The Christian Life

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I was discussing with a friend about living the Christian life. My friend believes that we should avoid all things and all people who are not of like mind. But I disagree.

How can we witness if we isolate ourselves from others? It is truly the WWJD moment. My father used to say that we live by example and others should see Christ through us. I agree with that thinking.

Dad was on to something!

 

My Soul Will Wait for the Lord…the Watch

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Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:37-38

Loneliness is a terrible thing. The fear that grows from the despair of loneliness can be difficult to bear.

I have experienced a deep sense of loss and loneliness. But, I have never experienced or could even fathom what Jesus felt that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus counts on His beloved disciples to watch with Him as He prays. They can’t do it.

As sweat turns to blood and Jesus cries out in prayer to the Father, the disciples sleep.

Preparing to drink from the cup filled with the sins of mankind would be beyond human comprehension. It is unimaginable. But Christians believe in the unimaginable. We believe in a Savior who died for us. We could not drink a cup containing just our own personal sins. So, imagine the sins of the world…it is too much to ask of anyone.

But Jesus went on that lonely journey to death for me and for you. He carried the cross, endured the humiliation, the beatings, and the pain for our sins.

Tonight, I watch for one hour. One hour of my time for a lifetime of grace.

I sit and I watch and I am grateful. I sit and I know I am unworthy but I sit and I am glad. I sit remembering His sacrifice and I mourn until I can rejoice again.

I sit…

The Red Doors – Lent 4

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I love a red church door.

In the more traditional religious denominations, a red church door was considered a symbol of entering into worship, into the presence of God, through the blood of Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God.

The church has historically been a place of refuge from the evils of the world both real and perceived. It remains so today.

I urge you to find your red doors. The church is not perfect but it is a place of peace and a refuge from the highs and lows of life. It is a place to share joy, peace and love. It is a place of reflection.

Most of all, through those red doors you will find God waiting to wrap you in love and spread His never-ending grace upon your weary soul.

Enter in…

You can have it all!

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Daily I am bombarded with emails that assure me that if I only do a certain number of steps, I can live a life of perfection.

Typically, with the one easy and affordable payment, all of my dreams will come true. Money back guaranteed.

I will work only at a job I love, have perfect relationships, effectively get my day organized so that everything is done quickly and efficiently, love and be loved…and more.

Seriously?

These are empty promises my friends. Life can not be perfect in seven easy steps. It doesn’t work that way although it doesn’t mean you can’t try. But, keep your expectations realistic.

For the manual that will clarify your dreams and goals, you only have to look at the Bible. It clearly shows a plan of action to ensure a life well lived. There are no promises for 100% daily perfection but it does promise perfect love from a Father who will never abandon you.

There is peace of mind in that simple and true fact…and I just shared it with you at no cost.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

 

 

What’s in a name?

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Elvis has left the building…

That is historically what promoters used to say at Elvis concerts to encourage fans to depart. Sadly, I think today we could say that about the modern church.

Have you noticed the proliferation of churches that have unusual titles? Cornerstone, Summit, and Fellowship styled names are replacing churches that have Christ. God, their chosen denomination or saints on the signage.

We are “branding” and marketing church but forgetting who started it all – no crosses, no hard reminders of a life well lived and a sacrifice made for all.

I do believe in sharing the good news but that means sharing the whole story of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The story to be shared may get messy but it has a great ending!

The “message” today is more about good news, prosperity and a rock star quality musical performance. They are bringing people in by the thousands.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this. I find it sad that the emphasis is on the experience while downplaying  the reality.

Is it me or has Jesus left the bulidng?

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There’s just something about that Name.
Master, Savior, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim,
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that Name.

 

Public displays of perfection…

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I don’t know why so many people feel that we have to wear a public persona that creates an image or brand we want the world to see. I feel certain it is because we desire to be judged favorably by others.

The demand for perfection increases with our perception of what we are led to believe is acceptable by others especially through television and print media. Even Christian programs promote a certain type of believer who is valued over others. 

We sometimes make the mistake of allowing outside influences to affect our faith. We try to change ourselves to be something we are not. We try to fit a Christian “mold”.

I love an imperfect Christian. In reality, that is ALL of us. It’s the little blemishes and warts that make us desirable. The Christian who is striving for more and for a closer walk with God is the perfect Christian. The Christian who loves their neighbor is the perfect Christian. The Christian who realizes that perfection really won’t be accomplished until we cross over into eternity is my kind of person. 

In short, let’s be original. Let’s be authentic. Let’s accept our differences and try to be better. That’s truly the path to perfection. 

Perfect Peace

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Jesus stands among his disciples and says “Peace be with you.” He then repeats it a second time. An admonition for peace and then Jesus sends them out into the world. The church begins.

There are so many angles to this story but I keep coming back to peace. The early Christians endured great tribulation and yet I have to think that His words of peace kept ringing in their ears. Today, people of faith still suffer persecution and hatred. Peace is in short supply, that is to say, worldly peace.

I am not sure Jesus meant peace as in there will be no harm, hatred, war, or strife in this life. To me…it is perfect peace. A peace that passes all understanding.

It is the peace that comes from knowing Jesus and realizing that no matter what happens in this life, you will greet life knowing the peace of Christ.

It is hard to explain but it is glorious to experience.

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Altar Call

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I grew up in a church that always had an altar call at the end of every worship service.

Three times per week, anyone who felt called by God was given an opportunity to walk to the front of the church and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Technically, once you made your public profession of faith and were baptized, your sins were washed away. You were forgiven. However, some people took this opportunity to re-dedicate themselves to Christ.

I always remember that we had one sweet lady who semi-regularly re-dedicated her life. With great emotion and display she would come before the church to profess her repentance and undying love for Jesus.

This sweet soul re-affirmed her faith so often that it became a running joke if this Sunday was going to be another opportunity for her to come forward.

I think we were wrong. It was no joke.

At our core, we know we are sinners and need God’s grace. Some people feel this more fully than others. But many believe if you have repented and accepted Jesus into your life…a regular public display of remorse is not required by God. He knows we are sin-filled. He knows we love Him. But, He knows our weaknesses and He forgives us regardless.

I miss those days of altar calls. I miss people acknowledging publicly that they have not lived a more Christ-centered life. I also know that every Sunday I would feel the urge to come forward but would stay seated for fear of being ridiculed.

I’m glad Mrs. Ledbetter showed me what it is like to want forgiveness even if she didn’t have to ask so often. Her acts of contrition were an outward and visible reminder to those of us who were too proud to admit the same.

Can I get a witness?

 

The lost art of Letter Writing

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My friend and artist, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson has sent out a plea for people to write her a personal letter. Directions can be found on her blog at http://paperpaintings.growingbolder.com/snail-mail-me/.

Elizabeth uses handwritten letters in her paintings. It is special and poetic and so lovely to see how Elizabeth creates masterpieces from scraps of paper.

I try to write letters as often as possible. There are few things more thoughtful than receiving a hand-written letter from someone. The time it took to write and to think through the writing process is what makes a letter so intimate. It is a dying art form and I wish more people would spend the time writing something to someone once a day. I truly consider it art. So does Elizabeth.

I think back to Paul sitting in prison writing letters to the early Christian churches. Not only did Paul’s letters cheer weary souls but it also showed how much he cared for them even during the worst of circumstances. Paul’s letters live on today in the New Testament with wisdom we still use to enrich our lives.

I doubt Paul realized his letters would travel so far but I’m glad he wrote them. Paul’s writings glorify Christ in a unique and special way.

Send Elizabeth a letter. Better yet, send someone you love a letter.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3