Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Perseverance's Work

If I were to give myself a performance grade for yesterday, it would have to be an “F.” My focus was off. My mind was not with God, and my heart was on me. Therefore, shame became my trophy for the day. For how could God love such a person?

But today, I got to start again. Today, God met me early. We talked about yesterday and he cast His light on the darkness of the day. It made me cry, but His warm love soothed me at the same time. He reminded me of His never-ending love, and showed me in His word how I can start again today. Not only that, but He filled my heart and mind with work, things to say, people to reach out to, and lessons to give. In my heart, he not only made me feel forgiven, but useful.

So today I am trying again. Today I am refocusing. I am working to work out His grace in me and through me today. Today, I am His once again.

I believe this is the perseverance that “must finish its work” (James 1:4). It’s getting back on the horse of God’s amazing grace and riding with Him again. And then doing it again. And then doing it again, and then again, and then again….

The wonder of His holiness is His willingness to deal with our imperfection. His patience lovingly perseveres right along with us. Not because He pities us, but because He has so much in store.

Perhaps the great testimony of Jesus’ perfection was, “It is finished.” “With that,” John writes, “he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

Our work is to give up our spirits. Some days we do it kicking and screaming. But thanks be to God, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Friday, May 22, 2009


I held forty-three babies yesterday.  They had short tender little arms and curled-up legs eager to find some solid ground in which to stretch-out.  They had no heads and were green all over of course, but each one had it's own unique look and personality.

Some had sprouted quickly from seedling while others were a bit more stubborn.  Jerry Thompson, their caregiver, talked to me about each one, how he had nutured them in his windowsill during the cold winter days and fathered them with just the right conditions to give them everything they needed for life and fruitfulness.

Apparently, little tomato plants need a lot of attention in their early days if they are going to have any chance of surviving, let alone bearing fruit.  From the moment they poke their little heads through the soil, they lean toward the sun.  Jerry said they must be rotated everday or they will just grow sideways, all laid-over reaching for the light.  And their stems need resistance to make their bodies strong, so Jerry turns on the ceiling fan in his sunroom to gently discipline the sprouts to stand tall.

By the time I saw them, each baby tomato plant was eager to spread it's roots and show what it could do.  Gently and with special attention to hole depth and just the right amount of fertilizer, we tucked each plant into it’s garden bed, willing each one to do it’s best.  And I could not help but think of God’s hand on each one of us.

He knits us together in our mother’s womb and smiles with pride as we uncurl our legs to find our feet on the solid ground he offers.  He designed us for the Light but allows sometimes gentle breezes and sometimes even storms because disciplining is good for us; it makes us stand stronger in that Light.  He has prepared a bed of nourishment is for us through Christ in His Spirit in which we can take root and bear the fruit he intends, and he’s willing each of us to do our best. Clearly, apart from his soil we can do nothing.  

God has wonderful things planned for us in his garden.  I invite you to spend a little time with him there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Language of Obedience

Do you see obedience to Christ as a “have to” or a “want to?”  Jesus says a remarkable thing to his disciples, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23a).

Clean language, pure thoughts, selfless emotions, kindness; each are a testimony of our love for the One who died in our place.  Doing what Jesus commands, in both our private and public worlds, is our constant opportunity to express love to him.

Obedience communicates love because it is the demonstration of surrender.  Obeying him says, “Jesus, you are my Lord and Lord of this moment.  Therefore, I choose what you choose.”  And the seal of that confession is the doing. 

So, when he calls for patience we show it. We when he prompts our hearts to mercy or simple faith, we give it.  Worship, prayer, considering others better than ourselves; all proclaim his prominence in our hearts, for in those moments he is our Lord, and he knows of our love because we have shown him in our surrender.

 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”  (Jesus, John 15:13:14)

Have you told Jesus you love him today?  Now is always your chance.  And you know, actions speak louder than words.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jesus, Lord Over Sin

“He said to them. ‘Go!” (Mat. 8:28-34)

Evil cannot stand in the presence of Jesus.  His holiness and authority require it depart, for he will not be moved.

The things that possess us, and the “sin that so easily entangles,” are obvious in the presence of the Lord.  His light exposes the darkness within us every time.  That’s why we feel too ashamed to pray at times.  But the joy of the Lord is to show us mercy and free us from the chains of our self-enslavement.

The only limit to the power of the Christ is our own will.  He will not do in us what we will not allow.  If we plead for him to go or refuse to let him deal with the sin that possesses us, he will honor our choice.  But if we seek him, he will drive it away.

What is Jesus’ presence exposing in your life?  What cries out in you at the very thought of him?  He has the power to release you, but you must draw near to him and ask.

The power to overcome sin is in Jesus the Lord.  Our desire and will are not enough.  "There is no one who is righteous," only Jesus.  Our need is not to become strong enough to beat our temptation.  Our need is to grow deeper in love and in nearness to Christ, and his Spirit will, by our welcoming, overtake our own and fill us with his holiness and righteousness.

Nothing can stand against the light of God.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."  (Mat. 6:32)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Live a Life...

In Ephesians, Paul encourages Christians to "live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians. 4:1)." It is interesting to note that he does not say to "live a Christian life" worthy of the calling you have received. His point, I believe, is that all aspects of my life (my entire life) are to be lived with a Christian worldview.

That's obvious, you say? The truth is that we often live two lives: a spiritual life as a Christian - at church or with Christian friends, and a secular life - at work, for example, or in our political and social lives. In other words, there are times when we consciously separate our Christian foundation from the things we may espouse in secular culture; indeed, allowing the world to heavily influence our thoughts rather than allowing the Spirit of God to guide all of our thoughts and actions.

In many ways, this may be the biggest struggle we face as Christians because the world has done a good job of convincing us that our "religion" has no place in the "real" world; that the "separation of church and state" precludes us from placing a Christian worldview on everything in our lives. Which, I believe, misses the point entirely.

One need not be an outspoken activist, creating a stir or distraction, to live a life that reflects the Christ - to be a light on the hill. Ultimately, the influence of the Christ in our individual lives is to see people differently, to treat people differently, to see and react to the world differently because "Christ's love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14)" to do so.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

If the only parts of our lives that are "Christian" are those that are seen by other Christians, what impact can we have?

Jesus Is Lord

Here are some encouraging thoughts I read this morning that I wanted to share with you. They were written by a long-time preacher, brother Kenneth Meade...

How fortunate we are to live this side of the cross and have the full benefit of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection! He set an example of high standards for us. He dwells within us and provides everything we need to live godly lives.

Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter of Nazareth.

Only Jesus Christ can break the enslaving chains of sin and Satan. Many people admire Christ and his teachings. Regrettably, few bow before His majesty and own Him as Lord and Redeemer.

Let Him be Lord of your life every day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Blessings, and Happy New Year!

The Open Door church of Christ is beginning its second year as a congregation of the Lord's people. The past year has been a blur - and full of peaks and valleys - but, we are greatly encouraged as we continue to build strong relationships with each other.

Our focus has not changed. As individuals, we are committed to "living a life worthy of the calling [we] have received," a phrase taken from Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:1). As a congregation, we are committed to enriching the community of Broken Arrow. As a family, we are committed to encouraging and building up each other. As members of the kingdom of God, we are committed to seeking His will first in our everyday lives.

Our resolve has not changed. We seek to serve as He served, love as He loved, and honor the Father as He honored the Father. We seek to create transparent Biblical leadership through our ministers and recently appointed deacons. We seek to add people-focused shepherds as soon as possible. We seek to find those works He "has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph.2:10)".

Our spirit has not changed. We will strive to build intimate spiritual relationships with one another. We will strive to resolve conflict directly and in love. We will "make every effort" to grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love (2 Peter 1).

Our hope is that we will identify and confront our failures at every turn, forgive and ask forgiveness in every circumstance, and petition the Father in prayer at every opportunity. We ask for your prayers...and encourage you to join us in service to the King!