Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday. It's the day we remember Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey , fulfilling prophesy, declaring himself to be Messiah and King. As Jesus made this entrance everyone knew what it symbolized. Everyone knew what he was stating by his actions, and yet.....
....within just a few days they had rejected him as King and Messiah and on Friday crucified him. It appeared they had won and Jesus was just another failed Messiah pretender, but...
...three days later he rose from the dead. Clearly establishing another kind of kingdom ruled by a different kind of king. And this king, the gracious and loving savior, invites everyone into his kingdom. Admission is free, anyone can be part of it. The promises are wonderful. But this king is not finished yet...
...one day he will return and establish his rule and reign over all mankind. One day...
...one day at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
One day each of us will bow at Jesus feet and declare him Lord. One day the king of heaven will be king of all. Is he your king?
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I'm so glad he doesn't need my words, he knows my heart. I'm so grateful that the Holy Spirit speaks for me when words are absent. I want to ask, but do my words even ask for the right things? Does my mind even know what I really need? I realize there is so much that I don't know and that unknowing affects what I say to God. And why are my words all so selfish? All my thoughts are of me, my welfare, my good, my needs, my family, my health, my needs.....how can I come to God with thoughts of just me? He already knows what I need and is working on that. He's way ahead of me...light years ahead of me. He was working on the details of my life before he even made the universe. He loves me.
And so, as I can only imagine a child feels when they raise up stretched arms to a parent to be held, I come to God with no word, only outstretched arms and a cry, Father....
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
One of my readers posted this comment today. I thought it worthy of a post of its own. Thank you, gm, for sharing this story,
Monday, March 22, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Consider....consider that each man and woman, Christian, Jew or Muslim....atheist or Buddhist will all live our lives with choices we have made. Each of those courses have consequences. The choices and the route ahead will morph us into the person we have chosen to follow. Consider who you follow...you will soon be like them. The choices you make will shape your life, your identity and your eternity.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This morning I was talking with a friend about what a "mature" Christian looks like and we both agreed that it's not a matter of age or knowledge. It's a person committed to the Lord regardless of the terrain. Yes, there are difficult days in each life, but there are also wonderful days of just sitting at the beach watching the sunset. Life is full of blessings, trials, friends, and the things everyone must go through. The difference is evident by those who continue to climb toward the peak regardless of the challenges. It's simply a matter of perseverance. Keep going! Others have made it to the top, you can too.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I've been thinking a lot lately about the Christian life. Specifically MY Christian life. I've been trying to evaluate my route of recent years. Why has my odyssey gone this way? Why have I struggled at different times and why have other days been easy and inspired? It's clear that my walk with God has not been a progressively growing and increasingly happy life. I don't think anyone has that kind of walk with God.
Let me see if I can describe the Christian life from my own walk and perspective. For me, as I walk with God, it seems that my walk looks more life a long walk through the desert with an occasional stop at an oasis for refreshment and rest. An oasis is a strange place. In the middle of miles of sand, suddenly and for no reason, water, trees and life suddenly appear. It's at the oasis where a weary traveler can rest, get water and gain new strength.
It's my experience that my walk with God can best be described this way- There are many dry days as I continue to walk with God. All the way I know God is with me and caring for me, but days of joy, inspiration and great victory are rare. Then, suddenly and for no reason, I come to an oasis. It's wonderful! Refreshment, rest, water and revival of spirit. If I can, I linger at the oasis for a while...it's such a wonderful place, but at some point I must continue my walk and so I head back into the desert to continue my walk with God.
The oasis is great. They are needed. I would get discouraged and might give up if it weren't for the occasional oasis, but life with God has to be a life of dependence. It must be a life in which I look to God and trust him. I won't find that relationship at the oasis. I have to go out into the desert to discover this kind of relationship. It's the dry days when I learn to trust God. It's the days in the desert when I look to him to help me and give me what I need for the day. It's the dry days in the desert when I grow in my faith the most.
Some pray for an eternal oasis. They never want to leave the cool springs, the wonderful shade of the fig trees, the comfort of the oasis. But if you depend on the oasis you will never learn to depend on God. So, off to the desert we are led. Led by God to meet with him there. Dry days when we will find our richest walk with God. As I've tried to think through my own walk with God I think this describes my odyssey so far. It's not glorious. It's not always full of great testimonies to share. It's often dry and difficult, but it's my time with God in the desert where I find an intimacy with God I can never find at the oasis.
This is what I would call the normal Christian life. I think it's the real life of every Christian. Many linger long at the oasis not wanting to leave the comfort there, but some find a hunger for God more powerful than the comfort of the oasis and so they head off into the desert. It's there we find an intimacy and relationship with God that will never be found at the oasis. It's this strange contrast between oasis and desert that describe the walk of the Christian. It's not always glorious, it's not always easy. It's not filled with wonderful stories although there are some. There are days when the best we can say is, with God's help, we got through the day, but between rest at the oasis and walking with God through the desert we grow in faith. The goal? A walk with God that is lived in dependence on him. As best as I can describe it, this is my walk with God.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Then, something amazing happens. His sons come back from Egypt and announce, "Joseph is alive!" He doesn't believe them. He's in shock at the idea, but when he finally comes to his senses he makes plans to go to Egypt and see this son he has grieved over for more than 13 years.
As he begins the journey to Egypt God speaks to him in chapter 46,
Gen 46:1 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
Gen 46:2 God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here I am."
Gen 46:3 He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.
Gen 46:4 "I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes."
Now, as I read that I wondered, why didn't God tell him that Joseph was alive and calm his grief during those long 13 years? Why doesn't he tell us what he's working on in our lives that would make the long wait more endurable? Why must we live in the realm of the unknown until it's time to reveal his plan?
I think Jacob would have done everything he could to go to Egypt, buy Joseph back or bail him out of his dilemma and "save" him, but if he had done that then Joseph wouldn't have been there to tell Pharaoh about his dream, to rule the country, to learn how to manage, or to save thousands of lives. Jacob was only concerned for one life- Joseph, but God was concerned for everyone and Joseph was part of the redemption plan. God had to keep Jacob in the dark, waiting until his plan was finished.
Often, we have to "wait" in the unknown because if God told us how it was all going to work out we would surely mess it up. Often, the silence of "wait" is miserable, but God will tell us what he was working on when the time is right. It should make us look at the "wait" differently. A time of waiting is a time of anticipation....until God reveals what he's been working on in our lives. Waiting is hard, but it will be wonderfully worth it.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
Sunday, March 07, 2010
"I'm not trying to convert the entire nation of Israel and the entire nation of Palestine to Christianity. But at least if you can educate them about the ideology of love, the ideology of forgiveness, the ideology of grace. Those principles are great regardless, but we can't deny they came from Christianity as well."
Mr. Yousef says he felt burned out and decided to stop working for the Shin Bet in 2006, against their wishes. He made his way to friends in southern California whom he'd met through bible study.
As the son of a Muslim cleric, he says he had reached the conclusion that terrorism can't be defeated without a new understanding of Islam. Here he echoes other defectors from Islam such as the former Dutch parliamentarian and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Do you consider your father a fanatic? "He's not a fanatic," says Mr. Yousef. "He's a very moderate, logical person. What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he's doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn't matter if he's a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don't want to admit this is an ideological war.
"The problem is not in Muslims," he continues. "The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to."
These are all dangerous words. Of the threats issued to his life by Islamists, he says, "That's not the worst thing that can happen to you. I'm OK with it, I'm not afraid. . . . Palestinians have reason to kill me. Some Israelis may want to kill me. My goal is not to defeat my enemy. It is to win over my enemy."
Saturday, March 06, 2010
I just started a new book by William Lane Craig titled "Reasonable Faith." I'm only in the intro, but I can tell it's going to be a great journey. Craig is a passionate apologist for the Christian faith and is one of the best thinkers I have read in a long time. In the intro his words caught my attention as he wrote, "The time for playing games is past."
We, as Christians, need to know what we believe and why. We are in a time when the Christian faith is being assaulted from every quarter and there are many casualties in the Christian church especially among our youth. If we don't know what we believe and are able to articulate it we will lose the battle and the opportunity to impact our generation.
In spite of my thoughts here I am excited to see so many Christians with a passion for their faith and an ability to defend it. I can't wait to see what God does in the days ahead as men and women once more engage the world with the only solution to our problems- the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Once in a while there is an article I share with you here that is too good not to post. Shmuley has been here more than once with his articles. This is one that is a must read. It will make you think. -Mike
By SHMULEY BOTEACH 02/03/2010 21:34, Jerusalem Post
The world’s most prosperous nation is also its most depressed. According to The Washington Post, America consumes three quarters of the planet’s anti-depressants, with one out of three women popping Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil. What makes the phenomenon even more curious is the recent study, published as a Newsweek cover story, which suggested that anti-depressants are no more effective than a placebo.
How could a nation of such wealth foster such desperate unhappiness? The question is compounded by the fact that this republic was founded as articulated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, as a place where “the pursuit of happiness” was paramount. By that count, America, for all its other successes, has ultimately failed.
I believe the two are intertwined – that the very mechanism that has made America so rich has also made Americans so miserable.
WHAT EVERYONE most wants is to be special. No one is born feeling ordinary. We all believe there is something about us that makes us different, that makes us irreplaceable, unique. Most of our lives are dedicated to proving that uniqueness. Whether it’s by getting an A in algebra or winning a race or getting into Harvard or being hired by a top law firm, our pursuits are designed to give substance to our feeling of uniqueness. We all want to be a success because success proves we are not (and never have been) ordinary. Our successes make us stand out.
But specialness-through-success must always be balanced by specialness-through-being-loved. In other words, your parents don’t think you’re special because you aced the SAT. They think you’re special because you’re their child; for them, you don’t have to work at being extraordinary. In their eyes, you were born exceptional. No matter how unsightly your doodling with crayons, your parents still put them up on the refrigerator. And no matter how disruptive the math teacher says you are in class, your parents still tuck you in at night, read you a story, and tell you how much they love you. The message is that there is no one in the world like you. You are given love as a free gift.
Later, this feeling of acceptance and specialness will continue as you are embraced by friends and community. It constitutes the principal reason why we Jews make a big deal of a bar or bat mitzva. We’re telling our adolescents that there is a community of which they are a part that embraces them simply because they are coming of age. This corroboration of specialness-through-love will culminate when a complete stranger chooses to devote him or herself to you unconditionally as your spouse.
This past weekend I had to be rushed to hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery. My wife had to witness me in all my ugliness, from screaming in pain to losing any vestige of personal hygiene. Yet there she was, comforting me and doing her darndest to make the pain go away.
The message behind all these actions is that you are special. There’s nothing you have to do to become that way. It’s your birthright. No person is ordinary.
BUT IN America, prosperity came about through precisely the opposite message. You’re not born special, but only become unique through achievement and acquisition. Hard work, financial rewards, a big house, elected office – these are what really make you count. Love is not something given freely. Rather, it is something earned.
Michael Jackson summed it up best when he told me: “I think all my success and fame, I have wanted it because I wanted to be loved. That’s all. That’s the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more.”
As an engine for material and national success, making people who feel unworthy work hard to prove themselves is unimaginably effective. Just look at how many Olympic athletes were quoted in Vancouver as saying that they won gold because they were told they were washed up, ordinary. But as an engine of human happiness, I can’t think of anything more depressing than the feeling that you are a big zero until proven otherwise.
This is what led Tiger Woods to feel, as he confessed, that success and a feeling of specialness was always outside him. He had to devour, first championships, and later women, to prove himself worthy. It’s also what led Vyacheslav Bykov, the Russian hockey coach, to respond to President Dmitry Medvedev’s rebuke, when his team left Vancouver without a medal, by saying: “Let’s put up a bunch of guillotines and gallows. We have 35 people on the hockey team. Let’s go to Red Square and dispatch them all.” Because in this Pax Americana world, where people are distinguished only when they win, if you lose, you’re dead.
Parents these days withhold their approval in order to motivate their children to do better. The thinking has become that too much validation leaves a child with nothing to strive for. Friendships today are likewise highly selective. We have “contacts” rather than friends.
As for community, well, the more fame you acquire, the more love you’ll get. Just look at how Canada highlighted, in the closing Olympic ceremony, a parade of Canadians who had abandoned their country to live in the United States. The message: They’re famous, so we’re proud of them even if they’re not proud of us.
America, and now the rest of the Western world, has become successful by playing on people’s insecurities. Contrary to the biblical message that every person is born with a spark of the divine, we’ve instilled within everyone the belief that they are ordinary until proven otherwise. The result is millions of people who are ambitious not because they believe they are born with a gift for singing that can bring others joy, but rather that they are faceless unless they win American Idol.
The writer has just published The Blessing of Enough, a book that seeks to remedy Western materialism and greed. www.shmuley.com