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

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

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.