When Jesus calls

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When Jesus calls your name you turn around.
Seas may roar and storms may rage but when Jesus calls your name you turn around.
Life may scream “look at the pain” but when Jesus calls your name you turn around.
Fear may try and hold your gaze but when Jesus calls your name you turn around.
Death may shout “I have won” but when Jesus calls your name you turn around.
Do not weary do not be cast down because Jesus is calling your name.

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Grace AND Truth

I am reading through the Gospel of John and I came across the story of the woman at the well and I can’t help but see a connection between the way Jesus interacted with her and the way she then interacted with the people in the village.

Had Jesus been hard on her for her past she would not have been so willing to go and tell everyone about the “man who told me everything I have done.” Don’t get me wrong Jesus did not sugar coat it for this woman but even after that she was happy and went and told everyone. The reason, I can only assume, was that Jesus spoke the truth in love. Remember that Jesus is full of grace and truth. Don’t miss that He is full of grace AND truth.

I know a lot of people who are full of it but no one, not even myself, who is full of grace AND truth. Some people are big on grace but no so much on truth. Others are big on truth but not so much on grace. Jesus has this amazing way of being truthful, direct, and honest with us while being graceful and dealing gently with us wayward sons and daughters.

Had Jesus just been truth she might not have gone and told everyone about Him. Had Jesus only been graceful she might have just sat around thinking about it. But because Jesus is both she went and told everyone.

I suppose the question remaining is “Are we close enough to Jesus to be like Him and give people grace AND truth?”

Just a thought,

Mike

Life can be hard

My week has pretty much lined with the book of Ecclesiastes…

Ecclesiastes is not the most upbeat book in the Bible because it deals with the reality of death, injustice, suffering, foolishness, and other such fun topics. Often times the book carries a very somber tone and if you don’t believe me just read the second verse. The second verse in the book starts out with “Absolute Futility” (HCSB) or “Vanity of vanities” (NKJV) and this should give us insight as to where it is going. My week started out with losing my favorite Bible, a screaming angry child because he was just in bad mood, dozens of conference calls at work, not nearly enough money to make me happy in my bank account, and other general annoyances. I am not complaining but just saying it was one of those weeks that makes you go UG. You know the kind of week where you wonder why you even try because for everything thing that goes right something else goes horribly wrong.

We all have those weeks and sometimes we all have those weeks that turn into that month, it is inevitable. I found it funny that for my morning devotion I was reading Ecclesiastes because it followed quite well. I would like to sit here and tell you that at the end of this week everything turned around and I found myself sitting high on the mountain top. That by the end I found myself feeling and living like more than a conqueror and that I everything turned around. It did improve but not by much but what did change was the way I looked at it.

The last two verses in Ecclesiastes say, “Let us hear the conclusion… Fear God and keep His commandments…For God will bring every work into judgment…Good and Evil.” That is comforting and scary. The main thing I take away from that is that God still reigns and my job is not to weigh my life out by the good and bad days but by following and trusting God. I can rest in the fact that when life is sunshine and rainbows God is still God and when life is thundering and lightning God is still God.

There are hard days, weeks, even months but the fact remains that I cannot see the whole picture but God can. There are no guarantees in life and we are but a vapor but God is still God. That does not make the hard days good but it does remind me this is not the end.

Just a thought,

Mike

Thirsty

I am reading through Judges and I have come to the end of the Samson narrative. As you may be aware Samson is no role model. He was vain, selfish, and did his own thing. As far as judges go he is pretty much the worst. We like him because he was strong and killed the bad guys but he is an anti-hero. He married a Philistine woman, slept with a prostitute, and told a woman who repeatedly tried to have him captured how to defeat him. Samson was no role model. In reality, he was the hero Israel deserved at that time. He does, however, show something very important.

Samson was, at times, doing God’s will even when he was doing as he pleased. In one incident recorded in Chapter 15 of Judges Samson killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey which is pretty impressive. Most hero’s in the Bible would accomplish this feat and name the place after God, Samson names it after the donkey. He then cries out to God for water and God gives him water. Samson then names the place after himself and not God. This sums up Samson pretty well.

17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone and named that place Ramath-lehi (High Place of the Jawbone). 18 He became very thirsty and called out to the Lord: “You have accomplished this great victory through Your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 So God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived. That is why he named it En-hakkore, (Spring of the One Who Cried Out) which is in Lehi to this day.

What we can take away from this story is that God is faithful and full of grace for sinners such as us. Samson was no saint and yet God was faithful. God’s faithfulness and abundant grace does not depend on us.

Paul in Ephesians says that we are saved by grace so that we cannot boast. We tend to think of this saving as when we receive God’s forgiveness but Samson was saved from thirst in his time of need. God saves us from things all the time we just need to call out to Him.

What thirst do you have today? What need do you have that requires God to intervene? Call on Him because He is faithful because that is who He is.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

 

Imagine or What If

I must admit and I know this puts me in the minority but I do not like the song Imagine by John Lennon. Maybe I am just more of a Mccartney guy… What I do like though is the thought of imagining. Take 1 Peter 5:5 for example. In Peter’s letter, according to translations that use the Textus Receptus, he says that we should all submit to one another. Now you may dismiss this if you prefer translations that use the Majority Text but you would also have to throw out Luke 22:26 & 9:48, Mark 9:35 & 10:43, and possibly Galatians 3:28 and Romans 10:12 as well as all the passages that talk about loving and serving one another in Christ.

Anyway, on to the point… What if we loved and submitted to one another and gave preference to each other? What if we looked out for the best interest of others before ourselves? What if we thought, what does my brother or sister in Christ need? What if instead of thinking “how can I get” we thought “how can I give?” What if we actively sought out ways to bless people? What if we served the lost and hurting without expecting something, anything, in return? What if we trusted that some plant, some water, and God gives the increase? What if?

This is not meant to point fingers because honestly, we are all guilty at different times of not thinking biblically. I myself find it hard sometimes because I am tired and just want to worry about myself. I think that is why Paul said: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It is not easy to think about and actually serve others but it is necessary.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Just a thought,

Mike

First Things First – Book

After much prayer, study, and many revisions I am happy to be able to present my new book First Things First, A Look at Colossians Chapter 3. The goal of this short book is to examine what it takes to be the fathers, husbands, wives, mothers, and employees we desire to be. It may seem odd to lump all of those into one book when there are so many books that are dedicated to each one of them but the purpose here is to understand that our role as husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and employees first comes from our understanding of who we are in Christ.

The book contains fifteen short chapters that discuss among other things the problem we face in attempting to become who we desire to be, the role of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, our place in Christ, and some direction found in Scripture for husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and employees.

I want to thank my wife who has suffered with me on this journey to put this out there and has been willing, to be honest with me about where I miss the mark at times. My prayer is that this book ignites in you a passion for Christ and an understanding of His love for you and that it spurs you towards what God has called you to be.

There are three links to choose from depending on your reading preferences. Please note that because WordPress.com does not allow me to host ePub or Mobi files you will be redirected when clicking the link. If you have any issues please contact me on the submission page.

There are no extras in the church

As Christians, it is easy to get caught up in wanting to do more, wanting to accomplish more for the Kingdom, and sometimes even wanting more recognition. We can start to think that in God’s amazing plan we are just extras who get a little screen time when needed in order to highlight a main character. That somehow, we are less than others and when God was passing out gifts He decided we would be fillers for someone else’s story. We can read Paul’s letters and wonder why we cannot be more like him. We can read about Peter in the Gospels getting off the boat and wonder if we will have or even can have such experiences. The list goes on and on and if we are not careful we can think that somehow, we are not as good as other Christians. Now, there are things that can hinder your growth as a Christian but for now, we are going to assume that you are doing what you need to do. We are going to be on the working assumption you are a redeemed, Spirit-filled, Christ loving child of God.

I want to look at Romans 16 which is the last chapter of Romans. The book of Romans covers many great topics like predestination, the message of the Gospel, fulfilled prophecy, liberty in love, and much more. One thing that is covered that can be overlooked if we are not careful is Paul’s closing where he commends or to use modern vocabulary, he gives a shout out to some people. In the closing of this amazing book Paul names twenty-six people and says to either greet them or recognizes them for their work. We do not have the space to cover all of them and maybe that would be good to do sometime but for now, we will just briefly look at a few.

Before we do it is important to reiterate again that there are no extra’s in God’s story. There are heroes for sure that stand out and these people should inspire us and drive us to more but their abilities still come from the same God who made us all. Even at that the “hero” we see is usually flawed, broken, and has failed more often than they have succeeded. The list in chapter 16 of Romans should inspire us because these are “average” people. These were everyday grocery shopping, mall going, Starbucks drinking, trying to get by people of the first century.

First on the list is Prisca and Aquila who are actually mentioned quite a bit in the Bible. They do not have any deep stories but they are mentioned six times in the New Testament. The longest episode is in Acts 18 where this couple takes in a young man who has just come to Christ. They take him in and explain the way of God more accurately. They discipled this young man who some believe went on to write the book of Hebrews. This average ordinary couple saw a need and fulfilled that need and for that, among other things, Paul says “Everyone need to greet these people when you see them because I love them and they have always been there for me.”

Skipping down one, Paul says to greet Mary who has worked very hard for you. There are a lot of Mary’s in our churches. They are the ones who do Sunday school for the kids every week. They are the ones who come in and clean the church when nobody is around. They are the ones praying daily for our pastors and our suffering. There are people in our churches working harder than most and you would never know it because not once do they ask to be recognized for their labors but without them, we would all suffer. Think about your toes for a minute. When is the last time you thought about how valuable your toes are? I read once that your toes come in contact with the ground about seventy-five percent of the time (75%). We take that for granted and we take so many people in our churches who are much more valuable than toes for granted too. When we come across a Mary we should be saying thank you to them and letting others know that this person is vital to the growth, success, and love in our church family.

Lastly, we will look at Andronicus and Junia. There is a lot of controversy around this one because some will argue that Junia was an Apostle which would be a big deal because she was a woman. I am not going to go there right now. Rather, let us just look at what Paul says and put it into modern terms. Have you ever met someone and asked them if they so and so? They say no and you respond with “What, they are amazing how do you now know them?” We all know someone who does not get nearly enough air time in conversation but deserves it more than we do. I am talking about people that when someone says, “you are awesome” you think “I am not so and so.” That was Andronicus and Junia. Paul says that this couple us noteworthy and in the Greek that word also means “well known, respected, and admired for past achievements.” Paul says these two these two are what it is about, and all the Apostles know this. I do not know another way to explain the significance of this. The Apostles who are the big guns give credit to this couple.

I know this is a rather short version of the list Paul gives but the point is that you are someone in God’s story. Maybe you come in early or stay late to stack chairs but without chairs, new people would not know where to sit. Maybe you vacuum but without you, there would not be clean floors and that is not only a little gross but distracting to people who are looking for reasons to not pay attention. Maybe you run a little blog and feel like no one is being helped by your words but someone somewhere out there might be. Maybe you are a pastor and cannot figure out why you are not reaching people like others are but you have planted seeds that will grow into mighty trees. Maybe just maybe, the thing you do is service to and for Christ and He will make it into something more.

Just a thought,

Mike