The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. - Proverbs 18:4b

The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. - Proverbs 18:4b

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lessons from an Israeli Acorn (My First Video Blog!)

"that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." - Isaiah 61:3b (ESV)

We have another Christ Our Life Conference coming up next weekend (8/12-13) at Rivertree Church in Owens Cross Roads, AL. The truths that we share in this conference are the things that helped set me free to be who Christ created me to be, so I get excited every time that I get a chance to share them. In this 3 minute video, I share a little about moving from death to new creation life using an acorn as my illustration.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pagan Christianity

Have you ever wondered how what we have come to know as "church" came about? A lot has changed over 2000 years of church history. When we read the New Testament we see the church in its original form - sharing life together. How did "church" come to be known as a service on Sunday morning or a building on the street corner? How did pews, pulpits, and sermons come about?

Frank Viola, along with George Barna, do a great job of helping us see how we got from there to here in their book Pagan Christianity. And now, for a limited time only, you can get the Amazon Kindle version of the book for only 99 cents! I'm not sure how long this special will last, so buy it today.

My 2 cents worth about this 99 cent book?

The poem at the beginning of the book is worth 99 cents! In an age where we buy 99 cent apps on a whim that we will grow tired of in a few days, why not invest your dollar in a fascinating read that might just shake up your paradigm about the form and function of the church? It may just increase your revelation of Jesus Christ and His plans and purposes for His people on this earth!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mr. Camping, the Mystery has been revealed!

I have to admit that I really enjoyed all the banter surrounding Harold Camping's rapture prediction this past weekend. It was incredibly interesting listening to what people had to say and how creative they were in poking fun at the prediction. And, it gave me the opportunity to take my friend Ken's advice. He has always told me, "In case of the rapture, always eat your dessert first!" Some great advice from a wise man, especially since 6pm was so close to dinner time last Saturday!

But back to Mr. Camping and his prediction. He isn't the only person to predict a date for the end of the world only to see it pass by. History is littered with people and organizations who all felt that they had some special revelation into when the world was going to end or when Christians would be raptured. In fact, Mr. Camping had already predicted this same event would occur back in 1994, but he became convinced a mathematical error caused him to get the date wrong. Now he is saying he was off by a few months and it will actually occur in October. Mr. Camping, like so many others, are looking for the mysteries that are hidden in the Bible. Whether it be mathematical formulas, Bible code, or trying to figure out who the beast, false prophet, and whore of Babylon are, millions of people are reading the Bible trying to figure things out that pertain to our current times as well as the end times. They know that something is hidden in those pages and they are looking for answers.

Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The mystery has been revealed! And His name is Christ! Sure, there are other mysteries out there, but God's mystery is Christ Himself. We see this in Paul's letter to Colossae: "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ" (Col 2:2). Paul wrote these words, among other reasons, to combat some that had come to Colossae and tried to convince them that certain knowledge was more important than faith (Gnosticism).

Christ is a mystery, not because He is hard to figure out, but because He was hidden from ages past (Rom 16:25). The entirety of the Old Testament speak of and point to Christ, yet He was hidden. Even when He showed up on the scene as the Word become flesh, folks missed who He really was - especially the religious folks. Peter was the first to be commended for exclaiming the mystery that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the Living God. Christ's response was to let Peter know that the church would be founded on that revelation. Jesus even tells his disciples that Peter did not have this understanding revealed to him by flesh and blood, but rather God the Father gave Peter that revelation.

Revelation isn't something that comes from intense study and following the teachings of men, even when they are teaching things from the Bible. Revelation comes from the Father. And the Father wants to reveal His Son. And He wants to reveal His Son to you and to me. Christ's riches are infinite and boundless, unfathomable and wonderful. We can spend the rest of our lives and eternity searching out Christ and we will never exhaust this Wonderful Mystery.

My question to Mr. Camping and so many others out there - and, if I'm totally honest, my question to myself, is, "Why would we waste our time searching out anything else?" God has deposited this mystery in every person that belongs to Him. In fact, Paul tells us in Colossians 1:27 that the glorious riches of this mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory!" Those are the riches that I want - the glorious riches! Christ in me, the hope of glory. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Let's dive together headfirst into the mystery of Christ and watch all other "so-called" mysteries lose their luster as we delve the depths of Jesus Christ. And I say "we" because Christ wasn't meant to be explored alone - He is a corporate pursuit.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Racquetball muscles and the absence of condemnation...

Six years and 20 pounds ago I played my last game of racquetball.

Well, until last week that is! My friend, Kendall, has been trying to get me out on the court for a while, and we were finally able to get together. I will spare you the details of the hour on the court, but suffice it to say that I was quite sore when we finished.

And now, several days later, I'm even more sore! My whole body aches, actually!…but especially my racquetball muscles. You know, the ones you use to swing the racquet, twist to react quickly, and contort to reach the ball when it is just our of reach.

I am lamenting my long layoff from the game that I love. My muscle memory wasn't there. My reaction time wasn't there. My ball placement wasn't there. My conditioning wasn't there! Ugh!

The only things that were there? My love for the game and a willingness to endure the pain and shame of getting back into it. My love for racquetball compelled me…

I'm not sure why I quit playing. Maybe other things that seemed interesting distracted me. Maybe the cares of life and work became overwhelming for awhile. Maybe I got injured and just didn't pick it back up once I healed. I really can't remember.

Similarly, in my journey with Jesus, I have had lapses of time where I haven't cultivated my relationship with him. I love Him and I enjoy our time together, but for some reason or another, I find myself not spending time with Him…not "in the game."

Much of our spiritual journey is paralleled in the physical. Just like we have physical and spiritual senses, we also have physical and spiritual muscles that can either be exercised or allowed to atrophy. Scriptures tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." "He who has ears, let him hear," is another directive that Jesus spoke. Paul even tells us to run the race as if we are running to win the prize.  These are just some of the everyday activities used to communicate eternal truth…

I could have let the embarrassment and shame be too much for me to get back on the racquetball court. I could have decided I'm just too old and out of shape. We sometimes take those types of feelings with us into our relationship with Jesus. But Scripture teaches "there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus" (emphasis mine). God isn't upset, angry, frustrated, or finished with you. In fact, he longs to spend time with you. Just like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, God is looking down that road waiting for us to come back. And what's more amazing is that He runs to us and embraces us and restores us. No condemnation…

So, if you haven't spent time with Jesus in awhile and you are feeling a little ashamed or out of shape or embarrassed, that's OK. It might even be difficult to get back into the swing of things, leaving your spiritual muscles sore and aching. Don't confuse difficulty with condemnation. If you're a follower of the Lord Jesus, He has given you a new heart and a new spirit. That new heart has new desires…His desires. Therefore we can get back into the game because "the love of Christ compels us."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How much are you worth and who gets to decide?

I love going to Eastern Europe.

I love the food, the people, the landscape, the culture, and so much more that make that area of the world so rich.

I'm always fascinated with the interest the folks over there have in free market economy after having lived under communism and government controlled pricing for so long. In adapting some of my teachings along this line, I ask them who gets to decide how much something is worth - the buyer or the seller.

After discussing a variety of answers, we come to agree that it isn't the buyer or the seller, but rather both. Both must agree on the price before a transaction occurs. If the seller wants more that the buyer thinks the item is worth, then there is no purchase. If the buyer makes an offer that isn't satisfactory to the seller, the offer is rejected.

Which brings me to my questions. How much are you worth? And who gets to decide?

Meet the Seller - The Law - According to Scripture, all of us born in Adam get credit for Adam's act of disobedience (Rom. 5:12-19). So, Adam's sin, condemnation, and death are also ours. His transgression placed us all under, what the Bible calls, the Law. The Law is holy, righteous, and good, according to Paul, but its demands are fierce…death to be exact. And you are found squarely in its grips.

The Law's selling price - death. But not just any death. A perfect sacrifice, without any spot or blemish, is the only acceptable death that would allow Law to be satisfied enough to enter into the transaction.

Meet the Buyer - God the Father - He is a holy God, a relational God, and a loving Father whose Son is the apple of his eye. He wants His Son to have a visible body so that all of creation can see the expression of His glory. He wants His Son to have a beautiful bride to pour out His love on. And He wants His Son to have brothers and sisters to live and share life with.

We…you and me...would fulfill all of these things for God if only The Law didn't own us because of our sin.

The problem - The only sacrifice that would redeem us from the curse of The Law is the death of the One that has captured God's heart - His Beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased.  For God to agree to that asking price would mean the loss of everything His heart was enraptured by…the all-consuming Jesus.

But God does accept! And by accepting the asking price, God does something amazing. He defines our worth! How much? Priceless! We were worth the very death of His Son, Jesus. He redeemed us with the blood of Jesus, something that no one could ever put a value on.

St. Peter said it this way…"knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

Redeemed…purchased…bought…by the blood. Priceless! God has spoken and He has declared your value. All other voices that would speak shame, condemnation, worthlessness, or acceptance based on right behavior are not of Him. Do you struggle with feeling insignificant? Has anyone ever told you that you wouldn't amount to anything? Because of things that have happened to you, or maybe that you brought on yourself, do you feel second class? Used goods? Rejected?

When those thoughts and feelings come flooding in, I encourage you to stand on your worth according to the only One who matters. You are priceless! You have been bought…for a price…too high to comprehend. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jesus and M&M's

Imagine walking around with more M&M bags that you could possibly carry by yourself. Personally, I like the Peanut M&M's, so I'm imagining yellow bags of candy falling all around me because there are just too many to hold without dropping some.

So, what are my choices at this point? Try to pick them up myself? Maybe ask others to help me by picking them up and putting them back in my clumsy stack? Or, a crazy thought! Maybe I could give them away to the folks around me?

I mean, could I really ever eat that many M&M's by myself, anyway?

And think of the joy I could bring to all of the people around me!

In fact, the more I think about it, no one was meant to have that many M&M's and not share them…

"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:10b MSG)  The Amplified Version indicates that it is life to its fullest, even to overflowing, that Jesus is professing to give us. What Jesus is saying is that He comes to give us so much life that it is too much to contain - it just spills out of us.

This life He speaks of is "zoe" life - life as God intended…in fact, it is His life! What a gift! His eternal life imparted to me to the point that it spills out of me because it is welling up within me and overflowing. He truly is Our Wellspring!

With this kind of life and this amount of life overflowing from within, what choice do I have but to share it with those around me. Paul, in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, had it right when he said that "the love of Christ compels me (5:14)."  Like the M&M's, no one was meant to have that much life without sharing it. This zoe life, God's life, resurrection life, eternal life is not the life that we were born with. It's something that we are re-born with! It's a gift from our Wonderful God who has so much life spilling out of Him that He just has to share it.

Are you enjoying it? Are you enjoying Him? I invite you to "taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8a)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Was Toomer's Corner Really Poisoned?

He can poison my land.
He can poison my trees.
Heck, he can even poison my lemonade!

But he can’t poison my heart…and that is where the real Toomer’s Corner is…for me and for all of my Auburn family.

We all hold certain ideas, things, people, places, and memories very close to our hearts. For many reasons and many generations, Toomer’s Corner is one of those “possessions” for me, as it is for so many others. How we react when those belongings are trod upon says a lot about us. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life, “ is the exhortation from the Book of Proverbs. But how, exactly, do we do that?

I once heard someone say that unforgiveness was like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Applied to this situation, I have decided that I must forgive this act of natural poisoning or allow the spiritual poison to enter my own heart, which turns to bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. The choice is mine.

Forgiveness isn’t acting like it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t that big of a deal, or even pretending that it wasn’t wrong and didn’t hurt. In fact, I think anger and mourning are appropriate responses to such a careless and mean-spirited act. Paul doesn’t tell us not to be angry, but rather not to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26). But what does that look like? How do we keep the sun from setting on our wrath so that bitterness never sends its poison to the root?

Forgiveness is an accounting term. When we forgive a debt, we simply wipe the slate clean. The indebted person is no longer obliged; instead, he is free and unencumbered to move on without further obligation. It is the choice of the person who holds the debt whether or not they will forgive the indebted one. I get excited at the thought that my bank might one day get a hold of this concept with me!

We see our perfect example of forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ. As His broken body hung from that tree that was so full of poison and hate, He uttered three words – “It is finished!” Actually, the Greek New Testament uses “tetelestai,” which believe it or not, is an accounting term. It was the word that was stamped across a debt after it had been paid. It means PAID IN FULL!

Jesus suffered the full punishment in His body that was due to us. He paid the price and He paid it in full. It was a big deal, it hurt, it was real, but He chose it anyway. And in choosing, He opened a door for us to be reconciled to a Holy God. Furthermore, by His indwelling Spirit, we now can choose to walk by His life and walk out that same forgiveness to those around us. Impossible with man, but possible with God!

For me, as an Auburn man and a follower of Christ, the choice is simple. Not easy by any stretch, but simple. I will let him that did this offense off my hook. I do it mourning a huge loss, angry, heartbroken, and confused, but I make the choice that the poison stops where it is.

Did Toomer’s Corner get poisoned? Not mine…it’s being kept with all diligence.