On Where Joy Lives…

blog--2014-07--Obedience-opens-the-doorObedience is a play field.

Lines of boundary.
Lines of progress.
Bleachers of fans riding the roller coaster progress of achievement and struggle, back through achievement again.

On the field, there is energy you cannot get off the field. The charge in your veins of doing well. The adrenaline spikes of pushing through the hard play and breaking through on the other side. The sheer freedom of running full-out down the field toward the goal. The roar of the crowd with the big plays. The same crowd’s audible shared disappointment shifting to encouragement as you trip because they so want to see you get up again.

Off the field, there is no crowd, the goal doesn’t count toard a win, and the conditioning drills can be brutal. Lap after lap after lap bringing the cardio up to speed. Running lines with legs burning and lungs quickly to follow. If you’re not on the play field, you’re in the gym trying to earn your spot on the field.

Both players play for the same team. Both were invited to the team, and both accepted the invitation. But one set of players chooses to spend their faith in the conditioning room, while another spends their faith no the field.

It’s not that the players on the field are perfect. They make mistakes. They spend time on the sideline getting coached, or sitting out a play, or encouraging their teammates. Even if a play field player is injured, they still roam the sidelines offering shouts of encouragement and sharing high-fives of achievement.

Joy is found on the play field called Obedience. The Coach has left the play field open. There are no limits to the number of players who can join the field group. All are welcome, but in order to get there, one must be in obedience to the Lord. You need not be perfect, you need only be coachable. And if you can’t be corrected with a small measure of verbal correction or sitting out a play or two, you will find yourself back in the conditioning room.

The game is on. The Coach wants you on the field. But a player who lacks conditioning will hold the field group back and is far more likely to be seriously hurt in the play than one who is conditioned already. If you live outside of obedience to Christ, joy will be difficult to find.

If you are living in obedience to Christ and you aren’t experiencing the joy, lift your head. You stand on a play field of dreams. Hear the Hebrews 11 crowd cheering you on, shouting their encouragement, and pulling for every step you take. See the Coach’s smiling face as He waves you forward. Welcome your teammates high fives as they share in your achievements. Lift your head. Obedience opens the door to the vibrant experience that only this play field of faith can bring.

Whatever He calls you to do, do it. For the conditioning drills will be left behind and you will run an experience of faith you could not otherwise dream.

On Holy Moments…

blog--2014-02--holy moments

the hush comes,
after obedience,
after reading an article linked in twitter,
after copy/pasting song lyrics to a song i don’t know:
“son stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.”

a holy moment.
when faith fans the flame of hope,
when the whisper from heaven says,
“wait and see what I will do with this obedience.”

a task given weeks ago,
waiting for a particular day.
He even sped up the timeline,
undeniably from Him.

the task completed,
the prayer said.
and a peace for which I have sought
remains steady.

and faith fans the flame of hope.
and hope does not disappoint.

What is He asking you to do?
Maybe, just maybe, the holy moment will come after the obedience.

the hush of heaven, prior to exploding in worship of the Lamb that was slain.
a holy moment, a hush when loving God
with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength
carry you through
where once waves of upheaval would have been,
only peace amid the waters.

A heavenly voice whispers, “You did it. You were strong in your weakness. You did it.”

A holy moment extends…there are dishes to be done.

Chronological Bible: December 25, The Babe is faithful and just…

Read:

  • 1 John 1:1-5:21
  • 2 John 1:1-13
  • 3 John 1:1-14

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1 John 1:9, ESV

Sit with that verse for a bit. A direct cause-and-effect promise happens here, rooted in the character of the central figure.

Jesus is faithful. He does not stray from His promises. He is not reckless, nor is He careless. Faithfulness requires intimacy; it requires knowledge, and time spent together. Not from us, but from Him. His faithfulness endures forever. We need never fear that His faithfulness expires at midnight. For there is no midnight that will ever come that jesus will not be faithful to you.

Jesus is just. He knows the price of sin, and He demands that price be paid. But He doesn’t demand it of you; He demanded it of Himself. His justice does not “balance” His forgiveness. His justice is 100%, all the time. His faithfulness includes His 100% insistence upon justice.

The faithful and just One forgives, and He cleanses. The prices paid, He freely opens His arms to anyone who would believe. The sins are forgiven, the stain removed. The faithful and just One would rather pay the price Himself than have you not have the chance at being with Him.

If you don’t yet believe in Jesus as your Savior, what is stopping you? On this Christmas day, look upon the manger where the faithful and just One chose to come that you wouldn’t have to pay the penalty of your sin. Look upon His terrified but following earthly parents whose ordinary lives became extraordinary just because they followed God. Remember the star in the east, the angels’ proclamation. This God came to be your Savior. He is faithful. He is just. You can trust Him.

Chronological Bible: November 11, Rewarding secrets…

Read:

  • Matthew 23:1-39
  • Mark 12:38-44
  • Luke 20:45-21:4
  • Matthew 24:1-35
  • Mark 13:1-31
  • Luke 21:5-33

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'” –Luke 21:2-4, ESV

Jesus tells us in other scriptures that the Father who sees what is done in private will be rewarded. We have no indication in this Luke passage that the widow had any idea that Jesus was watching. She walked up to the synagogue with all she had and gave it to God for His house. Those who wanted public attention for their gifts received it, but only in shame to the woman who had nothing and yet gave it all. Remember, a widow in that time was likely destitute. Without sons to care for her, she would have likely had no source of income. And what little she had, she gave to God. She contributed to building God’s kingdom. She had no idea how the coins would be used; she had even less of an idea that her story would be an example for generations to come.

She gave out of her poverty, and we reap the reward. We receive the obvious lesson about giving, but more than that, Jesus shows us that He is watching. He points out that which was done in secret thereby affirming in the flesh that His rewards are true.

Chronological Bible: November 10, Enduring the onslaught…

Read:

  • Matthew 22:15-22
  • Mark 12:13-17
  • Luke 20:20-26
  • Matthew 22:23-33
  • Mark 12:18-27
  • Luke 20:27-40
  • Matthew 22:34-36
  • Mark 12:28-37
  • Luke 20:41-44

The more Jesus taught, the more “spies” and ill-meaning people attempted to trip Him up in His words. He discerned their motives and answered in ways that either challenged their beliefs or hushed them in the face of the crowds. Jesus’ public life did not have down time. He not only sought to proclaim the kingdom of God He had to be on guard against those trying to destroy Him.

And He endured. Not only did He endure, He was victorious both in teaching and in shirking the attacks of others. How did He do it? Yes, He is the Son of God, but He came to this earth to live fully human, reliant on the Spirit. He lived an example for us that we can know it is possible for us as well. So, knowing this, how did He accomplish both goals?

He knew His scripture. He relied not he Spirit for discernment to make the wise choice. And He didn’t get wrapped up in the plots and schemes of those working against Him. His purpose endured: reveal the kingdom of God. Those that would try to get in the way would be rebuffed, not because He prepared for the attacks, but because He prepared for His purpose. Revealing the kingdom of God required intimate knowledge with the scriptures, with the Father, and full reliance on the Holy Spirit. When functioning in that very space, there is no one who can stand against eh truth that will be proclaimed.

Do your work. prepare for the way put before you. Do not worry. The best defense is a good offense. The Lord goes ahead and behind you. Go on offense. Fulfill your purpose. And the detractors will be rebuffed in your presence. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Trust Him to do so.