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There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” David Foster Wallace, This is Water (2005)

My aunt recently returned to her eternal home. Jane was just an ambassador here on this earth. She had been seeking those things which are above – where Christ dwells at the right hand of the Father – for most of her life.

About a year ago, Jane shared that her heart’s desire was to get back to church. God nurtured that desire by bringing the church to her home. Now, she is with that great cloud of witnesses, praising the LORD and cheering us on. God gives us the desires of our hearts when we surrender to Him.

As a side note, I imagine Jane has already had more than one conversation with the Lord about more than one of those she loves here on earth. We should expect some response – some opportunity.

Jane’s transition reminded me of a few things about life. Like fish in water, we often live without realizing what we are living in. Though we value life, we forget it is there. We lose sight of its full meaning.

So, let’s stop and consider some truths about life. Read the rest of this entry »

It has been some time since I last presented the following. I encourage you to consider it prayerfully – even if it seems like an obvious truth. Ask the Father to give greater meaning to it, for you and those you love.

Much of our thinking is subconscious (i.e., we are not conscious of it). Our minds filter input through a paradigm that has been forming since before our birth. We should be suspicious of the way we think.

It is ironic that though life is a process, we give so much attention to events. It takes more mental energy to think of the process. Life is harder to consider than the events of birth, birthdays, graduation, death, and the multitude of events that lie in between.

But, it is the “in between” that matters most – the process of life that connects and blankets the events of our lives.

Generally speaking, the church has fallen victim to the same event-orientation – most damagingly in regards to salvation. Many think of salvation as the initial event – justification, reconciliation, and rebirth. Some would add the end – glorification. It seems very few talk about the in between; and I don’t mean sanctification – that is a different process altogether.

So, let’s look at the evidence of salvation as a process.

Read the rest of this entry »

The elementary principles are foundations; and nothing is more foundational to Christianity than faith toward God. Of the six elementary principles, faith toward God is probably the most commonly taught. Consequently, you may be tempted to take a pass on this one.

So, before you decide to do that, let me suggest that foundation inspections are always good. The worse thing that can happen is you find out you have at least one principle covered. On the other hand, there may be something here that connects a couple of dots for you. Or, you may find a new way to explain this principle to those you are discipling. That is my hope and prayer.

The way the writer of Hebrews phrased this principle is interesting to me. Why not “faith in God”? Make no mistake about it, the Holy Spirit inspired the use of the word “toward”. I suspect this will be key to our gaining a full understanding of the principle. Before we go there, let’s make sure we understand the meaning of “faith”.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

This is one of the richest verses in all of Scripture – the definition of faith. In order to understand it fully, we must consider the words God chose to define and describe faith. As we do so, let’s remember that this principle is elementary. It is easy to understand; it is easy to consume. Read the rest of this entry »

ClocksAnd do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

God is a process-oriented problem solver. Yes, there are times when He miraculously “fixes” an issue we are facing in our work. However, He most often works in process. Why? Because, His working things to our good is about more than the solution.

In the process, God is preparing us to be stewards that make the most of the talents He has invested in us. In the process, He is transforming us by the renewing of our minds – helping us to appropriate the mind of Christ. It’s like teaching us to fish, rather than giving us a fish. Honoring the process will take us farther into His kingdom life.

It is important to remember that God owns the process; and it will take the appropriate amount of time. While we don’t want to loiter around in the process, there’s a reason it takes the amount of time He has allocated for our transformation. Open a cocoon before the caterpillar has become a butterfly and all is lost.

It takes nine months for a human baby to fully develop. You can impatiently deliver that baby early, but you will have an unhealthy baby on your hands. Conversely, a baby left too long in the womb poses a danger for both baby and mother.

As your new Boss begins to transform your work, remember that He is also transforming you. Ask Him for the patience and faith to see His process to its successful end. Don’t waste the process by bailing out early. Honor His work by diligently participating with Him in it. Run the race as if to win!!

Humbly yours and forever His,

Bible with Cross ShadowIn our last article on the sayings of Jesus, we discovered that His “judge not” is the pronouncement of guilt, sentence and punishment for the sin in our brother (or sister). Such judgment is reserved for God. We also learned that this saying does not excuse us from our responsibility to lovingly help our brother identify and remove the sin in His life. In fact, Jesus immediately described the first step in that restoration process.

Here we will learn the process for helping our brother find the grace to live a life without sin, for his benefit and that of the church. As we begin, it is important to recognize a few things:

  1. Identifying and addressing the sin in a brother is not judgment. It is an act of love; that he might not face the judgment of God (1Corinthians 5:1-5; James 5:19-20). Conversely, to ignore or accept sin in a brother is to not love him.
  2. To hold our tongue when God has made us aware of sin, makes us guilty of that sin, and subject to God’s judgment of it (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
  3. The primary meaning of krinō is “to separate, put asunder”. This is very similar to the meaning of sanctify: to cleanse, purify and separate from profane things; and dedicate to God. God’s children are to be instruments of sanctification for the church.

This may come as a surprise to you. You may be experiencing a resistance to it – even a strong one. Be encouraged to prayerfully consider your responsibility to your brother, the church and, most of all, to God. One of the primary reasons for the spiritual weakness of the church in America is our failure in this area.

Also, be encouraged that the Father knew the challenge this would be for His children. He graciously gave us a process for it, beginning with our own sanctification.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

God is intentional and shrewd in His orchestration of our relationships. Very often He puts people in our lives to help us see the sin in ourselves. We would be wise to consider every sin we notice in someone else as a sin God is trying to remove from our own eye. Here’s an interesting thought: The only way to see your eye is in a mirror.

Therefore, once we have noticed a sin in our brother, our first step for his restoration is to ask God to search our hearts; to see if there is any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23-24). Whatever time it takes, this step must be completed before moving on. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowOur God is a process-oriented problem solver. Give Him a problem – say, expressing His glory through mud babies – and He will give you a solution process. The Bible is a story of process. Getting back what He lost in the garden has been a long process (filled with His long-suffering). Most of the major themes of the New Testament are processes: Belief, salvation, sanctification, and transformation, to name a few.

This may be news to you; for we have become an event oriented society, and much of our teaching has leaned in this direction. The mind of Christ runs counter to this way of thinking. The renewal of our minds will come more quickly for those that accept God’s way for solving the problems of His kingdom.

Let’s consider how this applies to the next of Jesus’ sayings.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:46-48

As you can see, Jesus expects that we shall be perfect, just as our Father in heaven is perfect. Whether you believe this is a possibility for this life, or reserved for the next, it is the destination Jesus has in mind; and destinations require journeys. He tying this to our treatment of others in this life makes it clear that we are in the process of being perfected.

Praise God this is so. How miserable would the Christian life be if it were limited to a waiting for some last minute transformation? No, that is not God’s way. His Son is saving, transforming, and sanctifying His people as salt and light on this side of heaven. He is making each one that will follow Him. We are all in process. Read the rest of this entry »

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