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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quiet Time: Cliff Hanger (part 2) Don't Look Down

Cliff Hanger (part 2)

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. – Psalm 63:8

Keep clinging – keep climbing and don’t look down. The higher you climb the closer you come to His face and freedom.

The movie Cliff Hanger with actor Sylvester Stallone has a heart wrenching opening scene. He plays the part of a rescue mountain climber who lets a fellow climber slip through his grasp to her death on the valley floor below. That’ll never happen with Jesus, but that fact doesn’t mean we’ll continue to climb.

The problem with many of us believers in Christ is that we’re not followers of Christ. He says, “Climb, follow me” (Matthew 16:4), but instead we look down and freeze. We see the obstacles, the challenges, our past failures, and future fears and there we stay. Stuck to the side of our perilous cliff, neither falling nor ascending, just stuck. The odd thing is, the longer we stay in that position the more comfortable we feel.

That’s when God loosens His grip just a bit to wake and motivate our faith in Him. A lump rises in our throat, our hearts beat faster, and we are acutely aware of the fact that we are not where we ought to be. That’s when we realize the scary truth. God never lets go, but He’s not against shaking us out of our complacency (Hebrews 12:13).

So Paul says “I press on and grab the hand that grabbed hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). Like Paul and the Psalmist, we need to be quick to respond to the prodding’s of the Holy Spirit. We need to press on toward the upward call of Christ (Philippians 3:14).

Press on: accelerate, elevate, and propel yourself forward in your relationship with Christ. And, whatever you do, don’t look down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quiet Time: Cliff Hanger (Grab my arm!)

Cliff Hanger (Grab my arm!)

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:12

Have you ever watched a movie where the hero yells down to someone he’s trying to save from falling? Invariably he screams, “Trust me; grab my hand!” That’s the picture I get in my mind when I read this passage of scripture.

I see Jesus screaming, “TRUST ME! GRAB MY HAND!” while grasping the sleeve of a falling man or woman who is slowly slipping out of their coat toward a bottomless pit. Now I know, theologically this isn’t exactly perfect, but stay with me for a minute.

Paul says:
“I press on” I keep moving forward, I don’t stop.
“I… take hold of” I grab, I lock arms.
“I was laid hold of” I was grabbed first.

See the picture? Christ reaches for us before we reach for Him. But, it’s in the reaching out for Him that we realize just how deep the ravine really is. And, like a drowning man we then frantically grope for Him to pull us up; to “save” us.

So, let me break it down “spiritually”.
1. God helps us see our sinfulness and then we agree with Him that we are indeed sinful (the ravine is deep and we are falling)
2. God reaches out and grabs our attention by offering salvation through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. He says, “Trust me; I can save you.”
3. At that moment we have a decision to make. Fall or Climb
4. Once we accept His rescue our job is to keep clinging to and climbing up His arm. Not because He may let go of us, but because the struggle gets us closer to His face-His presence-His peace (2 Corinthians 3:17) until we’re safely home.

So, that’s the perspective from someone who is falling, but what about the Christian who’s already walking with Jesus; how does this scripture encourage him?

To be continued…

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quiet Time: From Want To, To Done (something new in you)

Graphite nanoparticles
From Want To, To Done
(Get ready for something new in you)

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
– Philippians 2:13

Recently, I planned an afternoon meeting at a place just outside of town. Running late, I quickly typed the address into the GPS and hit the road. Fortunately, the traffic patterns were light and I was making really good time. Finally, I reached the general area of where I thought I needed to be only to discover that I was on the wrong side of town. You see, I had typed in South Street instead of North Street when I placed the address into the street finder, which put me a good ten miles opposite from where I wanted to be. Analysis? I made really good the wrong direction.

God’s never in hurry and He always knows where He’s headed, especially when it comes to getting us to the place we need to be. Right now, He is working, awakening, changing, us. His work takes place deep inside us where no one can see.

So, then, how do we know that He’s working? Well, a new desire wells up within our hearts to please Him. God himself actually “gives” (allows, entrusts, bestows) us the desire (want to, longing, hunger) to please Him. Then, once we’re fully engaged and focused with a new “want to” He endows us with power (ability, aptitude, capacity) to “do it”. Think about it. God draws us (John 6:44), ignites us, and empowers us to be people who please Him. WOW!

Are you sensing His presence? Do you feel a new desire, determination, devotion welling up to seek His face and find your place in His pleasure? Then be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God.

God is about to do something new in you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quiet Time: Ryan Braun and the Bible (Don't jump to judgment)

The Gavel
by Andrew Scott
Ryan Braun and the Bible (Don’t jump to judgment)

8 Do not go out hastily to argue your case;
Otherwise, what will you do in the end,
When your neighbor humiliates you?
9 Argue your case with your neighbor,
And do not reveal the secret of another, - Proverbs 25:8-9

From Yahoo to ESPN everyone’s talking about Ryan Braun and his new found “innocence”. Seems like just a couple of days ago Ryan was all but convicted and stamped guilty of elevated testosterone levels (read: steroids) by major league baseball, as well as, the press. Yet, turn on any sports channel this evening and you’ll see a confident Braun touting his innocence from a podium on the first base line at the Brewer’s spring training camp in Arizona. According to David Brown of Big League Stew, “It's the first time an appeal of this nature at the major-league level has been sustained”. Seems everyone might have done well by listening to King Solomon.

Solomon pointed out the danger of jumping to conclusions before hearing all the facts. He also noted that it’s much better to work things out privately, if at all possible. Unfortunately in this modern world of tweets and 24 hour instant information, private is a four letter word.

The media machine “leaked” Ryan’s test results before all the facts were in. It seems his urine sample wasn’t sent to the lab for analysis within the specified time frame. I’m sure the time frame is in place to protect both the player and the league from accusations of tampering. So, I guess that’ll be the next “leak”; how someone tampered with the sample, that is.

Frankly, I don’t know Braun, and my favorite baseball team is the Tampa Bay Rays, so, the whole incident seems a bit over blown to me. However, we can all benefit from the wisdom in Proverbs and insure that we’re not accusing people or jumping to conclusions without hearing all the facts. Better yet, let’s just leave the judgment thing to God. He’s the only one who knows the whole truth and nothing but.

Quiet Time: Stuff Happens - Be Ready

Stuff Happens – Be Ready
Read: Philippians 11:26-28

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. – Philippians 1:27

The guys I work with got to talking about a former coworker who used to carry a bible in his back pocket. He loved to talk about religion and especially enjoyed debating the wrong theology associated with various denominations. The problem was, he was openly unfaithful to his wife. To make matters worse, he’d brag about it. One guy finally confronted him in the middle of an impromptu sermon and asked, “Joe, tell me something, do you place the bible on top of the night-stand next to the bed or hide it inside the drawer before you mess around on your wife?” You see, Joe’s conduct made his testimony worthless.

I do believe God wants us to be bold witnesses for Him and what He’s doing in our lives. We shouldn’t fear what people may think about us; there are worse things in life than the label of “Jesus Freak” (Philippians 1:28). But, it is horrible, absolutely abhorrent, when we conduct ourselves in a manner that makes it look as if the good news of Jesus is nothing more than religious banter.

Stuff will happen to us. Stuff happens to everyone. And, you know what; sometimes good things can cause us to act awful just as easily as bad things. But, those of us who’ve experienced the love of Jesus in our hearts, and have tasted the goodness of God actually have a reason for acting and reacting differently. We love Him! And, because we love Him we want to please Him; plain and simple – now that’s a testimony worth sharing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quiet Time: Confidence In Christ (Get out of the way)

La Confidence
by Claude Deberge
Confidence in Christ
(Get out of the way)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

I have a childhood memory of “helping” my dad work on his car.

I was around ten years old, my dad’s new red four door sedan was parked in front of our house and I’d heard my dad say that he wanted to tweak the carburetor. So, I promptly left the dining room table, popped the car’s hood, took-off the round trash-can looking air filter, and removed the carburetor from the engine in order to "tweak" it. By the time my father realized what I was up to, it was too late; the carburetor was a mess and he spent the rest of the day, not just tweaking it, but repairing the damage I’d done. Really, I had no business under the hood, because although my intentions were good, I was clueless as to what needed to be done.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus understands what needs fixing in you and me. He made us  and He's the one who started our walk in Him. Personally, I want to be “like Christ” but my good intentions to buck up and fix myself seem to only make things worse. Now, I don't know about you, but since I really have no clue as to how fix my “self” in order to better walk with Christ, I think I’ll simply rest in the fact that He does know what to do and will do it until it's done.

My dad wasn’t happy with my carburetor job and I felt the pain of His displeasure. God doesn’t need me working on His sedan either, so I think I’ll just stay out of the way.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Song Series: God Is n This Place

God Is In This Place by Brother Doug Hewitt

For Jehovah Elohim is a sun and shield: Jehovah will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11

Have you ever waked up from a great night’s sleep with a worship song on your heart. I did just that this morning, so I thought I’d write down the words as they came to me. I don’t know if the tune is original, but it allowed me to offer my heart to God in song.

The scripture text is taken from the Darby Translation. I like it because it uses the Hebrew name for God – Elohim. Lately I’ve been praying the various names for our Lord during my quiet times. This seems to help me to focus on who He is in power and majesty.

Please lend me your ear and help me decide if the song is sing-able for congregational worship or if it was meant just for me. (click on the title of the song and open the link)

If you want a chord chart for your worship team, let me know. I think it’s pretty simple though, so you can probably just figure them out on your own.

By Brother Doug

Can’t you hear the difference in the music,
Can’t you see there’s something going on,
Can’t you feel the moving of the Spirit,
God is in this place.

We want to worship You,
We want to worship You,
We know there’s nothing better for us to do.

Our Father, Redeemer, our help in time of need;
Our Refuge, our comfort, God only ELOHIM.