Shadows Move

SHADOWS MOVE

Shadows move down the hall,

Moving toward my seat,

Soon all light will be gone,

In this winter’s bleak.

In the twilight of the season,

In the twilight of my days,

Remembering the sunny fields of youth,

The days when I would play.

Running was taken for granted,

Love was tender and true,

Now life is withering away,

Like morning sun, drying the dew.

The sun has come this morning,

To call again the dew,

Come once again, light my skin,

But will never make me new.

Shadows Stir

Shadows Stir

Shadows stir in your eyes, as the light of my love becomes faint.  Dimmed by the light of another.

You Are Loved

You Are Loved

The month of February each year brings several things on the horizon.  Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and the whole month is Black History Month.  Then there is Valentine’s Day.  No matter what the background and history of Valentine’s Day has been, for many, today it is a very difficult time.  It conjures up inflated ideas and ideals of love that many will not be able to measure up to.  The amount of money spent each year on Valentine’s Day itself or things surrounding Valentine’s Day is easily in the 10’s of billions.  I checked statistics from several places including the government and I could not find any that were below 10 billion.

When I consider this, it becomes more evident that there is a lot of pressure surrounding this day.  It seems that it also says a lot about a deep human need, the need to be loved.  We all have a desire and even a deep emotional need to know that we are loved.  It is a little ironic that there should be a special day that reminds people to care for one another the way we should be all the time.

Valentine’s Day is not fun for a lot of people.  The commercialization of this day has made people who are not in committed romantic relationships feel as if something is wrong with them.  This is so untrue that one day is not a representative of a whole life.  Having someone to spend money on you is not the answer but rather having the assurance that every day you are loved.  You are supported, cared for, desired, and that your life has value and meaning to another.  Valentine’s Day is difficult for those who do not have relationships or have experienced recent loss of a relationship.

In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman says that there are really five main ways that we communicate and receive love.  They are quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  It is interesting that retailers and commercial markets would like us to believe that it is only about the gifts.  At different times we each need different ones of these expressions of love.

It may not seem like news to some of us, but it is truly the best news that anyone could receive.  Jesus loves you.  He really does.  He loves us in spite of who we are.  He loves us, supports us, cares for us, desires us, and our lives have value and meaning to Him.  The greatest love story that was written is not the one that ends with billions of dollars being spent on candy that will be eaten in a couple of weeks or flowers that will die in that same time.  The greatest love story is that the Son of God thought that you and I were special enough to leave the glory He had in heaven with His Father and came to this earth to be with us.  His desire for a relationship and eternity with us is so great that He was willing to trade His life for ours.  He loved us so much that He died for you and me.  That assurance is better than any chocolates, candy, flowers, or dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

You Spoke

You spoke

You spoke, your Word was the first note in this grand symphony we called creation.  Your creation has now grown deaf.  They no longer hear the voice that brought them forth.  No longer do they speak.  They no longer know the language.  God’s language is love!  How soon we forget?  Can we remember?  It still embraces in a whisper inviting us back.

Common-January 15, 2014

Common-January 15, 2014

Genesis 11:1-9

Many of us may have never thought about it before but there was a time in the world when there was one common language.  There was a common way to communicate and work together.  Today most often when we think of the word common it can bring many negative connotations but this does not have to be the case.  The word community is really but two words common and unity.  Common also means “shared” as in “they had all things in common.”  The extraordinary thing about life is that it is not all that extraordinary, it’s rather…common.

Here in lies the problem, most of the sin nature within us wants to be extraordinary.  We want to be something special, different, or to distinguish ourselves from others.  We somehow believe that we deserve that, or perhaps we do not trust the grace and provision of God enough.  When I was a small boy this story of the Tower of Babel was taught to me and the people were trying to build a tower to “get to” or “to reach” God.  In reality the attempt at building this tower had nothing to do with God but had to do with the people themselves.  They wanted to distinguish themselves from the others, they wanted to build a big city, and tower.  They wanted to settle down and build up.  They did not want to do life together the wanted to be different or better than the others.  SO they built.

Their secondary purpose was that in building the structure they would make a name for themselves, AND that they would not be scattered around the earth.  They were trying to achieve unity in working at it and building something together.  The unity they had been seeking really came from their common identity in God.  If they were seeking the glory of God rather than their own, they would have remembered their common identity in God.

This is only 5 chapters removed from the great flood and that was only 6 chapters into the Bible do we find that God is stating about man’s capacity to sin, and to seek their own way and their own glory.  So God confuses and mixes up the language to that there are now many languages and the people spread.  If you remember in the Garden of Eden they were told to multiply and fill the earth.  In moving and spreading they do not use up all the natural resources.  In spreading they are also fulfilling God’s desires and His will.  In this moment God confuses their languages humbling them and also causes them to continue to disperse.

They had a common unity and identity in God, until they forsook that identity to grasp at a glory and forge an identity that was not theirs.  How many times in life do we do that very thing today?  How many times to we seek the extraordinary for ourselves while ignoring the extraordinary in God?  Fast forward to Acts 2 the working of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The people were there from many different backgrounds and languages, and the Holy Spirit comes and the people began to hear one message in many tongues from unlearned men.  Each heard the message about the saving grace of God in their own language, but not through the works of man but the works of God.  They were different but heard the message in common.  It is an extraordinary message.  It is the message that the extraordinary grace of God saves us, giving us a common name, purpose, life, identity, and destiny in Him.

The grace of God reminds us that it is our sin that is in common and the penalty for that is the same.  We also share in common the way in which we are restored to God in our salvation through Jesus Christ.  The early Christian community sought to live life in common sharing all they had in committing to live life together that there would be no distinction based on wealth or position for they were all in the same position, saved by grace.  The extraordinary grace of Christ is understood as amazing when we understand just how common that it is.  Grace is offered to all who would receive it in Christ.  For God so loved the world and it is in this that we sometimes want to be the favored child.  Thankfully, God is the one who extends the grace, made the way, paid the price, loves me still, and I have that in common with the whole world.  The most extraordinary act of grace is that it is for the whole world if only they would believe.

He’s Not Finished with Me Yet!-January 12, 2014

January 12, 2014-He’s Not Finished with Me Yet!-Philippians 1:6

God is not finished with me yet.  I am here today to tell you my friends that there is good news, not only for today but for the future as well.  God is not finished with you yet.  He is not finished with me yet.  He is not finished with us as His people and He is not finished His work in the world.  This is truly good news for those who do not yet know Christ.  It is good news for those who God is still working on them to make them into His image.  It is good news for the church that God is still transforming us as we serve Him.  It is good news for the world that He is seeking to save the lost and has tarried in coming again.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.-Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, it is not us that works at it as it is God working on, in, and through us.  We are created in life for God and by God for the purpose of good works.  We are not here by chance, we are not here for ourselves, we are here to do good works that glorify and honor our Father in heaven.  I can fill our days with hope and joy to know that we are not here by chance but we have a purposeful existence.  It is wonderful to know that life has purpose and meaning not because of what we do, but because we were created for something more than just ourselves.  We are God’s workmanship done through Christ to do good works that have been prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Did you get that?  These works have been prepared beforehand which means that our creation and perfection in Christ is not an accident it is purposeful.  Often times the problem that many do not know that they have a purpose for life and that they were created for something more.  If these good works are what God has created us for then will we not find our greatest fulfillment in walking in those works? 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:3-6

God finishes what He starts.  Paul’s message to the church at Philippi is one that reminds us that we need to be in prayer for one another.  As believers work with one another in a local church or with believers in the church that we would find the collective joy of the fact that we have found that we were created for a purpose.  That it is God that is working these things out in our lives and individuals and as the collected family of faith.  When God begins a work in the life of a believer or the body of believers He will bring it to completion.  God finishes what He starts.  It will be powerful and wonderful to know that God finish what He starts both in our individual lives and the life of the church.  It is also the culmination of scripture that God is the author and finisher of our faith. 

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

It is the message of hope that He is not finished with us yet.  Those that love God all things work together for good.  We can have assurance that today may not be perfect, tomorrow tough times will come, and the future can seem uncertain, but things are working together for good.  Satan will try to do things that he believes will cause bad and harm for our lives.  Some of those things will hurt they may cause pain and trouble for us, but Satan does not get the final say in life.  This is confirmed time and again in scripture and he does not get the final say but that God does, and He will get the final say always.  He is the victory.  It is never about the works of man, or the power of Satan, but the greatness of God.  It is the greatness of God that can take the circumstances in our lives whether they are caused by us or by Satan and can redeem them and work them together for good.  It is about the awesome, wonderful, saving power of Christ that we can live each day according to His purpose, because that is what we were created for.  The God who created can recreate and work in any circumstance in our lives and work those things for eventual good.  It is good to know on days when we hurt, when we feel bad, when nothing seems to go your way, when you have lost all your friends, if family has abandoned you, when work is tough, when school is a struggle, when life seems overwhelming, and when life seems underwhelming God has not forsaken you and He is not finished His work in the world or in you.  Be encouraged my friends that God is in control.  It is ok that each day may not be perfect God isn’t finished with us yet.  While this is true do not take it as a sign to wait until that day of perfection, as the scripture says we should begin to walk into that future knowing that His completed work in us will be perfected, even if we are not.  Let’s move forward embracing each day knowing God isn’t finished with us or this world yet.  Part of this perfecting is also equipping.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Part of this perfecting is also equipping.  Equipping us for every good work (His work) is what God is up to.  We are equipped through His Word, Scripture.  We are trained through His Word to understand better His working in our lives day-to-day.  It is through His Word that we grow closer to understanding His heart.  It is through His Word that we are able to understand the faithfulness of God over time.  It is through God’s Word that we can be given hope.  It is through God’s Word that we understand that He is at work, He loves us, saved us, redeemed us, created us for a purpose, and equips us to live into His purposes.  As part of His work we also become an extension of the work of God in the world today.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-13

The specific working and perfecting is meant to happen in a community where each gift edifies the whole.  The perfecting happens in community and is for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.  The physical presence of the nature of God in the body of Christ is alive and well in the world today when the church has reached its fullness.  This is how we understand our differences and our unique gifts as God working these things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  The more we try to clamor for our own glory, and do things on our own or think that we do not need others, we are going away from what God desires of us.  He wants us to be unified with each other and so He doesn’t leave that to chance by letting us choose but be giving us each a unique role in His grand Kingdom that when working together with our brothers and sisters we do not feel alone, under appreciated, or overworked but we really then begin to understand the brilliance of God that put all this together in such a way that we grow and are perfected into maturity in Him when we understand that we all belong to one another because we are His.  Just as He is one with the Father, and the Spirit so too did Christ pray for His disciples in the last days of His earthly ministry.  Jesus prayed not that the disciples would be spared, or anything else, but His prayer was that they (the disciples) would be one as He and the Father are one.  The idea is that they would be the physical presence of the spiritual reality of God. 

The Big Four in 2014-January 8, 2014

The Big Four in 2014

Pray-1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually”

Prayer is one of the main things we can do for one another.  Prayer is powerful and effective.  Each week churches all around the world gather for prayer.  Our church like many have prayer requests that usually involve a practical, physical, or comfort need for ourselves or others.  If you do not already do so let me suggest that we begin to pray not just for these things but also for the souls of the lost (some of them may even be in a church but have not yet given their lives to Christ), and also that God would reveal His Will to us and that we would have the courage to act upon it.  Remember although Jesus taught His disciples many things this was the only time the disciples asked Jesus to specifically to teach them was to pray.  He taught them what is known now as the Lord’s Prayer.

Read-Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Next to prayer the Bible is the clearest understanding we have of the movement of God throughout time.  It is the picture of the awe-inspiring God of creation, His Son our Savior, the Holy Spirit, and the hope of final victory.  There are many ways to read the Bible, but for most of us we do better if we have a plan.  How many would commit to reading through the Bible in 2014?

There are great online resources on websites like www.biblegateway.com.  Also if you are a smart phone user there are plans on apps like “the Bible” You Version.  Most of these sites have reading through the Bible in a year (4-5 chapters a day), six months (8-9 chapters a day), or three months/90 days (16-18 chapters a day).  *If you begin a 90 day read through now it will be challenging to do, but you will have read through the Bible before we celebrate Easter this year.  What a great way to expand our understanding of the God of creation, His Son our Savior, the Holy Spirit, and the hope of final victory.

Love-1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

The Bible tells us that it is by our love for one another that the world will know that we are His disciples.  It is possible to be people who pray, and read our Bibles, but the world will know we are His if we love one another.  The way I am speaking of love here is one of choice and commitment that seeks the best for another person.  It is not something that is emotional on the surface that changes with our whims or feelings.  It can and often does become one of mutual emotional blessing as we seek what is best for one another God’s love grows within us.  This is how the world will know that we are His, by our love for one another.

Serve-1 Corinthians 12:5-6 “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.  Jesus is our example that we should be serving in one another in our marriages, in our families, in our churches, in our communities, in our places of profession or schools, and in the world at large.

Service is perhaps the most visible reality that we are seeking to pray for one another and God’s direction for our lives and church; that we are reading His Word and allow it to shape our understanding of the character of God, will of God, and hope we have in God; the love of God is demonstrated in His Son Jesus Christ as one giving up Himself for our salvation and is also the clearest picture the world will have that we are His.

In serving one another in our marriages, in our families, in our churches, in our communities, in our places of profession or schools, and in the world at large, we are living out the reality of Christ in all our relationships.  If we cannot serve the people whom we are closest to it will be difficult to live that out in the rest of our relationships.  There are also some that would rather serve people they do not know because it could be a short-term or one time offering of help or service.  A lifestyle of service is impossible without prayer, studying God’s Word, loving one another and the world.  Would you commit in 2014 to be God’s people by being diligent in prayer, faithful in study, committed in love, and gracious in serving Him by serving others?

*I also have bookmarks for those that want to try to read through the Bible in 90 days.