Tag Archives: Jesus

Mustard-Seed Faith and Moving Mountains

Just a word about faith and moving things…

Remember the verse where Jesus said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed – very small – we could move mountains from one place to another?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20

But when we talk about moving mountains, remember movement can also be directional.

So often we want God to positionally relocate a mountain so that our forward path might be easier to navigate. In other words, we want God to move the mountain out of our way so that the journey might be less of a struggle.

But what if the mountain remains? What if, despite our faith, it’s part of God’s plan for our lives that the mountain stay right where it is – in our way? That happens more often than not, doesn’t it?

It’s when the mountain doesn’t move to “yonder place” we need to have faith Jesus won’t let us fall from the jagged cliffs as He pulls us, pushes us, and gives us the strength to climb, thereby moving the mountain – not away, but behind us.

For today, have a little mustard-seed faith…the kind that says to the most formidable cliff, “You will not stand in my way!”

If it’s the Lord’s will for the mountain to remain in place, He’ll make it possible to conquer it and move it to “yonder rearview mirror.”

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Filed under Faith, Struggles and Trials

Crimson-Colored Mercy

Don’t ask me why He loved me so; I’ll never understand.

He picked me up and held me close with a gentle nail-scarred hand.

He suffered what was meant for me, and after all I put Him through,

“Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

He told His Father I was “worth the nails“!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

With crimson-colored mercy, He washed away my shame.

Worthless and unworthy, a broken life He made brand new.

But before He changed a thing, He loved me anyway!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

 

 – adapted from “It’s Amazing, but It’s True,” by Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Love of God

The Solid Rock

There are times when a hymn can do what nothing else can do. The Solid Rock, written by Edward Mote (1797-1874), has been my favorite hymn for as long as I can remember, and it is to the second and third verse I want to turn today.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood:
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

Darkness does come, whether we want to admit it, or not. There are times when, like Shakespeare, I feel all I’m doing is “trouble[ing] deaf heaven with my bootless cries.” At times His loving face is hidden in the darkness, leaving me to feel like no one is listening, like no one cares.

But I will rest on His unchanging grace.

And when, in the darkness, I feel my ship tossed, I must remind myself that I am not the One responsible for the journey. When the darkness is so thick that it sucks away all light, leaving me only with the sensation of drifting, I must not fear…I must not lose hope…I must stay in the ship.

My anchor holds within the veil.

Am I forgotten? Is my purpose of not importance? What of my value that I should be left alone in the increasing depths of sorrow and doubt? Has He left me to drown as the waters rise around me? Is He unfaithful to finish what He has begun? NO! Of course not! His Word is true, and he cannot lie! He is faithful, even when I am not, and His promise of my rescue is sealed in His own blood!

His oath, His covenant, and His blood support me in the overwhelming flood.

When it seems like everything is caving in around me; when it seems like every place to stand becomes loose soil on the edge of a cliff; when all the advice in the world sounds hollow…

He, then, is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground but Jesus is sinking sand.

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What’s Your Life Worth?

Someone needs to read this. Is it you?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? Then you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Foolish, frankly.

Even more than concrete items, some value their pride more than life. They are willing to fight to the death, or kill others when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be thought of wrongly. So many have yet to learn that what people think of them does not determine the reality of who they are.

From the perspective of family, I would say that most believe life is worth risking life. If my loved ones were in danger, then it would be natural to put my life on the line. Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society is very fickled when it comes to how it determines the value of one life. One life is not as valuable as another, after all. Life is not as valuable to some if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.  I would die for my children, but many kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that values gold more consistently than life itself.

What about beliefs? Are you willing to die for what you believe? Now, this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s ok. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who will die for what they believe, rather than deny it.  Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

But here’s one more thought…how much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s. Your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make you of incalculable worth! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilts and failures as His own, and paying the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable. That makes Jesus pretty unique. How many others have done what He has for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that; and how wonderful?

What is your life worth?  It was worth the Messiah suffering the most excruciating death Rome could conceive.  It was worth the Prince of Peace being shredded by a “cat of nine tails.” It was worth God becoming flesh so that we could know Him.  If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.

Your life is worth it.

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, salvation, self-worth, Uncategorized, World View

OH! What a Savior!

The video I have attached was recorded 2 years ago this month while I was still pastor at Riverside Baptist Church. Katie’s voice is even better, now, after 2 more years at Bryan College pursuing her Music Ed degree (she just finished her senior year, btw, and is now in her 5th and final year). Oh, if you haven’t yet seen it, here is a link to Katie’s blog, Shutter Elf.

All I can say is that I love this song. Jesus means more to me now than ever.

Oh, what a Savior is mine!

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Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People do works for their own honor and not the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Why do we do good works? Why do we feed the poor, shelter the homeless, tend to the elderly, etc? Do we do these things so that our Father will be glorified, or do we do them in order to get glory for ourselves?

To be Seen.

Some people do good works with the sole intention of being seen and considered especially spiritual. Jesus said that “Everything they do is for show” (Mt. 23:5 NLT). Jesus spoke of those who wanted to be seen as pious and holy by wearing boxes containing Scripture on their foreheads or arms. The bigger the box the better. All this was in an attempt to say, “I am keeping the law better than you!” (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Then there are other people who do plenty of good deeds without even acknowledging God. For example,  go to any charity ball held by your local “high society” club. There you will find plenty of people who willingly give thousands to worthy causes but smile as big as they can when the magazine photographers come around.

They may even be members of local churches and give large offerings to the building fund (as long as it’s named after them); buy the pastor a new car, or pay for a youth mission trip. “And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the [congregation].” – Matthew 23:6 NLT

To be Accepted

Some people do good works in order to be accepted by God. They give away fortunes and spend their lives doing good deeds, but not to be seen by men. They want to be seen by God and thought of as worthy of His love. The only problem is that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” They work themselves to death in order prove their loyalty, thereby supposedly ensuring a place in heaven. But the glory goes not to God, for attached to the works is an expectation of reward based on merit.

Soli Deo Gloria

All glory should be to God alone. If our works are done in order to receive praise, then God is not getting the glory. If our works are meant to earn credit with God, then God is not getting the glory. If we work ourselves silly to meet the legalistic requirements placed on us by men, then God is not getting the glory. However, if out of a heart of love we do good works without expectation for reward, recognition, or acceptance, then God will receive the glory.

When all glory, honor, and praise is given to the Lord, He will draw all men unto Himself. Church growth will be unstoppable. Yet, if we expect credit for anything, then what should we expect but further decline? “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:11 KJV

We want others to see our good works, but not for our own glory. May they “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.”

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Filed under book review, God, legalism, Uncategorized

If a Monkey Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

Free Movies

One of the great things about modern cable networks is the ability to watch free movies on demand. It’s a great thing, but I guess it’s also a bad thing, too. Free movies mean lots of wasted time in front of a television – because there’s always something to watch.

Well, sorta.

I mean, it’s precisely because I am NOT paying for these movies that the selection is a tad bit limited. When you get what you pay for, and you pay nothing, then you get what you pay for.

So, that’s why I found myself watching “Oz the Great and Wonderful” late Sunday night. I’d forgotten that I’d already seen it back in 2014.

Finley the Flying Monkey

Anyway, even though the movie was rather lame, there were a few well-acted scenes. I especially liked Mila Kunis as Theodora: the creepy, emotionally-ill, heartbroken witch that later became the wicked witch of Dorothy fame. She became the prime reason I will never trust an attractive woman dressed in red that just so happens to greet me in the middle of the woods.

But of all the scenes, one stood out immediately (at least this time around when it was free), and that was the following scene where Finley the monkey indebts himself to Oz.

When I saw this Sunday night, I immediately thought of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I was once trapped and bound by sin. A lion that had been seeking me out to devour me was just about to pounce. I cried out to the only One who could save me, and he did – except in my case, He took the lion’s bite for me.

Why is it so hard to understand that I owe him my life? Oh, I know I do, but do I ever really go about it in the way that Finley the monkey did? Do you?

You do realize, don’t you, that without Jesus we would be dead – eternally so. The life we live is only because of the grace of God. The least we can do is echo the words of Finley and say, “You saved my life, oh Jesus. So, I hereby swear a life debt to you. From this moment on, I shall be your loyal and faithful servant until death.”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

If a monkey can do it, why can’t we?

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Filed under animals, Christianity, grace, Movie review, salvation, worship