recently I read a newspaper report on troubling changes in teen alcohol use. Part of the problem was attributed to combining of alcohol with everyday beverages, from lemonade to energy drinks. Particularly worrisome is that fact that the amount of alcohol in one serving of these drinks is often greater than in 3-4 servings of traditional alcoholic beverages.

I imagine that any public criticism about these products will be countered with the industry defense, we tell them to drink responsibly. What a good idea. Drink, but only drink a responsible amount. I wonder, how much is that? Is it just enough to feel relaxed? Is it enough to make you the life of the party? Is it enough to make you sick?

The other problem is that drinking alcohol impairs judgment, relaxes inhibitions and encourages over indulgence. So how is it that people are supposed to be able to drink responsibly?

Of course there is one place we can go and drink all we want. We don’t have to worry about getting stupid or sick. We don’t have to hear people tell us we’ve had enough. We don’t even have to think about how bad we will feel in the morning. We can just drink to our heart’s content!

MP900401350[1]God invites you and me to come and drink in the blessings of God’s love. This is living water. It restores, revives and renews. It gives life and life more abundant.

Next time your soul gets thirsty, why not accept God’s invitation? Come. Come to the waters. Drink. Drink as much as you want. Drink in the love that gives eternal life!

There’s Always Time For Praise!

Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Psalm 99:5 NRSV

Given who God is, and what God has done, there is one thing we can be certain of: God deserves our praise. God is worthy of all the praise we can give!

That tells me that sandwiched in between everything else that is happening today, I need to give God praise. From the moment my eyes awaken, until my mind settles into sleep, I want and need to give God praise.

Of course it isn’t practical to think that every thought will be one of praise. Some will be given over to work, others to managing daily affairs, and many will be spent thinking about my family concerns. But even in the midst of all those thoughts, God deserves a place.

So why not join me and carve out some space between all the analyzing, decision making and mental wandering you do today. Then fill that space with words of praise and thanksgiving.

Give God some glory. Extol God’s name. Speak a few words of praise to the Mighty King. Tell God how great God is, and how good God has been to you!

Rising

Painful Sacrifice or Loving Opportunity?

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NRSV

One of the sadder encounters Jesus had was when a certain ruler asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This man seemed to be a pretty good guy. He had done most everything right. He followed the commandments and lived a godly life. I imagine he just wanted a little encouragement from Jesus. He wanted to be told that he was on the right track, and that he should stay the course.

Jesus did tell him that he was on the right track and done pretty well. But staying the course was not what Jesus wanted. Jesus wanted this rich young ruler to make a major change. He wanted him to use all his wealth to bless the poor and needy.

MP900384779[1]Apparently that was too much to ask. That was more than he was willing to do. That was a sacrifice just too big to make.

I’m sure this ruler must have walked away discouraged. He must have thought about how painful such a sacrifice would be, and how unfair it was that Jesus asked him to do all that.

But Jesus didn’t ask him to make a sacrifice. Jesus asked him to take what he had and to use it to love the unloved and forgotten. Jesus wanted this young man to seize the day, and take hold of a once in a lifetime opportunity. He asked him to do something remarkable that demonstrated what God’s extravagant love could do in a faithful believer’s life.

MP900385339[1]I think if the young ruler could have seen it that way, he might have been more willing to step forward and respond. But he didn’t. He just saw it as a painful sacrifice, decided to hold onto his money, and missed his big chance to stand with Jesus.

The story reminds me of times when opportunities came my way that felt more like painful sacrifices. In those times I remember thinking more about what I had to give up, than what I could do as a co-laborer with Christ. Having to endure discomfort and make some big sacrifices often made me less willing to respond. But in the end, God’s gentle and consistent nudging always remind me of the privilege I have to share in God’s work, and to be a living witness for Jesus Christ.

From those times, I’ve learned that wise people count the cost, but they don’t let the cost keep them from loving God and serving Jesus Christ. They accept the sacrifice, and step forward in faith to seize the opportunities God places before them each and every day!