We Agreed

“We agreed” carried us through the difficult challenges! “We agreed” became an anchor point for everything we did after that.

The decision to move to Hot Springs Village and accept the pastorate at Balboa Baptist Church created a transition in our lives with some painful steps. Transition always produces stress.  Stressful times always stress relationships. The marriage of a “preacher” and his wife are no exception!

But, we agreed this was the wise thing to do.  We agreed this was in the center of God’s will for us. We agreed “finishing well” in life meant moving to the Village.

But then came the ripping and the tearing of buying, selling, and moving . Loss produces grief. A sense of loss came over both of us as we purged. We had to let go of some “stuff.” We sized down. We know now many of you have experienced the same purging, moving, and transitioning!

But we agreed it was only “stuff.” We agreed that none of this “stuff” will matter a hundred years from now anyway!

Agreement solves a lot of issues! Our marriage didn’t survive this little bump in the road, it thrived!

The word “confess” means to agree. Do you “agree” with God about who Jesus is?  It solves a lot of eternal issues. It requires some purging and letting go of some “stuff.”

Our agreement as a married couple to move solved a lot of other issues. But the most crucial “agreement” is between you and God about who Jesus is.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 ESV

God lives in you and you live in God when you agree with God about Jesus. Do you agree Jesus is His perfect Son risen from the dead? What a thought! What a reality! We are indwelled and surrounded by the God of the universe in personal relationship if we agree with God about Jesus!

Do you agree? This is the most important agreement you will or will not make. It impacts how you live now. It impacts how you spend eternity!

Our Father, we praise you for being a loving Creator. We rebelled against you in our sin. Thank-you for offering to each of us the greatest gift possible: salvation, forgiveness, relationship, redemption, and your presence in us and around us! Father, WE AGREE! Jesus is Your Son, risen from the dead, alive and well, the sacrifice for the sins of the world, and now our personal Savior! Thank-you!

Praying Scripture

Have you heard of the concept of “praying Scripture?” We know God inspired His word and it is holy. By praying what the Scripture says, we can know we are praying in the will of God.

I like to write my prayers, because when I write my prayers, my mind tends not to wander to the dozens of other things that can get my attention.  Writing prayers keeps me focused.

Here’s an example. Take a passage of Scripture and try it yourself!

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thes.3.5

Our Father, please lead us,

  • from deep within our hearts,
  • from the stirring of our souls,
  • from the use of each moment of time in our lives,
  • from our toenails to the tips of the hair on our heads …

into

  • a full-blown understanding,
  • a totally encompassing comprehension,
  • a moment-by-moment living-it-out today …

of

  • Your love for us,
  • Your love expressed through us to others,
  • Your love revealed in the sacrifices of time & money,
  • Your love flowing through us because You are in us …

And give us

  • Christ’s attitude of patient endurance for serving You,
  • Christ’s perspective on anxiety and worry,
  • Christ’s reaction to difficult circumstances,
  • Christ’s power to not just wait, but have His mind while we wait,
  • Christ’s tangible presence made known to us in real ways many times today.

Father, please lead us into a full understanding and expression of Your love.  Please lead us into a full understanding and expression of Your Son’s patient endurance. Genuine love comes from You, Father, so we seek You today.  Patient endurance comes from the continual presence of  Your Son, Jesus Christ, living in us, so we depend on Him today.

The Lord is far from the wicked, but hears the prayers of the righteous. Prov. 15:29

 

 

Can 400 People Agree on Anything?

How do you get 400 people to agree on anything! Whew, only a God-thing could make that happen. With a group of people with such varied backgrounds, education, and experiences, is it even possible to consider it?

If we take the Bible seriously, and we do, it is not only a consideration, it must become a reality with the help of the Holy Spirit!

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

Get Shoulder to Shoulder. The same word used to translate “appeal” is used to describe the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the “one called beside us.” We are called to come along side one another in unity. If each person in an army decided to fight by their own strategy, no united effort would be made and the battle likely lost.

Get the “God-thing.” Our common commitment to Jesus, the changer of our lives, is our divine element making this possible. How easily people become divided! For a large group of people to be united together in a common goal and strategy needs “a God-thing” to make it happen. Our common faith in Jesus is our God-thing!

Get Great Words. Agree. Simply “speak or say the same thing.”  The visual behind this word is “to lay it out.” We are to state clearly our common purpose.

Get the Gaps Out. Eliminate divisions. The word here is schism which means to split or cause a gap. Jesus described putting new wine into old wineskins and therefore causing the old wineskin to split or burst.

Get Together. Unite. The word “united” means to repair, adjust, or complete thoroughly. Repair broken relationships. Make emotional and mental adjustments in order to be united. Completely focus in the same direction.

Get Thinking. Unite in “mind” means to agree in our perceiving, understanding, feeling, and determining. We must be attuned or “in tune” with the direction of the Holy Spirit and therefore with one another.

Get a United Conclusion. Unite in “judgment” means to agree in our conclusions. The final product is to be a common mission, vision, and core values which guide the work we do and determine what we don’t do.

Our Father, please unite us in every facet of the work You have called us to do. Build in all of us by Your Holy Spirit a consensus of mission, vision, and purpose. We pray for miraculous results from You working in and through us. We believe it is only by Your presence and Your power we can obey this command. Thank-you Lord for the confidence we have in you!

 

What If?

  • What if you knew you could make a difference, would you do it?
  • If you could be certain a particular act of ministry or kindness would be effective, would you act?
  • Would you work differently for the Lord if you were assured God would use it to make an impact in someone’s life?

“Of course I would!” you might say, “but I don’t know what to do.”

Did God create you? “Of course,” you respond.

Did He put IN you a unique set of gifts, likes, abilities, personality, and experiences? “Well, yes He did,” you conclude.

THEN TAKE WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO AND DO IT! Its really that simple. God has already qualified you to work in His kingdom for a specialized task that you can do as well or better than anyone else.

A principle which has permeated by soul is the “cup of cold water in Jesus’s name” principle. It only has two simple parts:

  • Whatever it is I’m capable of doing can be used by God, even if its handing someone a cup of water.
  • Whatever I do, do it in “Jesus’ name,” do for Him and literally SPEAK his name in the process of doing it.

For God loves a griping giver, right? Nope! God loves a CHEERFUL giver. So as you give yourself away in Jesus’ name in cups of kindness and service, ATTITUDE makes all the difference in the world.  Be enthusiastic!

Well, brother Paul said it better than I did anyway. Read this verse and see if you get the same thing I did!

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Cor. 15:58 NLT

Our Father, we praise you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. You created each of us with a unique set of capabilities. Thank-you for the opportunities you put right in front of us each day to serve you by serving people. Thank-you for the assurance that what we do for the “least of these” we do for your Son Jesus. What a joy to serve you with assurance that nothing we do for You is ever useless!

How May I Help You?

  • Relationships based on lust, infatuation, and a what-can-you-do-for-me mindset.
  • Lifestyles that love evil, rejoice in sexual perversion, and a don’t-judge-me-I’m-free-to-do-what-I-want attitude.
  • Daily letting go of good and decent things in order to grasp and hold fast to temporary things.
  • Continually holding grudges, unforgiveness, and treating others as objects instead of fellow humans.
  • Always trying to outdo one another is getting recognition and climbing to the top of the heap.

What have I just attempted to describe? I’m sure a lot of things came to your mind! 

I have just stated the opposite of Romans 12:9-10 (ESV) in which Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, pens five brief commands that are to be obeyed in someone who is transformed (click Romans 12:1-2) Jesus Christ:

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil;

Hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

These actions do not happen naturally.  They happen supernaturally.  They can only be sustained in a living, breathing, walking, talking fellowship with Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus Changes Lives! And that change … must happen everyday in an overflow of HIM living in and through us.

  • Jesus is genuine in His love.
  • Jesus abhors what is evil.
  • Jesus holds fast to what is good.
  • Jesus loves us as a brother.
  • Jesus honors the lowliest. 

Want a simple way to do all five of these at once?! Your assignment today, if you choose to accept it, is to ask at least one person today, “How can I help you?”

Our Father, flow through us today through your Son, Jesus.  Overflow your love, your view of evil, your grip on good, your love for others, and your ability to honor those around us.  Thank-you that you asked us, “How can I help you?” and in our inability to even answer that question, you answered it for us with Jesus!  Thank-you!

Have You Seen a Good Movie Lately?

Guy movies and even chic flics often have vengeance as a theme.  Its a good feeling.  Someone does someone wrong. The smart, manipulative girl finds the perfect way to make sure the other girl gets her “come-uppin’s.”  Or Sylvester Stallone gets his over-the-hill commandos together and exacts severe punishment on the bad guys.

Its a gut-level thing. Its what we think we would like to do if we could. Oh, come on, you’ve felt too. Right? 

Some take it to the next level. They learn martial arts or handling of a weapon.  Some even go looking for an opportunity to use it.

Our friends’ daughter recently married. She and her new husband exited a major league baseball game.  Four inebriated guys made lewd comments toward the young bride.  Her husband told them to back-off.  Their beating put him in ICU.

Now, that’s sad and extreme.  But we often take offense at the slightest turn of phrase and hold a grudge for long time. Little things can do it.

But as I read my Bible, holding on to bitterness, unforgiveness, and grudges is very harmful spiritually, physically, and psychologically. 

Boy, Jesus could turn a phrase couldn’t he! He hit the nail on the head. When seemingly trapped by a hard question, “What’s the greatest commandment, Jesus?” 

“Ha Ha, we’ve got him now!” they might have thought. “We’ve been debating this one forever and with all the thousands of choices and opinions, he will surely offend someone!”

That gives me pause. Think about it, they tried to trap GOD!? Yeah, right!  Anyway, He said that to “Love God” is the first command.  But then He surprised them further and gave the second also, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Wow, genius!  How did He pull THAT our of thin air.  He didn’t.  He had already said it centuries prior.

The context of this command is very interesting to me.  It was given in the context of getting revenge and holding a grudge. Check it out …

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:18 ESV

Father, we deserve your greatest revenge possible for our sin against You.  Thank-you for your forgiveness. Thank-you for sending Jesus, Your one-of-a-kind Son, to be our perfect sacrifice. We worship You. Please give us your divine ability to forgive those who trespass against us so that we may be forgiven in the same way we forgive others.

 

Why Don’t They Discipline That Child!

Isn’t it interesting that we seem to always know what someone else needs to do to discipline their children?  But with our own children our emotions usually clouded our judgment.  Clear-cut decisions on disciplining our own children often escaped us.  So we did the best we could.

Holiness, what is it?  This verse caught my attention: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

Holiness, my perception initially as a child and teenager didn’t make sense.  I knew good folk who worshiped at the “Holiness Church.”  These men and women wore long sleeves year-round.  The women wore no make-up and only long dresses. The women didn’t cut their hair.  I respected them for it.  I admired their dedication to the Lord.

But those are only external things.  Unless very careful, these things become legalism.  Holiness is primarily internal.  Of course it must have external results.

So, what is holiness?  It means to be different or set-apart.  But in the context of Hebrews 12, what is it?

So I backed up into Hebrews 12 and found holiness again in verse 10, “For they (our earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he (our Heavenly Father) disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”

So, our Heavenly Father’s discipline and holiness have something to do with each other.

First, holiness is a gift given to us at salvation through grace by faith.  Whew, that’s good!  I sure am glad of that!  Otherwise, I would never see the Father without this holiness (v.14).

Second, our Father disciplines us to bring holiness out in our daily lives.  Ouch, that hurts. He strains out the impurities, washes our mouths with soap, and gives an occasional spanking.  But unlike us who are imperfect fathers who disciplined in imperfect ways, our Heavenly Father always does it just right!  And He does it to so that “we may share his holiness” (v.10).

When do we need this discipline that leads to holiness?  Verse 4 says, “In your struggle against sin …”  Yes, as we struggle within ourselves and REACT to this world from our old nature when God wants us to REACT to this world from our new nature, then God disciplines us.  When we live, act, react, talk, work, and relate from our new nature, then we share in His holiness!

Why? Because our new nature is the HOLY Spirit living in us.  React from the old selfish nature, discipline!  React from the new holy nature, share God’s holiness!

God is so good!

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  Hebrews 12:5-6

Father, thank-you for loving us enough to discipline us.  Thank-you for giving us the gift of holiness. Lead us out of temptation.  Deliver us from our struggles with evil. Glorify Yourself in us today.