Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Reminder of the Opportunity You Have Today!

Rarely do I use this blog to talk politics, and that is true today, too. Still, I think Governor Chris Christie has an important reminder for all of us as we face today. Click video to hear his response to the question of an eight-year-old girl, "What's the best part about being governor?"
I loved his "serious" answer. "Today I get a chance to do something great for others." His response reminded me that each of us has been given that same opportunity every day!

In John 14:11-13, Jesus makes a phenomenal statement: "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."(NASB)

WHAT? Jesus clearly states that His followers would do "greater" things that He did while He was here? Remember, He did NOT say His followers would be greater than He is, but that they would be involved in greater work.

I like how the commentator William Barclay explains it: "When it came to a matter of numbers and extent and changing power, the triumphs of the message of the Cross were even greater than the triumphs of Jesus in the days of his flesh. It is of moral re-creation and spiritual victory that Jesus is speaking. He says that this will happen because he is going to his Father. What does he mean by that? He means this. In the days of his flesh he was limited to Palestine; when he had died and risen again, he was liberated from these limitations and his Spirit could work mightily anywhere." 

Christ was obviously pointing to the future work of His Holy Spirit through the body of believers...a work that would not be limited to one life for three years in a little corner of the world in the Middle East. Christ wasn't just talking about healing the sick and feeding the poor, but about seeing, as Barclay says, "the triumphs of the message of the cross" spread throughout the world resulting in the salvation of millions upon millions.

Every day we can enter, if we choose,  in to these greater works, being used by the Spirit of God to be a part of the greatest works, loving God and loving others (See Matthew 22:34-40).  Remember, our witness consists in much, much more than mere words, it is in the visible fabric of our lives, lived in an attitude of acting in the best interest of others, with the ultimate goal of showing others the Way to be adopted into God's family....the Way being Jesus Christ.

Jesus in the passage I just quoted, also said that if we ask for whatever we need to glorify the Father (that is to shine the spotlight of our lives on the greatness and goodness and love and grace of our Father that others might know, love and praise Him, too!), that we will be given it. So don't waste today being a victim of circumstances, look for an opportunity to do something GREAT!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love Wins

I like those two words together. I also like it as a "life strategy." No matter what happens to you, if you really trust Christ, love will ultimately win. Love, according to Scripture, is the greatest thing (I Cor. 13:13). Surely we should pay attention to the greatest thing. My brother shared a video link with me some time ago and I forgot it, but today I ran across this short animation of Disney (it's up for an Oscar in the short film category) called "Paperman." Watch it. It's simple, very simple, beautifully rendered, and reminds us that love is a force that moves us, transforms us, and can give us courage and hope to rise above the ordinary.
 Love is something that still has a lot of mystery to the mystery of whatever was guiding the paper airplanes in the video. To me the greatest mystery of all is described in 1 John 3:16: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 

Christ died not merely as a way to get us to heaven, but as the way to defeat our own self-destructive selfishness and to empower us to really love God and people. An article from ( reminds us of the core of agape love, namely the welfare of the beloved. The article states: 

 "Agape wills the objective good of the beloved," writes Peter Kreeft (author of The God Who Loves You). "Thus it wills or tolerates suffering when suffering is necessary for the beloved's true, objective good." He goes on to explain that this is why loving parents discipline their children, and why God does not wipe every tear away until his return. While agape often overlaps with kindness, and is always teeming with emotion, God still takes a long-range view of the beloved's best interest. God's pure self-forgetful gift-love has a perfect view of the beloved's needs and true fulfillment.

Is your life working well for you? It might be a good time to look at how much agape love is flowing through you from our Father's heart to those around you. What does that kind of love look like? Check out 1 Corinthians's VERY specific! One of my favorite definitions of love is: acting in the best interest of another PERIOD. That's a bit of a paraphrase of 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. So let love MOVE the Savior Who loves you, and to the people you meet everyday who need your love!

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Power of Words

Saying the Best Words in 2013. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful our words can be. Lives can be destroyed or saved by words. Wars are started with words. Lives are saved in emergency rooms as doctors give orders to staff that can make the difference between life or death. It is amazing how often we use our words carelessly, without thinking about the power of words. The Bible is crystal clear about the power of words. James reminds us that just as a small spark can set a forest on fire, the small tongue can cause great destruction, too. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give a simple, direct command to use our words to help others, not hurt them when he wrote: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:29-30) These two verses pack a lot of punch! Consider the three commands:

1.  Don't say ANYTHING unwholesome (words that hurt, destroy, or rob people of God's grace).
2.  Be intentional about saying things that are beneficial and helpful.
3.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, which obviously happens when you choose to say UNWHOLESOME words instead of HELPFUL ones.

The Holy Spirit takes very seriously the words we say, and we should be serious, too. A week and a half ago, a church member blessed me with words. Charles was eighty three, and vibrant. He was faithful at church, and loved serving, especially in the kitchen. We shared the kindred spirit of liking a good bargain. As I shared with the church this past weekend, on the Sunday before Charles passed away, I was called to the nursing home because he wanted to talk to the family and me about having his feeding tube removed because the doctors had said they had done everything they could. He was adamant about it being time for him to go home to be with his Savior and to see his wife. He passed away four days later. I had time to pray alone with Charles that Sunday, and when I said "amen," he said five little words that I will forever remember, and cherish: "I'm glad I met you." Five little words...thirteen letters from a man who would not be here much longer. They were simple, sincere, loving and powerful. Charles had no idea what power he was radiating in that moment, and it reminds me of how many opportunities we miss to be truly encouraging and helpful to others.

Someone once said, "be kind to everyone you meet for everyone you meet is waging a great battle." So let's give the Holy Spirit something to be joyful about. Saying something truly encouraging and helpful to someone. Think about the people you talk to who could use an encouraging word; pause before you say a cutting word, a gossipy word, or a hurtful word. Remind yourself that God's Spirit can be grieved by what we say to others, but He will be overjoyed to hear helpful words come out of our mouths, especially words that point people to Jesus Christ! Go and say something GOOD to someone today!