What’s Freedom For?

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5 NRSV

42-15649637July 4 was more than a week ago. The booms and bangs of fireworks have faded. The picnic suppers have been cleaned up, and the patriotic songs put away until next year. But that’s okay, because we paused to remember and celebrate the precious freedoms we have, and the many blessings our country enjoys.

Perhaps the greatest freedom we enjoy is the freedom to believe in God, and to pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ! So after the fife and drums are packed away, we have to take our hand off our heart, and put it in the hand of the Good Shepherd. Then, and only then, will we be able to fully enjoy the freedoms our country affords. Then, and only then, will we be truly free!

Today’s video illustrates that message through a father’s prayer for his son. Click here to view it. Then pledge your allegiance once again to Jesus Christ!

Do As I Do

“I give you a new command, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  John 13:34 NRSV

Jewish torah scroll in coverGod gave Moses ten commandments. Then Jesus said that loving God with your whole heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself was the greatest commandment. Finally, near the end of his ministry,  Jesus adds something new. He not only tells his disciples to love, he tells them how far they are to go with love. Jesus lets them know that they are to love in exactly the same way that he has loved them. They are to go as far as he goes to show love!

Do what Jesus did.

As Jesus says this, during the intimate moments of the Last Supper, he is keenly aware that in just a few short hours he will be taken away. Jesus knows that he is about to die, be raised up and then ascend into heaven. He also knows that where goes, his followers cannot follow.

So what are they supposed to do when he leaves? Jesus makes it clear: They are supposed to love one another with exactly the same kind of love that Jesus has loved them with!

MP900431741[1]This means that they are to love with a love that is patient and kind. They are to love with a love that is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. They are to love with a love that is not irritable or resentful. They are to love with a love that does not insist on its own way. They are to love with a love that does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the truth. They are to love with a love that sacrifices and forgives. They are to love with a love that hopes all things, believes all things and bears all things. They are to love with a love that lasts until death, even when it means a death on the cross.

Love like Jesus loved.

This is the love that Jesus loved them with since they began walking together. This is the love that will show the world that they are in fact his disciples! Yes, with this kind of love the world will come to know Jesus!

MP900438973[1]Love is the defining characteristic of Jesus Christ, and it is the identifying mark of his disciples! So, let’s do what Jesus did, let’s love! Let’s spread some kindness. Let’s believe the best about each other. Let’s rejoice in each other’s successes, and faithfully bear each other’s sufferings. Let’s hope together, and believe together.

A commandment is not a suggestion or a principle. It is a command. Every Christian is called to do Jesus’ work, and we are to follow his command!

Why not show the world how much you love Jesus? Go ahead and love his children. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Share the love that he gave to you with everyone you meet!

Do Love, Today!

Prayer:

Loving Savior, I want to love others the way you love me. Make me a servant who welcomes instead of rejects,  who loves instead of judges, and who builds up instead of tears down. Make me more like you!

Amen.

Loving

Knowing Precedes Going

I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding. Psalm 119:32 NRSV

MP900409394[1]Many people turn to professionals for advice and counsel. As a psychologist, I have seen numerous people at the end of their ropes, who just didn’t know what else to do. I imagine they hope that I will have the answer they need. But what usually happens is that the more we talk, the better they come to understand their situation. That insight opens the door to identifying effective solutions.

Even though many of us will never seek professional counseling, I wonder if the one of the most common prayers we pray is, “What should I do, which way should I go?” We all know that having God’s guiding hand at work in our lives can make all the difference. So we wisely turn to God, and ask for God’s guidance and help.

MP900321197[1]But knowing what to do and where to go isn’t just a matter for earnest prayer. The psalmist discovered that knowing what way to go also depends on understanding God’s commands. The more we understand about God’s nature and will, as revealed in the Scriptures, the easier it becomes to discern the way our lives should go! Insight precedes solutions.

Not only that, but the more we enlarge our understanding, the less we depend on urges, impressions and intuition. Knowing God and understanding God’s ways opens our eyes, grounds our minds in truth and sensitizes our hearts to the Spirit’s work. When that happens, we are in a much better position to recognize the roads God wants us to travel.

MP900400642[1]The psalmist runs the way of God commandments, because God has given him understanding. For him, knowing precedes going. That tells me I need to spend more time, not just seeking God’s will, but enlarging my understanding and gaining insight. How about you?

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