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We are on a journey through unprecedented storms and the chaos they produce. For most of us, the storms are coming from multiple directions and the chaos exists on several levels. We must remember that God truly is in control. In fact, He is a very careful and adept orchestrator.

Do we believe that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose? If the answer is, “We’ll see”, then we do not believe it. The storms and chaos are not intended to prove Him, but us!!

The perspectives we take with us into the storms of life are critical, make-or-break paradigms. If we think like the world, we will seek worldly solutions. This is the only option for most of mankind.

Christians, on the other hand, have the perspective of heaven (Ephesians 2:6). We would be foolish to set our minds on anything else. We therefore offer the following perspectives for your edification and encouragement.

Chaos and Caterpillars

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation.

Similarly, God will use the chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. The Holy Spirit waits for God’s people to submit to His transforming – metamorphoo’ing – work.

Our response to this work will require leaving something behind. Many times, it is security, long held beliefs, routines, even people and places we have grown to love. Rarely does this call not involve a dying to ourselves. And so, there must be grieving – something best done with others.

It will help us (and those we love) to remember that chaos is normal for every Christian committed to following Jesus Christ. Sacrifice marked the life of Jesus, and He sends us as the Father sent Him (John 20:21). As He did with His son, our Father in heaven has great purpose for the chaos He introduces or allows into our life. Read the rest of this entry »

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

One of our carnal minds’ more subtle deceptions is found in our response to the seemingly impossible requirements of God. For example, consider your response to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). When faced with such a command, we tend to identify it as impossible and move on to something else, not considering that our lack of obedience fails to make it less of a command.

In moving on, we miss one of the foundational pillars of our faith: Our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but from the One who requires our holiness (2Corinthians 3:5). Striving to enter is not a matter of self-effort and personal sufficiency; it is an attitude of the new man’s mind.

If we manage to move beyond this initial deception, we have taken an important first step, but even here our carnal mind attempts to play tricks on us. The recognition of God’s sufficiency does not leave us to passively wait on Him to do whatever He will do. We must strive to participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they would do to make us holy.

So, where do we start? It is really quite simple. Once we are born again – having become a new creation – we turn to the new heart God has given us (Ezekiel 36:26); for it is within the heart that the word of God becomes faith (Romans 10:10) – faith that appropriates God’s sufficient grace for even the most impossible commands.

Furthermore, striving to enter the narrow gate is primarily a matter of pursuing a relationship with God; our heart holds that desire, waiting for Him to give it to us (Psalm 37:4). The time we spend in pursuit of that relationship is a measure of our spiritual maturity (i.e., becoming holy). Some would say it is THE measure.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

I grew up hearing that “opportunity knocks”. Either that was wishful thinking, or opportunity has changed its modus operandi. It seems that these days opportunity must be hunted down and wrestled to the ground.

This has been the case for most successful business people I know. Opportunities are the result of wise preparation and hard work. Opportunities are more like doorways we must strive to enter.

Did you know that our opportunity to enter into the kingdom of God is the same?

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:22-24

Jesus did said, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” However, finding the door, and having it opened for you, do not equate to entering through that door (or gate). We must respond to the open door by striving to enter into it. I hope this is as sobering for you as it has been for me.

The Greek word for “strive” is agōnizomai. We get our word agonize from it. It is also means “to fight” and “labor fervently”.

Agōnizomai: To enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically, to contend or struggle with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Does this describe your pursuit of the kingdom of God? It may sound a bit different than what you have been taught. It may be challenging the way you think. Don’t get discouraged. We all need our minds renewed.

Workplace Ministry Tip: The fervency with which we pursue the opportunities in our life is inevitably proportional to their perceived value. The realization of those opportunities is proportional to the fervency with which we pursue them.

Humbly yours and forever His,

To the beloved, whom I love in truth:  I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers; just as you walk in the truth.

I have had a good season of cycling this summer. I have logged some extra hours riding with my wife; and I have been intentional about riding the harder hills around my house. Those hills are not as hard as they use to be.

It occurs to me that I can choose to enjoy the ride being easier, or I can apply my recently developed strength to push up the hill faster. Settling for the former leaves me at a plateau in my conditioning. Choosing the latter leverages what I have gained, preserves developmental momentum and, in this case, leads to stronger legs and lungs.

Don’t get me wrong: We all need to rest and relax. I am not necessarily suggesting you “work harder”. I am suggesting that you leverage what has been established in you during seasons of increased effort. This is particularly applicable to Christians in the workplace – with one bit of explanation. Read the rest of this entry »

Military Salute from iStockThe LORD has encouraged me to ask each one of you, “Are you striving?” And so, I am asking. Consider this passage:

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:22-24

It occurs to me that Jesus said, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” Notice that finding and having the door opened does not equate to entering through the door (or gate). We must respond to the open door by striving to enter into it. I hope this is as sobering for you as it has been for me; particularly considering the storm that is coming.

The Greek word that has been translated as “strive” is agōnizomai. We get our word agonize from it. It is also translated to “fight” and “labor fervently”. Here is Thayer’s definition:

Agōnizomai: To enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically, to contend or struggle with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something.

Does this describe your pursuit of the kingdom of God? It may sound a bit different than what you have been taught. It may be challenging the way you think. Don’t get discouraged. We all need our minds renewed. Read the rest of this entry »

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