Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Up Your Cross

Religion teaches blessings and cursings, but contrary to what religion teaches, Jesus taught his followers to take up the cross and follow Him. The cross is a symbol of suffering and following Christ is a life of suffering; not suffering for the bad choices we make, but suffering in Christ, because our life is in Christ. Those who live outside the United States, in hostile nations are familiar with this suffering.

In addition, the cross also symbolizes suffering with others who are sick, grieving and traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. Those who believe in the religious teaching of blessings and cursings, are setting themselves up for failed expectations. The moment something doesn't work out the way the one who believes in this teaching thought it should work out, is the moment that this one begins to doubt. They might go back and try to figure out what went wrong. They might then decide to work harder at "getting it right." After all their attempts at getting it right fail, they might then begin to question God and ask, "Why are you letting these bad things happen to me?"

The truth is God is sovereign and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is committing to a life of suffering. Jesus said, "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:27 NKJV). Why would one commit to a life of suffering? In the words of the Apostle Paul, "For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18 NKJV). 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dedication to my friend Clinton Tuck

Yesterday I presented Clinton with a copy of my book, "Touched By The Hand Of God." I customized it for him and put it in a loose-leaf binder. Clinton Tuck, Rod Kennedy and Ernie Hughes (now deceased) were instrumental in helping me complete my autobiography. I wasn't able to finish the book until I met these three wonderful men. I met each of them in the local nursing homes. All three have inspired me so very much that I dedicated the final chapter of my book titled, "Location, Location, Location," to them. Touched By The Hand Of God, is available in digital format at Smashwords and other online eBook retailers like Apple i Bookstore and Kindle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

From the gospel according to Matthew 26:20-75

Based on our own love, we are just like the Apostle Peter who said (paraphrasing), "Lord I am willing to die with you." Jesus responded, "Peter how about just praying with me for an hour." Jesus went to pray and came back and there he found Peter with the other disciples, sleeping. Jesus responded, "Hello Peter, Peter, wake up Peter. Peter can you pray with me an hour?" Jesus goes away again to pray, overwhelmed with sorrow and when he returns, again He finds Peter fast asleep. Based on our own efforts to love, we all fall short and are just like Peter before He received the gift of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul said, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" Gal. 2:20.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happiness Is Fleeting

Can it be that so many people are depressed today because they are trying to obtain happiness? Can happiness even be attained? It seems to me it's a never ending struggle and it's idolatry. If life is based on achieving happiness, than everything evolves around me. I focus all my efforts on being happy.  It's self centered not Christ centered. Yet we as human beings have been duped into thinking that's what life is about. Have you heard the saying,"Whatever makes you happy?" A Christ centered life is centered on Jesus Christ. The mystery of the gospel is: Christ in you the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). The gospel: Christ is in you and in me, gives us joy, a fruit of the Spirit. Joy endures forever. It's not transitory like happiness. Christ in us is long-suffering with others. Our life in Christ is about suffering with others and for others. It's the greatest love that Jesus spoke of, that a man should lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). The love of God, Christ in us, expresses Himself through long-suffering. In life most of us will experience times of happiness, sadness and grieving. Yet throughout life and into eternity we can experience joy in Christ. This is the gospel, it's good news for everyone who has ears to hear.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is there such a thing as a successful Christian?

If there is, what does he or she look like? For a very long time I have tried to be a "successful Christian." But I believe I created a false image in my mind and without realizing it, I was practicing idolatry. Most often I was discouraged and even depressed when I didn't live up to the image of a "successful Christian." I have come to realize that a successful Christian doesn't live for his or her own happiness and isn't necessarily happy. But just maybe a successful Christian is one who knows his identity is in Christ; knows he has Divine life and knows he has been given eternal life in Christ. Maybe the successful Christian is the one who knows what Jesus Christ accomplished for him at the cross and  lives in the reality of who he is in Christ. Maybe believing the reality that we are in Christ and Christ is in us and we are one with God, means that we don't have to live up to a false image that we create for ourselves and we are free to allow Christ to live His life through us and to suffer with others as He suffered for us. Just maybe that is what a successful Christian is.

(References: The Book of Colossians, especially Col. 1:12-14,19,27; 2:9-15,20; 3:1-4,11)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Grace Walk, Dr. Steve McVey

My Review Of This Book

Dr. Steve McVey decided to leave Alabama with his family and accept a Pastoral position at a struggling church in Atlanta. In Alabama he was recognized as an "outstanding young religious leader," and he was confident in his ability to get this church turned around. However, after one year this church had declined in attendance. He learned that despite what we are taught in our culture, trying harder doesn't work in our relationship with God or in His service. God works through our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Dr. McVey was brought to a place of brokenness and complete surrender (the valley of the shadow of death). It was in this place that he began to trust God and quit trying to be a Christian. He gave up trusting in his own abilities and discovered that the only One who could live the Christ life is Christ. He found his new identity in Christ; as Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 5:17). He came to understand that he was no longer a sinner but a saint. He recognized his old nature was dead and he now had a new nature. The sin nature died with Jesus Christ on the cross (Gal. 2:20). Dr. McVey learned that the Christian life is easy when we let Jesus do it. We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and don't have to fret over trying to figure out what God's will is.

I loved this book. It is more of a book to study with questions on each chapter in the back of the book. I did the questions and didn't rush through the book. I have learned three things from Dr. McVey's teachings in Grace Walk:

1) My relationship with God is based on an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ-it's a love affair.
2) My identity is in Christ-He lives in me and expresses His love through me.
3) I have the mind of Christ. I abide in Him and no longer have to fret about knowing His will. His will comes naturally.