Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Enjoy Your Gift

Someone needs to hear this today.

Is it you?
Is it me?
Maybe both?

The past is just that, it's past.  It is behind you.  Let it go.  You don't live there anymore.  Christ is making all things new.  Too often we get stuck in our past and we miss the present because we can't get out of or let go of past mistakes, past hurts and past experiences.  By refusing to turn the page and except the new beginning that Christ offers we miss out on the gift of today.  We fail to live in the moment because we are still in the past.  This robs us of today.

Worrying about tomorrow or what the future holds robs us of today also.  We need to let go and not worry about our future.  It is future.  It is unknown to us.  But, as the songs says, "I know who holds the future."  God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  He has tomorrow for us and we can trust him with what lies ahead and we will live in that moment when it becomes the present.  Live in the gift of the present and leave the future in the future.

It is called the present.  It is our gift to enjoy and it is the only moment that we have that we can really live in.  We cant live in the past and we cant live in the future.  This present moment is meant to be lived in.  It is not living in the moment or enjoying the gift God has given us if we dwell in the past or worry about the future.  You only get this moment for a moment and this day for today.  Live it!

Enjoy your present.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

He's Got You and He is Not Letting Go.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:28-30 NIV

Some of us might remember the Sunday school song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands".  The song taught us that God has us all in his hands.  Her has the "little bitty babies", the moms, dads and everyone else in his hands.

It is good for us to remember this truth.  God has you in his hand.  He is not distant and far off.  He has not abandoned you in your situation.  He has not left you to deal with your circumstances all alone.  He is holding you.  Just relax and rest in the palm of His hand.  He has got you.  This promise also comes with the guarantee that he will not let go of you.  No one will snatch you from Him.  No one and no situation will be able to loosen his grip on you.  Even when we struggle to hang on he does not let go.  God has you securely in the grip of His grace and mercy.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Be Encouraged and Encouraging

You are not alone.  I  don't know what you are going through but I do know that God does.  I also know that He loves you and cares about your life and your circumstances.  You are loved more than you will probably ever know or can imagine.  God is crazy about you.

When we were kids we had a little saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." That saying is a lie.  It is just not true.  Words can hurt us.  They can hurt deep.  The wounds that are caused by harmful and destructive words are worse than the wounds caused by sticks and stones.  "Word wounds" can run deep and destroy someone's sense of worth and purpose.  Words do hurt us.

Words also have the power to build up.  Our words are pact with powerful potential to tear down or build up.  How do you choice to use your words?  We can use our words to encourage and inspire.  We can use our word to speak value into people life.  We can use our words to bring smiles comfort, and strength to others.  We can use our words to brighten someone day.  It is our choice.

It is important to understand that negative words are more potent then positive ones.  One negative word is what will be heard over a multitude of positive ones.  Negative words are remembered.  IT takes a lot of positive words to heal the wounds of just one negative word.

What you say to others today is filled with power.
We have a choice to encourage and build up or tear down.

James shares these words with us,
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? 
James 3:3-12 (The Message)

Love today

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Monday, April 13, 2015

Sharing Faith

I was listening to the radio today and there was a conversation about sharing faith. They asked a pastor who was on the broadcast,"how often we should share our faith?"  His answer, which I am not arguing with, was as often as the Spirit leads us. 

This got me thinking. 

Faith is lived belief.  Faith is living what we believe. It is being so sure and so certain that we live our lives accordingly. 

We share our faith always. We can't help it. What we do and what we say expresses what our faith is in.  People are watching us, they see what we are doing and saying and they interpret that through the lense of what we say we believe. We are sharing our faith always. 

Here is the gut check part of it.

The faith that we share may or may not be faith in Christ. 

One of the great theologians (I say it this way because people have attributed this quote to Augustine, St. Francis and others) said, "share your faith at all times and when necessary use words."

The radio broadcast was talking about the words part. We need to be open to the Spirit's  leading in those moments that we need to use words to share our faith. But we need to be aware of the faith that we are living every moment and live by the Spirit. Our lives are sharing what our faith is. 

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Follow the Crowd or Follow Jesus?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

We will never be able to discern and know the will of God if all we do is go the way of the world. If we just do what the rest of the world is doing we always struggle with understanding and seeing God. 

Conforming is what people want us to do. I say don't conform. Be different. Christianity is not about becoming part of a group of people who look a like talk a like and think a like. Dispite what people may say. If you are part of a group that call themselves followers of Jesus they should not be calling you to conform to their ways or way of thinking but to be transformed by a relationship with Jesus. There is great diversity in the body of Christ and there is great unity. The unity is in one God, one faith, one hope, one baptism and one Spirit who is in all and working in all.   The unity is in Christ who is at working transforming each of us. 

The question for us to answer for ourselves is, are we conforming or transforming? Am I refusing to go the way the work is trying to force me to go or am I being transformed by the renewing of my mind by Christ Jesus?
We need to allow His word not other words transform our minds. This is the only way that we will be able to discern whether we are just following the crowd or if we are following Jesus. 

Love today. 

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Can Pray

About 16 years or so ago I was in a bible study with some friends and we where talking about things that were troubling us.  I don't remember the exact issue that we were discussing but I can remember a life lesson that came from the conversation.  There was a very wise lady in the group.  She was mostly quite and listened but when she did speak it was always very deep and profound.  When she spoke it was a good idea to listen.

I remember that in our discussion, I answered with " well, we can pray."  She instantly followed with "we CAN pray."  It is not, when all else fails, we can pray.  It is not when we feel like there is  nothing we can do then we can pray.  The truth is we CAN pray.

What an awesome and amazing privilege we have.  God hears us when we pray.  The all-powerful, all-knowing, all loving God of the universe listens to us, cares about our hurts, and works in our lives and our situations.  He says, "ask".  We CAN pray.  There is power in prayer.  Prayer should be our first resort.  We should give thanks and praise because we can pray.  To offer to pray for someone is to place them in the hands of the almighty.  To pray for someone is to tap into the power of God for them.  When someone prays for you they are doing the most powerful thing that they can do.  When we pray for one another we are doing the most loving and powerful thing that we can do for them.  Sure they need us to stand with them in their difficulties. We should cry with them and help them.  We should walk with them through the storm.  All are good things and powerful.  But, the most powerful and life-changing thing we can do is pray.  We CAN Pray.  Thank you God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

God Is Love

Just a heads up, as you start reading,  this post contains some words that are not often used in our everyday language.  I learned them in seminary, and for the cost of that education, I feel that it is only good stewardship to use these "church" words from time to time. I will use normal language but those words will be in parenthesis

Of all the qualities and characteristics of God the one that I find the most profound and amazing is that God is love.  It is awesome to think that God is all-knowing (omniscient). It is amazing to begin to understand that God is all-powerful (omnipotent) and it is incredible to begin to grasp that He is present in all places at the same time (omnipresent).   It is profound to understand that God is, was, and always will be and he exist outside of time and space infinitely with no beginning and no end.

God really is bigger than our minds can comprehend and understand.  Yet, we can know him.  We can know him closely and intimately.  In fact, this is His desire.  This is why he creates us so that we can know and be known by Him.  As I stated earlier the attribute that most gets me, the deepest and most mind blowing one, is that God is love.  At His very core, His nature, is love.  God is love.  Pure love.  He is nothing but love.  It is not that he is loving or he does loving things.  He is love.  This means that everything he does is and expression of love. Creation is an act of love.  Commands are an act of love.  He enters our world because he is love.  He gives us choice because he is love.  If something is unloving it is not God or Godly because God is love.

I will be honest with you.  I can't fully understand this.  As I think about the magnitude and what this means I reach the limits of my understanding and intellect.  I know loving people and I have seen expressions of love but all the love that I know and have witnessed does not even compare to God's love and what is expressed by God who at His very core love.  Even the most loving people I know do not love unconditionally without limit.  In fact, in many ways, God is hard for me to grasp because I have never seen a love that is so unselfish and so unconditional before.

God loves you and me no matter what.  He loves us even when we don't love Him.  He loves us when we persecute Him.  He loves us even when we curse Him.  He loves us even when don't acknowledge He exists.  He loves us even when we misrepresent Him. God is love.  Because He is love he lets us choose to love Him and never makes us love Him.  This blows my mind.

This is something to ponder today.  This is worth admitting that we can't fully comprehend just how deep and how wide and how vast the Father's love is for us.

I always say the ultimate problem is not the we don't love God enough it is that we don't know how much God loves us.  God is love.

He loves you and he is at work in your live acting in love.  That is all He can do it is who He is.

Our response, when we begin to grasp this, is love Him in return.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug