Archive for February, 2010

Let me be a bit transparent in this post (yeah, I know that once on the internet, the world can read this… but let’s be honest, the world isn’t following this blog).  So, here goes:

I read the very last verse of 2 Corinthians today:  “May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God (the Father), and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

It interests me that different words (that depict responsibilites or roles within the Trinity) are associated with different Persons of the Trinity.  Grace – Jesus.  Love – Father.  Fellowship – Spirit.  Now, I know that each Person of the Trinity can and does fully express Grace, Love and Fellowship.  Nevertheless, a distinction is made in this verse, and that distinction exists for a real reason, right?  Right.

My transparency is coming up now, regarding the felt need of my heart today:

  • Do I feel that I need Grace to cover sin and give me righteous standing?  — well, yes always, but it’s not my highest felt need today.
  • Do I feel that I need Love to fill my emotional heart with acceptance? — well, yes always, but it’s not my highest felt need today.
  • Do I feel that I need Fellowship to process life and know I’m not alone or being led down a dead-end-alley?  — well, yes, yes.  This is exactly what I feel I need.  And so, I pray, “Holy Spirit, I need Your company, to know I’m not walking alone, and that You have a plan for the remainder of my life.

So, yes, I need the fellowship, the tangible presence of the Spirit of God to walk with me during this stretch of my life.  And so, I do pray to the Holy Spirit.


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Meek Not Weak

“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you…”  (2 Cor 10:1)

Have you ever read a clause in the Bible and realized it was packed with power?

What does Paul mean by meekness?  Whatever else he means, he doesn’t mean gentleness, for that would be redundant.  So, what does meekness mean?   Power under Control.  Jesus had all power, yet He governed that power perfectly for the need of every moment.

Someone said: “If you think meekness is weakness, try being meek for a week.”

Then, Paul called Jesus gentle. Kind and Tender. What intrigues me is that Jesus referred to Himself in the same way  (“…for I am gentle and humble of heart…”  Matthew 11:29).

So, Jesus is both meek — Power under Control, and gentle — Kind and Tender.  Aren’t you glad He is?

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J Ed at His Best

I once heard a line, attributed to the great theologian Jonathan Edwards, which has sustained me through many lean years in ministry.  It went something like this.

I am convinced of 2 things in this life.  First, every person should give themselves completely to Jesus Christ.  And second, even if no one else does…. I will.”

Bingo.  He nailed it.  It’s not about the world around me, if they will find all of life in Jesus.  The question is, when all others turn their devotion elsewhere, will I keep my eye on Jesus?

Peter said, “Lord, where else shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life…”

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We live in changing times.  Information surges like a tsunami upon the shores of our minds.  Today’s new approach to reach The Lost is out-of-date by the time my head hits the pillow.  I think that, no matter how hard we plan, we won’t see the Great Commission fulfilled until the Lord does the unexpected.

For many years, I’ve been committed to seeing the Great Commission fulfilled in my generation.  It can still happen.  But I no longer think we can plan our way to its fulfillment.  Plan we must, but only God can finish it, by doing the unexpected (at a macro scale).

God is like that, delivering the unexpected after we’ve created our likely-scenarios.  Here’s an example from my life:  I went to the surgeon on Friday (after CT scan #5) to have him tell me when to have my appendix removed (it’s been 3 months since my initial sickness, then 4 days in hospital, then 4 weeks to drain the abscess, etc.).  Should I plan surgery this week or wait until May when school’s out?  These were my only two options, so I planned accordingly.  But the surgeon surprised me.

The CT scan shows no appendix.”  What?  Come again?  Yes, it appears (though CT scans aren’t 100% conclusive) that the Lord had my body obliterate the appendix!  In a way I never could have foreseen, God apparently solved my appendix problem in the most unexpected way.  So: “Surgery this week?  or in May?  … or how about never?”  (Note: I’ll have one final CT scan in May, and if that’s clear, I’ll avoid surgery.)

That was unexpected!  And so will be the manner in which God ultimately fulfills His Great Commission.  Just like I planned to put surgery into my calendar, we go about our plans to fulfill the Great Commission.  And it is right to do so, (especially in parts of the world that don’t suffer “Christian fatigue” from our inauthentic methods/character).  But without God doing the unexpected, we haven’t got much of a chance.

So, let’s plan.  Let’s proclaim Christ everywhere, with authenticity.  But let’s not delude ourselves that we can accomplish this task, unless God glorifies Himself by doing the unexpected.

PS  Time may tell that I need surgery after all.  But I’m hoping not!

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Advice for Young Believers

I found 2 gold nuggets this morning in 1 Cor. 16.

1.   Christian young man, memorize v. 13-14.

  • “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 5 character-building dumbbells for your workout. In light of the moral brokenness I see in collegians, and the absence of vital courage and trust in what God has said, can any other advice be more applicable than this?

2.   Godly Christians sometimes disagree on big things.  And that’s ok.

  • Even though Paul “strongly urged” Apollos to go to Corinth (v.12), Apollos was “quite unwilling to go” at that time.  Reminds me of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabus in Acts 15:36-41.    Take a deep breath, everybody.  It’s ok.  God is still sovereign and will work out even the messy disagreements among fellow believers.  Just remember the final admonition in v.13, to “do everything in love.”

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Snowed in Sunday

Snow on our Picnic Table

We (in Virginia) got pounded by 2′ of snow, so this Sunday morn I sit in my comfy chair with coffee and Bible, finishing 1 Corinthians.  I noticed a structure I’d missed before.  Paul introduces new topics with the word, “Now…”  I like his parallel structure (hey, I was a rhetoric major).

7:1   “Now…. about marriage/sexuality/singleness

8:1   “Now…. about food sacrificed to idols and conscience

12:1 “Now…. about spiritual gifts

13:1 “Now…. about a more excellent way: Love

15:1 “Now…. about the resurrection of the dead and new bodies

16:1 “Now…. about the collection of tithes to help others

I finished 1 Corinthians.  Every time I finish a book of the Bible, I get a yearning, sad feeling… wanting more.  To talk with Paul (or Peter, or Luke) to get more info on what was going on back then.  I get caught up in the drama of the story and am saddened when it ends.  These words in the Bible have real LIFE embedded within them.  Funny how I didn’t see it, until college, when 2 things happened: I gave my life to Jesus, and I bought a Bible and began to read it on my own.

Funny how many own a Bible, yet how few read it.  Even fewer ‘get lost’ in it.  But to me, it’s the gold rush of 1849.  I’m panning for gold everywhere.

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“In a world where savvy collegians filter most incoming information, our ‘presentational approaches’ have become the unwanted ‘pop-up ads’ on the computer screen of their lives.”

Just a thought, that we need to understand today’s collegiate audience.  Listen a little more  (ok, a lot more).   And, be aware that today in the US, the method of the messenger has become the message.  If we want them to hear of the beauty of Jesus, we had better take seriously our approaches.

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