When we make God all about one thing, we deny His sovereignty over all things.
The biggest lies involve half-truths, like the current fad of saying that “it’s all about a relationship with Jesus.”
But that begs the question: A relationship on whose terms?
Yes, Jesus wants a relationship and for us to feel His presence – as our Lord, on His terms, as we obey Him by doing the will of His Father.
Any other “relationship” is a lie and the day eventually will come when He declares: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matt. 7:21-23)
Jesus: He’s more than a feeling.
~ Jim Wright
Worship Porn: When “church” becomes a staged performance designed to manipulate the innate desire for self-gratification and emotional intensity among an assembled audience.
“Missional” seems to have become yet another buzz word used by gifted leaders to rally God’s people around their own callings and motivations.
It all sounds so good, but it becomes a trap when the Great Commission is reduced to one man’s vision and mission – especially if all the other gifts, callings and Kingdom imperatives in the New Testament then get pushed aside or made to play second fiddle.
When tolerance becomes an absolute, intolerance is the inevitable result.
Working in my flower gardens is one of my favorite delights. I love to watch them change from mere soil into beds filled with beautiful flowers. I believe that the Lord is the Master Gardener. He delights in transforming dry, dead, dismal gardens into works of art.
The Lord frequently speaks to me through prophetic pictures and many years ago He showed me that I was like a lifeless, desolate garden. His picture was not pretty.
In the Lord’s picture I opened a garden gate expecting to find a beautiful garden, but instead what He showed me was a brown, dried up, dead enclosed garden that did not have even one sprig of green. I was not instantly encouraged by the Lord’s picture!
Have you ever experienced the thrill and excitement of going down a giant water slide at a water park?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the joy the Lord and I experience by plunging down the slides He places in my life.
The plunge comes towards the end of the journey, after lots of preparation.
First, I need a destination by choosing which water park. I can’t just hope to arrive without knowing where I’m going.
On my spiritual journey I also need a purpose. I can’t wander aimlessly hoping that somehow I will make a difference in God’s kingdom.
Once I have chosen a location, I must pack a few essentials for the trip. Suntan lotion, beach towel and swim suit are the bare minimum.
I believe that the Lord only has one essential for my journey with Him. I need to pack the attitude that I am willing to do whatever He asks.
That is a tough one to fit into the pool bag because self often wants something very different. Sometimes it seems like I have to keep shoving the desire to be obedient back into the bag when it tries to escape.
Last Friday was a holiday here in the United States, and Marianne and I opened our home, yard and pool for a day of family, friends and fellowship.
Fortunately, following my heart operation and extended hospital stay two weeks ago, several brothers in a couple of fellowships we relate to stepped forward and organized things – including a great cookout.
Afterwards, Marianne and I both said that this was one of the nicest days we’ve had in years – not because the past few years have been bad (they’ve been challenging due to some of my health issues, but not “bad”!), but because we’re seeing solid maturity arise among those we’ve been pouring our lives into.
Although we’ve always loved them deeply, now it’s actually fun to spend time with them!
In addition, we now have the profound pleasure of watching them reproduce their life in Christ among others.
As they step forward and do the work of mission, discipleship and strengthening our various fellowships, it seems more and more that God’s role for Marianne and me is to step back and serve through simple hospitality, unassuming encouragement and quiet mentoring.
Those who think that proper church methodologies and structure will solve all their problems are just as naïve as those who think that wrong church methodologies and structure don’t contribute to their problems.
You can’t change what you won’t confront: Courage and sacrifice are the price we pay for virtue, while evil thrives on apathy and fear.
Because these are not fictional people or fictional scenarios. These are my brothers and sisters in Christ who I have the honor of knowing.
Because God is at work yet today in countless ways, through countless men and women who love Him enough to live holy lives and heed His call to go make a difference.
Today I was with a group of men in the jail. One of them was very troubled because his son was getting into all kinds of trouble. He couldn’t understand why, because (he claimed) he loved his son and was always telling him he loved him.
I felt something stir in my spirit, looked him straight in the eye, and said that was a lie. He didn’t love his son, he loved his drugs more – and thus had not cared enough to be part of his son’s life as his son was growing up. This deeply wounded his son, who felt unloved and worthless because of it – and was now acting out.
I’m more interested in going, and letting Christ come alive among you and your friends, than expecting you to come and find Him among me and my friends.
Such is the heart of the Great Commission.
Existential Deceptions: Claiming ambiguity to justify rebellion against the clear meaning of God’s authoritative written Word, and thus against God Himself.
This afternoon, I’m driving to Richmond, Virginia, to attend the graduation of a young man I first met in jail years ago. He’s receiving his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, with honors, from Virginia Commonwealth University. From jail to now has been an intense journey as Marianne and I stood with him during the hard times and refused to let him fall through the cracks. Now, we get to rejoice with him as he achieves this major milestone.
Following God’s Presence is something I wrote five years ago about him, and the church he was part of in the jail. In fact, he’s one of the brothers who asked to pray for me, as I recount in that piece.
I’m not going to use his name, because he is very humble and doesn’t like publicity. But you know who you are, and I am so very, very proud of you! Even as I write this, I’m tearing up thinking about the honor it’s been to be part of God’s plan of redemption and restoration in your life.
~ Jim Wright
Jesus used every day events to help his followers understand more about the kingdom of God and I believe that He still weaves our daily activities into teachable lessons for us.
Since I broke my elbow in February, I have been going to physical therapy (PT). This has been my first experience with PT and I have been thinking about it a lot.
The reasons someone needs to have PT are varied. Usually it is one step in recovery from an accident or disease because the body has been injured or harmed and is not working up to its full potential.
The therapist uses many methods to help the body return to maximum flexibility and efficiency. But it takes time.
There are no quick and instantaneous exercises that will miraculous restore your health; however, with much patience and diligence your body does become whole again.
So it is with our walk with the Lord. There are many times when we are emotionally hurt and spiritually broken. Sometimes it feels like we have been mutilated and destroyed. Other times our pain or confusion is less severe, but we are still broken and need repair.
When people become pawns to advance your vision, mission or agenda, it never turns out well – for you, or them.
Grace and repentance: Emphasizing one to the exclusion of the other does violence to both.
Unfortunately, I lost my John Hagee “Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring”, so I was unable to determine the true meaning of last night’s “blood moon” before I went to bed.
Within nothing more to do, I decided I might as well get a good night’s sleep, wake up in the morning, and get on with my life – just like normal.
Now that it’s morning, I see that the world’s still here – with its normal complement of good news and bad news.
What a bummer. I was hoping for something more exciting, given all the hype.
Several of our fellowships want to open additional recovery homes in the county for those putting their lives back together following abuse, imprisonment, addiction, economic distress or other major disruption. Over the last several years, we have teamed up with another ministry to support this local need, but its focus is only on addiction – which is very much needed. However, we also need similar homes for those dealing with other issues.
Our desire is to create transitional, peer recovery homes where there is functional, Christ-centered community within each house. This would involve mutual support, encouragement and accountability among the residents – with appropriate outside support and oversight.
Our experiences to date have confirmed that such a focus is essential for real change to occur among those in each home. Otherwise, the houses become little more than a warehouse for knuckleheads, and become a detriment rather than an asset for those seeking to put their lives back together.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Each day we have the privilege of choosing which road we will travel. It often really is our choice. Do we want the path that is smooth and drama free or are we willing to journey on the path that is frequently covered with pot holes?
Throughout our lives there are times when each of these roads is a viable option. I must confess that, for whatever reason, the road I usually find myself on is bumpy, covered with overhanging branches and contains many twists and turns.
I would like to suggest that there is also a third path that can emerge. The sign post on that road reads “The Unexpected.” The unforeseen journey down this road brings with it the potential for destruction or immeasurable growth. When the unexpected occurs you might be tempted to ask, “Why, God?” or try to second guess what you could have done differently.
Jim and I have been traveling the Unexpected Road since January 6. In fact, all the family members who live in our house with us have been active participants on the unexpected journey. One man from our fellowship group summed it up best when he jokingly said, “Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when Joy (our dog) is the healthiest member of the Wright clan?”
Until we understand that the Gospel preached by Jesus was the “Gospel of the Kingdom”;
That “Christ” wasn’t His last name, but meant “the King”;
And that He claimed “all authority” over all things,
Both in heaven, and “on Earth”…