Tag Archive | Relationship

The Great Contradiction


This post is a reprint, if you will, of an email devotional that I receive from a dear brother in our faith.  I invite you to set aside a few moments to read this and think on these things.  Father, bless all who read this and accept the challenge to allow the Holy Spirit to identify the areas in our lives, one at a time, where we have and do call You LORD and yet do not obey.  We thank You for Your Grace and humbly ask in the name above all names, Jesus Christ our LORD and SAVIOR. Amen.
“He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. ‘Then a voice said to him, ‘Get up Peter; kill and eat them.’…’Never Lord,’ Peter declared. ‘I have never in my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.’ The voice spoke again, ‘If God says something is acceptable, don’t say it isn’t.’  The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was pulled up again to heaven.” Acts 10:11-16
 
This account in Acts, which tells of Peter’s vision from God that sets the course for his going and ministering to and having fellowship with a non-Jew. Something strictly forbidden by Jewish law. It is much used by the Church as an illustration of our tendency to restrict just who we will love and reach out to. But in it is something more. Something usually missed by most of us who read the account.
 
I’ve a friend that calls this passage “the great contradiction.” Why? Because of two words spoken by Peter, and in the same address; “Never,” and “Lord.” Do you see it? In the same breath, Peter calls Him Lord, yet refuses to do what He commands. In his relationship with His God, what greater contradiction could there be?
Here’s a more penetrating question for each of us. To what degree are our lives and relationship with Him a great contradiction as well? In how many areas and ways do we call Him Lord, yet disregard, disobey, and even defy His will and direction for our lives? Where has He spoken His purpose to us, and we, for whatever reason or justification, told Him, “Never Lord?” Where are we doing so now?

I think we are most prone to this sin, and yes, it is sin, when Christ leads us to a place far outside our comfort zone. He requires of us something out of our ordinary experience. Something we were sure He never would. I have lost track of all the times I have heard believers say, “I don’t think the Lord would do that.” I’ve said it myself. Surely that mindset was upon Peter. The Jews had very strict dietary regulations and boundaries. He could not envision the Father ever taking him outside of them. Yet He did. Where are the self-made boundaries that we’ve set up in our lives that put a limit to just how deep our obedience to Him will go?
Where are we living “the great contradiction?”

 
Be assured of something. Jesus will call us on this contradiction. In His word He said, “Why do you call Me Lord, and yet do not do what I say?” It’s a piercing question against which none of our excuses, justifications, and rationalizations can stand. All the contradictions in our lives fall before that question. We may spend our lives running from it, but in the end, we will stand before Him and give account. There will be no lives of contradiction in heaven. That being the case, why do we insist on living them on earth?

Christ meets us where we are, and where we are is filled with contradictions. Growth in grace is a process of those contradictions being removed, one contradiction at a time. Do you welcome that? Or, do you go on living “the great contradiction?”

Blessings,
Pastor O

Published by permission.

when things get in the way


“As they talked together, I thought about all the times our “dates” have gotten interrupted, or when the trees have gotten in the way, or when our plans have changed.  Most times it would leave me being frustrated- because my focus was always on ME- wanting to make MYSELF happy.” ~Julie Harris

Source: when things get in the way

How often are we guilty of missing a blessing by God?  We all get busy focused on our desires, goals, and plans.  How very often we find ourselves in a situation not so different, it might not be a stroll with our husband or wife, it might be at work or the store or anyone of a number of moments.  The same and yet different, different yes and yet the same in that we are interrupted for our intended course.

As Julie has pointed out, “…those things are really blessings in disguise – if only we know what to look for.”

We plan and yet God calls us to live in the moment.  To look to Him for what we need now.  Not only what we need, we are to see how He wants us to meet the needs of others.  Blessings come in so many different ways, are we looking?

Blessings and Peace, ~Robert

walking with me


“I am so thankful for the  many “trees” that have stood with me and supported me throughout the years.  And I am grateful to be walking this journey of life-

with my husband

my family

and my family in Christ…

and you!” ~Julie Harris

stepping in time we walk in stride  thankful you  are by my  side…  with no one else I’d rather be-  all is right  when you’re walking with me I came home the other day to BOTH tv…

Source: walking with me

Who are the “trees” in your life and mine, the ones we need to reach out to and simply say thank you for being a part of my life?  Great or small, each has gifted us with a portion of themselves and contributed to who we are and will become.

For those of us in Christ Jesus, God uses everything in our life to work His out the transformation in us into the likeness of Jesus! Paul told us to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind,…” Romans 12:2.  As God uses His word to work this renewal, He also uses brothers and sisters in Christ in this process.  In Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Blessing and Peace Always,

~Robert

The first gleam of dawn…


“So, stop being so hard on yourself…surrender those thoughts to HIM! It’s a new day to love the Lord and to recognize how much He loves YOU!”  ~Julie Harris

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 2 Corinthians 10:5  

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,     which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.     They have no idea what t…

Source: The first gleam of dawn…

O Light of light, shine in!


“We must stop looking down and keep looking forward,” spoke my wise friend! A simple statement, but a profound reminder to keep my eyes fixed on the path ahead, and not the ground.

Source: O Light of light, shine in!

Heart Thoughts – Wineskins


Today, Pastor O challenges us to realize that we might have again placed God in a box, an old wineskin…
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” Mark 2:22……..’We know God easily if we do not constrain ourselves to define Him.” Joseph Joubert….”The life of a disciple may be rigorous, but it is never rigid……Though we can certainly expect Him to be constant, we cannot expect Him to be predictable.” Chris Tiegreen
 
Judging, if I may use that word, from what I see on Facebook and other places these days, there seem to be a great many people who feel they have pretty much figured out what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will do and how They will act. We’ve done quite the job of putting labels upon each other, so its small wonder we should try to place labels upon Him. We see ourselves as flexible and would reject the idea of being considered, “old wineskins.” Yet our flexibility seems to disappear whenever we come into contact with anyone who might not agree with our concept of the 3 in 1 God. There is much tragedy to be shared in all of this, but the greatest tragedy is that we have succeeded to a very great degree in removing the mystery of who He is. Our western minds want a Father, a Jesus, a Holy Spirit that we can have reasonable expectations as to how They will show up in our lives. We don’t like surprises, and we certainly don’t like living in the unexpected. I believe very strongly in having correct doctrine and theology. However, we can construct a God that we insist stays within the bounds of our doctrine, theology, and especially the characteristics of our own group. We don’t want Him to step outside the boundaries we’ve set for Him. When that happens, we become old wineskins, and we can be just as unaware of that as were the Pharisees Jesus spoke of.

Chris Tiegreen writes, “Do we take the time to ponder which of our own wineskins have attempted to accommodate Jesus and failed?….On what points are we rigid? Where do our expectations lie? Do we insist that Jesus bring about our own vision for the future? Do we try to constrain Him to our church structures? Do we rely on methodology in our ministry? (They)….may be good, but Jesus will not fit. He defies constraint. The Lion of Judah cannot be tamed.”

Jesus said in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.” We cannot control the wind. Why do we seek to control He who is the Source of the wind? Joubert’s quote is powerful. The less we seek to define Almighty God, the more we may know Him. And the desire of His heart, His greatest desire, is that we know Him. He is a mystery. He says so Himself. But He invites us to enter into His mystery, and behold Him to reveal Himself in its midst. To do that, we have to let go of all of our presumptions about Him. I had a very great friend who has since gone home to Him. One of the favorite things he used to say was that he had an “Oops theology.” As in, “Oops, I guess I was wrong.” Old wineskins can never live in such a theology. Only new ones can. He will never violate the truth and authority of His Word, but we must know that our limited minds cannot begin to understand how deep, high, and wide His truth really is.

I continue to grow older, and my natural skin is losing the soft, flexible feel it once had. Yet it is my fervent hope that the “skin” of my heart remain as tender and pliable as that of a child. How about you? In the spiritual realm, we’re all wineskins. Are we old ones…..or new?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Create in me… by Julie Harris


Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…”

 

Source: Create in me…

Heart Thoughts – A Reputation


But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive.”
Shared by permission from Pastor O
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis……I know all the things you do and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to Me again. Unless you do I will come upon you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” Revelation 3:1-3
 
I realize that there is disagreement in the Church as to how we are to apply the book of Revelation to it’s life today. Still, regardless of where your “theology” fits into it’s message, to deny that His Spirit speaks to the Church now through it all is the height of foolishness. What the Spirit says to the church at Sardis scores a direct hit on me as a pastor, an individual, and as a part of the Body of Christ. We disregard it to our great peril.

The “angel” the Spirit of Christ speaks to is the pastor of the body of believers found in Sardis. What pierces my heart here is the use of the word “reputation.” For most of us, our reputations mean everything. How we are viewed by those around us carries tremendous weight. What the Lord is saying to the fellowship at Sardis is that in the eyes of the culture around them and even in the sight of other believers, they have the reputation of being centers of His Life. It would also seem to be the opinion of those in that church as well. What should shake us to our very foundation is that it was not the view of Christ. He saw a tremendous amount of activity for Him, but He did not see a body of believers rooted and grounded in Him. Think on that for a moment.

What do we generally see as being a church filled with life? Top of the line worship with high quality skills in musicianship and voice. Skilled communicators in the pulpit. Many and varied ministries that care for children, youth, singles, as well as home and care groups geared towards those with special needs. A ministry pointed toward reaching out to the community and drawing them into the fellowship. An atmosphere where there is a sense of excitement, of something “happening.” I think that these are just a few of the things we’d define as a church with a reputation for life. I think that much if not all of these were found in the congregation at Sardis. All of them are good things. Very good. Yet none of them seemed to enter into Christ’s assessment of them as to their being a true Life giving fellowship. How could this be? What could be missing?

It’s human to desire that all that is listed above be found in a church. They should be. But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive. They move and are active, but they have no soul. Without realizing it, a living body can become the same. Sardis had crowds. Sardis had ministries. Sardis had a name. Sardis did not have life. His Life.

The question we have to ask ourselves, whether we are the “angel” of our fellowship, a leader in it, or a member of it, is, are we, in the midst of all we do, really producing Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ? Are we overcoming the world both within and without by the power of His resurrected life? Is real transformation taking place in the lives of the people, and are those lives marked by maturity, victory, and wholeness? Are we trying to take flesh, and by our efforts, make it better flesh, or are fallen, lost lives being laid hold of by the power of His Life and made new? Completely new. Have we drifted from the “first things” into just doing church things? Have we become so enamored with our reputation among men that we no longer really know, or care what our reputation with Him really is? Can He even speak to us about it? It starts with the “angel” but the speaking goes on throughout the entire body. He’s speaking. Are we hearing?

 
He speaks today as to our reputations.  What does He say about ours? What is our reputation…..with Him?

Blessings,
Pastor O

That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed


An honest observation about the obstacles that come along in life and then the TRUTH about HIM who gives the plan and leads the way!!! Be blessed by this post.
Blessings and Peace the THANKSGIVING season. ~Robert

Coffee with a Shot of Faith

hole-205448_1280

I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of…

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He Keeps The Key


Is there some problem in your life to solve,

Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.

Is there some door closed by the Father’s hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait–for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought ‘twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.

Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees ’tis best,
Will give it THEE.
–Anonymous

The poem was part of my devotion this morning and I had to share it with you.  I have personally struggled for a long time with my work versus my call.  To be fair, I ran away from God’s call on my life for several decades.  God tarried with me for a very long time and I must now be willing to wait.  During this time, I must be active in growing by His grace, learning and preparing for the day when HE opens the door.

The rub, the issue for is figuring out how to be “all in” while not being in ministry full time, i.e. earning my living from full time ministry.  There is this truth; as a child of God, saved by grace through Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are ALL in ministry!  We are all called to as ambassadors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the reconciliation of man back to a right relationship with God.  There is no other calling for us as we journey here on our way to our eternal home.

What we do to fund our ministry may be as a homemaker or professional or clerk or craftsman…  Who we are though is not based on our vocation, we are children of the KING, the Creator of everything, and Savior of all mankind!  As I type this, I’m getting excited about what we are called to do and there is the rub for me.  I’m not wired to be bi-vocational and this is because God created me for full time service.

“He keeps the key”, this IS right and true.  When HIS timing is right and true and we are prepared, then He will open the door and provide the key.  We are all called to share God’s Gospel of Grace and we should be looking for those opportunities all the time, regardless of where we work.  Our labor is for the LORD!!!

Blessings & Peace Aleays,

~Robert

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