Posted in Discipleship, Forgiveness, God, Love, Relationships, Time

Covet the best gifts this year

While we are in the mist of shopping and making sure we  get that special gift for that special someone in our lives, it’s always good to reflect on the best gifts we can give.

After all,  this is the season for giving.  And while everyone is in a festive mood – and probably more receptive to hear things during this time of the year, I’d like to weigh in on the best gifts of the year.

Now, of course, there are experts in the retail business who can predict which toys will be top sellers and what line of clothing will make you the talk of the town. There are also specialists in the gadget department that can tell you about the best of the best in iPhones and Mp3 players, computers and Blu-ray brands and, of course, flat screen TVs.

I am interested in other types of gifts. The gifts that I’m talking about are more precious than silver or gold. These are the gifts that change lives. Wait for it … wait for it …

The first gift is love. There are many people living with anger, racism and hatred. These people hurt others because they have been hurt. And you know how misery loves company. If we would give these people unconditional love – for as long as it took – it would change their lives for the better. Only special people can do this. This gift requires you to love the un-loveable and allow your love to cover a multitude of sin. This requires you to love like Jesus.

Can you do that?

The second gift is that of forgiveness. How many people live guilty, waiting to hear those three words – I forgive you? How many of us are holding someone at bay, not forgiving them and making them feel really bad because they did something wrong?  And then we turn around and attempt to celebrate a holiday like Christmas. I wonder if I looked up the word hypocrite whose pick would I see by that word. Giving the gift of forgiveness requires us to forgive like Jesus.

Can you do that?

And finally, the last gift is the gift of your time. It’s always easier to write a check and let someone else to the work. The gift of your time requires you to actually stop living for yourself and give that time and energy to someone that needs it. People like kids that are growing up without a dad; single mothers who are having a hard time raising their kids alone; or a widow or widower. There are many people who are lonely, afraid to be alone and depressed. Image if the last person you knew or read about who committed suicide. Do you think they needed someone they could trust to talk too? Giving the gift of time requires us to give our time like Jesus.

Can you do that?

I’m thinking we would be a stronger nation if we coveted these three gifts. Now, I’m off to practice what I preach!

Posted in Faith, Forgiveness, Free Will, Giving, God, Jesus Christ, Life, Love, Relationships

I love because I know God

There is a goodness that is overwhelming about the love of God.

In a previous post, I wrote about the modern miracle of love and said that the basis of love was our knowledge of God.

I want to shed a little light on that topic now because I believe there are many who use love as a cover up because their actions say something totally different.

It is impossible to say that you really love, when you hate. You cannot follow Christ, but hate Muslims. You cannot say you have the love of Jesus in your heart and hold a grudge. And you cannot claim that you are a child of God and deliberately cause hurt to another human being.

God’s love is not limited to whether you are Black or White; Republican or Democrat; Christian or something entirely different. We are not the originators of love, God is. That means HE gets to define the concept and those who have experienced it, imitate it.

Did you catch what I said?

We love, because we’ve been loved. Not because we believe the object of the love deserves our love. We love, not because we expect something in return. We love because we know what it feels like and we are now constantly responding to God’s love toward us. We understand why we were the recipients of his love and we pay it forward.

I have a love for humanity because God does!

I love my enemies because God loves his enemies and he loved me when I was his enemy!

I love those who are less fortunate because I see and understand how God loves and takes care of them!

The only reason people don’t love is because they have taken for granted the love God has already shown to them.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”

It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus on that cross, it was love!

So how are you going to love?

Posted in Accountability, Change, Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, God, Jesus Christ, Love, Relationships, Truth

Problems with the church?

So, having problems at church, huh?

I mean, we know that Christ gave us all a mission which is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. But I’m talking about a church where everyone not only knows the direction they are going, but took a role in planning it and have been praying for it since the conception of the plan.

I bring this up because I have talked with many who feel that their congregation is going nowhere. They feel that “status quo” has been the plan for years and as a result the church is dying. This is a touchy subject because for some reason we believe that we’re not supposed to question the authority of the church for to do so is to question the almighty God. Yeah right!

The church is only going to be as good as its commitment to follow Christ. No one would argue that Christ is the head, but we can’t just measure success by the mere fact that people still show up on Sundays. And I’m not saying that we are all supposed to have a Megachurch. What I am saying is that Christ did not leave his church without direction. There are some clear things that we should be doing so that the world will see Christ in us.

It can’t just be that we say we are Christians, we have to prove it. The only way the bible talks about proving our discipleship is with love toward one another (John 13:34,35). In an age where church splits are more common than mergers; where letters of dis-fellowship circulate more than letters of encouragement; and where preachers are being fired at an alarming rate, it’s no wonder that the church is dying.

It’s like in hospice, we serve families who tell us not to mention hospice around dad cause he doesn’t know he’s dying. And then dad tells us not to mention dying in front of his family because they don’t know he’s dying. Everyone knows, but no one wants to address the issues.

In addition, fear makes it hard for us to respond the way we should. We have been conditioned not to go against the system or leadership even when we KNOW that the leadership or direction is wrong.

Now before you run off and kick in the church doors, understand that you need to be a source of help. It is possible that the folks in charge don’t know what to do. It’s probably the case that they need encouragement and to know that they will not be harshly judged if they make a mistake. It is equally true that they may be arrogant and need to step down from their roles. Whatever the case, the church needs to be moving in the direction to bring about GOD’s result and not man’s.

I suggest the following as a means to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:

1) Get involved! Don’t be the type of person who comes every now and again criticizing. You want things to change? Let that change start with you.

2) Go to your leadership and tell them how you feel about the things that are going on and let them know that they can count on you to help make things better. Let them know of the high level of commitment you are ready to give.

3) Always speak in fact, not fiction. When things are not going well, Satan has a way of spreading gossip and getting false information out to the general public. Make sure what you are saying is a provable truth. DO NOT bring gossip and hearsay to the leadership.

4) It is never a good idea to have a meeting before the meeting. There should never be any secret meetings unless you are planning a surprise birthday party. People tend to get upset and defensive when they know that secret meetings are going on. Bring everything out at once. All things should be done open and honest before everyone.

5) Make sure that you have scriptural backing for everything you say and do. You need to know and explain truth that is aligned with God’s word. DO NOT go to the leadership with “I feel”, “I think” and “I believe” statements. You must stand on God’s word. Personality problems are not God problems. If there is something truly wrong, then it’s wrong because you have scripture that says it is. Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good!

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, God, Prayer, Taking Responsibility

Christian restoration

There is a need for those in Christ to renew their strength. This should be a daily renewal for those who believe. Well what about those of us who have sinned? How shall we be restored when we fall a guilty distance from God?

There are three things that need to happen for restoration. It is essential that restoration happens, but we have to do our part.

Nehemiah is probably one of the best stories in the bible on this topic. We see Nehemiah once finding out that the wall in Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt, he did three things that needed to happen to restore the wall. First, he cared enough to do something.

His life was going well. He could have turned a deaf ear to the plight of Jerusalem, but instead he wept. He showed great compassion for those who were suffering. The next thing he did was pray. He talked to God and he came clean about the condition of Israel saying “Lord we have sinned.” It is essential in restoration to come clean with God. Often times we try (as crazy as this sounds) to not give God the truth. Not because we think he needs to hear it, but because we hate to admit it. It’s a very humbling experience to come face-to-face with our guilt. God expects us to though. He wants his children to be this vulnerable with him.

Next Nehemiah began to work. He put his compassion into action despite the opposition he faced. This is because in the fourth chapter of his book, Nehemiah declares that the “people had a mind to work.” Nehemiah was able to get that wall built because he cared, prayed and worked. So we need to care enough to change, be honest enough to take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there and then go to work. We have to put action with our caring.

These actions will lead to the restoration of any child of God would needs to be restored.

Praise God for making a way for us!

Posted in Accountability, Change, Discipleship, Forgiveness, guilt, Jesus Christ, Love, Obey, Relationships, Sharing, Taking Responsibility

A healthy portion of love and forgiveness

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God specializes in doing things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. If you have built a relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus, then you know that feeling of helplessness and the devastation when you feel the brunt of your undone condition. Since Christ was resurrected from the dead, many have looked to him to fix their relationship with the father.

Today we have a unique opportunity to do something for someone else that they could not have done for themselves. I’m speaking beyond a tall person helping a short person reach something on a high shelf. Or a younger person running errands for a much older person. Or even a mother taking care of her child. Although these fit the basics of this thought, we should focus our attention on the weightier matters.

There are people who are in a position that makes it impossible for them to love themselves. They live with guilt and shame and don’t feel worthy. They need someone to love them. There are people who have wronged others and it is impossible for them to grant forgiveness for themselves. They need to be forgiven.

In a country where we take pride in things like revenge, winning and wealth, wouldn’t it be nice if at the end of each year it was mandatory that we would love or forgive? And wouldn’t it be cool if there were strict laws and people could actually go to jail for not loving or forgiving?

The Apostle John wrote: “beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.”

And Jesus himself said, … by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another. And if you read Matt. 18:23-35, there is a shocking revelation by Jesus in regards to how the father feels about forgiveness. We only need to remember what he has done for us and reciprocate.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Discipleship, Forgiveness, God, Happiness, helping, Life, Love, society, Success

Respect for all things

imagesCA6M5MVVSometimes the simplest lessons get past us. We don’t think anything of killing an ant, squashing a pesky fly or any other bug.

We live in a violent society. We rage war, buy weapons and loose control. We seek revenge and we allow our anger to get the best of us. In the midst of it all we treat cows, chickens and pigs horribly, but will send a man to jail over dog fighting. We will hunt and kill for sport and even allow certain species to become extinct.

We would have more respect for each other, I believe, if we practiced respecting the things God gave us dominion over first.

It takes nothing from our character to respect all the things God created, rather it enhances who we are. Gen. 24 tells the story of Rebecca and the fact that she passed the “camel test”. Basically she not only showed kindness to a traveler by giving him water, she also made sure his camels had their fill of water too. The point is that her respect for all things did not go unnoticed and for that she became the promised child’s bride.

You see, if just a little respect goes a long way, then what would our country be like if everyone practiced it?

As children of God we should respect what he respects, love what he loves and forgive like he does. Only then will we have true inner peace.

Posted in Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, Free Will, God, Jesus Christ, Life, Light, Relationships, Resurrection

How we are saved

20130614-230636.jpgHave you ever wondered exactly how the gospel saves? I mean we say it all the time and it is a staple in Christian circles. However, is the “how” ever addressed? We definitely get the “who” the “what” and the “where”, but it seems the “how” is the black sheep of this family.

Well, please allow me to share the “how” and open your heart to the rightly-divided word. The facts of the gospel are contained in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Paul writes that Jesus died according to the scriptures and he was buried and he rose on the third day according to the scriptures. So the death, burial and resurrection are the simple facts.

In Romans 5:10, Paul says that in His death we were reconciled back to God. With Jesus’ death we have a new relationship with God. The bible says that we are but filthy rags before him. The blood of Jesus reconnects us. This is the soul purpose of his death — that those who die with Him get the benefit of being united with God.

The resurrection is this new life that we, who believe, live in. Rom. 5:10 says that we are “saved” by His life. How? You see, for those who are in Christ, it is His life that we walk in, not our own. His life is the light. And that life is the light of men (John 1:4). And if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). So there is only light and darkness. We walk in the light by faith. We have been called to walk by faith, not live perfect lives. As a child of God who has been reconciled to God and saved by His life, I have eternal security as long as I “walk by faith” (a.k.a. Stay in the light).

The death and resurrection are tied together by the burial just like our reconciliation and life in Christ are tied together by baptism. Rom. 6:4 says, “we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

This makes baptism as essential to salvation as the burial is to the gospel. No wonder Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved …”(Mark 16:16).

I hope that I have brought clarity to this topic and please don’t hesitate to comment on this blog with questions.

In Christian love,

Clyde