30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Promise Keeper

“Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

Faithful Father, you have never lied and you never will.  I believe you.  Amen

I had a Christian woman tell me this once: “I know God has forgiven me.  But it’s hard for me to believe it.  It’s too hard for me to forgive myself.”  That’s why I nodded along when I heard a Christian teacher once say that there’s too many of us out there that have accepted our Lord as Savior but we just aren’t living our lives like we believe His promises.  It’s even hard for me sometimes when I look in the mirror to see what God sees.  To believe He loves me, blemishes and all.  It’s hard to believe He will take care of me without my striving and worrying.  But He will.

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

He has never, ever lied my friend.  He never, ever will.  What might happen, however, is that He will fulfill a promise in ways you didn’t expect.  Or in ways you may not agree or understand.  In fact, when I was doing a bit of research about God’s promises I found a blog that refuted God fulfilling promises.  In truth, the person sounded very wounded.  He also sounded poorly educated about God’s character and His ways.  His first example was of Genesis 2:17 when God admonishes Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, “…for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  The blogger explained that not only had they eaten the fruit but they went on to live for more than 900 years.

What he missed is 1) their immediate death was a loss of the close spiritual relationship with God and their sinlessness and 2) they did, in fact die.  You see, when we look at God’s promises without a knowledge of Him and through our own broken lenses we can miss God at work.  If we, instead, believe that God is the only perfect being to exist and His ways are always right then we ask better questions and submit to Him in trust.  

I recently had a conversation with a godly woman about women as pastors.  Having become more educated about scripture I felt confident in holding my own – as she said the Bible has conflicting lessons about this topic.  My first comment was this: “God’s Word is never in conflict.  If you see conflict you are either misunderstanding context, historical meaning, or having translation issues.  Understanding that parts of God’s will and God’s promises may be difficult to accept also helps us to realize our sinful desires rarely line up with God.

Friend, if you are struggling to accept that God will not back out of a promise to you, turn back to His Word.  He is faithful.  More faithful than anyone will ever be in your life.   And for that we can celebrate with glory to Him!

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, religion, Uncategorized

Save The Date

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 1 Corinthians 15:12-13

Among your friends and family there’s probably an atheist, fence-sitter, and a fog dweller.  While you might understand the first of these two, let me explain the “fog dweller.”  Someone who goes about their life not seeking answers to the big questions, not thinking about creation or death, not pondering if there is a heaven. Just getting by day to day.  And if you don’t have some of each of these in your life, you might want to take up Jesus’ admonition to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  Because when you do your own faith will be tested, honed and hewed.

Each of the letters in the Bible by the disciples gives us examples of believers struggling to define their faith and the true meaning of the gospel.  The planted churches all were in places hostile to the message of Jesus – whether by Jews or pagans.  So, developing believers that understood and stood firm in their faith was crucial. 

14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1 Cor 15:14

Ouch!  That’s a pretty bold statement.  And Paul had the experience to back it up.  He himself saw the risen Jesus!  And while the members of the church in Corinth believed in Jesus’ resurrection, they were surrounded by a culture that almost celebrated death.  The Greeks of that time saw the body as a prison and welcomed death to escape from it.  They laughed at the idea of resurrection. And friends, there’s people around you that believe the same thing today.

While sitting bedside of my quickly waning mother-in-law who was on hospice, I had to ask myself, do I really, I mean really believe in, not only Jesus’ resurrection, but the resurrection of the entire body of the church?  Do I believe that Bev will be resurrected one day?  And therefore, I should only mourn this time “in between” and find joy in the “not yet.”

A friend of mine shared with me once how her son came to her with horrible news about an acquaintance of his.  Their newborn baby had unexpectantly died.  Her son, of course, was distraught for his friend.  And although the death of any loved one can bring so much pain, the death of a child seems doubly so.  My friend contemplated how hard it must be to experience so much pain without a belief in God.  Her son, a non-believer, was apoplectic.  “How could a god do such a thing?”  The great “why?”  He doesn’t believe the promised hope for the future and therefore doesn’t enjoy any of the comfort God can provide.

19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Cor 15:19-20

You see friends, if I don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead then what’s really the point of ever quoting in John 3:16?   True belief in a resurrection redemption is what brings true comfort.  And times of great pain, especially death, are the ultimate opportunities to show the world we live as saved and redeemed people trusting wholly in the stated promises by Jesus.

I realized while in my Cherith I was a fog dweller when it came to the resurrection.  I hadn’t thought a lot about it, mostly because I haven’t had many people around me pass away.  But as God has fed me the solid food of His Holy Word, I’m coming to understand the whole picture.  The beauty of living in the “between” of Jesus has come and is reigning and the “not yet” of the promised resurrection and the new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). And while Elijah didn’t have the comfort of knowing the risen Christ he surely contemplated his death during those two years in the ravine. Thank God we have more than just the Old Testament prophets to lean on! We have the truth, the proven, historical truth of a risen King!

I recently was listening to an episode of The White Horse Inn podcast — which for those of you interested in getting some solid Christian food I highly recommend it.  They’ve been discussing what “the good life” means to Christians.  They describe us as living in the “here and not yet.”  I love the analogy by one pastor as like the marriage steps.  We once were single, now we are engaged but not yet married.  We shouldn’t act like single people because we have a commitment to Christ.  But the marriage isn’t yet consummated and we need to stay in the preparation stage until the date arrives.  So, we work with our Holy Spirit wedding planner in inviting friends and family to this holy event.  The guest list is expansive but yes, limited to those willing to come. We live for our betrothed, His thoughts and ways becoming our ways. And we dream of the day we are sure will arrive.  When all those friends are gathered up and Jesus is waiting at the altar for us.

As the hours wound down to when I knew my last goodbyes to Bev were near, I found I could look at her with sadness and with joy in knowing not only was she going to a place far more glorious than here, but that one day we would be reunited at a party for all the ages.  A party that is to come.  A party that I want you all to be at – so will you RSVP today and yes, you can bring a friend or two.

Do you truly believe in the resurrection of the dead?

Are you living a life preparing for the New Eden, living a life of a bride in waiting – excitedly planning, preparing, inviting? 

Speaking of heaven — please enjoy this beautiful poem my daughter, Madison Dooley, wrote and spoke at her grandmother’s funeral.

To See What She Sees

For Grandma Bev

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees

To see you face-to-face, shining with glory.
To grab your hand and feel it wrapped around mine. 

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To be clothed in robes of white. To be completely whole, totally fulfilled. To be without sorrow, want, or pain.

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To feel roads of gold under my feet and see angels above.
To look ahead and see you seated on the throne, pointing at the open seat next to you, for me. 

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To see the mountaintops glistening with glory. To hear the angels and the saints singing Your praise, oh what a melodious sound it must be.

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To see the faces of those who have gone before me, shining with glory.
To see the colors in all their vibrancy, the flowers in all their brilliance.

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To see the brokenhearted, the disabled, the outcasted – healed and totally restored. To feel anew again.
To dance freely to the songs of heaven.
To know the true meaning of Paradise.
To look upon life on Earth and finally see the masterpiece you are sewing.
To feel your presence wrapped around me like a tight hug.

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To see the river of life flowing from your throne, glowing like a crystal.
To see the tree of life towering over me, boasting its healing fruits.

To have no need for the sun, or even a lamp, because darkness is no more, there is no night.

Oh Lord my God, to see what she sees.

To see the mysteries of heaven unfolded before my eyes.
To look down and see cosmos swirling beneath my feet, looking small compared to You. To experience the love of the Father for all that it was, it is, and is to come.

To be without sin.
To be exactly who You created me to be.

Oh, to see what she sees.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, religion, Uncategorized

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.  A time to be born and a time to die.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

As a kid living in southern California, I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland a number of times.  Before each visit my brother and I would plan out how to strategically use our tickets – yes, back then we had ticket books for rides.  That’s where the saying, “It’s an E ticket ride” comes from, meaning the best ones.  In the ticket book there’d be loads of A tickets for the kiddie rides and shows.  But only a few, valuable E tickets.  I imagined how much fun I was going to have spinning around the tea cups and travelling through the Haunted Mansion.  But when I got to Disneyland all I could think of was the next ride.  And the next.  When we would leave, I felt a sense of disappointment.  Like I hadn’t really been there at all.  So, I looked forward to the day we could go back and begin the process of yearning for something better around the next bend all over again.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverb 27:1

That has been a lifelong problem for me – always looking for tomorrow to bring me joy and peace.  It’s also brought me a lot of worry.  And although God wants us to be good stewards of our life, planning and preparing, He doesn’t want our hearts and minds to be absent from today.  Or worse, trapped in the past.  During difficult seasons we can so easily project our life to what we hope it to be or catastrophize our life to what we are worried it will be.  We often also wish we could just go back to the way things were.  Back home, back to a perceived better or safer time.  

On my rides home from the Magic Kingdom, I would wish I could go back.  Go back and relish each ride, each experience to its fullest.   And while I was doing that, I was probably missing out again on what was happening right then and there.  I can only imagine Elijah, a quiet, rugged mountain shepherd on day 50 or 100 or even 200 in Cherith Ravine letting his mind wander back home to Gilead.  Being just a man, he probably once or twice longed for his old way of life where kings and queens weren’t threatening his life.  Where he could pick berries and drink fresh goat milk each day instead of relying on ravens for food.  But God needed him right there, right at that time paying attention.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

It’s a hard lesson when we are in pain, suffering through bad news, or being persecuted.  We are admonished to trust in God for tomorrow and not yearn to go backwards to home.  And yet, in the midst of my Cherith I found myself doing just that.

Both my children had returned to their own homes after saying their final goodbyes to their beloved grandmother.  My husband too had returned back to a job that needed his presence.  That next day, after a particularly hard few moments and, to be honest, watching my brother-in-law’s little family gather closely together, I needed to escape.  I felt so alone and incapable of the task of helping shepherd my mother-in-law through her final days.  I took my eyes off the Lord and placed them back on myself.  A phone call home had me crying out to my husband, “I can’t do this.  I’m not strong enough.  I want to come home right now.”

I wanted to go back to before the cancer.  I wanted to envelope myself in my comfortable routine back home.  Fear and loneliness wrapped around me like a heavy blanket.  And then I remembered Elijah.  I looked toward the majesty of the Colorado Rockies and remembered God can do all things.  And He needed me right there, right now.  Not longing for home or better times.  Not worrying about the future. Instead, paying attention to the beautiful moments and lessons He had placed before me for today.

22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

I still will battle looking for the next “better thing” around the corner.  But the time between that search and remembering to enjoy this day has reduced to mere moments as I pull my thoughts back to looking for Jesus right now.  There is a time for everything. To prepare and to sow, to cry and to laugh. To keep and throw away. To mourn and to dance. When we step outside God’s timing we find ourselves at odds with His plan. But when we live in His moments, His seasons, we find ourselves in harmony. That is God’s promised peace.  And that my friends, is exactly where the joy is.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, religion, Uncategorized

From Why? to What?

Lessons from Cherith

He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38

During the time in my own land of Cherith, a place where I was separated from my home, my regular way of life and exposed to great sadness, I so needed to rely on the vast promises of God.  Yet each day I battled the “why” of it all.  Why didn’t the cancer doctors see and recognize the increased cancer markers in my beloved mother-in-law’s blood tests?  Why did each visit to the emergency room end without answers?  But more importantly, why would this woman, a shining light for God, an inspiring gift to everyone around her, a woman, as her pastor reflected at her funeral with a beautiful aura surrounding her, be stricken with cancer and taken so soon? Why God, oh why?

How often have we lamented that why question in our lives?  Why are we suffering financially?  Why is my child rebelling?  Why is my marriage on the rocks?  Why did I suffer that abuse?  It seems as Christians we are expected to answer those questions.  I believe many of us avoid speaking the Gospel to our friends, family and neighbors out of fear of being asked those why’s of life.  In fact, as a young college student who was approached one day on my campus by two religious folks, I too asked the big why – why is there suffering?  You see I believed in God but didn’t really know anything about Him.  Unfortunately, neither did these two young proselytizers.

I recently heard the statement: “If we view the world as a Christian, it all makes sense.”  On the surface that’s a real head scratcher since this world seems so upside down especially now.  Broken families, broken lives, so much pain and death abound.  But take a step back, way back to Genesis 3.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. Genesis 3:17-18

And that’s just a taste of what man’s rebellion wrought.  Creation is currently at odds with God.  And just as cells divide and life moves without our intervention, our world around us is no longer under our full dominion.  So yes, there’s floods and fire and famine and cancer.  And it has absolutely nothing to do with whether we are a good person or not.  In addition to this result of The Fall, we became separated from God, always seemingly looking for ways to buck His system.  And we face the consequences for our actions, both individually and collectively.

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’” Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”  Exodus 5:1-2

And we know how well that went for Pharoah.  But what was Moses’ first reaction after Pharoah knuckled down and made the Israelites work harder?  “Why?”  He asked God why did He have to make things worse and why did Moses have to be the brunt of everything?  From a Christian point of view, we should say, “There’s consequences in this world when anyone chooses to not submit – whether you choose to believe in God or not.”  This is not “Karma,” it’s simply a cause and effect of acting outside God’s desires for us.  

And while we may cry out, “why?!” in the moment whether in situations of our own making or of those in which we have no power, we need to remember the “what.”  What is God doing in me or even in the world?  What is God expecting of me as a believer? What is the promise I can hold on to?  The early Israelites had a decent excuse.  They didn’t know God as well as we do now.  They didn’t have all the stories of how He has rescued and protected His people.  They didn’t have Jesus’ brother James telling them there will be trials and in them they need to seek the lessons of God.  They didn’t have Jesus come to earth and die for their sins.  They didn’t have the Book of Revelation.  But we do.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So, each day as I sat beside Bev’s bed as her body succumbed not to cancer but to an infection, I battled the “why” demon. I wanted someone punished.  I wanted someone to suffer like I was now suffering.  Then I heard a whisper, “She gets to come home to me.  And you need to see what I am teaching you.”

You see even in her suffering, on her death bed, this Christian called Bev was a conduit for Jesus.  A teacher and a comforter.  I finally realized it didn’t matter the “why.”  For one, there really were no answers that fully satisfied.  At times like that we just need to submit to God’s sovereignty and say, “I don’t know but He does.”  The only real answers that I continued to come back to were the “what.”

What did I truly believe about God?  And what was He trying to teach me?

Christian Friend, if you earnestly believe the Bible, believe that God is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all it’s inhabitants, if you believe He is sovereign and He sent His Son to die for our sins, if you believe that there is a place greater than Eden awaiting us then you could understand why Bev wasn’t worried.  Why she could make us all laugh at her darkest hour.  Why, in the middle of a conversation she looked over my shoulder, waved and with a child-like voice exclaimed in joy, “Hi Jesus!”

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

You see I didn’t need to know the answers to my worldly questions and I definitely didn’t need retribution.  I needed to remember that Jesus hates death because it’s a sign of our broken world.  And He is right now preparing a room more beautiful than I can imagine for even me.  When He comes back we will all be raised up to live forever in a beautiful place that has no suffering, no death, no pain, no war, no hate, no fear.  And that is just what I needed to learn.

Are you asking “why” in your difficult time when you should be asking “what?”

What is the Lord teaching or asking you right now?  

Faith

Night & Day

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5

For about six months one year I barely slept.  I had terrible sinus issues and when I laid down they were exacerbated.  What little sleep I got was sitting up and in short bursts.  Eventually, the lack of sleep caught up to me.  I was so irritable and quick to cry.  After a successful surgery I, thankfully, found myself back in blissful dreamland.  That time  showed me how important God’s structure for us truly is.  

When you think about our lives, we have many structures God created for us.  Besides night and day, we have our years mapped out.  For many, our days are also broken up in going to work or school and coming home, hopefully with a bit of rest in between.  We count our days in school until we graduate then we take a brief rest and head off to college or jobs.  Our gardens are planted for Spring and Summer harvests and take a rest while we plan and prepare for Winter.  Each year we mark the end of 365 days and make a plan for something new in the next.  Our birthdays mark a time to evaluate what we’ve accomplished and dream big for the future.  Today, marks Sunday, the first day of the new week.  It also is a day of rest and time to honor God.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

We’ve heard the saying, “the only thing guaranteed in life is death and  taxes.”  But  that’s not really true.  We know when we lay down our head at night the morning will come.  We know the cold of winter will give way to the beauty of spring.  We know that each day we will get older, not younger.   God’s plan, His structure for us, is like so many of His gifts to us – a comfort.  And it’s a reflection of who He is  —  the  Lord of this marvelous creation that can be counted on to be with us forever and ever. 

 

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

The God of Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

When you hear people argue about God being a man-made construct I always wonder what they think about the concept of hope.  Hope, in general, is experienced by other animals in simplistic forms.  My dog hopes that a piece of my dinner will fall off my plate in to his mouth.  And given his level of whining and drooling his hopefulness can get pretty intense.  But if my dog were to say, get cancer, would he understand the hopefulness of being cured?  When my previous dog, Molly was old and ill we called in a woman who does home euthanasia.  As the drugs were administered into Molly’s body we gave her a feast of her favorite treats.  She resisted succumbing in her desire for one more treat.  But was she able to hope to not die?  To hope that something better awaited her after death?

It seems throughout God’s animal kingdom creatures were gifted with just enough mental capacity to meet their basic needs.  It’s obviously so or else we’d see them building super computers and skyscrapers.  The animal kingdom doesn’t concern themselves with their fellow animals’ living conditions in far off lands, much less those in the house next door.  As humans, God instill in us something that no man can truly explain.  A sense of the past, the present, and a hope for the future.

It’s that hope, that “looking forward to God’s good work” in our situation that is so uniquely human.  And I praise God for it.  

Like love, hope is found in many forms.  We can hope it doesn’t rain out the baseball game.  We hope we get the job.  We hope our vacation turns out the way we dream.  We can hope for a better life.  Hope for a cure.  Hope for a child.  But the hope God really wants us to rely on is the hope based on trusting that what He has in store for you and I is for good.  

We can have hope that the trials we currently are going through will teach us something important and will leave us with something good.  We can have hope that God has a good plan for not only ourselves but for our families who believe in him. We can place our hope in a future beyond this place more glorious than we can imagine.

I’m so thankful God gifted us with this unique brand of hope.  Without it we have hopelessness and despair.  We would be left only with anger and disappointment and confusion.  

When I look around these days, I can see the destructiveness from lacking in God’s hope.  The aching and yearning for answers.  It leads people to depression, violence, and self- harm.  But that’s because deep in each of us is the knowledge that brokenness is not the state God wants for us.  Its foreign in our bodies and therefore makes us uncomfortable and unhappy with life.  We desire to be hopeful.  Some of us just haven’t accepted the prescribed method – God.


30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

The Closing Door

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

It’s a strange conflict we humans live out – we all know that everything will die but we live as though we will never die.  As though the ones we love will never perish.  As Christians, when we don’t acknowledge this full truth, we can trick ourselves into thinking we have time to finally obey God or to have that salvation talk with our son or daughter.

Having recently completed a study on Revelation it’s become clearer to me how I am living that half-truth.  I have people in my life that I really want to be with in eternity.  People that I love and don’t want them to be prey to Babylon’s vices.  

I’m praising God today for time and for our continuance of living in the age of Grace.  I heard the evangelist Joyce Meyer say on a number of occasions that we don’t know when the events recorded in Revelation will take place but we are certainly one more day closer.  And once those events unfold the Age of Grace will become the Age of Judgment.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.  Revelation 22:17

The study of Revelation was difficult to hear at times.  Until you get to the last couple of chapters.  Then you see the overwhelming beauty of the new Eden unfold.  And you can’t help but say “I want that.  I want that for myself and the ones I love!”  You certainly don’t want what takes place in the previous chapters!  Even in those chapters, fraught with despair and destruction however, God adds His Holy pauses.  He gives us more chances to turn to him.  He gives us more time, more grace.  More than what any of us deserve.

I’ve read that God will only prolong our trials until we finally “get it.”  Until we finally just trust Him and obey.  It’s like He really doesn’t want to pull the final trigger.  The door is ever so slowly closing while He beckons more of us in.  But it is closing to be sure.  

Until that door is closed and we are gathered up into the heavens, into the new Eden, I want to use this God-given time wisely.  I want to take advantage of this Age of Grace and help squeeze the people I love through that door.  


Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Are You Prepared?

Lesson #12: God’s kingdom will be established and we need to be prepared.

“But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; 
it will be holy.  Jacob will possess 
his inheritance.” 
Obadiah 1:17

My current BSG Bible study focuses solely on Easter and the days leading up to Jesus’ death.  The other day we were asked to read Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:19-20.  And if you do, you’ll find almost the same words written in each about Jesus’ instructions to the disciples in His final hours.  As Christians, we should be very familiar with what took place – the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine.   What I love about actually studying the Bible is you see all the ancient links back and forth and the promises for the future, supported by those fulfilled promises.  

While they were eating, Jesus took 
bread, and when he had given thanks, 
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, 
saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 
Then he took a cup, and when he had given 
thanks, he gave it to them, saying, 
“Drink from it, all of you. This is my 
blood of the covenant, which is poured 
out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  
I tell you, I will not drink from this 
fruit of the vine from now on until that 
day when I drink it new with you in my 
Father’s kingdom.”  
Matthew 26:26-29

“When I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Jesus is drinking from the traditional third cup of the Passover meal – the one representing the blood of an animal sacrificed for sins to be “passed over.”  He establishes not only himself as the sacrifice for all eternity for our sins but then gives us the promise of reuniting with us.

“The kingdom of God has come near.  
Repent and believe the good news!” 
Mark 1:15

You’ll notice throughout the Bible that we humans are warned of how we should behave, what the punishment will be, and in the end those who believe will receive great reward.  In the prophesy of Obadiah, the people of Edom received their warning of destruction because of pride, gloating, treachery, thievery, and violence.  Yet, they did not listen.

“Just as you drank on my holy hill, 
so all nations will drink continually; 
they will drink and drink and be as 
if they had never been.” 
Obadiah 1:16

Obadiah warns the people that what they sought for so richly would be turned against them with voracity.  Imagine now our current world.  And imagine all the sins turned against us two-fold.  The killing of millions of unborn children alone must make God so angry.  I can only imagine that we would be struck barren and childless in an instant.  And therefore, unable to continue creating new generations.

Thank God gives us the warnings.  And in heeding them we can then receive the glorious inheritance.

“Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” 

Alan Redpath

Yes, our kingdoms.  So many of us have built our own kingdoms on the hill – just like the people of Edom.  We look down on our fellow man with a smugness that “we have it all under control.” Our bank accounts are satisfactory, our marriages are holding together, our homes protect us.  And yet we are warned all this will be “stubble” (vs 18).  How many of us live with the anticipation of “Thy Kingdom Come?”

Because it will come.  You may be fortunate to be in a church where that is a focus of the teaching.  Where you are tasked to constantly be in a mode of preparation.  Where you are admonished to gather up as many people as possible for the kingdom.  I have yet to be in such a church.  And yet the entire Bible is a warning of the coming kingdom.  

If this last year, during the great pandemic, has taught me anything is that our earthly time is limited and we are tasked with no more greater act than preparing our hearts and minds for the coming kingdom.  Situations in which I find myself that are not godly become glaring reminders of the coming of Jesus.

How about instead — “Are you prepared?”

Throughout this last year we kept hearing the teaching, “Faith over fear.”  And yet fear held most of us captive.  And fear of what? Death?  If that was the case, as Christians we should have been at the front of the line shouting “hallelujah, our time has come!”  The signs on our churches should have asked, “Are you ready?”

And what of that readiness and our own kingdoms?  

The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work. Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

God has issued His warnings.  Just like with the people of Edom, He has called us to prepare for the onslaught of His power and might.  He has promised us the inheritance of the kingdom.  Are you in constant training?  Are you ready to be called up in an instant?  Which side of the battle lines will you be on?  

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Transformation Prayer, Uncategorized

Retire Our Gavels

Therefore let us stop 
passing judgment on one 
another. Instead, make 
up your mind not to put 
any stumbling block or 
obstacle in the way of 
a brother or sister. 
Romans 14:10 

A prayer to not be judgemental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


Recently, my BSGs were talking about why the world’s major religions continue to reject Jesus.  We had a great discussion about the belief systems of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews.  It was great to see how knowledgeable the group was from either taking classes or reading up on the topic.  What stood out to me is how much more restrictive these other religions truly are and how much work they require of their followers to attain their end goal.  And when we start requiring people to work for their salvation it seems to inevitably lead to hierarchies or even caste-type systems. 

You, then, why do you judge 
your brother or sister? Or 
why do you treat them with 
contempt? For we will all 
stand before God’s judgment 
seat. 
Galatians 6:10

Jesus swept this type of contempt away.  In one painful death, we are all promised salvation through belief in Him.  That’s it.  No crazy ritual.  No particular way we dress.  No matter our family background.  No matter our wealth or lack thereof.  No matter our origin of birth.  No need to pray at certain times a day looking in a certain direction.  No flowers and incense placed for offering.  Just, “I believe Jesus is God and my savior.”

What that one act does is it sets us all on even ground.  Because one day, the truth is, we will all die.  Our wealth, status, family tree, how many followers we have on Instagram will not matter one bit.  Therefore, to God, it doesn’t matter right now.  He cares about one thing and one thing only – the salvation of our soul.

So why do we feel the need to judge differently?

Stop judging by mere appearances, 
but instead judge correctly.” 
John 7:24  

Jesus made this statement in defense of healing people on the Sabbath.  The crowd called him “demon-possessed.” He stated that if a boy can be circumcised under the Law on the Sabbath why did they judge Him so harshly for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?  Jesus wasn’t doing the things the way the crowd demanded they be done so therefore He was a borderline lunatic or heretic.

When I embarked on what I called my “Sparkly New Life” a few years ago I realized my greatest issue at the time was my relentless judging of people based on “The Rules According to Kris.”  It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when people don’t obey all your rules of life.  The statement, “I hate people who….” Or “I hate it when…” easily rolled off my tongue. 

I have noticed this, that when a man is full of the Holy Ghost, he is the very last man to be complaining of other people.

D.L. Moody

The topic of judgement has really got us Christians into hot water over the years.  It seems our history of judging harshly while not loving others really turned people away.  And now, we have flipped to not using judgement at all.  All behavior seems to be accepted at a number of our large denominations.  As a regular ole Christian, the topic of judgement has been difficult to define.  I know I’m to love others but what does loving someone who is actively sinning against the Word look like?

James has two helpful hints on how to treat people:

  1. My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2:1
  2. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 5:19-20

In other words, treat the rich man and the poor man with the same respect.  And when we see a fellow Christian on the wrong tract we are to, with the help of God, try and guide them back to the Word.  

Notice there is a distinction between judging the behavior of our fellow Christians and those who don’t know the Word.  It’s unkind and unhelpful to expect behaviors from people who either don’t know what they’re doing is wrong or just don’t believe in God and His consequences.  But no matter the situation we are to act like Jesus – with lovingkindness.  And for us non-perfect people, with the recognition that the log in our eye is our first priority.  

I am so thankful for the grace that God affords me and the love He piles on me.  The days I leave the house looking like I should never have left my bed.  The days I can’t find my smile.  For the days when my beat-up VW bug was my only transportation.  For the days when I couldn’t afford the coolest jeans.  For the days when my child was screaming bloody murder in the store and I couldn’t quiet her.  All of it – my good side and my not so great side that I present to the world – God loves me no matter what.  I want to be like that for others.  A person who sees what God sees in others. 

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!