Category: Uncategorized

Personal,but not private

Night Light

Night Light (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

Ever try reconciling the above?  Seems, at least at first glance, that they contradict one another. The best I can figure out the first is about our lifestyle, the second is about our financial choice.

Either way it seems to make clear in the first case that my relationship with God is meant to be personal, my actions impacted by who I am in relation to Christ. But that within that relationship, my actions are to be public otherwise others could not see and glorify God.  Too bad what others all too often see would not reflect very well on the Father.

But those are my marching orders

My actions are to be done in such a way that they glorify God.  When I was younger that was rarely the case.  Rash, brash, and self-absorbed, I would rush head long often doing the first thing that came to mind.  Actions that would often not bring glory to God.  Want I needed to do was slow down, stop and think about how what I am about to do and how it will reflect on God.  Still I far to often still jump in with both feet without asking how does this show the Father, what will people think of God if I take the action I am thinking about?
Just like me, most people probably identify you as a Christian.  It probably doesn’t matter if you’ve told them or not.  The question is do you let your light so shine that people look at you and glorify your Father?

What are you doing to make your light shine brighter?

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“But God commandeth his love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

God commands his love for us.  Not suggests, not hopes for or wishes, but commands his love for us.  Unshakable, unmovable, unchangeable.  His love for us can not go away.  His love for you, for me is immutable.  It doesn’t diminish when we put on a few pounds, or 50. It doesn’t fade when our hair turns to grey, or falls out.  And his love doesn’t turn to another if I become wrinkled, feeble, lose my job, or any other thing you ca do or even imagine.
And when did God love us?  When we were yet sinners. Our God, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob doesn’t demand that we stop sinning and then He will love us.  God does not say to you or I “Be perfect, get your act together, and THEN I will love you and care for you.”  No, No, No.  He says to you and I come to me all you who are weary, carrying a load that is too much to carry and I will give you rest.
He could have said, Russ once you do X then I will care for you, then I will love you.  God could have said show me you love me, then I will love and care for you.  But instead God says to mankind, I will love you no matter what.  I will love you day or night, summer or winter, when you do right or when you do wrong.

God’s love for you is not dependent on your past

I can hear you now, “But Russ you don’t know what I have done.  If you only knew the inside, if you could see my thoughts, my heart.  My own family won’t have anything to do with me.  My marriage is in shambles.  I can’t find my way out of the bottle.”
Your right I don’t know you.  I don’t know what you’ve done.  I don’t know your faults, your failings, your foibles.  I don’t and maybe if I did I wouldn’t like you much.  But God knows.  God knows each and every lie you have ever told.  God knows every porn movie you’ve ever watched, every curse word that has come out of your mouth even when no one was around.  And every wicked thought that you have ever had.  And in response God says- “I love you.”
I love you when you don’t deserve it, when you haven’t earned it, even when you have abused it.  For you see God says “my grace is sufficient for you.”
Grace: Gods unearned favor, blessing, love.  The gift of Gods grace can not be earned, it can not be bought at any price, for any amount.  You and I can never do enough good things to earn or deserve it.
So you say “I don’t deserve it, God would never give it to me.” So who does God give His grace to?  Who are the heroes and saints God poured out his grace on.
Genesis 6:8- “but Noah found grace in the eyes of The Lord.”- Noah a drunk
Genesis 19:19Lot says “behold now thy servant hath found grace in thy sight.”  Lot a man who less than 48 hours earlier was ready to turn over his daughters to be gang raped by a mob outside his home.
Exodus “For thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know you by name.”  Who is God speaking to?  A hot-headed, spoiled, murderer by the name of Moses
Or Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication.”   David war-monger, adulterer murderer.  David who had a loyal soldier murdered because David had seduced his wife while he was risking his life in battle for his king, David.

So what is it again that you think is so bad that God’s grace is for others but not for you?

God’s grace is a gift given freely from God to anyone who asks.  Not something you can earn and certainly not what you deserve.  But just because it is free does not mean it is cheap.
Romans 3:4 “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”  So what does God say?  Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin IS death.”  Justice requires death, someone must die.  Justice was satisfied by death, just not your death.  God came in the form of man as Jesus. He paid that price so that God the Father can give you and I grace.
This isn’t just going to Macy’s with the credit card to pick up a bunch of Christmas gifts.  These aren’t a few trinkets purchased at the Dollar Store.  This is the biggest gift, this is the most costly gift of all.  This is the gift to end all gifts.  The gift of grace is free but is not cheap.  Make no mistake it cost the giver dearly.  And grace alone, God’s grace alone is enough.

God’s grace is sufficient, no matter what.  And best of all it is your’s for the asking.

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Isn’t there more?

Being what some would define as moral does not mean your kind.  But as a Christian we are to be kind, gentle, humble.  And what’s more to love our enemies.

I don’t know of anyone who is seen as simply moral, who also loves their enemy.  Marcus Aurelious was known as a moral leader, his writings about stoicism are still read, studied, and followed.  Often by those looking for a moral guide to life.  Yet this was a man who had no problem persecuting Christians of his day, because they were the other.
We are called to more than just a moral life.  We are called to be more.  Christian ethics mean to be not just good people, but to be a reflection of our Creator.
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Does Walt Disney have it all wrong?

I know more than a few women that take on that whole princess persona, and I have always thought.  “Who the heck, wants to be with someone that needy.”  But it got me thinking.  Why do so many girls, and even grown women long, or desire to take on that persona?

Well what is a princess?  Isn’t a princess the daughter of the king?  Doesn’t that mean that every Christian woman is by extension a princess?  How many different places does the Bible call us the children, or sons and daughters of God.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, who is the King.  So is this a longing for women to take their rightful place?

Seeing the women around us for who they really are.

This seems to be a confirmation of the God shaped hole that we are born with.  I have often heard the sermon or teaching on wives submit to your husbands, and know more than a few people, men and women that get offended at such a thought.  Why, because we have such a confused and distorted understanding of what it means.
If you think of a great King or Queen what comes to mind?  Do you picture Henry 8th or is it Arthur?  What about Queen Elizabeth, whatever the case most often we do not imagine Prince John from Robin Hood, or the queen in Snow White?  No we picture the kind gentle caring monarch.  The one who cares for the people.  Princess Buttercup, who cares about the poor, not Anne Boleyn.  So why do we have a problem with submitting?
See if you’re a man, you are called to submit not to another person, but to Christ.  Called to submit, to love others so much that death is the least you can do.  Submitting to death even death on a cross.  So how can you not care enough about your wife, that serving her is your natural position.  Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian, to submit to one greater than yourself, and to serve those that are in your life
So who wants a princess?  Well thinking it over I guess I do.
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If I would just grab a hold of God with both hands I couldn’t hold onto all the other junk, the treasures of this world that keep me away from God.  So many things that I let come between God and myself.  He doesn’t put them there, I do.

While the stuff get’s pulled away

Lately it’s almost funny, everything I put between us, God keeps ripping away.  Like he is bound and determined to have me right in his path, unable to hide behind anything.  Money, work, relationships.  You name it over the past couple of years it has been torn away, or moved to the side.  Just one example, I’m a bit of a workaholic, and over the past year work has reached the point that by 5pm  I can’t find anything else to do.  After all how many follow-up calls, or letters can I send?

A change in priority

All of that other stuff does not seem that important anymore.  The more I know of God the more he seems to want me to know of him.  Almost like one of those nesting toys, only God is doing the work revealing himself more.
Although I must admit I struggle with being afraid of really completely letting go of the other stuff 100%.  Typical goofy worries, what if he sends me to Africa, kind of thoughts.  Excuses really.  I keep coming up with one baloney reason after another to not just grab a hold with both hands and hang on as tight as I can.  I guess my belief is not all I had hoped it would be at this point of my life.
What things are you grasping at?  Afraid of what might happen if you let go of that one little area? Or am I the only one?

Being Gentle

Gentle is not weak.

Now I’m not talking about that weak, mealy mouthed, “aw shucks” false humility junk.  Even though I have been guilty of falling into that trap more than once.  No I’m speaking about that real true gentleness.  Being gentle from a place of strength and security.  When you and I not just pay lip service to, but really believe that we should not fear men who can only kill the body, but rather fear God who can destroy the soul, then we can act with such strength that we have no need to be hard.

So why should we be gentle?  How about because we are told to.  1 Peter 3:15– “be gentle to all men.”  Even and especially when we disagree.

Gentle men is what God commands.

Christian men should be striving to be true gentle-men.  We don’t need to fight and strive against those that disagree with us. Instead we should have that calm, self-assured strength that comes from being right, (righteous) not the cocky(my weakness) arrogant, self-righteous approach, because we know we are not self-righteous but instead made righteous by God.
I have been guilty more than once of falling into the defensive mode when discussing why I believe in God, even with family members. And invariably latter that day I’m kicking myself for losing my cool.  I get all tied up in “defending” the faith and MY position?  When what I should be focusing on is letting God use me to say what he wants said.
God does not need me to defend him, but He is gracious to allow me to be part of that conversation and helping to strengthen my faith.
What do you think?  Can we confront others without being confrontational? 


Defined- The study of the existence, nature, and attributes of God. To know God

Now I am no theologian, I only know an infinitesimally small aspect of who/what God is. What I know is only because this magnificent, beautiful, all knowing all powerful being has, for a reason I cannot fully grasp, chosen to reveal himself. Not just to me or just to a few, but wants to be known by everyone.

And yet today so many seem to want to place this immense being (how else do you describe infinite) into a neat little box. But how can we do that? That somehow if God is not completly and wholly understandable he must not exist. Maybe trying to understand the Father is messy, not because God is messy and all over the place, but because we are. Ok maybe not you, you probably have it all together. Let me rephrase that I am messy.

Because I’m messy, when I try to know God I fall short of understanding. Some of it I get, but a lot I don’t. I get that God is love, but other things are beyond my ability to understand. As I try to see the face of God I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by who & what God is & overwhelmed and mightily aware of what I am not. Like David searching to know God better I can only say “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

Is it really any wonder that some search for God, and upon facing what God must be, can not wrap their heads around it and pronounce “There must be no God? Is it because while searching they are expecting to be able to confine and define God inside some neat little box, only to find that He won’t fit? Still others lightly say they believe in God yet make no effort to know who God really is.

Christ says to know God is eternal life (John 17:3) This doesn’t speak to just some book knowledge; this is about an intimate knowledge, a knowledge that permeates everything.

No I’m no theologian, but I want to be.