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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alternate Righteousness

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
- Psalm 32:1-2
For those who can't measure up in their own righteousness there is an alternative.

"Imputeth" literally means to "weave", to "fabricate", to regard as so - like when a large debt is owed but the owner decides to forgive the debt and regard it as paid; or like when a child draws a picture of "Mommy" and she considers it the prettiest picture in the world!

Abraham, described in the Bible as the father of all the faithful,1 was actually a disobedient liar and a deadbeat dad but he found an alternative, imputed, righteousness.

God had told him, who had no legitimate children, his descendants would be as numerous as the stars2 and that one of them would be the Messiah3 who would pay for his sins. Abraham believed God's word and God call him righteous. When Abraham asked God to prove it God took an oath. That was good enough for Abraham and good enough for God.

If Abraham found it so can we!

Those of us who just can't measure up can choose God's alternative. We can choose to believe God's word in spite of what we are told by others or what we have always thought. We can believe Jesus paid for our sins with his sacrifice. We can become an actual part of Christ's body, like my finger is part of mine, and legitimately claim that promised lineage of God's blessing.
"Those words ("God accepted Abraham's faith") were written not only for Abraham but also for us. God will accept us also because we believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Jesus was given to die for our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God." - Romans 4:23-25
What a wonderful opportunity!

- fritz

1 - Romans 4:11
2 - Genesis 15:5-6 and Romans
3 - John 8:56

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why believe in Adam and Eve

"For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" - Psalm 11:2-3
The accuracy of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is important in ways not immediately apparent.

Many churches, especially main line denominations, allow "scholars" to teach the Old Testament, especially Genesis through Deuteronomy, are a compilation of oral tradition and that the Biblical accounts of creation, the flood, and other recorded events are actually embellishments of some kernel of truth - not factual.

What difference could that belief make? A lot!

If the biblical account(s) of creation was (were) embellishments to and from a non-scientific world view then there is no foundation to understand the need for Christ's death on the cross. If there was no real first man, Adam, and first woman, Eve, then Paul is wrong when he writes in the Bible that Christ's death counteracts the sin which came into the world through the first man, Adam1. Only crazy people kill themselves for love when there is no actual need.

If Genesis through Deuteronomy are actually a combination of various oral traditions sewn together by an unknown person then when Jesus told his followers, "Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother" 2 he was either wrong or, for some reason, deceptive. Neither view forms a foundation of faith. If he was not trustworthy then, how can he be trustworthy now?

Sometimes the best way to bring down a building is not to attack the building but to destroy its foundation.

- fritz

1 - Romans 5
2 - Mark 7:10

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grow where planted.

[T]hese are the words of ... Jeremiah the prophet ... unto the ... captives,... "seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." - Jeremiah 29:1, 7
We are not the captives to whom Jeremiah wrote but his message from God is, nevertheless, to us.

Being a good citizen, participating in community life, and working for peace in the neighborhood benefits not just the neighborhood, but us.

Put down roots where God has planted you.

- fritz

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unity, Liberty, and Charity

Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him ... Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. - Romans 14:3, 19
There was controversy in the early church. Some participated in activities others thought unacceptable. Participants thought the abstainers were prudes, abstainers thought the participants were sinners.

The Apostle Paul called both to focus on Christ not themselves or each other. We don't have to agree on everything to love God together; and we don't have to worship the same way or at the same place to worship the same God. We can each trust God will change each other as we, both, grow in Christ.

All Christian churches are 95% in agreement in faith and practice. They all confess Jesus is LORD and believe God has raised him, bodily, from the dead.

There's an old saying attributed to an ancient theologian, St. Augustine:
In essentials UNITY,
In non essentials LIBERTY,
In all things, CHARITY.1

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recognizing Christ

Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own fatherland, and in his own house." And He did not do many works of power there because of their unbelief. - Matthew 13:57-58
It has been said that an "expert" is someone from out of town with a briefcase.

God could do a lot more in our lives if we recognize him, and his power, his messages, and his miraculous presence in the lives familiar to us.

- fritz

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Water Found Around a Star, Go Figure!

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven
- Genesis 1:6-8
Scientists scoff at the Bible for saying heaven, presumably the sky, originally separated two layers of water, and especially the statement later that God put two lights, presumably the Sun and Moon, in that expanse.

When the Bible says it scientists scoff but, apparently, when one of their own discovers a star with water around it they marvel.

Wired Science reports that a 2001 discovery of a star with hot water around it requires them to re-think chemistry theory!

Scientists make some fairly bold statements for those who have a lot yet discover.

I'll stick with God's word - I don't always understand the how and why of it, but it has always proven true where I can understand it.

- fritz

1 - "Hot Water Around Giant Carbon Star Creates Interstellar Mystery" by Jess McNally, Wired Science September 1, 2010,

Friday, September 17, 2010

God Lost in a Crowd?

"Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?" - Rabshakeh (701 BC) Isaiah 36:18
"[All places of worship are]places that people go to retell nonsense stories ... They try to telepathically communicate with their imaginary friend." - Bill Maher (09/14/10) The Tonight Show
"To me,there’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.” Woody Allen (09/15/10) New York Times
Godless people have always wanted to lose God in the crowd and portray him as debile as all the other gods, religions, and faiths.

Hezekiah, wasn't buying it, nor should we!
"Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only."
- Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:18-20)
Don't let the ungodly set the stage, we don't all worship the same God - only ours is alive. All roads don't lead to heaven - ours is a narrow path. God doesn't communicate telepathically - he writes in the heavens, on the pages of history, and in the hearts of the humble.

- fritz

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Go to Church!

When [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath. - Luke 4:16a
When Sabbath rolled around Jesus went to "church" - he made a habit of it. He didn't always agree with them but he attended, he spoke the truth in love, helped those he could, and if they threw him out of one he went to another.

He never quit.

There's a story of an old man who faithfully attended church every Sunday though he had long ago lost his hearing. When asked why he answered, "I still want God to know who's side I'm on!"

Go to church, and make it a habit. That's what Jesus did.

- fritz

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Complaint Department

[W]ith my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble." - Psalm 142:1b-2
An old joke tells of a man asking to immigrate to the United States. His communist country's official wants to know why. "Is there a problem with the food here?" "I can't complain about that", the man replies.

Is something wrong with the work, the housing, the government?" But the man answers, "I can't complain about that, either!".

Finally, in frustration, the official asks, "Why, then, do you want go to America?!"

"There, I can complain!"

There is a legitimate place to complain, not to just anyone but to God! He will hear and console1; indeed he is the only one who can really help.

Got a complaint? Take it to the celestial Complaint Department, no appointment necessary.

- fritz

1 - Suffering, What to Look For, Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Releasing from Animosity

"[D]eliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword" - Psalm 17:13b
There are wicked people in this world over which we have little control - people who would do us harm if they could, and sometimes do.

But the Psalmist makes an important declaration by calling them God's sword.

Terrorists, self serving politicians, conspirators, even bosses from the place it doesn't snow, are not in control of God's people, God is!

This means I don't have to be afraid of them. I can pray, help those whose job it is to protect us, and trust God. Jesus said,
"I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." - Luke 12:4
This also means they are not mine to judge, hate, or wish them harm.

I think this is how Elizabeth Elliott was able to return and share Christ to the very jungle villages of those who killed her husband.

When we see Christ in control of our lives, and are surrendered to his purposes, animosity ebbs away.

- fritz

Monday, September 13, 2010

Suffering, what to look for

"God ... comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God....knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation." - 2nd Corinthians 1:3a, 4a, 7b
Many don't suffer for their faith, like the early apostles did, but every person has some tragedy, suffering, personal weakness, or situation causing them to ask, "Why me, and why this?!"

God offers a partial reason and a personal promise.

1) The promise? Consolation! God promises if (when) we suffer there SHALL be a consolation from Him, so look for it! Stop focusing on "why this or why that and start looking for His consolation - it will be there, somewhere, He says it will!

2) The partial reason? It's the same as why we, who have given our lives to Christ, still remain here - to use our lives and experiences to give hope to others and to introduce them to the One who gives us hope and consolation.

Suffering people listen to those who have suffered like them and survived.

Stop thinking life is all about you, in the suffering look for His consolation and when you have it share how you found it!

- fritz

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fat Fallable Fears

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; ... But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. - Genesis 33:1,4
Sometimes our worst fears turn out to be completely false.

Jacob had wronged Esau and ran away to avoid revenge. For twenty (20) years Jacob dreaded this day but God sent him home. When they met, Jacobs fears turned out to be all wrong - all that dread, fear, and worry for nothing.

People do very foolish things with nothing but their own fears as motivations. There is a better alternative,
"Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks." - Philippians 4:6
I heard an old preacher say, "When you're coming to a brick wall, trust God will either move the wall or make a hole big enough for your head to fit through."

- fritz

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some Things Must Be Tasted to be Enjoyed

"Taste and see that the LORD is good" - Psalm 34:8a
Why does the Bible use Taste in its call to experience God?

Taste can change opinions. I was in my 30's before I tasted broccoli because I could not stand its look and smell. My opinion changed when I actually tasted it with a little cheese. I still don't like the smell, but the taste is worth it.

Similarly, I don't always like the presentation of God or religion by some of its proponents, but the firsthand experience God in Christ has made the rest of little consequence.

Taste is different than sight - watching can be done from a distance but taste is up close and personal. Like John Wesley, Anglican priest and founder of the Methodist movement, said after his "Aldersgate experience",
I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.1
Taste requires a sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new. Experiencing Christ, especially as an adult, happens by a willingness to experience something new and taking a chance without really knowing what the experience will be like.

And taste, while it can be described to anyone, can't be known without personal experience. Once someone experiences the living Christ, all the contrary chatter in the world is just that, chatter.

- Fritz

1 - Wesley's Aldersgate Experience

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Atheist's Prayer

"Multitudes of people have come to a full knowledge of God because in a moment of complete hopelessness they prayed “The Atheist’s Prayer” or something like it: “O God, if there is a God, save my soul if I have a soul.” When that is the true cry of the heart, of the inmost spirit of the individual, who has no longer any hope other than God, God hears and responds without fail.

- Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, pg 161

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Love doesn't wait for some things

[T]hey watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
- Mark 3:1,5
Jesus was being judged harshly for healing on the sabbath, something the Pharisees thought was work.

His unanswered question reveals the way love thinks.

To be able to heal, but refuse - to make someone wait even one more day in suffering that could be eliminated - is the equivalent of doing evil and killing.
"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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Commandment's Replacement

[T]he righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above: ... But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;" - Romans 10:6,8
Those in covenant with Christ have a unique perspective on Old Testament law.

That renewed rabbi and Pharisee, apostle Paul, here quotes an Old Testament scripture, Deuteronomy 10:6-8, written originally about God's Commandments. But instead of the commandment he uses the term, "Christ" (check it out)!

Our law and "commandment" is now the person of Christ, living wholly and holy unto him in the power of the Holy Spirit, and free from condemnation.

- fritz

Related links:
1. Think Covenant, August 15, 2010
2. The Faith Of Christ, August 24, 2010
3. Who the Bible was written for (September 4, 2010)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Pleasant Thing To Do

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. - Psalm 135:3
Singing changes one's whole attitude. It is a pleasant thing we can do at any time and circumstance. It makes joyful times more joyful and difficult times easier to bear.

Old Testament battles were won because God's people started singing! Martyrs like John Hus stood firm in unbelievable trials by singing in the midst of the flames. Songs like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" were sung by slaves as they work under miserable conditions. They learned by experience what we should not forget.

Sing praises to God with the voice he gave you even if you can't carry a tune.

It will be good and pleasing to God and you.

- fritz

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clueless (in a good way)

"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee?"- Matthew 25:37-39
The "righteous" in Jesus' parable were clueless, in a good way.

They didn't think their actions were particularly noteworthy or good, they weren't keeping score of deeds done and to whom, they weren't even self aware; they were simply acting from a heart of Love, being who they were made to be.

The Apostle Paul put it this way,
"yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; ... he that judgeth me is the Lord." - 1st Corinthians 4:3b, 4a, 4c
It is time to put down the score card and just live for Christ.

- fritz

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hearing Before Answering

"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." - Proverbs 18:13
There is something perverse about human nature, more often than not we begin with a solution before we really understand the problem.

At work a team forms and decides the best way forward, then hires a consultant.

A ministry team forms and the leader, someone truly gifted in personal one-on-one ministry, does the teaching while the teachers are assigned one-on-one ministry.

A church group decides to build a prayer garden for God, but does not visit prayer gardens or consult those that use them before construction begins.

Wise leadership starts with hearing and understanding BEFORE answering, even when hearing takes longer than desired. God doesn't need our solutions, he wants our listening.

- fritz

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who the Bible was written for

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written - 1st Corinthians 9:9-10a
The Bible, even the Old Testament, was written for us, not just for the people of that day.

It finds its fulfillment in the followers of Christ and should always be read that way.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. - Hebrews 11:39-40

Friday, September 3, 2010

The right course of action

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: "Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me - Isaiah 30:15-17 (Message)
Sometimes, especially in a crisis, just being still and waiting on God to reveal the right course of action IS the right course of action.

- fritz

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Actually Give Thanks

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." - 1st Thessalonians 5:18
It's easy to think we are thankful, until we try to nail down specifics.

Here is a revealing exercise - Write down ten (10) things you are, specifically, thankful for, and don't get "churchy" (we all know you are thankful for God, Jesus, etc.). Try it, you may be surprised.

Put that list where you normally stop to pray, it will be a blessing.

Here is my list, in no particular order after the first item:
1. My wife, children, and family
2. A good job
3. A good vehicle
4. Lack of pain
5. A CPAP machine and the ability to sleep
6. Air conditioning
7. A good home
8. My orange tree
9. Our friends (remember, I said in no particular order)
10. Freedom to Worship.

- fritz

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Work - A Gift From God

"Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening." - Psalm 104:23
“Though we may not always understand the circumstances or hardships that we will face, our attitude should be one that says: 'No matter what I am going through today, this work that I am in is a gift from God'" - Don Meyer1
"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
- fritz

1 - Elim Bible Institute's Bell Tower, Spring 2009, Finding Satisfaction in Your Work, pg 10