Patience

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Gal 5:22

The King James Bible calls patience long suffering. Somehow to me patience sounds like a virtue to desire, but long suffering… well that sounds tentjpgtoo much like Job!

I think everyone would love to be able to say that they are patient, but probably none of us enjoy the process of long suffering that is required to actually become patient.

I believe the only way to grow in patience is to experience times of trials, disappointments, frustrations and failures. It is during these difficult stretches that the Lord enables the fruit of patience to grow strong.

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Discipleship

Marianne and I have the greatest privilege in the world. God allows us to introduce Him to those who have reached the end of themselves, and then allows us to walk with them towards healing and wholeness.

We have the privilege of then seeing those who some consider the discards of society grow in the Lord to become mighty men and women in His Kingdom.

But the highest privilege of all is this: To call them friends.

This is the story of so many when we first met. Listen, and may the Lord move your heart to compassion.

Though You Slay Me…

I don’t know about you, but the Lord sometimes loves me enough to nearly kill me. And I’m not talking metaphorically.

In fact, for those who have given our lives to Him, the Lord loves us so much that some day He literally will take our lives so He then can give us eternity.

Short of death, however, the Lord sometimes kills something important to us or in us – some vision, some hope, some confidence, some quality or attribute, some accomplishment, or even something good He previously gave us.

It’s not that the thing He kills necessarily is wrong. It’s just that it needs to die so we then are free to be and do whatever He wants of us, and for us, as we move forward in Him.

As Job understood, in the midst of everything good in his life being stripped away, “Though you slay me, will I trust you Lord.” Job 13:15.

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Joy

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy… (Gal 5:22)

JoyJoy is a word that I believe is easily misunderstood.  Let me give you an example. About eleven years ago, I adopted my little dog. I named her Joy because her personality radiates joy.

One day a young workman came to my house. After he finished the repairs in the kitchen he asked me, “You named your dog after soap?” He was referring to the bottle of Joy detergent that was on my kitchen counter. I explained that she was not named after soap, but I named her because she always acted so joyful. He did not seem to really understand, but I think that is not as unusual as it may seem.

Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably and people assume that they cannot have joy unless they feel happy. I disagree.

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Touching the Heart of God

Touch the Heart of God


Even in my sorrow, I also know gratitude. Jesus is able to handle both, and as they’ve merged I’ve touched the very heart of God.
https://crossroadjunction.com/2009/03/30/sufficient-grace/

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This last year has been marked by very painful and difficult health issues. Through it all, however, I’ve been grateful for what the Lord has done for me even as I struggle with the sorrow of diminished capacity.

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Words

Words have the power to not only define, but to create reality – for good or for bad. Too often, we forget the power of words: not only ours, but of God Himself.

power-of-wordsI don’t think it was a coincidence that God spoke the universe into existence, chose to reveal Himself through His spoken Word of scripture, or came to dwell among us as the Word made flesh.

I also don’t think it is a coincidence that God still speaks to us today, or that He has empowered us to speak authoritatively on His behalf.

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Organic Church Worship

Lately, I’ve been contemplating what worship is, and looks like, when God’s people authentically gather together as His “ekklesia”.

In the Bible, “ekklesia” is the Greek word often translated “church”. But it means far more than what most “churches” have become.

For Christians, the New Testament concept of ekklesia involves God’s people actively forming community, including meeting together. As a community, and in our gatherings, we then participate – each and every one – in expressing the life of Christ in us, among us, and through us. These days, that ideal is often called “organic” church.

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Theology and Reality

Miguel Labrador has posted another thought provoking blog, entitled Theology Precedes Practice, Vice Versa, or Something Else?

Keeping Theology and Reality in Balance

In it, he states: “orthodoxy (theology) & orthopraxy (practice) are ‘simultaneous.’” I think he’s right, in the sense that we must seek to keep both in balance – our walk must match our talk, and our talk must match our walk.

Sometimes, however, the Lord allows one or the other – our doctrine or our practice – to be challenged in ways that force us to then adjust the other.

Regardless, it is important to keep them in sync, as much as possible, and not let one get too far ahead of the other.

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Beyond Scripture? (Part 2)

Jesus Loves Me

(An existential version of that favorite childhood song.
I encourage you to have some fun by singing along as you read it.)

Jesus loves me, this I know,
Postmodern grace has made it so.
With His Spirit in my heart,
External truth now has no part.

Chorus:

Did Jesus tell me?
Oh, how can I know?
I feel Jesus told me,
I hope that makes it so.

Additional Verses:

The Bible says that I must go,
Proclaim His Word – oh no no no!
Now existential I’ve become,
‘Cause His commands just leave me numb

My sense of Jesus is true light,
I do not worry what is right.
With my sensibilities,
I do not need moralities.

The Bible’s NOT the Word of God.
My own perceptions earn my nod!
The Jesus I have come to see,
Surprisingly looks just like me.

I only want the Living Word,
The Bible seems just too absurd.
Now I perceive reality,
The way I want it all to be.

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The Power of God

We don’t go looking for or emphasize miracles, but in our fellowships we’ve been seeing the miraculous happen time and again.

We had one man collapse and then die right in front of the paramedics and the fellowship he had been helping to start in the jail – and then come back to life shortly thereafter on the gurney in the jail infirmary after brothers gathered together to pray for him.

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Life or Reaction?

So much of our “theology” (and we all have “theology”!) is forged these days by hurts.

The Bible has been used as a club to beat us into conformity, so we reject its plenary authority.

Our need for mercy has been abused, so we latch onto a concept of grace that excludes the Lord’s occasional rebuke and discipline.

We have suffered from authoritarian leadership or a controlling church, so we become autonomous and discount the need for healthy, accountable community.

We realize that some pet doctrines were wrong, so we seek a purely existential Jesus and cringe at objective truth.

In doing so, we are reacting to hurts, wrongs and mistakes – rather than embracing life.

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Now, For Something Serious…

I don’t usually talk about stuff like this, but I’ve discovered an insidious conspiracy of silence about a chemical called dihydrogen monoxide.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is Everywhere!

Few know that we are all exposed to it every day.

It is in nearly all the food you eat, and even in your drinks. Daily, your children consume it. I’ve even seen kiddies swim in it because of government regulations that allow it in our pools.

In fact, the Obama administration provides funding to produce vast quantities of the stuff, even though literally millions have died from it.

It is, without a doubt, crony capitalism at its worse – funded and directed by the federal government with taxpayer money.

And yes, the conspiracy includes Republicans – even Ron Paul is in on it, so you know it runs “deep”.

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I Want More Religion (Part 3)

I figure that if half of the folks reading my blog say “amen!”, and the other half say “oh my!”, then I’m right where God wants me.

The Whole Picture

The consternation and angst – in blogs, Facebook comments, podcasts and the like – generated by this series have convinced me that what I said needed saying.

My point is simple, and 100% Biblical:

I go, do and obey because of who I am in Christ. It is His life in me, expressed through me.

But here’s the kicker: If I do not “do”or obey as Christ commands, then the life of Christ in me is a lie – at least in those areas where I choose to disobey or stay trapped in my own sensibilities.

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Glorious, Messy Reality

Danger, Danger, Danger: Are you someone who is adamant about Jesus and fellowship needing to reflect your own theories and sensibilities, yet are not yourself in functional ekklesia (the Greek word used in the New Testament for “church”)?

The wonderful, multifaceted Body of Christ

By ekklesia, I’m not talking about your traditional Sunday-go-to-meeting “church” with it’s hour of worship-band sing along, directed prayer and monologue sermon. Nor am I talking about posting on Facebook.

Rather, I mean authentic, flesh-and-blood community which finds expression as the multifaceted, multi-gifted Body of Christ – including dynamic, diverse and participatory fellowship gatherings.

Because I am very, very careful not to spout off pet theories divorced from reality, I try to keep my blog rooted in such fellowship. There’s enough naive, aspirational gibberish in the blogsphere these days, and practical reality seems to be sorely lacking.

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Finding Freedom From Life’s Hurts

Finding Freedom From Life’s Hurts

This is a fifty-five minute teaching I shared with about thirty men, based on hundreds of pastoral counseling sessions where God showed up and brought freedom and healing from deep hurts – including abuse, abandonment and so much more.

My blog is a feeble attempt to upload a lifetime of service to the King of Kings. I believe this audio teaching, however, captures better than anything I’ve written some of the most significant things I’ve learned as I’ve walked with folks to those ugly places of bondage and hurt in their lives. When we get there, and they exposed their hurts and lies to the Lord, He brings His loving, healing truth.

In this talk, I also share some of my own very personal story about my own places of hurt, which I had to expose to Lord so He could then bring wholeness to me.

You may think you know me from my writings, but this captures my heart in ways that a written blog never can.

 
If this resonates with you, I also recommend my related blog, God Shows Up.

Eating of the Tree of Life? Watch Out!

A strange new doctrine has emerged over the last decade to support the old dualism of everything being about my personal, subjective relationship with Jesus – to the exclusion of any transcendent, objective moral code or (in some extreme cases) even Scripture itself.

Choosing Moral Autonomy

The new doctrine goes like this:

God wanted us to eat of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, however, rebelled and chose instead to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life, they say, is Jesus (which I think is questionable, given that Jesus walked with Adam in the cool of the day and obviously was not a tree, but that’s not my point).

This new doctrine goes on to say that we should only want the subjective, relational attributes of Jesus and not let any objective concept of what is true, real and right get in the way. This is because, they say, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents things like morality, objective standards, Scripture, commandments (again, this is of dubious exegesis, but again, that’s not my point), and anything else that may contradict their feeling-driven experience of Jesus .

Like all great errors in Church history, this one has enough truth to be tempting. But truth out of context is deadly.

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Feeling God’s Pleasure

Feeling God’s Pleasure

This scene from Chariots of Fire helped define my life when I saw it as a young man in 1981.

In it, Olympic runner Eric Liddell explained what motivated him: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

What a wonderful way to feel, know and experience the Lord and His purpose.

Most of my life has been guided by the sense of His pleasure as I’ve been the man He created me to be and done the things He created me to do. Even when there’s been adversity, I have felt His pleasure as I serve the King of Kings with whatever gifts He’s given me.

There is no greater joy, no greater fulfillment, no greater purpose.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwyltmUR3MU%5D

Beside the Stream

Sitting on a log beside a quiet stream as it weaves it way through the forest, to me is peace.  I used to do that often before I married Jim since my house was very close to Bull Run.

Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia

I spent many hours in those woods, near the stream, because it was my favorite place of solitude.  That scenario is not as available now, so the Lord has been teaching me that peace is not dependent on location.

Streams are interesting.  They display a multitude of facets.  After a storm they can race, foam and spill over their banks.  During a drought, they can dry up or stagnate, with mosquitoes hovering over the scummy pools.  Throughout a normal spring season, the water flows serenely as it curves around the bends.  Streams, like rivers, only flow in one direction.  There is no going back.

So are the streams in my life.

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