Shadow’s Warning

Andrew, young man in his sophomore year of college, who grew up in an atheist home setting, had made it his life’s goal to be an Olympic gold-medal diver. He spent every waking moment training individually and with the college team toward that goal. Peter, one of his teammates and a friend, who trained just as diligently as he did, was an outspoken yet respectful Christ-follower.

Sunday was a mandatory non-training day to give their bodies a chance to rest and rebuild. They were used to rising early for training during the week so it was natural on Sundays they would meet up at the college coffee to chill. Andrew always thought it just a little weird that Peter was so adept at turning a discussion often toward Christianity. Andrew listened politely. He had to admit that what Peter shared from the bible made sense, sometimes. He even debated with his friend but that is as far as he wanted to go. Several times he was almost persuaded to ask Christ into his life. Almost. But ‘first things first’ were his motto. His focus was on getting to the Olympic stand and having that gold medal hanging around his neck.

One night, intending on going to the library for some research, he found the library closed. He stood for a moment wondering what to do next. Always thinking about training, he headed for the pool. He had gotten into the habit that semester of always carrying his trunks in his backpack. He got to the pool and found the door open but the lights were off, He did not know where the switch box was located. However, as the pool had large skylights and there was a full moon overhead, even though it was a little dark, there was enough light to practice by. He dug his swim trucks out of his backpack, changed and climbed up the 10-meter diving board. Stepping onto the board Andrew walked to the end. Looking down at his feet he turned around to position his feet on the board correctly for his first dive.

As he shifted his feet and weight of his body, his mind was running through some of the coaching tips he had gotten earlier that day. Lifting his head and straightened his body for the dive, he raised his arms straight out from his body sideways before bringing them together in front of him. Suddenly he froze. There on the wall was his shadow from the moon and it looked like a man on a cross. A chill went through his body and a disturbing sense of dread that something was not right. Suddenly it all sort of made sense what Peter had been sharing with him for months. He could not put off Jesus calling him. He took a step forward on the board away from the edge and knelt down. He prayed a simple prayer and somehow that sense of dread left him. As he stood up he heard a door closing at the end of the pool. Then he heard a rattling of keys and the next thing he was bathed in a flood of light as the lights came on. Now he could see the maintenance man by the electrical panel. Then he saw something else that put a chill into his heart. Looking down he saw that the pool had been drained of water.

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Christians, The Golden Rule Applies To Syrian Refugees Too

A re-post 

In Culture by Frank Powell                                                  November 18, 2015

I’m going to be honest. Today, my heart breaks. Yes, my heart is broken for the families and victims in Paris. Yes, my heart hurts for the thousands of Syrian refugees displaced around the world. But the weight pressing heavily on me is the attitude of many American Christians.

Since terrorists attacked Paris, several states have closed their doors to Syrian refugees. Ironically (or not) most of these states are in the Bible Belt.

While I do not support the actions of these states, I’m also not writing to them. Governments operate under a particular set of parameters. Among those is the safety of their people. If government officials believe accepting Syrian refugees puts their particular state at risk, that’s their decision. Do I agree? No. Does it influence my response? No.

I’m also not talking to atheists, agnostics, animists, or any other “ist.” If you don’t know and love Jesus Christ, I’m not talking to you. It’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s just that I understand. If you don’t claim Jesus as lord, I see where you would applaud governments for protecting your safety. If you post articles to help others see why accepting Syrian refugees is, in essence, pulling the metaphorical trigger for ISIS, I get it. I don’t agree with you. But I totally get it.

Today, I am talking specifically to Christians. Since the Paris attacks, I have read statements ranging from logical to completely ludicrous. So, let’s start by assuming the worst.

If America open its borders to Syrian refugees, some of those entering might be bad guys. And not just any bad guys. Brain-washed, American-hating, bad guys. Like Joker in The Dark Knight on steroids. They will now be walking on American soil, plotting to wipe out massive amounts of people. This would certainly be the beginning of the end for America. Do we really want to accept a few refugees at the expense of everything we know and love?”

To me, this is a far-fetched scenario. Others might disagree. It doesn’t matter. Even if this scenario were true, the rules of the game wouldn’t change. Christians don’t make decisions using the world’s ideals. Our worldview is shaped by a man named Jesus.

And I believe Jesus has a simple word for Christians when it comes to Syrian refugees.

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

This one statement from Jesus summarizes everything. And this statement applies no matter how many hypothetical, “take down America” scenarios we conjure up. The foundational response for “How do we, as Christians, respond to the Syrian refugee crisis?” is “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”

There are no “Yeah, but …” Jesus didn’t attach stipulations or conditions to his statement.

What if followers of Jesus responded to every person through the filter of Matthew 7:12? What if we removed the red, white, and blue lens, and put on the Matthew 7:12 lens? Here’s what I believe would happen.

We would stop labeling people in ways that release us from helping them. 

A Matthew 7:12 lens would see Syrian refugees as men and women created in God’s image. They would be people desperate to feel the tangible love of God. We wouldn’t label them as potential terrorists but as helpless, homeless, displaced people desperate for healing and hope.

Labeling is an ancient sin. One of Satan’s oldest tricks to isolate and dehumanize. One he used to convince a crowd of Jews to crucify a sinless man. The Syrian refugees aren’t terrorists. They’re men and women created in the image of God. Any attempt to see them outside of this reality is from Satan.

We would stop allowing security and comfort to override compassion and grace. 

A Matthew 7:12 lens would default to love and compassion. If you were a Syrian refugee, displaced from your homeland, without a permanent place to lay your head, having left loved ones to die, how would you want others to respond? You would beg them to drop their walls and build bridges. You would ask them to look past the potential of allowing some bad guys in. You would sacrifice everything because you were compelled by compassion. You would beg anyone who claims to follow Jesus to fall down on their knees and beg God to heal their land.

So, maybe we can’t house Syrian refugees. But a heart driven by compassion doesn’t look at the situation and say, “Well, our state has closed its doors. Nothing I can do.” A heart filled with God’s spirit would turn to prayer. Have you prayed for the Syrian refugees?

We would stop choosing the logical, sensical approach (fear) over the right approach (love).

Fear makes more sense than love. It’s a natural response to evil. But it’s not the right approach. At least, it’s not if you are a Christian. You see, fear is powerful. It drowns out love. You can live with fear or love, but not both. When it comes to ISIS, in particular, and evil, in general, we don’t need more courage. Courage doesn’t drive out fear. Suicide bombers are courageous. And they’re also driven by fear.

You can live with fear or love, but not with both.

Christians, our call isn’t to conjure up more bravery and courage. The only response to fear is love. The apostle John said,” Perfect love drives out fear.” It’s the only thing powerful enough to break the chains of darkness. It’s the only thing compelling enough to drive the son of God to the cross.

This love crosses boundaries, destroys walls, and accepts enemies. Welcoming refugees makes no sense. It jeopardizes our safety. It makes us vulnerable to attack. But we don’t allow logic to drive the train. God’s love doesn’t make sense. And because of this love, Christians have eternal life.

We would stop throwing money at crises as a means to clear our conscious. 

I read a statement this morning from Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican Presidential candidate. I love Dr. Carson. I’m not attacking his character. I’m simply using his statement (you can read it here) because Dr. Carson is a Christian, and his stance represents the default approach of many Christians to global tragedies. Here’s an excerpt.

“Today, I am asking Congress to stop the Obama Administration’s plans to bring in up to 45,000 Syrian refugees…We should do everything in our power to help these men, women, and children who have been forced to flee their country, but until we can sort out the bad guys, we must not be foolish.”

In other words, accepting Syrian refugees is dangerous. But let’s not stop helping them. Let’s send them supplies and funds. Let’s hold them at arm’s length and use our pocketbooks to clear our conscious. It’s the Christian American way.

But it’s not the Jesus way.

A Matthew 7:12 lens would see money as a shallow excuse for receiving real people with real pain. As Christians, we should open our arms to the world’s suffering. In the process, we might also expose ourselves to the world’s pain. But this is the model of Jesus, who exposed himself to our pain on the cross.

Giving money to help refugees or orphans is great. But Jesus would never throw money at someone to protect his safety and maintain his lifestyle. Christians shouldn’t either.

Jesus would never throw money at someone to protect his safety.

We would stop adding stipulations to the commands of Jesus to keep us from loving our enemies. 

Jesus said a lot of radical things. He told a parable that challenged Pharisees to love wretched Samaritans. He said lust was equivalent to adultery. But the most radical statement from Jesus was his command to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48).

A Matthew 7:12 lens would not say Jesus would retract his command to love our enemies if he were alive today. “I mean, Frank. Do you believe think Jesus wants us to love ISIS?”

I think Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for them. In doing this, we become true children of heaven. I’m not saying we allow ISIS a free pass into America. But we MUST pray for them.

This isn’t optional.

Praying for your enemies isn’t optional if you love Jesus.

We would stop blaming political figures as a way to deflect our responsibility to feed orphans, homeless, and widows. 

A Matthew 7:12 lens wouldn’t deflect Christians’ responsibility onto the President, Congress, or anyone in between. In Matthew 25, Jesus instructed us to receive anyone who is hungry, thirsty, or lost. And doing this makes us righteous before God.

That’s real.

Homeless refugees shouldn’t be a catalyst for our political agenda. It’s not Obama’s fault. Even if he were catering to Muslims, the responsibility of Christians doesn’t change.

Look, I suck at living like Jesus most days. I try, but I’m not great at it. Like most Christians, I love to get side-tracked on real issues affecting real people by turning them into political or theological debates.

A Matthew 7:12 lens would challenge us to stop arguing over issues and start seeing real people. Hungry, thirsty, lost people. And, rather than blaming political figures, we should pray about and discuss ways to be Jesus to thousands of refugees.


Christians, the fear mongering needs to stop. Governments will make their decisions. Those outside of Jesus will do the same. But we play the game with different rules. We don’t believe the lie that says more weapons, taller walls, or stronger militaries will overcome the evil in this world. Unapologetically, we fight with love. We believe the selfless, sacrificial love Jesus exemplified will destroy the evil and darkness in our world.

Love conquers evil and drowns out fear. Matthew 7:12 gives us the vision to see it.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!


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Down or Up

Have you ever stopped to think about why some folks are able to weather great loss and misfortune while others fall apart? I was thinking about this bit of wisdom found in Proverbs 24:16: “…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” [NIV] The thought here is not about whether one falls into misfortune but what that person does when it happens. Life is not always easy. Life can come at us hard. What we trust in for help is what makes or breaks us. I have known people through the years that have had bad things happen to them. Years later, after the event they are still angry at God or themselves. They fail to see God’s providential care over them in the days and years afterward.

A certain hiker on a mountain path stumbles on a small rock and falls. He picks himself up and continues on, paying more attention to where he is going. Another hiker comes along later and stumbles on the same small rock and falls. He curses the rock and God for letting him fall. He will eventually pick himself up but he may turn around and go home to never hike again. It is too hard and the path is too unfair.

It is easy to talk boldly that we trust God when in church or around our Christian friends. However, our actions under fire will prove the truth. When temptations assail our brains, when disease press us down or even when violence enters our world and violates either us or our loved ones, how we emerge from the fiery of trials will either prove or disprove our words. If in fact we trust God even when the trial is unfair and makes no earthly sense, we will emerge experiencing God’s peace that passes understanding. The one who is unwilling to trust God in all circumstances will go into the furnace and not emerge. There he will stay because he refuses to look up and see God’s help. He thinks that there is no one to uphold him. The one, who refuses to look with eyes of faith, will fail to see Jesus walking beside him through the flames with His hand out.

We are never totally secure living in a world where both the just and the unjust are subject to worldly cares, losses or the insidious attacks of the man. There is always a choice. Those who place their lives in God’s hands never lose sight of God’s presence. They are the ones that seem to flourish in spite of their dire circumstances. Those opting to shun God and continue in impatience with life, fretting constantly and never understanding that no one can protect themselves against evil or have the strength to rise again when bad things happen in a fallen world.

The furnace of misfortune, disaster, human fickleness, grievous affliction and just plain misery, sorts out the ones who outwardly profess that God loves them but fail to walk that way, from those who have applied God’s love to their hearts and continue to live righteously in an evil world. John Gill writes in his Exposition on the Entire Bible: A just man, though he does not fall from his righteousness, which is an everlasting one, nor from the grace of God; yet he may fall into temptation, and by it he may fall into sin, as every just man does; “for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sins not…” [Ecc 7:20]

The mark of a godly man whose walk matches his talk, is able to do so because he keeps receiving via prayer a fresh application of grace. In his hurt and grief, he seeks God through the Word and learns how to walk in integrity [talk equals walk] and gains wisdom outside of his natural ability. Sin wants to put us down and keep us down. Grace wants to revive us no matter how grievous the sin. Remember David entering into adultery and then murder of his trusted friend to cover his sin with his wife? God did not leave him in that furnace. David, being a godly man named, owned and repented of his sin. God restored him to fellowship but not without consequences. If David had chosen to hide his sin he would have had no escape and his story would end differently. David sought access to God’s pardoning grace and therefore God could bring healing to him. Had David chosen to shun God’s forgiveness God would have left him to his own devices to wallow in it. The problem is, sin left unattended to its own devices will lead to more sin and that will lead to more trouble and distress.

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Re-Posted Words On Our End Game …

15 More Years

By Regi Campbell, October 26th, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, some guys from the low country of South Carolina asked if they could pray for me. We ‘FaceTimed’ and one by one, they prayed. One guy mentioned Hezekiah and how the Lord granted him 15 more years even after Isaiah had declared him terminally ill. So I thought it might be worthwhile to research this guy Hezekiah and understand his story.

Made king at age 25, Hezekiah was ‘all-in’ for Yahweh. The political division of Israel and Judah didn’t stop him from taking on evil and re-instituting the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. Yahweh was the common ground and from his passion for God, he pulled the faithful together for the first time in forever. God blessed Hezekiah . . . everything he did was successful. Faced with almost certain defeat by the king of Assyria, Hezekiah (with the advice of Isaiah) called on Yahweh who consistently came through, often through direct intervention into circumstances. Hezekiah had it going on.

Then at age 39, he got sick. Isaiah told him to get his affairs in order . . . that he was going to die. Hezekiah went to the Lord, pouring out his heart, pointing out his faithfulness and asking that his life be extended. God responded, promising he would recover and live another 15 years.

So what did he do with his extra time?

He let pride and selfishness take over. When a delegation came from Babylon, he showed them all his treasures, never mentioning Yahweh. His pride got away from him. When Isaiah prophesied all the bad stuff coming in the future . . . stuff that would ruin the lives of his children’s children, Hezekiah responded with “Well, at least it won’t happen in my lifetime!” Amazing how we drift when things are good and we have what we want.

What can we learn from Hezekiah?

1.     True faith in God can be a common denominator that attracts people and brings them together, even across hard, dark political lines. God blesses those who unashamedly pursue Him regardless of their station in life or their political persuasion.

2.     It is okay to ask God for more time, understanding He is sovereign. He can say yes or no. But rest assured that either way, His answer will offer the opportunity to bring glory to God or to ourselves. If we use it to bring glory to ourselves, watch out!

3.     It is NOT okay to ignore things that will impact future generations, e.g. our ‘children’s children.’ I read Hezekiah’s selfish, callous response to the future (II Kings 20:19) and thought “Wow, what a shmuck!” Then I think about the times I’ve said, “Well, someone else will have to sort that out after I’m gone.” I’ve done exactly what Hezekiah did.

In his prime, Hezekiah put God first. He was respected, fulfilled and blessed. But he didn’t finish well. He put himself first, becoming absorbed into the ‘here and now’ and the things God had given him. The blessings took the place of the ‘Bless-er.’ Let’s stay connected to people who will help us finish well.

Prayer – Lord, give us the courage to stand up and stand out for you. Give us the same courage to fight for your truth and righteousness when we’re old and on borrowed time as when we’re young and think we’re invincible. Please put an “Isaiah” in each of our lives – a Godly man who knows and loves us, who sees your Truth clearly, and who will challenge us when we turn prideful and selfish. Please help us finish well. Amen.

Radical Mentoring 1155 Mt. Vernon Hwy Suite 800 Atlanta, Georgia 30338 United States (678) 365-0272

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Integrity or Necessity … a rewrite!

A young lawyer right out of law school was fortunate enough to have a very rich father who rented him as a graduation gift, entire floor of a beautiful downtown New York high rise building. The suite came fully furnished with some of the finest oak furniture. His father had even purchased a full library of law books that filled a whole wall toward the front of the suite.

As he went into his new office he went over to his executive leather chair fit for only the very best highly successful lawyers and sat down. He leaned back and began to day dream some more, picturing himself working cases and arguing before juries and then heard a person come in the front door into the empty reception area. Quickly leaning forward he grabbed the telephone and began pretending he was speaking with someone on the other end of the telephone about a law case. Knowing that the man in the reception area could hear him he spoke louder than normal trying to appear as important as possible. He was able to keep up this act for about two to three minutes before he finally hung up the telephone.

After hanging up he walked out to the reception area and apologized for keeping the man waiting. Still trying to impress the potentially new client he went on to tell the man that it was very hard to keep up with all the telephone calls while he was searching for another prominent attorney to bring on board with him. The brand new lawyer told the man that just any other attorney would not be good enough, he only wanted the best.

After going on about just how important the call was the he had just been on he asked the man how he could help him. The man smiled a bit and told the young lawyer that he was only there to hook up his telephones.

The lack of integrity is all about pretending to be something you are not!

On a regular basis, newspapers will headline various ethical probes in Washington, DC and around the country. When we hear the word integrity, in our minds we associate some moral code that one needs to have incorporated into their life. We generally want those in working in government using our hard earned tax dollars, those in schools teaching our children educational values, those who we look up to as our spiritual leaders and even those in our families, to have integrity. When we say that someone is a person of high integrity, we mean that person will make a personal choice to uphold themselves to consistent moral code, regardless of costs to them. To me, integrity stands opposed to hypocrisy. For the Christian man or woman, integrity is an imperative. Jesus was a man of integrity because He spoke honestly. His actions validated the truthfulness and accuracy of what He said.

Election year is going to be soon upon us. We want a person of integrity in the White House. The word integrity is derived from the Latin adjective ‘integer’ meaning whole or complete. We want to see in our political leaders this wholeness coming from qualities of honesty. We want to see in our spiritual leaders a consistency of character that shows us integrity. Our spouses want to see in us words and actions that result from values, beliefs and principles we claim to hold. The old adage of “Do as I say, and not as I do” is integrity corrupted.

Looking at King David’s life, even with all of the flaws, it is easy to see integrity running like a golden thread throughout his life. He was considered a great leader of integrity because he had a steadfast adherence to God’s moral code. And when he failed miserably, he then tried to hide his crime of passion which finally ended in murder, what did he do when exposed? His integrity came to the surface and he confessed.

Daniel was another man of integrity. Listen to what God wrote about Daniel: “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Because of jealousy, his colleges) tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. [Daniel 6:3-4 NIV] He was a hostage to a foreign power in a foreign land, but in the face of this he did his job with integrity. Those around him classified Daniel as a man of exceptional qualities, so much so that the king recognized this foreign prisoner as someone he could trust above anyone else in his whole kingdom. King Darius found in Daniel an excellent spirit and attitude [v. 3]. I know that this is a worn out clique, but it still seems to be true: “We can only fake a good attitude for so long before our real attitude comes to the surface.” What makes a person successful in the sight of God, who sees into the heart, is what we are like when alone where only God knows our actions. That is what integrity is all about.

Because Daniel’s attitude was in the right place, he was faithful to what God gave him to do [v. 4]. In today’s political and business environment, to find a man or woman in whom no corruption can be found is rare indeed. Whether I am in business, politics, homemaker or ministry, the question is always the same for God. Am I trustworthy as to my promises and not negligent in what I do? The practice of integrity produces unworldly wisdom.

Integrity starts and ends with the “law of God” [v. 5]. The verse does not say that directly but it is implied. Real integrity comes only from learning about the kind of integrity that God has in mind. What is interesting is that Daniel’s enemies had to manufacture a circumstance where Daniel’s pursuit of integrity to God’s law was tested by civil law.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. [Daniel 6:10] His praying three times a day to God was not a sudden act of civil rebellion. Daniel did nothing more than do what he had always done. When he learned of the decree, he did not rush home and raise panic prayers to God. What is important to God is our consistent walk with Him, and that is what Daniel did in the face of death; “just as he had done before.” Those qualities of integrity: exceptional attitude, faithfulness and personal purity where the disciplines that enabled him in the moment of crisis to not panic and to continue to be “giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Without the foundation building blocks of faith, his attitude, his faithfulness and his trustworthiness would have gone out the window. Without the building blocks, the history of Daniel would have been far different. When the crisis comes, have you been building on the right foundation?

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Wisdom of another sort…

Some insights to  Wisdom

  • Old age is the number-one killer in the world.
  • Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
  • Give a person a fish and feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months and maybe years.
  • Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday lying in the hospital dying of nothing!
  • We should all take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  • In the ’60s people took drugs to make the world weird. Now they take Prozac to make it normal.
  • The new worry about old age is that it doesn’t last long enough.
  • A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • A diplomat is one who thinks twice before saying nothing.
  • Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
  • Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves; they will never cease to be amused.
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Living the Christian life according to Biblical principles is counter-intuitive. Living a life that is reasonably pleasing to God flies in the face of what I naturally think is the way to live. There seems to be seven ‘wisdom’ mile stones that are involved in changing from doing things my way to doing things the way God intended me to speak and act.

  1. Healthy things grow.
  2. Growing things change.
  3. Changing things are a challenge.
  4. Challenge forces trust.
  5. Trust leads to obedience.
  6. Obedience leads to health.
  7. Health produces fruit.

My youngest daughter Teri is a gourmet cook. When I go to her house I can count on a marvelously tasting meal. Walking through the door creates anticipation as a plethora of delicious aromas just makes my mouth water. However, walking into the kitchen is to be met with what appears as confusion. It is a mess. Multiple used measuring spoons and mixing bowls piled in the sink, flower scattered over the counters and floor, pots and pans litter the counters and stove. It looks like a cyclone came roaring through the kitchen. Raw meat, partially prepped vegetables and uncooked dough is not what the meal will look like. But I have learned something. I have to wait. Out of this seeming mess comes something incredibly yummy.

When we come to the point in our natural lives where we realize that we need Jesus in our lives, we rarely realize that we are starting a counter-intuitive life. God is going to want us to change. That is an immutable fact. We essentially have two choices in living with God. When God produces the opportunity for change so we can become more like Jesus, we can either love it or fear it. Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” It is the ‘remaining’ that is the change agent for our healthy growth. Let me unpack this a bit.

First, healthy things grow. Only healthy things can produce healthy fruit. Unlike plants, we are not just a physical being. We have this mysterious part of us that we call our spirit. Whether it is physical or spiritual conditions, there must be a healthy environment to maintain our health. For plants, there needs to be the right combination of fertilizer, moisture and light. For us, we need the right combination of emersion in the Bible [fertilizer], prayer [moisture] and fellowship [light] with other believers.

Second, growing things change. My growing will require my changing. Growing spiritually means expanding.

Third, changing things are a challenge. My changing will introduce challenges to my growth. Time is measured from one point to another. Any change in biology takes time. Want to change a habit? That takes practice. Practice takes time. Maybe you have heard the prayer of one Saint who asked: “God, please give me patience. And I want it now!” I have found the biggest challenge to my growth is being willing to endure the delay. I want the change to happen now, not tomorrow. Consider for a moment the oak tree.

An oak tree is a magnificent thing to see in the forest. But think about its beginnings. It starts life as an acorn, an insignificant small seed in a hard little shell. God never intended that acorn to stay as it is. God causes a wind to blow and at the right time it loses its grip on the branch. It falls to the ground. It is no longer connected to it past life. It dies. It get stepped on and pushed into the earth. Over time the right combination of fertilizer, moisture and light causes the hard shell to soften, a new life to grow and a healthy tree that produces some of the most durable wood stands tall amongst other trees. Down through the ages in stories and poetry, the oak tree has stood for might, strength and endurance.

Forth, challenge forces trust. In order to meet the challenges of growing I am forced to trust Jesus. How I handle delays in the process of changing will determine the way I experience coming to maturity in Christ. Let’s take a closer look at that acorn. This acorn had a brother. Imagine with me this conversation taking place between these two acorn brothers named John and Peter. They are hanging out on a beautiful sunny day.

“I love it that we have relatives nearby. It so homey and comfy here” remarks John.

“Yeah, I often think to myself that I want to be just like them someday” says Peter wistfully.

“Not me! I am staying right here.”

Peter looks at his brother in shock. “You cannot do that. That’s not natural.”

“I made a decision last night that I do not want to go through the process of maturing. I just want to be a magnificent oak tree that everyone will admire.”

“That is insane John. Acorns do not become might oak trees hanging around on twigs. They fall down to the ground. That is when they become like our relatives in the future.”

“I do want to be tall and durable someday. I just do not want to die. I have watched some of our cousins. That is a long drop and you can hear them thud on the earth. Horrible! Don’t even want to think about it!”

A Gently Breeze stirred though the branches whispering “You are designed to let go.”

“Did you hear that Peter?”

“No. I just felt a gentle touch of the Master’s hand. It time for us to let go.”

“No! No! No! Not yet. Life will be better not facing the challenge of change.”

“Change is necessary if we are going to produce what the Creator intended for us John.”

“I can’t! I like life as it is, hanging on a twig high above danger is better. If I let go I going to die.”

“You will be a mighty oak if you just let go John” the Gentle Breeze whispered.

God speaks to that little acorn words of encouragement. Did that little acorn listen? You be the judge.

Fifth, trust leads to obedience. Learning to trust Jesus will produce obedience in me. An acorn looks nothing like the oak tree it becomes. The same goes for us. The growth process that God has us go through is not what we will look like in maturity. God will introduce all sorts of things into our lives to help us grow healthy.

Sixth, obedience leads to health. Obedience to Jesus makes me healthy for further growth. Obedience teaches me that the natural things that I am inclined to do are health destroyers. Obedience is trust in action. It is listening to God and trusting that what He says, while counter-intuitive, doing what He says is the healthy thing to do.

Seventh, health produces fruit. God intends me to grow in order to produce fruit. When I took biology in high school, one thing I remember is that there is a basic rule of life: if a life form is not growing then it is in the process of dying. We are the same way. If we are not growing as God intended us to grow, then we are dying a slow death. We may feel healthy but we are dying.

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Connecting With the Body of Christ

Source: Connecting With the Body of Christ

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Blogging 101 – Day 1

Blogging 101 – Day 1

I have never taken the time since starting this blog to tell you something about myself. Why on earth would I write in a public forum for anyone to read rather than keeping a private journal? The truth is that I do both. Sometimes what is written into my private journal becomes fodder for the blog. I have never been an everyday or even every week blogger. When I do blog it is because I have something on my mind that I want people to know about.

I write on spiritual things. Sometimes they are things that I have learned in my journey. Sometimes they are topics that reflect things that are going on the world around me. I write to teach or to challenge. Sometimes I write hoping that there will be others out there in cyber space reading my words and they will be prompted to respond, either positivity or negatively.

So, as I write my way through Blogging 101, I hope that in the near future I will become a better communicator of ideas.

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What is the connection between joy and strength?

You hear it among Christians: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” But what on earth does that mean?

In the darkness of trouble, when life seems devoid of answers; the better we engage with God’s Word, the more we attempt to understand it, the more comfort from God we will find. God’s word to us is not just reading but understanding. Read with prayer. It will at times rebuke us. It will at times encourage us. But in the end, it will always bring us joy because the source of joy and the secret for obtaining strength is from Jesus.

The expression “joy of the LORD” is a joy that can only be experienced through fellowship with God. And that fellowship brings about a God-induced gladness as we communicate with our Creator. God is a Person of incredible love, beauty and gladness. He is not a morose God. The Father’s heart is one of restoration from darkness and joy when we return to Him.

So what is the connection between joy and strength? In our everyday life, when we experience something that brings us joy it is exhilarating. It is just the opposite when experiencing pain. It is depressing. I am not talking about self-indulgent pleasure. Solomon clearly advises us that self-indulgent pleasure is nothing more that “chasing after the wind,” or as the KJV states: “vanities of vanities.” The Divine joy that gives strength is that joy that is found side by side with chronic pain or even at the point of a martyr’s death. The joy is not the end to itself but the way to being strong in the face of intense adversity. Divine joy is not self-indulgent but is looking to “send some [needed provisions] to those who have nothing.” Divine joy finds expression in giving to the widows, fatherless and the strangers. Joy is God’s strength in action.

The joy of the Lord is our strength when following after holiness. It is the want of this which makes many of us so slow in our progress in spiritual things. Let us ask God for more joy—joy to give us strength to do and to suffer for Him, strength to follow after and be made like Him, strength to trust Him at all times and look to Him in all circumstances, as Nehemiah did.” [Bishop Maclagan, Penny Pulpit, No. 597]

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