Monthly Archives: May 2013

Defined By Difference

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21

Where is my true value of life defined? It is easy to inventory the many roles of my life and allow each of them a particular measure of worth that then feeds a lie of value to my life. I think of my role as a father, husband, friend, sibling, CEO, volunteer, blogger, coach. These most certainly hold value and measure immense worth — but how do they measure toward my life value in light of eternity?

God is interested in me and my eternal treasures. At the “end of the day” who stands with me? No one but me. What value eternally does my company and its success bring? None. How much of what I write will be read in eternity? No need. How much of my good works will follow me through those gates? Not a one.

Instead, He is keeping record of those things in my life that will hold value in eternity. Those things that make a difference toward eternity. It’s not a question of “how much” or “what more.” It’s the spirit of “to whom do I serve?”

Lord Jesus, as each day I choose to serve you faithfully, may I keep the value of those things that make a difference for eternity in the forefront of my mind at all times. Knowing full well that with that there my heart will also be.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17-18

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Blessed By Obedience Not Birth

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

In the midst of addressing the crowds, a woman cried out to Jesus and called out a blessing upon his mother for giving him birth and nursing him. To the ordinary this would be well received and perhaps returned with a complimentary “thank you” in reply. But Jesus chooses to bring a more central focus to the importance of whom we serve. He takes the focus off man and onto His Word and obedience to it.

I think we all welcome a good blessing every now and then. Somehow a stranger’s response to my sneeze in blessing, while kind and thoughtful, doesn’t quite do the trick. But Christ is fully sufficient and gives full blessing through obedience to Him. This does not come easy and requires full surrender of self unto the Savior in all things.

Despite it all, both good and unfortunate circumstances, Christ has declared those to be blessed – through obedience, not birth!

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6

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But A Memory

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:1

On this well deserved day of reflection and honor of those who have given their lives for the freedom of our country, I am also in much reflection of another who gave His life for me … for the entire world.

My reflection brings about what most would consider a standard response of awe, wonder and humility mixed with curiosity of my own participation in His crucifixion along with His consideration of me while on that cross. More than two-thousand years later I am breathing the air He created since He took His last breath. And yet, my life to Him is but a memory.

The point you may ask? The point is not that I’m merely a reflected moment of time in His mind. On the contrary, I was as much present on the cross as He is present with me today.

While my time is merely measured in units of minutes and years, His time is measured by eternity. And with that said, I am currently seated with Him.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

Lord Jesus, my mind gets overwhelmed with the idea of not only what you think of me, but how long you’ve been thinking of me. You have begun a good work in me and you will not stop until you have perfected your work in me. Thank you for never giving up! Thank you for going before me and preparing the way!

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Filed under Belief, Humility, In Christ, Life, Thinking of Me

Equals Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy . . . 1 Peter 1:8

As perplexed as one can be, I step back and take another look at the meaning of joy. Clearly, not to be confused with happiness, joy takes on an entirely different shape. It’s a state of my heart and a condition of my soul. Joy … made complete only through Christ Jesus.

Joy is one of those difficult things for the human mind to grasp. How does a mother who loses her baby find joy? How does the head of a household find joy in the loss of his job? How do victims of natural disaster who find themselves homeless experience joy?

I then think of the many trials and tribulations so many have endured. And James reminds us even in the midst of the worst to consider them pure joy. So, I invite you to the gallery of trials and tribulations. For behind the canvas of each of these unpredictably driven moments is joy unspeakable and full glory of our Savior . . . to whom I stand in awe!

The first portrait is that of Horatio G. Spafford. It is one of great loss financially, professionally and personally. But beneath the immense pain and grief from the sudden death of his daughters was joy — joy filled with Amazing Grace! Horatio G. Spafford in crossing the Atlantic to attend his daughters funerals … equals joy!

Visit now this portrait. The man we know of fairly well. A prisoner -in chains. Paul the Apostle, in prison for proclaiming the gospel of Christ. It is from here he writes to continue in sharing, encouraging and teaching the message of salvation. Paul in prison … equals joy!

Now come with me round the corner. This portrait is not so very different than the others. It’s yours and mine. The circumstances of my life, of your life, are clearly represented on this canvas. What’s behind my portrait? What’s behind yours? Can you say, me in my circumstances … equals joy!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . James 1:2

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Badgered and Belittled, but Beloved and Blameless

About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. “. Deuteronomy 33:12

Running a marathon takes incredible sacrifice, discipline and personal motivation. It rarely comes natural and most always requires an extraordinary amount of strength. Far above it all, running a marathon requires the belief in knowing you can do it.

See, believing in the truth of who you are changes everything. However, Satan deceives us into believing different. For to believe that I am a “saint” would mean living Christ in me. Satan’s main objective is to thoroughly convince me that I am not a righteous saint after all.

To do this, Satan continually badgers, belittles and blames me for offenses against myself. It’s not a life of freedom in the redemption of Christ. Instead, it’s bondage in the illusive nature of nothing but lies. Like the string on a kite, my emotions and thoughts were used against me, to control me in persuading me that life in righteous victory was merely a dream.

But, a dream it is not! Praise the God of Heaven and Earth that I know Him fully and know the power of His resurrection. How do I know? I’ve seen it! I am a saint! I am clean and forgiven! Hallelujah! Amen!

I am accepted by the Beloved and in the Beloved! I am a new creation in Christ! I may have been badgered and belittled, but I am complete and blameless!

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Comprehending God’s Intimate Knowledge Of Them

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence [20] whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:19-20

Recently I’ve been fairly overwhelmed with the vast variety of individual people around me. Each committed to their cause and pursuing agendas of their own. Some are heartily scurrying about to get where they are headed while others seem to negate time. Faces that tell stories of pure happiness and others of sadness to the point of defeat. I find myself wondering of their own heart. Knowing the wringer in which my own is daily experiencing, are they listening to theirs?

I don’t believe I can truly comprehend the depth of knowledge God has of each of those faces. The rude, crude, confused and angry. The fringe, fatigued, fallen and grieving. The stubborn, steadfast, stressed and proud. The bright, cheerful, engaged and driven. The focused, faithful, generous and loving. God knows them all, knows all of them, knows all about them — and just the same, He knows me.

Clearly, I don’t think I can truly comprehend the depth of true intimate knowledge my God has of me! But when I try to grasp this, His Spirit overwhelms. It overwhelms because of the realization that nothing is hidden. I’m predictable – that’s how much He gets me. But even in my predictability, my future is but a memory to Him.

My old self is but history, hung on the cross. My future is but a memory, He’s already there. My present is real and nothing but Life!

Lord Jesus, today I’ve needed to rest in the assurance of your knowledge of me. When I experience the rejection of the world around me I need to rest in your presence! I know, through your word, that you celebrate me and rejoice in me. There is nothing more joyous in your heart than to spend time with me! Would you like a refill on your coffee Lord?

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:9

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My Personal Strength – God’s Enemy

Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” Habakkuk 1:11

From Superman to Thor, strength is and perhaps always will be a characteristic of valor and self-sufficiency in our society. After all, we perceive the strong as powerful and without the need of others. But sadly, we see the less than strong as less fortunate and in greater need for others – weak.

Let me tell you what I know of strength, as I chuckle. Allow me to reflect out loud – and feel free to laugh with me. Let’s see, hardly weighing in at 145 pounds, a junior in high school, attempting to bench press the bar drew an undesirable amount of attention. And now, many years later, many pounds heavier, I’m doing an intense cardio workout series. Strength is not my strength.

God sees strength a bit differently however. My understanding of my own personal strength, physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and mentally is critical in the intimate relationship between my Lord and me that He longs to engage. It is every bit of what it means to live through Him. The belief in my strength to carry me through life shelves His strength and keeps me from the fellowship He desires. My self-sufficient strength stands in the way of His strength in me. My strength is not His friend!

The irony is that even in my weakness, I am guilty of believing in my own strength – my ability to exercise my own self-sufficiency to live. This, my friend, is not how it is supposed to be. God wants me to deny myself, walk and talk with Him, build our relationship moment by moment, create memories together in true intimacy. He wants me to turn from whatever strength I think i might have, call it what it is and welcome the strength and full power of the God of the universe to live through me!

Lord Jesus, so it is with this understanding that I realize how much you love me. It is through this understanding that I long to fellowship with you in all things. As I shop, sip coffee, contemplate, discover, explore and rest in your arms each day, I draw on your strength that lives in and through me. In life I can barely bench press that bar, but you, my friend, can move mountains!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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Vine Life

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Yesterday I was overwhelmed with the realization of so many people walking, driving . . . living, in circles around me. I know what you may be thinking. Something to the effect of . . . “Duh!” Ha, I had the same thought actually. But my realization came in asking the question of how many are actually living a vine life – a life that we live when abiding in Christ?

This realization brought about some emotions I had not truly experienced before. The idea that I was the only one trying to live a vine life struck me as rather exclusive and well . . . only. But I was reminded that even if I were the only one on earth to be living a vine life – and I’m not – there is another who lived such a life. To live a vine life means to live as Christ lived.

Living a vine life comes more in the mini-moments of life – not exclusively within those more grandiose moments of life (although very present there too). It translates into the moments of life when Christ participates in my doing. It’s a conversation, a fellowship, a dialogue, an inclusion, a consideration, an involvement, a credit, a reference, an engagement.

In this life, I live not of myself, but through the source of life that gives me strength. It means doing the impossible, loving the unlovable, moving the unmovable, reaching the untouchable, believing the unbelievable and living the new creation I am because of the unthinkable of the cross.

Lord Jesus, wow! A vine life – your life! For those moments when I am traversing life single-handedly – tap me on the shoulder!! Whisper in my ear!! Remind me to ask you about what I’m doing because you long for this sort of fellowship. You long to create memories with me!

Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. Hosea 14:7

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Heart Check

Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Yesterday I stepped out on a limb and started a new exercise program. If you know anything about me, you’ll know first hand this is not typically a part of my daily repertoire. However, despite it all I decided to take a stab at it.

Little did I know my heart would feel like a steal drum keeping up with the rhythm of the climatic stanzas of the 1812 Overture. Relentless! But while this is new and energetic, it proves well for the overall health of my entire being. It’s good for my heart!

But what happens when my spiritual heart begins to feel the effects of mistreatment? It, too, begins to effect my entire being – from spirit to earthly shell.

I’m sitting in Starbucks this morning and struggling with maintaining a single thought. You know those days when strangeness continues to walk into your world? I’m tempted in frustration for the baby crying in the corner, the guys sitting right over my shoulder who talk like they’re sitting across the room from each other. Oh, and lets not forget the man and his newspaper in the chair next to me whose phone won’t stop ringing as he refuses to answer. Makes for a moment to turn your heart – toward a critical spirit or toward the love of God – you know, it’s not really about me anyway.

Lord Jesus, for the moments when life looks strange, remind me of how normal you are. For the things that nag me, remind me of the abundant love you give. For the things that grieve me, with your mighty hand wipe my tears. For the things that I doubt because I don’t know, increase my faith. For the things that offend me, keep my heart from being critical. For when my heart gets stepped on by others, give me the comfort of your healing touch.

And my Lord says to me . . . . Guard your heart Mark! From it flows everything and if left unguarded will harden!

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Seeing The Best In Being Me

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

It’s not always about being the best or even knowing you could be the best at something. Truth is, unless you see it in yourself, the likelihood of becoming anything drops in percentage significantly. Believing in yourself is one thing, but believing in the One and how He sees you changes everything. It truly is transformational.

The trouble here, however, is that we rarely choose to think that we either can (ability) or should (desire/want/motivation). The truth of II Peter is that we absolutely can because we have been given all that we need to flourish in life, regardless of our circumstances!

Do I believe I can? There was a time when I didn’t, but knowing and standing on the truth of His promise through His word changed all that! And then there’s the question of whether I even should believe in myself given any track record of failure or personal disaster. The answer is yes! Without question, I should – and so should you! Because my want, my desire, my motivation, when left to myself is futile. It opens the door to self-destruction and closes the door on the Spirit who lives inside me through which gives me ALL I need “for life and godliness.”

Thank you Lord Jesus for already seeing the best in me because of who I am in you! The fact that you see me as you have created me gives me purpose to continue in you will daily to serve you and love the unloveable. Your grace is sufficient and I know that you want to see my potential fulfilled so that I can accomplish exactly what you created me to do.

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