Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Know The Will Of The Lord

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:1-21 ESV

We all know that words and phrases change in meaning with each generation, for example, I grew up using “bad” for everything that was more than just good. I remember battling over this with my “un-cool” parents and teachers who just didn’t have a clue about the “real” world… And I remember when my dad became “cool” - why? Because he started using “bad” for good. I still use “bad” out of habit but it seems that only the over thirty crowd appreciates it because bad just seems to mean bad again.

Paul uses a word that may be a little skewed in today’s economy…

Look carefully then how you walk…

What does carefully mean to you?

Today, if I were to say to someone “Be careful” it would mean to walk cautiously, to be very watchful and wary in order to avoid danger or to discern enemies before they come too close.

In scripture “be careful” has a much different meaning than it does today.

Careful – to be “full” of care (vigilant, watchful regard and attentive)
  • vigilant - attentive to the discovery and avoidance of danger
  • watchful - attentive; cautious
  • regard - the effect on the mind
  • attentive - Heedful; intent; observant; regarding with care. It is applied to the senses of hearing and seeing, as an attentive ear or eye; to the application of the mind, as in contemplation
We can sum up what Paul means like this… Once we have been vigilant, watchful & attentive... then we must act correctly, accurately, consistently
  • correctly - in conformity with truth, justice, rectitude, or propriety; according to a standard; agreeable to a copy or original; exactly; accurately; without fault, or error; as, to behave correctly; to write, speak or think correctly; to judge correctly
  • accurately - conformed to truth, a standard or model; free from failure, error or defect
  • consistently - 1. marked by harmony, regularity or steady continuity 2. marked by agreement : COMPATIBLE 3. showing steady conformity to character, profession, belief or custom
We have a saying today that captures this idea – “Walk the talk”


Because the days are evil –

Paul understood that life has the potential to consume the believer. He knew that a halfhearted, laid-back approach to the “Christian walk” would only lead to distraction, struggle, even failure. He knew that in order to survive one must be careful and diligent.

Now, if Paul was this intense about the need to “be careful”—to be correct, accurate and consistent in all that we do, in a time that was not as spiritually dangerous as today… How much more then should we live a “careful” lifestyle today?

I wonder how he would express this urgency today; what word or words we he use… Maybe he would say be very meticulous, cautious, painstaking or even shrewd in your daily practice. Peter uses a powerful visual when he says – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…” 1Peter 5:8-9 ESV

The second warning in this plea from Paul is found v.17 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

“What does it mean to not be foolish?”

Foolish - 1. Void of understanding or sound judgment; weak in intellect 2. Unwise; imprudent; acting without judgment or discretion 3. Proceeding from folly or marked with folly; silliness; vanity; pettiness 4. Ridiculous; despicable

In scripture foolishness has the connotation of acting wicked, sinful or without regard to the divine law and glory. So, as Christians we are to act correctly, accurately and consistently, which is to walk according to counsel of the Lord; simply, to live as Jesus exampled for us. To not walk this way is to be a fool, someone who is acting wicked, sinful or without regard to God’s law and glory.

I really enjoy reading from The Message Bible, the simplicity of what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us is usually captured quite well. Here is Ephesians 5:15-17 and I believe the translator nailed this one on the head for us! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. (MSG)

What is it the Master wants? Well, He has great plans for you and they include who you are to marry, where you are to live, work, etc. But bigger than those is to capture His heart and live as He lived among us, to Walk As Jesus Walked – You don’t believe me? Look at verse 1 - Therefore be imitators of God…

Bless you as you seek to know the will of the Father for your life. He wants you to know it; He wants you to succeed in your race to the finish line… GO FOR IT!


Monday, December 22, 2008


This is an excerpt from a friend of mine’s blog titled, Elephant Domination http://jungleswife.wordpress.com It made me stop and think and I figured it was worth reposting here.


Enjoy… Merry Christmas!


First Corinthians 13, the Christmas Version

Betsy Wright Rhodes


If I decorate my house perfectly with bows, twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.


If I bake dozens of Christmas cookies, prepare gourmet meals and arrange a beautifully adorned table, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.


If I work at the soup kitchen, sing carols in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.


If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s Christmas cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.


Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.  Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.


Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust - but giving the gift of love will endure.



Monday, December 8, 2008

Change - Dreaded or Embraced?

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:36-39 ESV


There has been a lot of discussion about “Change” lately, especially during the resent presidential campaign and upcoming presidency. A recent Twitterer asked the following  question – “What is your opinion about change?” and I quickly answered, “Change is a necessary element to fullness of life, without it we grow stagnant...”. As I was pondering my response I decided to see what God would have to say about this discussion.


Here is my conclusion:

Change is an absolute! With out it, we will in fact grow stagnant. But there is a difference between change simply for the sake of change and change for the sake of the Kingdom. I for one am geared for constant change for example; I can’t stand to rent or own a home that isn’t laid out in such a way as to allow for resituating of the living room furniture (I get a little stir crazy about every 6-8 months and need to change it up in the living room) another example is my hair (facial and head) I can go from bald and beardless to shoulder length and goatee all within the same year. This kind of change, just for change sake, is cool and doesn’t really matter in the big picture.


But what about change when God is asking for it? How well do we respond to His request? For that matter how well do we even perceive His will? In the story above, God was doing a great and marvelous thing—He was preparing the stage for the most awesome event in all of human history and yet, those who resist change, those who were comfortable in their environment, those who only changed when it suited them…missed out and caused others to miss out as well (that’s an important insight to change or lack-there-of as well, what we do always affects others!).


Clearly, the old wineskins represent the teachings and traditions of the past. The new wineskins represent the fresh, current move of God. God is 100% committed to those of this day who are His – yes, but He is also 100% committed to those who do not yet walk in relationship with Him! When we resist His course of direction (which is really what change is…the lining up of my agenda with His or coming into agreement with His plan), back to my point, when we resist His course of direction, we can then only be off course – there is no “close enough”. We are either walking with Him or walking contrary to Him and I sure hope that we don’t need to discuss how that is bad, very bad…


Change is to life as water is to farming – if the farmer has no water, he has no crop! If we don’t change, when He is clearly leading us to it, than we will not have the fullness of life which He intends for us to have. Jesus came to give us life and life abundant – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV


Change… Its Good For Your Health!



Monday, November 10, 2008

Are You A Sojourner?

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 2Corinthians 5:1-4 ESV


How are you living? Is your focus only upon the tangible, the stuff that you can grab hold of or are you living with the absolute awareness of a promised future – one that begins in the here and now but goes on into eternity? Are you a sojourner?


Sojourner – 1. a temporary resident 2. a person who resides temporarily in a place –



Paul lived “in” the assurance of his hope… immortal glory. Many don’t like to discuss death; I get that the idea of dying can be scary but for the believer in Jesus Christ this shouldn’t be!


When those who don’t know the Lord share with me their fear of dying, they actually present an open door to the offer of hope – a life everlasting! But when those who know the Lord share this same fear, something is wrong…


I’ve heard it said that all Christians want to get to Heaven; they just don’t want to die to get there. Well…to put it bluntly, there ain’t no other way to get there! We all are going to die, this is fact. The challenge we face is – do we, with fear and trembling, do everything possible to hold on to our physical life, hoping to attain the maximum 120 yrs (read Genesis 6); hey let’s say you do reach birthday # 120, at the absolute most you will only have 12 more months to live but you will not escape it death will come to all of us! Or do we embrace this temporary life in the same fashion as Paul, recognizing that life is in fact short, but in the physical end the eternal begins. Paul was a traveler, he knew that his permanent address was not here on earth.


Death need not be something which is feared. Those who are “IN” Christ, should actually live towards that end – yes, I meant to structure it that way… Christians, must understand that man was created to be in eternal fellowship with the living God and that one day what is mortal WILL be swallowed up by life!!!! Paul also said this, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV


Paul didn’t have any “special magic dust” making him into the perfect Christian, able to live in such a way that no one else could. No, he was just like you and me…human. The only difference may be that he embraced his cross and lived for one reason…to the glory of His King! He knew, that he knew, that he knew - when his physical life came to an end…true life would then begin!


Embrace this life, live for the King, look to eternity!



Friday, October 31, 2008

Discipleship, "What Does It Mean To Follow Jesus?"

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 ESV

What does it mean to “follow”?

follow - 1. to engage in as a way of life; obey, pursue, practice, conform (It is our duty to follow the commands of Christ. Good soldiers follow the orders of their general; good servants follow the directions of their master.) 2. to go after, pursue, chase 3. to accompany; to attend in a journey 4. to imitate; to copy; as, to follow a pattern or model


So, what does it mean to be a “follower” of Jesus? Well, if we incorporate Webster’s definition into the answer, to follow Christ means to engage Him as our way of life! To obey Him! To go after Him! To be His attendant while accompanying Him through life’s journey! To imitate Him while conforming to His example! Following Jesus requires the denial of self and fellowship with Him in the cross—a fellowship of faith as well as a fellowship of life, sharing in His sufferings not only inwardly, but outwardly if necessary. Following Jesus involves such inner, moral, spiritual and physical union that I am fully decreased and He is fully increased in me and through me! (He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 ESV)

“…there is a vast difference between coming to Jesus for salvation and coming after Jesus for service. Coming to Christ makes one a believer, while coming after Christ makes one a disciple. All believers are not disciples. To become a believer one accepts the invitation of the Gospel. To be a disciple, one obeys the challenge of a life of dedicated service and separation. Salvation comes through the sacrifice of Christ, but discipleship comes only by sacrifice of self and surrender to His call for devoted service. Salvation is free, but discipleship involves paying the price of a separated walk.”

Dr. M. R. DeHaan (founder, Radio Bible Class)


Discipleship, "What Is It?" part 3

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-19 ESV

Once we have recognized that our character is in need of ongoing development, discipleship is the “vehicle” for the Godly development of our character!

This term “make disciples” has much more to do with developing lasting relationships then it does with simply making converts! “Make disciples”, suggests the deep shaping of one’s character and the cultivation of one’s world-view through a close, personal relationship between the discipler and his disciple.

Discipleship is the process in which one is transformed, over time, into Christ-likeness.

“The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.”

George Whitefield

In a nutshell, discipleship is...

·         REPRODUCTION!! – “LIFE giving LIFE”

·         learning and teaching “Life Principles of the Kingdom

·         the empowering of others as God has empowered us

·         a committed relationship through which an individual receives ongoing council, instruction, encouragement and correction—enabling growth and maturity in Christ, thus becoming a fully devoted follower of JESUS

“It’s the biblical means to bring about positive change in the everyday lives of believers—or in the lives of everyday believers.” Bill McCartney

The disciple is a learner, open and teachable. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. Proverbs 9:9-10 The disciple seeks to be proficient* in his walk with the Lord, it’s not at all about perfection—for we are made perfect only in Christ but a disciple does need to strive to do his best for the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24

* Proficiency comes from trying to do everything well through commitment to excellence. God has equipped each of us with skills and He gives us gifts for the complete accomplishment of His will, in us and in the world. The only hindrance to proficiency is ones level of commitment to excellence—we MUST find out what God’s will is for us and be about His business! For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:8-11

A great deal of what discipleship is… is learning to view life through the eyes of God. A disciple will find it extremely hard to be successful in the walk of faith without proper “Perspective & Vision”.

-         perspective - the aspect in which things or circumstances are mentally or naturally viewed

-         vision - the aspect in which things or circumstances are viewed otherwise than by ordinary sight

For the disciple of Jesus Christ, it’s not a matter of either/or but a healthy blend of the two aspects for viewing life—God created us with the capacity to see in the natural, but He wants us to come and gain His perspective, “God-vision”, for walking through what we see in the natural (the stuff & circumstances of life). Unfortunately, good clear perspective mixed with “God-vision” are rare commodities among Christians, we tend to get stuck in the here and now—our immediate circumstances and situations…we must decide to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5


Discipleship, "What Is It?" part 2

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-19 ESV


Discipleship is not only my favorite subject but it is God’s as well; the “Great Commission” makes that point clear. But what is it? If you Google search that question you will quickly discover that the Church is realizing that WE NEED TO MAKE DISCIPLES and not just converts.


The following are quotes on this subject; the first three are mine:


“To fear God more than man is the key which unlocks the door to one’s destiny!”


“Being a disciple requires a life-long commitment to Jesus, to the things of God and to the body of Christ (The Church). None could say, with any sincerity of heart, that he is committed to Christ if he does not care to grow in his knowledge of God through a lifestyle of study, prayer, worship and praise. A true disciple of Christ also carries the burden of His Lord—multiplication through active discipleship.”


“We don’t become a disciple of Jesus solely through conversion. With Jesus’ words “Make disciples” we see that a disciple is made not birthed; one is “re-born” through converting from a life contrary to God then invited to become a disciple of Jesus through interaction with Him via other disciples. Again, with Jesus’ words “…teaching them…” it is clear that discipleship is a life-long process in which each believer is transformed into the likeness of his Master, Christ. This then should be the Christians motto, ‘Those who don’t know…must be taught—those who do know…must be teachers!’ ”


For the rest of this list, I did the best I could to give proper recognition:


“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“Salvation is free... but discipleship will cost you your life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“The emphasis to-day is being put on the fact that we have to save men; we have not. We have to exalt the Saviour, who saves men and then make disciples in His Name.” Oswald Chambers


“Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with acceptance of responsibility”. Ed Cole


“One does not surrender a life in an instant—that which is lifelong, can only be surrendered in a lifetime.” Jim Elliot


“God’s plan for an individual’s life is not incubation, but transformation. The church is a place where God empowers people to become Christlike. Today, heaven is again calling each of us to break free of the shell of “religion” and embrace the liberty and power of a Christlike life.” Francis Frangipane


“Our call is not to be conformed to the world, but by grace to be transformed by God. This call is not to be static, but to move beyond rigidity and relativism, tribalism and compromise. It is not to resist all change, bury our heads and dig in our feet. Rather, it is a cry to be transformed by God in a changing world without being conformed to its contemporary powers. What a challenge for the people of God!” Dick Keyes


“Christianity does not consist in any partial amendment of our lives, any particular moral virtues, but in an entire change of our natural temper, a life wholly devoted to God.” William Law


“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” William Law


“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self...” C.S. Lewis


“No man has the mind of Christ, except him who makes it his business to obey him.” George MacDonald


“How disabled the body of Christ has become because our primary purpose for church attendance has been to hear one man exercise his gifts, rather than to prepare people to develop their gifts for ministry, not only within the church but within society.” David R. Mains


“A Christian is not of hasty growth...but rather like the oak, the progress of which is hardly perceptible, but in time becomes a deep-rooted tree.” John Newton


“The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.” John Ortberg


“Christianity must evoke from the believer the same response it drew from the first disciples: a passionate desire to obey God - a willingly entered-into discipline. That is the beginning of true discipleship. That is the beginning of loving God” Randy Peck


“You have but one Pattern; follow Him inwardly and outwardly. If other believers will go step for step with you, well; but if not, follow Him!” John Wesley


“Blessed is the man who finds out which way God is moving and then gets going in the same direction.” Unknown


Conclusion… Let’s be about the Kings business and MAKE DISCIPLES!