Friday, December 31, 2010

Worth a Second Look


Reviewing this year's thoughts I, personally, find some worth a second look:

God's Powerful Pinkie - Wed, Dec. 15th
At Some Point Trust Must Begin - Tue, Nov. 23rd
Giving and Receiving Advice - Sat, Oct. 23rd
The Right Course of Action - Fri, Sept. 3rd
Example of Hope - Tue, Aug. 26th
The Church Clock - Fri, July 30th
What's My Calling - Sun, June 27th
Why Men Don't Talk - Wed, May 5th
The "Aroma" of His Name - Wed, Apr. 7th
Taking Divine Opportunities - Tue, March 9th
Lesson from a Plasterer's Patch... - Thu, Feb. 4th
The Winston Churchill Philosophy... - Tue, Jan. 26th

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Great Equalizer


People in suits and others in blue jeans, black people, white people, some rich, some poor, some well groomed and others not - all moving forward in line, together, kneeling at the altar, taking communion, arising to sing, pray, praise, and receive the benediction.

The formal service over, it's out to the foyer to visit, have a hug, enjoy over a cup of coffee (maybe a donut), but eye-to-eye contact, interaction, caring.

Jesus is the great equalizer.

This must have been part of what the apostle, Paul, meant when he pinned the words,
"Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ ... " - Colossians 3:9-11 (MESSAGE)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sound bite - For Christ


Anything for Christ;
Anywhere for Christ;
Anytime for Christ!
- fritz

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Forever is a Really Long Time!


"The Lord is my shepherd ... and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." - Psalm 23:1a, 6b
I want to link this to a dreary little Psalm, 88. That psalm has nothing positive to say and ends on the sad note of rejection and darkness.

Why link these psalms? Because there are times where there, simply, is nothing positive to say; and pretending there is doesn't help.

So, again, why link these psalms? Because, regardless of what we have or don't have in this life, how we feel or are treated, those in Christ's flock have a good home and a great future. "Forever" is a really long time.
Romans 8:18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- fritz

Monday, December 27, 2010

No Luck At All!


"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" - Psalm 23:6a
Some have said "If I didn't have bad luck I would have no luck at all!" but in Christ we are delivered from Luck.

The Bible says
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. - Proverbs 3:33
Christ payed for our sins and makes us right with God.

God's goodness and mercy chase after me, what would I ever again need luck for?!

- fritz

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Imagery Shift.


"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." - Psalm 23:5
The imagry shifts in Psalm 23 from a Shepherd and sheep to a banquet, with God as Host.

Life in Jesus is a banquet! He's not talking about heaven where there will be no enemies, he means here and now!

Sure there are enemies, and difficulties, tragedies, and hurts but there is God's grace and abundance also available to more than make up for it!

It's like a bumper sticker I saw,
"The worse day fishing is better than the best day working".
I like work, but the worst day in Christ is better than the best days without him.

- fritz

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Paradigm Shift


"Thou preparest a table before me" - Psalm 23:5a
The focus of Psalm 23 shifted, becoming no longer "He", but "Thou". It happened when speaking of God's protection - "Thy rod, Thy staff..." No longer is the speaker telling someone about God but is speaking directly to God.

Life in Christ is one-on-one, a "Thou and Me", which can't be explained to others.

As the refrain of C. Austin Miles' 1913 hymn, In the Garden,1 says
And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tary there,
none other has ever known.
- fritz

1 - http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh314.sht

Friday, December 24, 2010

Protection From 2 Kinds of Evil

"The LORD is my shepherd ... I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1a, 4b
We need protection from two (2) kinds of evil - the evil done to us by others, and the evil done to us by ourselves.

Evil we do to ourselves is, really, our biggest problem. If God gave us everything we asked for in prayer we would be in a terrible fix.

We take comfort knowing our shepherd is protecting us from others and ourselves - he is our defender, he has the way out when there is no other (and when there is).

-fritz

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What do I do?


"The LORD is my shepherd ... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;" - Psalm 23:1a, 4
So what's my part in this sheep to shepherd relationship with God? I walk - choosing not to fear even if/when I am in dreadful times and places.

This is, really, the ONLY thing he expects - to follow him in my daily life trusting even in tough times he will keep me safe and lead me through; it's just that simple.

I can't always see the big picture or understand the "why", but by God's grace I can put one foot in front of the other, choose to be brave, and trust God will make things right.

The senior pastor where I once served took me aside one day and said, "Your faith is just too simple for real life". The only response I could give - "I guess the only way I'll survive is by the grace of God!" He agreed, but not in the positive way I intended. That was almost 30 years ago.

God's grace has always been sufficient for my need. I walk and choose not to fear, God handles the rest.

- fritz

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Righteousness After Restoration


"The LORD is my shepherd...He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake" - Psalm 23:1a, 3
It is only after his restoration of our soul that we can be lead in paths of righteousness.

His restoration makes us want to do the right thing and he, then, enables us to do so with his Holy Spirit - not as a precondition to be his but as the result of being his. This is his work, and he gets the glory for it.

Charles Wesley, Anglican Priest and brother to John Wesley who founded the Methodist Church, wrote in his hymn "O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing"
He breaks the power of cancelled sin
He sets the prisoner free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me
- fritz

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Restoration of Soul

"The LORD is my shepherd ... He restoreth my soul" - Psalm 23:1a, 3a
Those who have made a study of such things tell us the soul is where our Mind, Will, and Emotions reside.

There are experiences in life that mar the soul. Dysfunctional people never intended to become that way; life squeezes the stuffing out - but Jesus, our shepherd, restores.

We don't get our act together first then come to him, we come as we are, submit to his Lordship, he restores as we follow.

Take a moment (Hey, you have time) to read the lyrics of the old hymn, Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy (Joseph Hart, pub. 1759)1

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
- fritz

1 - http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Come_Ye_Sinners_Poor_and_Needy/

Monday, December 20, 2010

Still Waters


"The LORD is my shepherd ... he leadeth me beside the still waters." - Psalm 23:1a, 2b
It is noted by actual shepherds that sheep require still water to drink from, and a good shepherd accommodates them.

Fact is, we are so very needy; but God understands.
"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. - Psalm 103:14
Far from being disappointed, he not only accommodates but demonstrates his greatness through those weaknesses and necessities - so much so the apostle, Paul, wrote
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me - 2nd Corinthians 12:9
- fritz

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Made to Lie Down in Green Pastures


"The LORD is my shepherd ... He maketh me to lie down in green pastures" - Psalm 23:1a, 2a
Many of us don't know when it's time to rest. We rush through our lists, one thing to another, without recognizing the "green pastures" all around us. Then we wonder why we are tired and burnt out. Sometimes we spiritualize it, priding ourselves in being burnt out for God. Good luck with that!

With Jesus as our shepherd there are times of resting without condemnation, a refusal to do so results in "spinning our wheels" getting little accomplished.

Think of Mary and Martha.1

- fritz

1 - Luke 10:40-41

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Everything I Need!


Psalm 23 describes God's blessing and care for those who are his.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want" - Psalm 23:1
Want doesn't mean desire as we think of the term, today. This tells us that with God as our shepherd we will not lack.

Instead of being worried about going broke we need to turn our finances over to God and trust he will guide and provide.

A hardware store, where my wife worked when we were first married, put up a sign, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!"

That should be our attitude in Christ!

- fritz

Friday, December 17, 2010

We have a Shepherd (Not Everyone Does)


Psalm 23 must be the most quoted of all the Psalms and for good reason. In six (6) short verses it describes God's blessing and care for those who are his.
"The LORD is my shepherd" - Psalm 23:1a
While people are often referred to as sheep not all have shepherds. They are described as having no one to give them purpose, no one to defend them from preditors, no one to bind up their wounds or give them peace.
But when [Jesus] saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. - Matthew 9:36
Jesus has compassion and takes those who see their need and call to him to be their shepherd.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me" - Jesus (John 10:14)
- fritz

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Choosing to Eat

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" - John 6:53
In Church during the Eucharist (Communion), watching members move orderly forward, kneel, and partake of the bread and wine, a thought again comes to mind.

Being in Christ is more than listening to a sermon and pondering truth, there comes a time for commitment - a choice to eat and make it mine.

- fritz

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

God's Powerful Pinkie


[T]he magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not ... The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” Exodus 8:18-19a
God and Pharaoh were locked in battle over freedom for the Hebrews; the magicians, the really smart ones, finally realized it was a one sided fight.

They admitted what even God's people sometimes forget - its not God's power they were no match for, it was just his finger.

- fritz

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Greatest Adversary of Love to God

The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."
- John Piper, A Hunger for GOD (1997), pg 24

Monday, December 13, 2010

Watch, but for What?


Put on the whole armour of God ... Praying always ... and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me" - Ephesians 6:13,18-19a
Standing strong in Christ means being alert and watching - but watching for what?

1) First, we watch for Christ. Jesus said he would return at an unknown hour to take his followers home and judge the ungodly. There won't be time to say, "Wait, give me a moment!" He warns not to procrastinate.
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." - Matthew 24:42
2) We need to be alert for those trying to lead us astray. Sadly, some have not followed that admonition.
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, ... ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. - Jude 1:4
3) And we are to watch for opportunities to serve Christ. Jesus said, "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing (Matthew 24:46). That means doing as much good as we can while we can, to whom ever we can.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:10
- fritz

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not all Prep Work - Actually Do Something


Put on the whole armour of God ... Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... for all saints; And for me" - Ephesians 6:18-19a
Preparation accomplishes little unless something is actually done. Our defence against wickedness is not all about us or about us getting ready, it involves actually doing something.

Our task? Prayer; being alert and praying.

Prayer is not a once a day, week, month thing, it is to be our primary activity - as we drive, work, play, whatever - always being alert to a need to take to our heavenly Father
Be ... fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; ... continuing instant in prayer - Romans 10a, 11b, 12d
- fritz

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Spiritual Sword


[T]ake the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God - Ephesians 6:17
It is said that the best defence is a strong offence. Describing God's protective armor for us the Bible says we are to use the word of God like a sword. He, of course, is referring to the Scriptures.

Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness,1 struck back each time with the scriptures - responding, "It is written ..., it is written..., it is written...1 quoting a passage that directly addresses the problem. Can we expect to succeed differently?

This means we must pick up our Bible and get to know it - better a little each day than a lot at one time. Take the lunch hour to feed your body and your spirit or listen to it in the car on the way home. Take it with you to read when waiting for the kids at soccer.

Get to know your Bible, it will keep you strong.

- fritz


1 - Matthew Chapter 4

Friday, December 10, 2010

Know-So Salvation


And take the helmet of salvation - Ephesians 6:17a
Our salvation is not just something for the heart, it's for the head, too. Jesus chided the woman at the well just little by saying, "You worship what you do not know".1

Salvation is knowable - we can know that we are saved, we can know how we are saved, we can know how salvation "works", and we are to do so.

- fritz


1 - John 4:22a (NASB)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Shield of Faith


[T]ake up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. - Ephesians 6:16
God uses our everyday objects to teach us about unseen things.

Paul, imprisoned for his faith,1 saw soldiers quite often. He advised Christians that they, too, have armour for their spiritual battle. We use our faith like a soldier uses his shield.

This scripture tells us two things:

1) The evil one uses "flaming arrows"; his weaponry pierces and burns - a past or present regret, a perceived fault or character flaw, rejection, isolation, gossip.

2) The burn can be extinguished by faith - faith that Jesus is not just the savior but my savior, faith that all my guilt and flaws as real as they may be or have been are covered by his sacrifice, faith that since he did this when I was his enemy how can he do less now that I am his friend.
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." - Romans 5:10
-fritz

1 - Ephesians 6:19

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Covered Feet


[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, ... your loins girt about with truth ... the breastplate of righteousness ... your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" - Ephesians 6:13-15


A person doesn't need to recognize a battle to be in one. Society may call it an emotional problem, an addiction, a family issue, a legal battle, but unless we recognize the spiritual aspect of our struggles we can't endure.

The Bible says we have the armor - we just need to put it on and use it!

Third listed is the preparation of the gospel of peace; literally, preparing the good message of God's peace and prosperity. The focus is not survival but thriving and taking that peace and prosperity of victory to others.
"Praise be to the God ... who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." - 2nd Corinthians 1:3
- fritz

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Righteousness like a Breastplate


[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, ... having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;" - Ephesians 6:13-14a
The Bible lists eight essentials for withstanding evil days, warning us to take time now to prepare.

It takes boldness and confidence to withstand any adversity; any display of weakness or fear is an invitation for disaster. Spiritual adversity requires the boldness of being right with God - the Bible says "the righteous are bold as a lion."1

We can't be bold by our own rightness for our best efforts are woefully inadequate but, thankfully, Jesus did the heavy lifting. He lived a righteous, sinless, life and offers himself to be our covering.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." - Galatians 3:37
It is the breastplate, strong, fit, and unwavering, that the enemy sees not how well or inadequately we are behind it.

- fritz

1 - Proverbs 28:1b

Monday, December 6, 2010

Truth Like a Belt


[T]ake ... the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, ... having your loins girt about with truth ..." - Ephesians 6:13-14a
We judge our needs by our best days but God warns us to prepare for our worst, when peace is not found, escape is not possible, and God seems distant.

Eight things are listed as essential armoury for evil days and first on the list is truth.

"Girding the loins" was putting on a waist belt,1 it holds everything in place. "Truth", here, means, "not concealing". We can't stand in an evil day if we are a deceptive person. More than just confessing our sins before God, we need to be honest in our daily living.

If we are committed to honesty when no one is looking we will have nothing to fear from even the most intense scrutiny.

- fritz

1 - Mark 1:6

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christian Armoury


Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle ... against spiritual wickedness - Ephesians 6:11a,12b
It doesn't take a genius to recognize there is a battle going on; not just on the battle field but at work, in our own government, sometimes even in our own homes. And while there is a physical component in much of the struggle, it is a "spiritual" battle with unseen forces and our task is to stand for what is right.

A Roman guard must have walked passed Paul one day when the Holy Spirit said, "That man didn't leave his home naked, he prepared for whatever would come against him. My people need preparation too!"

Eight things are listed as essential armoury and they don't happen by accident but by purposeful intent: 1) Truth; 2) Righteousness; 3) Preparation; 4) Faith; 5) Know-So Salvation; 6) God's Word; 7) Prayer; and 8) Watchful eyes.

- fritz

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unique Resources

Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! ... with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. - Psalm 81:13,16b
Honey doesn't come from rocks, but when we follow in God's ways he provides good things from unique and often impossible sources.

Friday, December 3, 2010

No immigrant!

"The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. - Psalm 87:6
I am no immigrant in the Kingdom of God; I am born there!
[T]o all ... who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ... born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. - John 1:12-13

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trouble Every Day - Grace, Too

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee ... In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me." - Psalm 86:5,7
Realistically speaking, every day has trouble; some days it is more obvious than others.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" - 1st Peter 4:12
Likewise, every day is a day to call on God, rest in his protection, act with his guidance, and live in his grace and mercy.
"[R]ejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." - 1st Peter 4:13
- fritz

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Fair-Weather Friend

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee ... In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. - Psalm 86:5,7
God is no fair-weather friend. In Christ he is not easily offended and holds no grudges.

I expect he would like a little confidence from us that he would act according to the way he requests we act toward one another.

A radio preacher told the story of a father who threw his son's old dilapidated bicycle into the dumpster when asked by his son to fix it. His son was hurt and could not understand why his dad would do such a thing. He could not understand, that is, until his dad took him to buy a brand new bicycle.
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Jesus (Matthew 7:11)
-fritz

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Old Testament Way of Salvation

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" - Job (Job 19:25-26)
The Old Testament faithful were saved just as we are today - by trusting in the redeemer. They looked ahead to the coming redeemer, Christ, we look back to the redeemer who came, Christ.

The whole Bible is a book about one man, Christ, and we know his name - Jesus.

- fritz

Monday, November 29, 2010

Enjoyment Without Guilt

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy - 1 Timothy 6:17
God's gifts are for our enjoyment! If we are not enjoying them, something is wrong.

God has no problem with guilt free enjoyment, he created pleasure in the first place - enjoyment is guilt free when God, not the gift, is recognized as the source.

Our response is to be that of sharing the enjoyment with others.
[D]o good, ... be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; - 1 Timothy 6:18
- fritz

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mercy and Truth Meet in Christ

"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. - Psalm 85:10
"Truth" and "Righteousness" don't naturally lead to "Mercy" and "Peace".

Truth is that every one of us have done selfish and ungodly deeds. Righteousness demands wrongs to be made right, and we don't have the wherewithal to comply.

We can not bring back the dead, can't restored ruined reputations, can't unhurt or put back what we have wasted.

But Christ, Jesus, can and he has. In Christ righteousness and peace "kiss" and make up. He has paid for our sin, he can heal the hurt, take the wrong and make it work to every one's good.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ - Romans 5:1
- fritz

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jesus Comes In When Asked

Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - 2nd Corinthians 13:5b
It is NOT figuratively speaking, it is no metaphor or euphemistic way of expressing some "truth"; Jesus, the living Christ, actually and tangibly lives within the one who has asked Him to do so.

The little chorus is more Biblical and profound then we realize:
Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today, come in to stay,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.1
-fritz

1 - link (music and words): "Come into My Heart Lord Jesus"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hearing from God - Feel the Burn


[T]he bush burned ... and ... was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him
- Exodus 1:2b-4a
Moses heard from God like we do, today. Events are different but the process is the same - Moses noticed something unusual (the burning bush), he turned aside to see, then God spoke.

This is how we, too, hear from God. Reading the Bible, hearing a word from a friend, pastor, or co-worker, even sometimes a thought from "out of the blue" - something "lights up" though we may not even know why.

That's the time to stop and investigate. It doesn't always happen at a convenient time or place, but when we pause, then and there to wait and listen, God speaks.

- fritz

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Telling the Truth About Oneself

The heart is deceitful ... who can know it?" - Jeremiah 17:9
"[A] man can not tell the whole truth about himself, even if convinced that what he wrote would never be seen by others"- Samuel Clemens1
Search me, O God, and know my heart: ... know my thoughts ... and lead me in the way everlasting.-Psalm 139:23-24
- fritz

1 - "Mark Twain's Bequest," London Times, 23 May 1899 as quoted in Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1 edited by Harriet Elinor Smith, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

God Speaks and Listens

"God speaks to those who take time to listen and he listens to those who take time to pray"
- Rev. Desmond Goonesekera, Pastor, St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church, November 21, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

At Some Point Trust Must Begin

They spoke against God, saying, "... Look! He struck the rock and water gushed out; torrents overflowed. But can He also provide bread or furnish meat for His people?"

Therefore, the LORD heard and became furious
- Psalm 78:19-22a
It gets really old to continuously say, "Well, is God going to come through for us this time?"

At some point the child of God has to start trusting God's Care.

- fritz

Monday, November 22, 2010

Voices beyond Death

"And [God] said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." - Genesis 4:10b
The Bible has always taught this physical life is NOT all there is. An early example of this was Abel, who's blood cried out to God when he was violently murdered.

His blood cried out before God for the justice and caused the perpetrator, Cain, to be banished from God's presence.

Jesus' blood also cried out when he was violently murdered. But it cried for the opposite,
The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel's—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace. - Hebrews 12:24b (MESSAGE)
Our sins were the cause of his death but we, the perpetrators, are brought by that sacrifice of Christ into the presence of God.

What a deal!

- fritz

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Freedom, a Universal Value


"[F]reedom is not an American value; it is a universal value. Freedom cannot be imposed; it must be chosen. And when people are given the choice, they choose freedom."
- George W. Bush, 2010, Decision Points

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - Goes Around, Comes Around

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house ... And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee - Genesis 12:1-3
Perhaps most controversial of "Abraham's Blessing" is God's promise to actually bless and curse others according to their actions towards his people.

I have, actually, witnessed this. When people are kind to the followers of Christ their own lives go better.1 Those who make one of God's children, the poor, or widows cry don't last long.2

When even fellow believers hurt each other, they only end up hurting themselves. I don't respond well to those who hurt my children or when my children hurt each other; I don't think God does, either.

Our response, even when hurt, is not to be vengeful but to offer a blessing3 and get out of the way - it is God who takes care of us.4

- fritz

1 - Matthew 10:42 - Even a cup of cold water
2 - Proverbs 23:10-11
3 - Luke 6:28 - Bless those that curse you
4 - Romans 12:19 - God repays, not us

Friday, November 19, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - Being a Blessing

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house ... and thou shalt be a blessing ... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. - Genesis 12:1-2
"Abraham's Blessing" is more than a promise, it's a calling. Abraham, and we in Christ, are called to be a blessing.

Abraham was a blessing to Lott by rescuing him.1 Similarly, we rescue friends, loved ones, and co-workers, by being open with how Christ rescued us.2

Even more practical than just that, by following Christ's principles in our business practices we bless our company and community. Following Christ in our actions at home blesses our families with peace. Following Christ with our actions brings blessings upon our descendants. The aged psalmist wrote,
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." - Psalm 37:25
and in Proverbs we are told,
"the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered." - Proverbs 11:21
As we stand faithful to Christ we become God's blessing to others - it is our calling.

- fritz

1 - Lot's capture and rescue is reported in the Bible's book of Genesis, chapter 12
2 - 1st Peter 3:15 - Always be ready to share your hope

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Part of a Challenge

"[S]ometimes you don't choose which challenges come to your desk. You do decide how to respond."
- George W. Bush, 2010, Decision Points

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - Fame

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house ... and I will ... make thy name great ..." - Genesis 12:1-2
Fame was one of the six-fold promises of "Abraham's Blessing" and that certainly happened for our hero. The name, Abraham, is almost synonymous with faith.

Fame is one of the promises passed down to the followers of Christ1 - not the superstar, "name on everyone's lips", kind of fame but fame where it counts - with God.
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" - Daniel 12:3
Jesus told his disciples "your names are written in heaven.".2 And not just them, everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord was hand-picked by God, himself.3 That means me!

When God and all of heaven knows your name for eternity - that's real fame!

- fritz

1 - Blog Post - November 8th, "Abraham's Blessing Like a Football"
2 - Luke 10:20
3 - Ephesians 1:5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - Chased by Good

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, ... and I will bless thee..."- Genesis 12:1-2
Many years ago God appeared to Abraham and gave what is called "Abraham's Blessing". Passed down through the centuries it finally resides in Christ, Abraham's promised heir, and we, too, become eligible.
"Christ hath redeemed us ... That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ" - Galatians 3:13a, 14a
For us in Christ this has unique meaning.

There are six (6) things we get to participate in, not the least of which is the fact we no longer have to chase after the blessings we think we want.

When I follow Christ, God's blessings chase me!

This is precisely the meaning of Psalm 23 when it says,
"The Lord is my Shepherd ... Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"
God is working all things for my good1 as I love him and follow his call his blessings follow me.

- fritz

1 - Romans 8:23

Monday, November 15, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - A New Nation

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house ... and I will make of thee a great nation ..." - Genesis 12:1-3
My affiliation with Christ enables me to participate in "Abraham's Blessing".1

Part of that blessing is nation building - not a political nation, but a common bond of heart and soul that will culminate upon Christ's return to rule this earth.

Jesus told his disciples, "I will build my church".2 The word, "Church" literally means "the called out ones." Called out of every nation and ethnic group are individuals who are to be part of his work in the earth. The call is generic in that anyone can participate if they desire to do so. It is specific in that only the ones tapped by God will say, "Yes!" Do you feel that draw to participate? It's him calling.

These are, collectively, the "Mountain that filled the whole earth" mentioned in the Bible's book of Daniel, chapter two.3 They are the temple of God building for his habitation.4 They are the "joints and ligaments" of the Body of Christ, helping it to grow into full maturity.5

Entering Christ has made me part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my nation, bigger than my time in history.

How cool is that!

-fritz

1 - Galatians 3:13
2 - Matthew 16:18
3 - Daniel 2:34
4 - Ephesians 2:22
5 - Ephesians 4:16

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Abraham's Blessing - God's Country!

"Christ hath redeemed us ... That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ" - Galatians 3:13a, 14a
Abraham's blessing, thousands of years ago, has unique meaning for participants in Christ.1

That blessing, found in Genesis 12, includes six (6) things, the first and primary - ownership of a place in God's Country (and it's not Texas)!
"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee ..." Genesis 12:1
God calls us, like Abraham,2 to abandon our old ways and follow Christ to a land that he, himself, will reveal - to his kingdom on earth now, the Church, and ultimately to heaven prepared especially for us.
"I go to prepare a place for you ... And ... I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." - Jesus (John 14:2-3)
If there were no other blessings, no other promises, this would be enough!

Ah! But there is more!

- fritz

1 - Blog Post - November 8th, "Abraham's Blessing Like a Football"
2 - Blog Post - November 7th, "Abraham's Call - A Prototype"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Effective Praying

"[Y]e people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah." - Psalm 62:8
Prayer is not so much the putting together of well composed requests as it is the pouring out to God from what is in the core of our being.

"Selah!" (means "Pause and think about that").

-fritz

Friday, November 12, 2010

George Bush Remembering Alchohol

"I haven't had a drop of alcohol since that night at The Broadmoor in 1986. There's no way to know where my life would have headed if I hadn't made the decision to quit drinking. But I am certain that I would not be recording these thoughts as a former governor of Texas and president of the United States.

I could not have quit drinking without faith. I also don't think my faith would be as strong if I hadn't quit drinking. I believe God helped open my eyes, which were closing because of booze.

For that reason, I've always felt a special connection to the words of 'Amazing Grace,' my favorite hymn: 'I once was lost, but now am found / was blind, but now I see'"
-George W. Bush, Decision Points", 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

George Bush Remembring Billy Graham

"In his gentle, loving way, Billy began to deepen my shallow understanding of faith ... self-improvement is not really the point of the Bible. The center of Christianity is not the self. It is Christ.

Billy explained that we are all sinners, and that we cannot earn God's love through good deeds. He made clear that the path to salvation is through the grace of God. And the way to find that grace is to embrace Christ as the risen Lord--the son of a God so powerful and loving that He gave His only son to conquer death and defeat sin.

These were profound concepts, and I did not fully grasp them that day. But Billy had planted a seed. His thoughtful explanation made the soil less firm and the brambles less thick."
- George W Bush, Decision Points, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Control Feelings

Dallas Willard surfaces an interesting fact.
"We cannot just choose our feelings"1
But, he says,
"you can evoke and to some degree control feelings by directing your thoughts. Our power over our thoughts is of great and indispensable assistance in directing and controlling our feelings, which themselves are not directly under the guidance of our will."1
Perhaps this is why the bible says
"whatsoever things are true, ... honest, ... just, ... pure, ... lovely, ... of good report; ... think on these things." - Philippians 4:8
- fritz

1 - Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard, page 104

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Little Slow on the Uptake


"The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you ... Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran." - Genesis 12:1, 4
The words "had said" gives a little insight about Abram (later called, Abraham). He wasn't as quick to respond as we like to think. God's call had come earlier, perhaps much earlier. When Abram finally responded he was 75 years old.

What do we learn from this?

God is patient, and being a bit slow on the uptake doesn't disqualify from success with God and in life.

It tells us that while breathing it is not too late to say, "Yes", to God and his call.

Don't feel condemnation over a late response or missed opportunity say, "Yes", now. It is not too late to walk with God and receive his blessing.

- fritz

Monday, November 8, 2010

Abraham's Blessing Like a Football


Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get ... unto a land that I will shew thee: And ... I will bless thee ... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. - Genesis 12:1-3
Abram (later called Abraham) is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is his "Blessing". God made promises to Abraham which were to be passed from one person to the next.

His "Blessing" wasn't passed to all Abraham's children but to receivers who would carry it forward. Like a football, it was passed to Isaac1 not Ishmael, to Jacob2 not to Esau, down through the centuries until it was finally passed to Christ who passes it to us, both Jews and Gentiles, who accept Christ by faith.
Christ hath redeemed us ... That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ" - Galatians 3:13a, 14a
- fritz

1 - Genesis 21:12
2 - Genesis 28:3

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Abraham's Call - A prototype

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee - Genesis 12:1
Abram's (later known as Abraham) life is the prototype of faith. He was called to leave his country, kindred, fathers house and follow God to a place he did not know. What he did know is that God would be with him.

We, too, are called to leave, not necessarily our parents or city but the comfortable, familiar, and natural way of life inherited through our father, Adam, and follow Christ to an unfamiliar place we can't truly imagine - except we know that we will be with him, and we will be like him.
Dear friends, now we are God’s children. What we will be isn’t completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is. - 1st John 3:2 (GOD'S WORD)
- fritz

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Swimming with Sharks - God's Answer


My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. ...I will sing and give praise. - Psalm 57:4,7b
Maybe with a different analogy, but everyone in corporate America knows what the Psalmist means, here. We would say that "we are swimming with a bunch of sharks".

We can not escape this fact of life, our environment is sometimes vicious. But God has an answer - it is singing.

Singing, specifically singing praise about God's goodness and care, dispels fear and dread and brings courage.

Pick a good song or hymn and when fear invades take time to sing.

- fritz

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lingering Guilt - God's Answer

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. - Genesis 42:21
The Bible tells of the children of Jacob, the patriarch, throwing their brother into a pit then selling him to foreigners. They got rid of their brother but they could not get rid of their guilt. Years later, and probably every time something bad happened, they remembered that terrible selfish deed as if it was yesterday.

Guilt is like that. It keeps popping up no matter how long it is ignored or who gets the blame. It demands resolution, justice, payment.

The Bible also tells us God's answer for guilt is Christ,
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: - Colossians 1:14
God's answer for guilt is to confess, not deny, the wrong and ask for the forgiveness Christ provided.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1st John 1:9
-fritz

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Love Gives

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. - Genesis 15:1
God told Abraham, "I am your reward".

Love always gives, but what does it give? Itself.

And that is enough.

- fritz

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trust means Obey

The idea that you can trust Christ and not intend to obey him is an illusion generated by the prevalence of an unbelieving “Christian culture.” In fact, you can no more trust Jesus and not intend to obey him than you could trust your doctor and your auto mechanic and not intend to follow their advice. If you don’t intend to follow their advice, you simply don’t trust them. Period.

- Dallas Willard, Renovation Of The Heart, Pg. 95

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Grafting Plants and Hearts


Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. - James 1:21
I have a grafted Orange tree. The original stalk was cut and a cultured Orange tree was tied in place until the stock actually grew into and through the graft. If you look closely you can still see the scars.

"Engrafted" is the horticultural term used to describe how the Word of God, both the living and the written, becomes part of our lives.

We are cut by our guilt, grief, and repentance, and God's word is placed in our hearts then held there as we grow into and through it. If you look closely you can still see the scars.

Take the bible, read it, think about it throughout the day, talk about it, meet with others doing the same, letting God's word stay close enough to enable your life grow into and through it.

- fritz

Also See: Patrikin blog post, October 30, 2010 - "Reading the Scriptures Adequately and Accurately"

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Children's Bread


A Canaanite woman ... came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." ... He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." - Matthew 15:22, 26
A foreigner asked Jesus for healing. Jesus initially resisted by saying food belongs to the family.

Ignoring the controversy over the way he addressed her and why, notice Jesus equated deliverance and healing to food that a father provides to his children.

There can be extenuating circumstances1 but we need to see that God considers our health and well being as not just important but essential as food on the table, and the Lord's Prayer request for "our daily bread" for more than just something to eat.

- fritz


1 - Paul's thorn in the flesh, 2nd Corinthians 12:7

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No Fear in Troubled Times

"And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be ... nation shall rise against nation ... and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles - Mark 13:7-8
Jesus predicted that before his return some fearful things would happen.

Could he have been referring to just the sort of things we see now - terrorists, Middle East wars, global warming fears (real or imagined); political and geological problems increasing everywhere? I think so.

Ahead of time he told us this so his people would trust his care and not be afraid like those without hope or faith.

We choose to believe in his personal care, acting from faith not fear.

- fritz

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reading the Scriptures Adequately and Accurately

"in order to read the Scriptures adequately and accurately, it is necessary at the same time to live them. Not to live them as a prerequisite to reading them, and not to live them in consequence of reading them, but to live them as we read them....It means letting Another have a say in everything we are saying and doing. It is as easy as that. And as hard"1 - Eugene H. Peterson (Author of The Message Bible)

1 - Eat this Book: A conversation in the art of spiritual reading Copyright 2006 Eugene H. Peterson.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Power of Asking

And as he went out of the temple ... Jesus ... said ... Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another ... Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? - Mark 13:1b-4a
Jesus publically predicted the coming Jewish temple's destruction. Privately, four disciples later asked for the details which he gave.

Had they not asked we would not have those details.

Parents of sons understand this concept. Once, while grousing at a son for not giving me advance notice of something, he informed me he said nothing because I did not ask.

Jesus' method of teaching was, and still is, to give to those who take the time to sit down with him and ask. If there is no time and no asking there will be nothing given.

- fritz

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to Delight God


A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. - Proverbs 11:1
Doing honest work for an honest wage delights God. You can't love God and cheat people in the market place.

- fritz

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Loud works well!

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. - Psalm 55:17
Prayer is not always a quiet contemplation with gentle requests. Sometimes is needs to be a loud expressive cry.

True, God is not hard of hearing, but neither is he nervous about emotions - He has them, himself.

Loud praying is sometimes the best praying.
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: - Psalm 56:9a
- fritz

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's His is Mine!

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' - Acts 13:47
Paul took a scripture from Isaiah 49:6, clearly referring to the work of Christ, and proclaimed it was God's calling to him.

Can he do that? Sure. Can we do that? Yes.

Paul, knew that those who are joined to Christ by faith are part of Christ in actuality.1 What belongs to us now also belongs Christ - our sins, griefs, shortcomings.2 He embraced them and took them to the cross. What belongs to Christ is now ours3 - his payment for our sins, his resurrection, his fellowship with the Father, his anointing with the Holy Spirit, his seat on the throne, even his call to ministry and the work of others in Christ. He now lives his life through us (though not exclusively), and not just for our benefit, but to those He came to save.4

- fritz

1 - 1st Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:30
2 - 2nd Corinthians 5:21
3 - Romans 8:32, 1st Corinthians 3:22
4 - 1st John 4:17

Monday, October 25, 2010

Empty of Evil

"When a corrupting spirit is expelled ... it says, 'I'll go back to my old haunt.' On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then ... rounds up seven other spirits ... and they all move in...That person ends up far worse" - Jesus (Luke 11:24-26 Message)
Being empty of evil is not enough, we must be full of good.

Not doing wrong doesn't ultimately help, we must do right.

Read the Bible, go to church, pray daily, let God fill up your life with his goodness, let him guide you how to do good things.

- fritz

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: Giving Church Another Chance by Todd Hunter

Giving Church Another Chance by Todd Hunter - I responded quickly, a free book by an interesting man in exchange for an honest review on my blog - what a deal.

The author was a former Vineyard pastor, now Anglican priest, and I wanted to know why and see what he had to say. I had been reading his blog for a while investigating his involvement in a new kind of church revival movement, so I was eager to participate.

The first third of his book was good; expressing his spiritual journey, and providing some ideas and concepts I, too had felt. After that, however, the book turned dry for me as he went through the different parts of a typical Anglican worship service giving various thoughts about how each part of the liturgy ought to touch us in our daily lives.

I think the biggest problem I had with his book was that I thought it promised to show me how to "repractice" Church ("repractice" is his term for doing something again with renewed meaning), but when I look there was no renewed meaning - nothing had really changed.

To be honest, he had a herculean task. I, too, attend a similar denomination as the author. I appreciate the different parts of the liturgy and usually find them a blessing, but I believe everyone must find that appreciation uniquely for themselves.

"The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy." - Proverbs 14:10

Our Returning Friend

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." - Jesus (Matthew 25:34)
The one all the nations shall stand before in the great judgment will not be an anonymous being out there, somewhere, but Jesus.

He is the one coming in glory with his angels. He will pronounce who is a "sheep" and who is a "goat". He will open his kingdom for those his Father blessed.

It is a good thing we have opportunity to, first, become his friend!
"What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer"
1
-fritz

1 - Hymn:"What a Friend We have In Jesus"
Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918
Tune: CONVERSE, Meter: 87.87 D

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giving and Receiving Advice

"Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many." - Solomon (Proverbs 4:10)
Every good father wants his children to be successful.

Though Solomon's sons did not heed his advice, God used that fatherly desire and those fatherly words to give wisdom to the sons of God (both men and women) throughout the centuries.

As a father it can be discouraging when one's children care little for your advice - but we continue, knowing God can use it for his glory and for the benefit of his children. And just because one's children don't listen now doesn't mean they won't listen later.

- fritz

Friday, October 22, 2010

Doing Us a Favor

"But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon."" - Jesus (Luke 4:25-26)
Jesus pointed out something that put his whole synagogue in an uproar.

He said the only widow who had food enough for her family during the famine was the one who, first, gave her last to God. They all knew the story from 1st Kings 17 - this widow had one meal left and the prophet had the audacity to ask for it first. By asking her to feed him first Elijah was actually doing her the favor - by keeping him fed she and son never ran out of food while others starved.

Jesus wasn't asking for money, he was pointing out that putting God first, not just being one of God's chosen, brings God's blessing and provision. God's call to service is for our benefit, not his.

Jesus put it this way,
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Jesus (Matthew 6:33)
- fritz

Related link: The Prosperity Gospel, September 24, 2010
Related Link: Waiting, October 20, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not Excused but Cleansed


"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." - David (Psalm 51:7)
David sinned, a man died, and a woman lost her baby.

His request for forgiveness reflects something we sometimes forget - God doesn't offer excuse but cleansing.

"Hyssop" is a small bush with a very specific use in the David's day. It was used to sprinkle blood for cleansing. First used at the passover to put lamb's blood on the door post, it continued to be used for sprinkling blood on lepers, various instruments for God's service, and people - all with the idea of cleaning.

David wasn't asking to be excused for his actions but to be cleansed.

Jesus is our sacrifice. Like the passover lamb, his blood is figuratively sprinkled on our lives to save us from eternal death and to cleanse us from our sins.

God offers not to excuse but to cleanse.

- fritz

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Right Kind of Waiting


"But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 40:31
God calls us to serve for our benefit, not his.

Our waiting is not idle, like a sleeper waiting for an alarm, but attentive, like a good waiter cares for his patrons.

This kind of waiting sustains us through weary and faint hearted times.

- fritz.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Convinced of the Bargan

"Those who are not genuinely convinced that the only real bargain in life is surrendering ourselves to Jesus and his cause, abandoning all that we love to him and for him, cannot learn the other lessons Jesus has to teach us...

Not that he will not let us, but that we simply cannot succeed.

If I tell you that you cannot drive an automobile unless you can see, I am not saying I will not let you, but that you cannot succeed even if I do."
1

– Dallas Willard

1 - Renovation of the Heart, pg 71

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thirsty Soul


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." - Psalm 42:1-2a
There are things in us that once awakened cause us to yearn for more and for satisfaction in a way the unawakened can't understand.

Experiencing God is like that. It causes a thirst for more. It is a good thirst, one that God satisfies and makes all other thirsts pale in comparison like the tricycle a child puts away the day he/she learns to ride a bike.

- fritz

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tearing up the "Bucket List"


"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." - Romans 12:1
God is not interested in a cold dead sacrifice. He wants something alive and functional in this present world.

Recently a popular movie called "The Bucket List" showed two dying men on a mission to complete the list of things they wanted to accomplish before they "Kicked the Bucket!"

Tear up your bucket list on God's altar.

It's "reasonable service" to pray,
"Father, here is my body - my hands, my feet, my eyes, my mouth, all of me - including everything I ever wanted to do with them." - (Your name goes here)
- fritz

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is any sick among you?

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
- James 5:14-15
The idea that gifts of healing ended with the last apostle is clearly not biblical. It is the role of the church and specifically the "elders" to pray for that healing in faith.

If the church is not doing that, it is not fulfilling one of its intended purposes.

If we are not calling the elders for prayer in our sickness, we are not fulfilling our responsibility, either.

Not everyone has been healed but many have. Our oldest son is quite possibly alive today because we called elders for prayer when he was a year old in the hospital with staff infection. A man named Frank Romanelli came on Christmas Eve and anointed our listless son with oil in name of Jesus. That night our son began to improve and was sent home the next day, well.

Also note the word, "if". Christian health is a complex issue, not always because of sin. I don't believe we are capable of understanding the why and how but we can obey and trust God's goodness.

- fritz

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shouting

Chilean minors, once thought dead, captive under ground for over a month are rescued to shouts of joy. Expected - their captivity is over!

50,000 football fans shouting in the stadium, perhaps just as many shouting in their homes at the TV screen. Why? They like the game, it is fun to shout and be emotionally engaged. Expected, they enjoy the game!

To remaining quiet in either scenario is a sign of disinterest, perhaps even being cold hearted.

Realizing what God has done should, similarly, evoke a shout or two!
"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." - Psalm 5:11
"LET" - meaning something that would occur if not prevented.

I learn at least three (3) things from this passage:
  1. Church doesn't have to be quiet to be respectful, we should let it be a little noisy sometimes;
  2. God's salvation is a "Know-So!" kind - knowing, now, we are released from guilt, the captivity of obsessions, and a certain fate worse than death1;
  3. Following God is expected to be an enjoyable experience, even through difficulties2 - if our walk is not joyful we need to find out why.
I think I'll go shout for a while!

- fritz

1 - Matthew 10:28
2 - Philippians 4:7

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Audacity of Faith


Into the massive ornate Jewish temple, only the second of its kind, rushed a man on a mission. He wasn’t a priest or a prophet just a “good, God-fearing man…waiting for Israel to be saved”1

But he had a secret he probably told no one else; if he had they would have thought him presumptuous. He really believed God had told him he would see the Christ before he died. The faithful had been waiting for generations for the Christ but this man had the audacity to believe God had spoken to him.

Something inside Simeon that day said, “Go to the temple now”, he probably didn’t know why. He obeyed and there at that moment were Jesus’ parents offering two doves and two pigeons, a poor family’s redemption for their son.2

The Holy Spirit speaks audacious things to people who love God. Those things can be generic to all Christ's followers, but sometimes they are very specific - for a child, a situation, a calling.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – Jesus (John 16:13)
Have the audacity of faith to believe the Holy Spirit and his word.

- fritz

1 - Luke 2:25 Good News Bible
2 - Leviticus 12:6-8

Related Post: "God Speaks, We can Hear", October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Results Oriented?

"and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." - 1st Corinthians 3:8b
American corporate culture and our historical social work ethic rewards those who are results oriented - those who can produce what we think is of value.

It is a matter of pride to adopt a "Can do!" attitude, and we drive ourselves to accomplish what we intend. When desired results don't happen we become agitated; when this occurs a lot we feel both shame and futility thinking our work doesn't measure up.

God rewards differently. He rewards us according to our labor.

He can produce results by just a word (Genesis 1:3a) so he is not impressed with our accomplishments. Of value to him is the character worked in us by the labor process. Working as unto him, not being slothful but diligent, being a good steward, faithfulness in difficulties, and getting our sense of worth from him - these are what he rewards.

- fritz

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crisis Management?

"And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled..." - Mark 11:7
"Troubled"- it seems everyone wants to get us frightened by some crisis. From the weather to the nations, everything is in "crisis management"!

Jesus told HIS followers NOT to be troubled. It doesn't mean we don't care, it doesn't mean we don't act, but we choose not to be in a crisis.

God is our Father, he is personally caring for us, he will give us peace and wise actions to take at the right time.

-fritz

Monday, October 11, 2010

It Only Takes a Moment

Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh took his signet ring ... and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes ... put a gold chain around his neck ... had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command" - Genesis 41:41-43
Joseph was disadvantaged, a slave, and a prisoner for years, but he remained faithful to his morals and to hope. When the time was right his deliverance took but a moment.

Moments are essential; Divine moments change history.

Don't discount moments of time. It doesn't matter how long you have waited, God's answer takes only a moment.

- fritz

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Always a Positive Focus!

"I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord." - Exodus 6:7b-8
God's purpose for his people was not to just get OUT of Egypt but to get IN to the promised land.

This has never changed, God's acts always have a positive focus! As Frances Ridley Havergal, author of the hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be” wrote 120 years ago,
“[T]he … Christ loving heart cannot be satisfied with only negative keeping ... Every, ‘kept from,’ should have its corresponding and still more blessed, ‘kept for’ ... not only kept from sin but kept for His praise.1
- fritz
 
1 - Kept For The Masters Use by Frances Ridley Havergal, 1881, page 23

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two Quotes and a Scripture

Madison Park, CNN, 10/04/10
"From Dr. Spock to Annette Funicello, growing up in the '50s and '60s, we grew up thinking we were special. Somehow, we metamorphosed from peace, love and happiness to a me generation."

"We started accumulating wealth and began focusing on providing for ourselves and our families. That's what we did and now, we're beginning to look around. What's it all about?" he said. "Many of us are divorced. Our families are spread to the seven winds. We're disappointed."1
Jim Elliott, evangelical Christian missionary to Ecuador, October 28, 1949
"He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose"2
The Apostle Paul, Galatians 6:7 (King James Version)
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Something, today, to think about.

- fritz

1 - Are once-happy boomers behind rise in midlife suicide, Madison Park, CNN, October 4, 2010 8:23 a.m. EDTCNN http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/04/baby.boomer.suicides/
2 - Wheaton College archives

Friday, October 8, 2010

Take My Life

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." - John 6:37
' Take my life !' We have said it or sung it before the Lord, it may be many times; but if it were only once whispered in His ear with full purpose of heart, should we not believe that He heard it? And if we know that He heard it, should we not believe that He has answered it, and fulfilled this, our heart's desire?

Why should we doubt that He did verily take our lives when we offered them—our bodies when we presented them?"

- Frances Ridley Havergal, author of the hymn, "Take My Life and Let it Be"1


1 - Kept for the master's Use, 1882, pg. 5

Thursday, October 7, 2010

God speaks, we can hear.

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you" - 2nd Corinthians 12:8-9a
Lennon's tomb, 11:00 at night during the changing of the guard, a Russian, a friend, and I discussed the vast changes taking place. Seventy years communism has prevented open discussion about God and all that had changed. As we left we told this man we would pray for him and his response caught us off guard, "You mean, you can talk to God?!"

But that is exactly the point and privilege we have in Christ - we talk to God, he hears, and he talks to us. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice"1

- fritz


1 - John 10:27

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Justice

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. - Jesus (Luke 16:25)
Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a poor man. It wasn't a parable about riches and poverty but about justice.

Many complain life is unjust - some are born with with great advantages while others are in abject poverty. Some seemingly have it easy in life while others have problem after problem. There are those in power who oppress for personal gain and no one appears able to stop them.

Jesus points out this life is not all there is.

Jesus' parable indicates if you have been born with advantages use them to help others because life is more than now and justice will out; and if you have been born with great disadvantages remain faithful to God because life is more than now and justice will out.

- fritz

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God has no Grandchildren.

[The rich man] cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. - Jesus (Luke 16:24)
Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a poor man. Most focus on wealth aspect - in the story the rich man ends up in hell and the poor man ends up in pre-heaven, "Abraham's Bosom", the place the Jews believed the faithful awaited the advent of Christ.

Few notice both the men were descendants of Abraham. The hearers commonly believed all descendants of Abraham were an automatic shoe-in to God's kingdom.

The story indicates entrance into heaven is not a matter of heritage but personal faith and if one ignores what God has already said, more evidence won't make a difference - note the conclusion:
Then he said ... father ... send [Lazarus] to my father's house:...that he may testify ... lest they also come into this place of torment ... Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them .... If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. - Luke 16:27-31
We can apply, today, that being a member of a church or religious group is not enough, one must have a personal faith.

- fritz.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Understanding Western Life and Culture

Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. - 1st Corinthians 6:13b-14
“THE HUMAN BODY is … created for spiritual life in the kingdom of God and to be honored—indeed, glorified—in that context. But when taken out of that context and made the central focus of human experience and endeavor, it is betrayed—robbed of the spiritual resources meant to sustain its life and proper functioning—and in turn it then betrays those who center their life on it.

The sense of this betrayal is what lies at the heart of youth worship in Western societies.

It also is the source of the fear, shame, disgust, and even the anger directed at fat, old age (or just aging), and death and dying that dominate our culture.

An outlook focused entirely on the body finds the body’s failure and cessation to be, of course, the ultimate insult from which there is no recovery.

You have to understand this if you want to understand Western life and culture” - Dallas Willard1

- fritz


1 - Renovation of the Heart, NavPress, copyright 1992, page 184

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

the mystery ... hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" - Colossians 1:26b-27
It has been a great comfort to realize God is in me - my body, such that it is; my soul in all it's emotions; and my human spirit.

When I don't know what to do I begin to thank God he is living through me, knows what to do, and will tell me what I need.

As I grow older I thank God my body is his, that I am part of Christ like my finger is part of me, and that he will sustain it1. Believing Jesus Christ came in the flesh2 means many things, not the least of which that He is not in a wafer of bread, but in the human flesh of those who receive him.

He is not waiting for me to do or become anything other than obey him and be his.

- fritz


1 - Romans 8:11
2 - 1st John 4:2

Saturday, October 2, 2010

He is all we need.

Handkerchiefs taken from Paul's body healed the masses1, yet a self described "thorn" was impervious to prayer.

Why? We may not appreciate the answer.

Apparently God has a bigger plan than just us and our wants.
"I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
- 2nd Corinthians 12:6-10 (Message)
-fritz

1 - Acts 19:12
Related Post: The Prosperity Gospel, September 24, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Christian Living in Two (2) Questions

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; - Philippians 2:15
Before you do whatever it is you think you ought, ask yourself two questions.

Is it blameless?
Is it harmless?

If so, proceed.

- fritz

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where are they now?

"The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight ... he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." - Mark 10:51-52
Many people, like blind Bartimaeus, were touched by Christ and followed - but where were they at the crucifixion?

Where are we when following Christ is not so popular? More than just being receivers, we need to be disciples?

- fritz

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What to ask for?

"[B]lind Bartimaeus ... sat by the highway side begging ... he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me ... And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight." - Mark 10:46b-47,51a
Jesus made no assumption about what blind Bartimaeus wanted.

Why? Maybe Jesus saw other needs just as grievous as his blindness; we can only speculate. Fact is, in spite of his obvious need to us, Jesus waited until he identified what he wanted. Had Bartimaeus not asked he may not have received.

We, too, have what some would consider obvious needs, but like Bartimaeus, we need to ask.

- fritz

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Humblest Man

[T]here came one running, and kneeled to [Jesus], and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
- Mark 10:17b-18
The story is told of the town wanting to honor its humblest citizen.

They found just the man and presented him with a trophy, but they had to immediately take it away from him because he accepted it.

Jesus was not even guilty of the sin of self-righteousness.

- fritz

Monday, September 27, 2010

Faith when you get and when you don't

Gideon, Barak, Samson ... who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised...Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured ... Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were ... put to death by the sword...destitute, persecuted and mistreated ... These were all commended for their faith" - Hebrews 11:32-39 edited
Faith isn't just shown in the receiving of miracles, but in staying true and faithful even when you don't!

- fritz

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Good Old Days

Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. - Ecclesiastes 7:10
Remembering the "Good Old Days" is a waste of time. You can NEVER go back to what was - but you can go forward to something better if you keep focus.
[T]his one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore ... be thus minded - Philippians 3:13b-16a
There is better yet to come!

- fritz

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great deal - if you can do it!

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; - Deuteronomy 7:9
Some are up for the challenge - Keep the commandments, love God, and get God's blessing; and how some really try!

But law condemns for incomplete adherence. Have you ever wanted what someone else had? You haven't kept the 10Th commandment, you failed the challenge! Have you ever worked on Saturday? You haven't kept the 4Th commandment, you failed the challenge! Actually, are there any of God's commands you have done from your heart without some failure? Me neither!

There's no balance scale to see if more good is done than bad - laws, even our own, don't work that way. Example: Stop at five (5) traffic lights but run one (1); can you still get a ticket?

James puts it this way:
"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." - James 2:10-11
We can't even keep his commandments one generation, much less to a thousand!

So we have blown that deal! Our only hope is to find an alternative; fortunately there is one!1
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. - 1st Timothy 1:15
- fritz

1 - Post from 09/23/2010 Alternate Righteousness

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prosperity Gospel

"Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." - Psalm 35:24
There is Biblical justification for God's people being prosperous!

But it's like the kid's birthday card says, "It's your birthday, you can to crank up the music volume as loud as you want ... but I get to pick the music."

We can be prosperous ... but God gets to define what "prosperous" is.

Hey! With God in charge it's always good!

- fritz