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Archive for the tag “JESUS”

Strength

In less than 48 hours, Jesus will kneel in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Overwhelmed with sorrow” and the knowledge of what is to come, He will make a plea to heaven.

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:42-43)

I’ve always focused on verse 42. Jesus shows his humanity. Just like us, He would rather not endure the forthcoming pain. There must be a better means to the end. Still, He was committed to His Father’s will being “done.”

In “anguish”, with “sweat…like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44), God heard Jesus’s prayer, but He didn’t take the “cup”. Instead, He filled it with exactly what was needed at that moment…strength.

Just like us, Jesus was in the valley (though we can’t fathom the depth of His), and God prepared Him for the brutal journey to come. He is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end. He has already been where He is leading us.

As He did with Jesus, God will always provide us with the strength to complete His plan.

Refuge – Anywhere

Psalm 23 is the famous passage where GOD leads us beside “quiet” or “still” waters. It’s the type of refuge we all desire.

The soothing sounds of a brook as it meanders over rocks and between crevasses. Maybe it’s the ocean breeze that makes the palm trees sing their coastal tune or the stillness of a mountain range. In any case, our response renders a deep sigh, smile or the fleeting “feeling” of total relaxation. In our finite eyes, and minds, the desired refuge is another place. Another time.

As stated in verse 2, GOD “makes me lie down in green pastures.” It doesn’t say our refuge will be found in greener pastures. That’s what we often think, though. My situation will be better if, if, if … I can get over there. Why? Because “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” That’s where calm resides and the new beginning begins. If I can just get there, it will be…

But the “Great I AM”, HE is a different cat and even tells us such in Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) – “For MY thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. And MY ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Who in their right mind would ever consider the cruel cross as a place to take refuge? As GOD’s love knows no bounds, neither do the places HE offers refuge. HE makes right out of wrong, good out of bad and beauty out of ashes.

Ask the thief that hung on the cross beside JESUS. On that day, he found “goodness and love” (v. 6), “right paths” (v. 5), and “comfort” (v. 4). He found…refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refuge

Refuge. We all need it. That place to go in times of, as Webster’s dictionary puts it, “danger or distress.” It’s where we refuel, recharge, and reexamine what is happening in our world.  The results and answers sought after are often only as good as the chosen refuge.

Personally, my first choices would be working out, watching sports, or a few days at the beach. None of those are bad, but they only serve as a temporary band aid to lingering issues. The refuge that offers truth and peace comes from JESUS and HIS Word.

James 1:22-25 states:

“Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Going to the refuge, that is GOD, is the only way to experience the peace HE offers from the craziness of this life.  I must be more consistent in not just knowing it’s there, but taking root in that place.

HE DIED IN MY ARMS

HE died in my arms.  I felt HIS last breath; I heard HIS final, pleading cry.  When HE trembled from the pain coursing through every cell of HIS being, I also felt it.

It shook me to my foundation – every sudden jerk, each wrenching twist and turn from a body HE could no longer control.  And I could not put my arms around HIS bloodied frame and stop the hurt.  I could not help lift HIM up so a precious portion of oxygen could enter HIS failing and collapsing lungs.  HE tried so hard, several times to do so, but as the day wore on, HIS torn, beaten and ripped carcass of a body wore out.

How I wish I could have wiped the blood from HIS brow and stopped its downward stream into HIS blurred eyes.  Eyes with an eternal perspective.  Eyes which daily saw the prize HE always wants you to see.  Eyes that look into the sinful hearts of man and can still find some good.  Eyes filled with an unworldly gleam, a heavenly light.

This was replaced with pain, sorrow and bewilderment.  Eyes which asked the question “why?”, and knew the answer to that question.  But one thing remained.  As HE strained to raise HIS head, HE scanned across those who gathered, those who put HIM there – some mocking, some crying, others stone faced – the forgiveness was still there.

How I longed to bandage HIS back, which had been stripped of flesh, of form, and laid open to the elements.  HE could not even lean backwards upon me to gain a second of relief from the agony.

HIS back was a sea of blood – one massive wound torn and sheared from one side to the other.  Everyone who witnessed or those who have heard of this brutal event wince and cringe at the thought of the nails driven through HIS hands and feet.  But do not forget HIS back.  Unlike HE does each day for you, there was no one to watch HIS back because they had all turned theirs on HIM.

GoodFriday-Cross

Every time HE moved, pushed HIS body upwards for air or grazed against me, the pain was excruciating as exposed nerves were met with splinters of wood, which lodged themselves and moved deeper into the rawness bringing unbearable pain with the slightest breath.

There was no rest, not one moment of relaxation or comfort for HIM.

I would have done anything to pull the nails from HIS ravaged feet and hands.  Instead they were pinned to a board like the fur of an animal hung above a mantel.  A conquering prize of HIS enemies, hung in the open for all to see and admire.  The prey – hunted, cornered and finally caught.

Feet, which had traveled so many miles, so the hands could perform miracle upon miracle were no longer of use.  Feet that people had knelt to kiss and hands they longed to grasp instead were covered in crimson red of HIS precious blood.

Now, their only movement was of strain and clutching to a life, which was slowly fading toward eternity with HIS father.

I understand for I was with HIM every slow, exhausting, torturous step of the way.  Through the mockery, the insults, the slander and spitting of the crowds, HE carried me all the way to Calvary.  And at the same time, HE was also carrying you.  Beaten, whipped, bloodied and stumbling, the “Rock of Ages” would not crack under my weight and your sins.

Even as the filthy sins of this world invaded HIS Holy and perfect body, HE found and gave you victory in death – the final act of service from the ONE who came to serve.

Today, you are washed clean, as white as snow from the blood of the Father’s Son.  You continue, though, to scar yourself with sin, after sin, after sin and JESUS remains to wash you clean.  Still, you do not seem to fully understand what HE went through for you!

But I do.  All I have to do is look either way, up or down and I see the stains of HIS blood – stains that will forever remain as a reminder to those who have accepted HIM or who are seeking HIM.  I am soaked in the blood of the ONE who came to give you life!  Are you?  I heard HIS moaning.  I felt HIS quivering body.  I understand.  HE died in my arms.

GOD Bless you this Good Friday,

Robbie Burns

“…at a distance…”

With Good Friday less than 24 hours away, I started reading the 26th chapter of Matthew and its account of that fateful day.  In verse 58, three words hit me square between the eyes – “…at a distance…” 

As athletes, being “…at a distance…” whether mentally, physically or a combination of both will keep us from being sold out and fully engaged “in the game.”  Not only does it have an affect on our play, but on those around us.

The same is true in our walk with Christ.

The first part of verse 58 states, But Peter followed him at a distance…”  How often do we do the same? Christ has called us to “…take up our cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).  Now we can follow him “..at a distance…” but to truly follow, we must make the choice to be beside Him.

That cross isn’t going to carry itself. It cannot be carried from “a distance.” A batter cannot step into the batter’s box and expect to hit when the bat is still in the dugout.

Just as Jesus carried his cross upon his brutally beaten body, we (and I am speaking to me before anyone else) have to go pick up the cross first.  It cannot be done from a distance.

The second part of the verse said that Peter (it’s tough to be used as an example like this for thousands of years, but he made a great comeback!) “sat down with the guards to see the outcome.”

We are just like Peter…sitting down with the “world” to watch “the outcome.” We are believers but won’t proclaim it. We choose not to serve. We will not take the battle to the enemy in diligent prayer, in our own “War Room.”

We stay on the sidelines.

Thankfully, Jesus chose to meet the cross like two prize fighters do – nose to nose. He did not stay in his corner. He walked to the middle of the ring and courageously confronted the opponent – and won.

We can experience that too, but not “…at a distance.”

Composure – A Sticky Situation

“Never let them see you sweat.”

In 1984, the Gillette Company launched this new ad slogan for its antiperspirant line, Dry Idea.  It became one of the most famous in advertising history running for over 12 years and being pitched by some of the biggest names of that era. (Former Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_EUz0XQbz4)

Keeping our composure is, like most things, easier said than done.  Talking the talk is simple; walking the walk is a much different story.

See Simon Peter.

In John 13:37, he boldly tells Jesus – “I will lay down my life for you.” Five chapters later, when the heat was on, Peter did just as Jesus said. He denied his Savior three times. Not only did Peter deny Jesus, he vehemently denied Him. Peter broke when it was time to stand.

Lest we start feeling good about ourselves,  Peter, though he broke, was literally facing life or death among a mob mentality.

On the flip side, we daily encounter those harrowing times that test men’s souls like: Waiting in a drive through (with our without screaming children). Stuck in traffic. Getting lost (and feeling embarrassed about it). Not being able to find the car keys.

Proverbs 25:28 states: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.” During Biblical times, if the walls of the city were breached, its inhabitants and everything in it were at extreme risk.

Isn’t the same true in our own lives?  Why should my 12-year old daughter be put at risk because my “walls” are “broken down” by a cell phone gone AWOL? (I just blamed it on the cell phone)  

My lack of composure breaches her protection. If she enters those turbulent teenage years handling situations similarly, I will not be able to pull a Pilate and wash my hands of it. The stains will remain.

Thus creating a sticky situation now and in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Role

Everyone has a role to play. At some time or another, all of us have balked or pushed back against the said role presented us. Thoughts and feelings run the gammut. It’s demeaning. There’s not enough limelight. Someone else is getting all the pub.

Humans. We are a prideful bunch and get our lip run out because it’s not about me.

Well, all of us little campers can roll that lip back up before it gets stepped on. Thanks to God’s Word, through The Apostle Paul’s writing in I Corinthians 12:12-31, He informs us:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Whatever role we are called to, let’s do it with excellence, to first honor Jesus, because it is an important piece of a much bigger picture.

“Same Love” is not GOD’s Love

As a Christian, and based on GOD’s truths in the Bible, I do not agree with the gay lifestyle.  So, this entry is a difference of opinion to what transpired on-stage last Sunday night at The Grammy Awards. If you want to pull out the gay bashing card, please put it back in the stack.  It is not feasible here.

Accompanied by Madonna, Mary Lambert and Queen Latifa, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sang, as the Huffington-Puffington Post called it, their “marriage equality anthem” entitled “Same Love.”  The lyric that caught my attention most was:  “Whatever god you believe in/We come from the same one.”

The problem is, “Same Love” is not GOD’s Love.

“Same Love” is a worldly view that has no boundaries or safe-guards.  Essentially, the buffet table is open.  Whether it is a gay relationship, heterosexual couple just “moving in” with each other, or casual sex with whomever, these “alternative lifestyles” are born from one product, sin.

To explain what I mean, and show I’m not ostracizing certain groups, let’s go in the “way-back machine” to where it all started.

The Garden of Eden was perfect and its population consisted of one dude, Adam, and one chick, Eve.  No other couples of any kind were created along with them.  They lived freely within GOD’s protective boundaries.  So free, they were buck-naked as j-birds and no apprehension existed among them.

The one rule – “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

As soon as Adam and Eve tasted that forbidden fruit, they got “knowledge.”  They became “smart.”  Sin had made its debut.  Instantly, Adam and Eve noticed some very interesting things about each other.  They were embarrassed and raced to clothe themselves. They tried to hide from GOD.  (Jonah attempted to do the same thing and that didn’t work out either.)

Except for JESUS CHRIST, everyone has sinned.  It steals our freedom.  It shackles us down.  It puts us on the run and skews our vision.  It tries to convince us the corner piece of the puzzle will fit in the middle.  It never has and never will.

Before sin, there was no murder, lies, greed, envy, lust, robbery, debauchery, self-absorption, etc. “Same Love” did not exist.  GOD’s Love did – and it included one man and one woman whom HE ordained as perfect fitting pieces (biologically and anatomically).

GOD’s Love is clearly defined, forgiving and eternally securing.  It is the “same love” HE offered to us today, yesterday and will tomorrow.

All roads lead to JESUS

A few days before Christmas, I heard a friend speak about a loved one who would spend the “most wonderful time of the year” in a less than wonderful atmosphere.  She then recounted the glory of JESUS’s birth, all who were there to experience it and how it changed them…forever.

I have heard and read the Christmas story hundreds of times, and listened to countless sermons on it. But, through my friend’s circumstances, the LORD opened my eyes to it in a new way – all roads lead to JESUS.

As an adult, JESUS said “come to me…”  Without the ability to utter a word, while lying in a feed trough, HE did the same as a baby.  And, they came.  We come.

All from different backgrounds.  All from different circumstances.  All from different roads.

A poor, newlywed couple from Nazareth became unlikely parents because they followed and trusted the LORD’s promises.  Shepherds, working the graveyard shift near Bethlehem, were invited by an angel, and “the heavenly host” proclaiming the “good news,” to come.  Encouraged to “fear not”, they accepted.  Three “wise men,” “Magi,” would not let the distance from their far Eastern lands deter them from following the “star” to finally meet “the light of the world.”

All from different backgrounds.  All from different circumstances.  All from different roads.

At some appointed time, maybe more than once, our life will intersect with JESUS – a crossroads of the life we have chosen, and the one HE has prepared for us.  It happens to the Sauls in us all, on the Road to Damascus, for those who fish in vain,  women at the well and a thief on the cross.

All from different backgrounds.  All from different circumstances.  All from different roads.

With any crossroads, a decision must be made – to continue in the same direction or go another route.  This choice will render an eternal consequence.  Saul became Paul.  Fishermen became fishers of men.  Women at the well chose to drink from the “eternal fountain,” not life’s pleasures.  A thief destined for damnation took up residence in Paradise.

After seeing “a baby wrapped in cloths,” once “terrified” shepherds left and “spread the word…glorifying and praising GOD.”  Wise men who traveled one path to Bethlehem, “returned to their country by another route.”

An encounter with “the great I AM” will change who we are and send us down different roads…forever.

And there the CHRIST will await because HE knows all about roads.  HE understands how long and painful they can be.  With a cross upon HIS back and our sins soon to be hanging from it, HE traveled the toughest one of all – not because HE had to but because HE chose to.

We all come from different backgrounds.  We all come from different circumstances.  We all come from different roads.

No matter how many detours we have taken, all of us scarred and damaged wayward souls can take hope in the truth that, whether it is in Bethlehem or on Golgatha…all roads lead to JESUS.

Phil doesn’t “Duck” his beliefs

Let me start by saying when sin entered the world, it royally screwed up everything.  Man’s willful choice against what GOD had ordained led to unnatural things that were not present at kickoff in the Garden of Eden.  That includes homosexuality (and any other sin you can think of).  GOD created one couple (man and wife), not three.

In an upcoming GQ article, Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson, a devout Christian, voiced his opinion on homosexuality.  Today, society wants to move the goal posts where it fits them best – on any issue.  That definitely includes homosexuality, same sex marriage, etc…

As a Christian, and that is a dirty word to the world, Robertson kicked his answer through the uprights where they were originally positioned.   Sin of any kind, homosexuality to the “little white lie”, is outside the boundaries GOD has drawn.  Phil lived outside those boundaries (“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of GOD“) for many years and said as such in the interview:  “I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior.”  Now, he isn’t ashamed to live inside those same boundaries.

Let’s take the sports analogy a little further.  If there were not out of bounds lines on the football field, more plays would be run east to west than north and south where, the end zone, the ultimate destination, is.  Running side to side is an aimless journey that leaves one frustrated, worn out and without focus.

In the rules context, if boundaries did not exist no penalties would be called and utter chaos would ensue.  Unnecessary injuries would take place – we injure ourselves unnecessarily all the time when choosing to live by our rules.  GOD’s word, HIS boundaries give life; it doesn’t take it away.

So instead of coming out and simply disagreeing with his view, Robertson’s detractors are now trying to destroy him and his livelihood (last year similar groups tried to pluck Chick-fil-A over the same subject).  They cannot agree to disagree.  They cannot discuss.  They continue to move the goalposts. In this ridiculous PC world we live in, they will take their ball (and yours) and go home with it unless assimilation is gained.

If A&E drops the show, so be it. In that decision to abandon Robertson, they have shown their true colors. This “season” of Robertson’s life might end, and, if so, GOD will open another door for that family to make an impact for HIM.  Robertson says his “mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches…However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity.”

GOD calls us to show HIS love to the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree with what the world does.

In the end, Robertson decided not to put his business, or anything else, over the foundation his life is built upon. His is JESUS – and the world just has a difficult time with that.

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