Friday, March 31, 2006
Tonight while finishing up at work…and before heading off to my weekend…I encountered an ordinary hero.
While inputting some last minute data…I looked up from my computer and encountered the smiling face and warm eyes of Elias. From the first moment I encounter him…I knew this was a special person. Elias has a peace, joy and happiness that radiates from him.
He offered a friendly hello…and reminded me it was Friday and that the weekend was here. Usually I’m quite focused…and able to tune out distractions…but this time I found myself chatting with this rather intriguing man. I asked how he was doing…and he said that he was feeling better because he was not sore anymore after running the LA marathon with his son.
He then told me that this was his second marathon…that he had run with his son. He had not been a runner until just last year. Now I’d guess Elias to be in his fifties. But I wasn’t surprised to hear that he had beaten his son in last year’s marathon. This year…his 27 year old son beat him by two minutes…both finishing the race in a little over five hours.
There was a definite pride that shown forth. Not a boastful pride…but a pleasure in the commitment and success that he and his son had achieved. But more important is the relationship that they enjoy. The proud dad shared that his son is in college and going for his bachelor degree.
Then Elias introduced himself to me…and showed the E & J on his shirt…the E stood for Elias. He was there to make sure that his cleaning crew was doing a good job. A small businessman who had started his business 20 years ago. He did not take accounts for granted…but was following up to make sure his crew was doing quality, detailed work.
He went on to share that tomorrow he was speaking at church and going to tell a story that he had written. A story that is a picture of the world with it’s temptations, distractions and dangers…and of God who loves us so much…that he reached down to pull us to safety. Elias said he likes write…and when he looks things…he likes to make stories about them.
As we parted company…Elias showed me his I-pod Nano. On it was engraved his name…and the saying “Success is a Choice”. Not just a phrase…but a way in which this man lives and walks each day. As he walked away…he stopped to write down a phrase from a motivational picture about perseverance.
A brief and unexpected encounter…but one that I will never forget. Creative…Motivated…Positive…Radiating the Love of God. An indelible impression was made upon my soul…by this man…just An Ordinary Hero.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Being that it’s thirteen Thursday…I’ve decided to reflect on thirteen of my favorite things.
1. Favorite book of the Bible…Roman’s - it’s such a full bodied book. It helps me try and understand God in his sovereignty, his omnipotence, his holiness and righteousness. It brings me great peace to know of God’s grace. And I’m glad to know that my God is so big that I will never fully understand him. Who can fully comprehend the concepts of free will and God’s sovereign will as it applies to our salvation. But Paul wrestles with these concepts and stretches your mind and spirit. By the way…starting in September…BSF Bible Study Fellowship is studying the book of Romans. So if you are interested…sign up…it’s an awesome study.
2. Favorite book of the Old Testament…Genesis – Again…like Romans…this book is so deep. You could read it for a lifetime and never get bored. Each time I read Genesis…I learn new things. And the people/characters in Genesis…are those whom the Judeo Christian faith started with.
3. Favorite New Testament Character…well now that’s a toss up between Paul and Peter. Paul…what an incredible man…so transformed by Jesus. From one persecuting and killing Christians…to one who took the gospel message to the world.
4. Favorite Apostle…Peter. Okay…I solved my dilemma by choosing Peter in this category. Why Peter…because I feel most like him. Bold enough faith to step out of the boat and try and walk on water…yet sinking when he gets his eyes off Jesus and on the storm instead. Peter…who at one moment proclaims that Jesus is the Christ…and the next is telling Jesus may it never be…about him going to the cross. I feel most like a Peter. Good intentions…love my Lord…and have a big mouth in which my feet can be frequently found.
5. Okay…how about favorite coffee? Starbucks Breakfast Blend. Smooth, steady…but light. But in no way wimpy.
6. Favorite coffee place and drink? That’s easy…the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Now really…must I limit myself to one drink? Favorite coffee drink…a large vanilla latte with soy milk, an extra shot…extra hot. Another treat…is the white chocolate latte…oh yeah. But why limit yourself to just one? Favorite tea latte…Blueberry Pomegranate Tea Latte…with soy of course. And of course a scone to go along with it…blueberry or cherry please. Really…honest and truly…you deserve a treat today…so you head on over to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
7. Favorite movie…shucks…I don’t know for sure. There are certain movies I could watch over and over again…and never grow tired. Rudy…just love that movie. Groundhog Day…As Good As It Gets…A Wonderful Life…You’ve Got Mail…Apollo 13. Well I guess there won’t be just one favorite movie. So on to the next favorite.
8. Favorite radio show…Dennis Prager. Wonderful…and I really feel like I am getting an education. Between the wisdom and knowledge of Dennis and that of his guests I can’t help but learn and grow. (Now Dennis has annoyed me of late over his flaking on his subscription service…but dog gone it…still love the man.)
9. Favorite author…that’s a little bit hard. But if push comes to shove…and I had to pick one author’s books to have with me on a deserted island…I’d pick Jan Karon’s books. Positively delightful…simple and easy…yet profound. When reading her books…you feel like you could step into the pages and onto the streets of Mitford…and make friends with characters therein. Lovely.
10. Favorite TV or Radio Ministry…Charles Stanley with In Touch Ministries. He has heart and love for God. A high view of God…and a love, care and compassion for man. Rooted and grounded in the Word of God.
11. Favorite church? Oh come on…that’s not even a contest. Of course it’s Kindred Community Church…and all the wonderful people that are members…and attend. I extend a personal invitation to any of you who would like to attend. Click on the above link for service times and directions.
12. Favorite Pastor…my dear beloved former Pastor…Chuck Obremski. Passionate for God and his Word. No nonsense…loved truth…and loved people. He was real…and shared openly and honestly…both the good and the bad. I look forward to seeing him in heaven one day soon.
13. Favorite attribute of God…grace. Why? Because I am in such need of an outpouring of grace each day. And I also need to learn that attribute as well so I may extend it to others.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Continuing to look at the list from Revive Our Hearts that compares the attributes of persons who are proud verses those who are broken.
Proud = Concerned with being respectable, with what others think; work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken = Concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; are willing to die to their own reputation.
Proud = Find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken = Willing to be open and transparent with other as God directs.
It’s always important to keep in mind God’s perspective.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” - Psalm 51:17
“He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 3:34
Monday, March 27, 2006
At Bible Study Fellowship tonight…our teaching leader Terri shared a very convicting list…or self inventory. She only read a few items on the list…but oh my goodness. When I got home…I did a quick internet search and found the list.
I think I will focus on one or two items at a time…so as to better evaluate myself. I hope that you will do the same. If you would like to view the full list…please click on the link to Revive Our Hearts Radio.
Proud People = Quick to blame others
Broken People = Can accept personal responsibility and see where they are wrong in the situation
Proud People = Unapproachable or defensive when criticized
Broken People = Receive criticism with a humble and open spirit
P. D. James
Sunday, March 26, 2006
At the Women’s Retreat at Kindred Community Church this Saturday…one of the topics was stress. As I reflected further on stress I realized…that on occasion God may add to my full plate. Unlike people he is fully aware of what’s on that plate…yet he may choose to put more on it. Why? Perhaps the reasons vary. But I think that one aim that God may have in doing so is to encourage me to turn to him. To recognize that I am unable to carry the load on my own. Another reason…may be to get me to wake up to the fact that I’m carrying loads that he never intended for me to carry. I’m taking on undue burdens.
Have you ever offered to help someone…and can plainly see they need assistance? Yet…they refuse your help…even when it’s genuinely offered with good intentions.
How many times do I fail to accept God’s help?
How many times am I oblivious to the cares and concerns of others…when I go to them and need something? Am I solely focused on what I need…and not see what pressure, stress or needs they have?
By Jason Whalen - 3/26/06
This week Bob Kraning was away…and we had guest speaker/Pastor, Jason Whalen give this morning’s message. Jason is on staff at Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton. It was pleasure hearing Jason speak…he has a passion for God…is well rooted and ground in the Bible and has a high view of God. Jason’s message was from John 1:1-3. Below are notes taken during Jason's sermon.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1:1-3
Truth came to life. To live is Christ, to die is gain. Chuck Obremski’s life was a picture of these words. These are words not only to say…but words to live by. The gospel really works.
Some things in this life seem muddy and unclear. But God’s word is clear. Some things…God’s word and the truth’s therein are iron clad. The glory of God is seen throughout the gospel. The gospel…the Bible…that’s clear…its iron clad.
Now some example of not so clear messages…can be found in church bulletins:
- The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water" The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus"
- Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
- This evening at 7 P.M. there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
- Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
John 1:1 – In the beginning was the word (logos):
1) - Revelation…what has been revealed.
2) - Life and light….purpose…a certain kind of life and light.
3) - Invitation
Logos = A principle originating in classical Greek thought which refers to a universal divine reason, immanent in nature, yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity. An eternal and unchanging truth present from the time of creation, available to every individual who seeks it. A unifying and liberating revelatory force which reconciles the human with the divine; manifested in the world as an act of God's love in the form of the Christ.
Logos is God. God of eternity past…he has never not been. Created everything that has been made. Why didn’t God say that in the beginning was Christ?
Logos…the absolute elite. All meaning, reason and ideals. The pinnacle…the source of everything.
Jesus invests the word logos into a person. Jesus is the ultimate reality in all the universe. But he is knowable today.
The logos entered time and space. John 1:10 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” Something new has begun…a new thing.
God spoke to us through his Son. Jesus has made God known to us. No one has ever seen or heard God. John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”
Do you take these concepts and implant them in your heart? Jesus is prepared to see you through any circumstance that you face.
He created time and space. Colossians 1:17 – “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” He created the universe and sustains it. He holds the universe together and even our very lives and family.
2) Light and life…he came to give us a certain kind of life…a life in him. John 1:4-5 – “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
Life…Bios and Zoë.
Bios – biological life…air, blood, oxygen.
Zoë life…experience, vitality and passion.
We have a choice…to live a transforming life…or one in which we just go through life. In Mere Christianity…C. S. Lewis talks about the difference between Bios and Zoë.
We can live a life of vitality and significance…one of purpose...large. Bios or Zoë life…it’s the difference between looking at a picture…and living a real life and actual experience.
Jesus has given us this life. Before we were under the weight of the law or lived under paganism.
Light verses darkness. The darkness has not understood it (the light). Did not grasp it nor conquer it.
Darkness – danger, aimless, disorientation and fear.
But God…gave us a light that would fill our lives. Light…safety, purpose, pathway, peace and confidence that settles in us. An intelligence…not to make you smarter…but one that can change your life. We are to be light bearers. The darkness is expelled because of the light. No longer living in confusion, anxiety or difficulty.
John 1:10 – “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” The world did not recognize him…and did not receive him. He gave us the right…the authority to become the children of God.
Beginning…the ultimate reality…God himself. He created everything, came to give light and life. He can do this with you…only he can do this…not you. You are a child of God. You are a child of purpose.
John 1:13 – “13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
Need more clarity in your life? Invite Jesus to shine more light into your life…more clarity…to give you something greater.
Friday, March 24, 2006
With the admonition from my dear beloved former Pastor, Chuck Obremski to “Be a pig for Jesus” how could I resist the temptation to purchase this little garden pig?
Honestly…there are days in which I would much rather be the chicken…and just contribute to the meal…by giving an egg or two. Especially when the opposition is great…the days are dark...the silence is overwhelming…and the rewards are few.
But that is not what my Savior has called me to do. He instead has called me to be fully committed…sold out to God. In other words…be like the pig who has given his all. Not just a contributor…but one who is fully committed.
It’s been a while…quite a while since I’ve been down to visit the flower fields in Carlsbad. My mom Gayle and step dad Joe use to live down in the Carlsbad/Oceanside area. Each year…about this time…I’d drive down and we’d make the trek over to see the flower fields.
Walk the lovely hillsides covered in flowers. Some days…sunny and bright with a lovely sea breeze blowing and sometimes overcast with a slight chill in the air. Those days the visit would be abbreviated as a light rain would start to fall.
It was really odd driving down there today. Filled with lots of memories. Some good…some not so good. Unfortunately…the last memories of spending time down in Oceanside were surrounding Joe’s death…and about a year later…my mom being diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s. Stressful…difficult…not real pretty.
But also memories of some good times…came to mind. That included visits to the flower fields…or a trip over to a great fish house…Fish House Vera Cruz in downtown Carlsbad…or maybe even catching a movie or a trip to the shopping mall.
It’s also been quite a while since I’ve had any quite time…down time…time away. A day…where I could spend it doing nothing or whatever I wanted. A time where there were no demands, no one asking for things…or needing this or that.
A time for quite…to just sit. So after walking the spectacular flower fields…I sat down on a garden bench. A truly lovely day…a perfect day. Sunny…but not too hot. Not a cloud in the sky…and slight breeze blowing off the ocean onto the hillside. I was quiet…and felt God impressing thoughts and ideas upon me. Thoughts that all too often I drown out or don’t make time for…because I’m a human doing not a human being.
So…here are some of my lesson I learned today…just in random order. Bible Study teacher Beth Moore calls them God Spots. Today…I had a God Spot…and God spoke to my spirit.
- Enjoy the trip…not just the goal. The journey may be long…and the journey is really where you prove your character. Or the lack thereof is revealed.
- Really the end goal is a small piece of the puzzle compared to the journey…so make the most of it.
- In looking at the flower fields…there was the contrast between some of the fields that were in full bloom and those whose blooms were sparse. When I’m connected to God…my harvest is plentiful…when I’m not….when I’m doing it on my own power…the harvest is rather sparse.
- In looking at the fields of purple flowers…I noticed a lone white flower. It stood out…and sometimes I feel like that lone flower in the midst of a huge field with plants of another kind. That’s when I feel out of place…out of my element.
- Sometimes you have to go through difficult times…to get through the other side and see the good and beautiful things that God has in store for you. But you have to go through it…there no way around it…or out of it. But God will be with you in it.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
YAC yards...Yards After Contact
Anyone can gain yards if they are running through a hole where no one touches you. The measure of a runner is how they perform once they face opposition.
You ever have one of those days…when you feel like you can’t go on? Where you can’t go one more day. You feel defeated…and you are ready to throw in the towel. Well recently…that’s been my attitude. But God. Yes…God. God knew and God saw my defeated spirit…and sent just the right message, at the right time. He did so in the form of a message from Focus on the Family.
On Wednesday, March 15th, Focus on the Family aired a broadcast with Pastor Herb Lusk…from Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Pastor Lusk was speaking at a Focus on the Family event…about staying in the fight. Defeated, knocked down, bludgeoned, bloody…but get back up and go one more round.
Well…it was just the message I needed at the time. I was driving to work, listening to that message…and was bawling like a baby. It really touched my soul deeply. So…I listened to the program again…and this time I jotted down some notes from Pastor Lusk’s speech. So…for those of you who are feeling defeated…read the notes below then click over to the One Place to hear the Focus on the Family broadcast from March 15th. You will be encouraged.
The church…must have the Zeal of a Zelig.
Everywhere Christians go…you have to make a decision. Don’t be passive about what you believe. Christianity today involves confrontation.
The church today is not in the defensive mode, but offensive.
Matthew 6:18 - And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.[c]
Have you ever seen a passive gate? Gates don’t attack somebody. The child of God today…must rush the gates of hell. Have the spirit of a soldier. We wrestle not against flesh and blood.
Time to take things back. The devil has set up strongholds…even in our churches. The devil is crazy enough to come into our homes and churches. Are you crazy enough to stand up against him?
Ephesians 6:11-13 - Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Unlike boxing…wrestling is up close and personal. In boxing you jab and get out. Wrestling you’ve got to get close. Hand to hand combat. You can’t get in and get out anymore. Have the spirit of a soldier and take back our country and our families from the enemy.
We need the guts of a gladiator. Be prepared to die. For me to live is Christ…to die is gain. We need to die to self. Be prepared to die. You can not hurt a man who believes that death is a positive option. There is nothing you can do with a man or woman like that. You can’t bribe them, you can’t buy him, you can’t turn him off, you can’t break his spirit, and you can’t take away his spirit.
Think of the story of Jacob…who wrestled with an angel all night. He wouldn’t let go. And the angel tried to call a time out but Jacob said no. Jacob wouldn’t let go until the angel blessed him. The kingdom of heaven needs to advance forcefully.
Are you willing to struggle? Paul said I press towards the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus. To press means you have to push, bear down…it requires effort to press.
Like an athlete…we judge the effectiveness of a running back by the yard he makes after he’s been hit. YAC yards…yards after contact. Anybody can gain yards running through a large hole unopposed. How many can you make yards after you’ve been hit? When the bottom falls out? How many yards can you gain after you’ve been hit? When the bottom falls out, the road get rough and the going gets tough? And the hills are hard to climb and folks start calling you names and the crush is on…how many yard can you make then?
Every child of God ought to be able to make YAC yards. After you’ve been talked about, after you’ve lost your job, after your sickness. Job did this…after he lost it all he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”
Years ago there was prize fighter called John L. Sullivan…the best heavy weight champion of the world at that time. He went up against a pipsqueak…given a thousand to one odds to beat John L. Sullivan.
Round one…he was hit so hard his whole body shook. He went over to his corner and his trainer asked him how he was doing and he said alright…but that first shot he hit me with I could feel it from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet…but I said to myself…if I could go just one more round.
Next round…John L. Sullivan hit him so hard he came up off the ground…and he came down hard. He fell on his back…and was saved by the bell. They drug him over to his corner again. The trainer said…you want me to throw in the towel? He said no…let me see if I can do it one more round.
He came back out on the next round and John L. Sullivan hit him and cut his eyes. His eyes were so filled with pus that he couldn’t see. He went back over to the corner…and they took razor blades and slit his eyes so he could see. The trainer said…do you want me to throw in the towel? He said…no, no, no…just one more round.
He went out the next round and John L. Sullivan hit him so hard that literally he was praying that it would be the knockout punch. But the punch didn’t knock him out and he said to himself…if I could just make one more round.
It was the longest prize fight in history at that time. He went back out again the next round…and got knocked down three times. And guess what he said? Just one more round.
He came out in the twentieth round…bludgeoned, standing and trying to cover himself. And guess what he said? Just one more round.
Twenty five rounds of fighting…and over and over again he said to himself…just one more round. Over and over again he said to himself…one more round. Bloody and bludgeoned he said to himself…just one more round. Eyes cut…but one more round. Legs weak…but one more round. Too tired to stand…but one more round.
That last round he came out and hit him…and knocked John L. Sullivan out.
Church we have a John L. Sullivan in our midst. He is the devil…and he is a liar and the truth is not in him. When he hits you...say one more round. Just one more round, just let me stand one more round. Give me strength, just one more time. One more round…one more time.
And you will knock him out!
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Waves of Mercy...Waves of Grace...
As a follow up to my recent article on forgiveness…I wanted to throw out a few more reflections. This has been a challenging area for me…for a multitude of reasons. God is definitely working on my heart…and for that I give thanks.
When you hold on to unforgiveness, anger, bitterness and resentment…your hands are full and unable to accept or receive something good or new that God wants to give you. Until you are willing to lay it down…and give it over to God…you will be unable to receive goodness and mercy from your heavenly Father.
When I forgive someone for a hurt, it means I’m giving up my right to get even or take action against someone for a wrong suffered. It also means I’m trusting God. I’m trusting that he knows best. He knows the persons involved, motives and the reason something happened. If God finds it necessary to bring punishment, he will, in the appropriate and perfect time. However…he may also choose to demonstrate mercy…even to one who is seemingly unworthy. All who are saved…can say a big Amen and Thank You!
Forgiveness means trusting that God will redeem bad circumstances or wrongs done to us. Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God alone is able to bring good out of bad. It may not be immediate…it may not be in the form that we are expecting. It will likely be from a different person than the one who harmed us. But He will give us beauty for ashes.
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Forgiveness for a wrong suffered also demonstrates confidence that person who hurt us will be punished for what they did. At the appropriate time…and to the measure that God deems just…they will be punished. Sometimes it seems as if people get away with wrong doing and are not punished. But we can rest assured that our God is just and will bring justice on our behalf. They may even get away with sin and evil in this life…but a price will be paid…even if it’s the eternal life to come.
Remember that God’s mercy demonstrated towards sinners is a tool that he uses to draw people to himself. If a person rejects God, does not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and the sacrifice for their sins…they will be without excuse.
Sometimes it’s tempting to remain in unforgiveness until such time as the person who hurt you acknowledges it and apologizes. Then of course you can be magnanimous and forgive them. A few things wrong with this approach. What happens if they don’t acknowledge it and don’t apologize? Just how long are you willing to wait? How long will you remain in unforgiveness? Should you forgiving another person be predicated upon their repentance? Was God’s forgiveness withheld and the payment for our sins paid only after we repented? No…God had a plan in place from before the foundation of the world.
God’s forgiveness was given…now our choosing to accept and receive it…that is another matter.
When I remain unforgiving towards a person who hurt me…I’m the one that’s miserable…not them. They are off and on their merry way…living their life. And there I am miserable and still hurting…taking a double hit on pain. However, if I had forgiven the hurt I’d be over it…and on to something new in my life. Life is to stressful on it’s own than to add to it…when in fact there is a simple solution. A solution called forgiveness.
When you focus on a hurt and the pain and remain unforgiving…you are unable to move on. You are focused on the past. Not the present…and not the future. You are not looking at what God is doing in your life. You are not looking with expectancy at what God can and will do in your life. Instead you are caught up on a moment in time…and not even a good one at that. Why would you want to relive over and over and over again bad things? I can almost understand the temptation to relive good things…but bad stuff? That doesn’t make a lot of sense now does it?
Sometimes unforgiveness can be used as a barrier to keep you from being hurt again. You have that permanent wall up that keeps people away. Not willing to suffer again…and be deeply hurt. So rather than take a risk…you keep people away. Does that mean you are not hurting? No…you’re just picking your poison. In exchange for what? Nothing good…that’s for sure. In your attempt to kept the bad and hurtful stuff at bay…you keep the good stuff away too.
But in doing that…what are you missing out on? You are missing out on the chance that someone will truly love and care for you. A chance to build a life together and have a love deeper than you could have ever hoped for.
If you take that risk…does that mean everything will be sweetness and light…and you won’t be hurt again. Not a chance. Of course you will…but isn’t that kind of what life is like? Now hopefully you are more discerning and making better and wiser choices along the way. But you can be sure…you’ll get hurt again.
That’s why…it’s good to be practiced up on that forgiveness thing. You’ll have many opportunities to put it to good use.
Part of being able to forgive is being able to trust God. Trust that he has something better for you. Trust that he is able to use even the bad things in life and bring good out of it. Maybe even trust him that he has a good, needed and valuable lesson in it for you.
Goodness only knows that this forgiveness thing…is part of life’s adventures. The more you do it…the better you get at it. And each time…it gets a wee bit easier to promptly forgive an offense. It holds true that when we grasp how much God has forgiven us…that we find grace to forgive others. We have no better model of forgiveness than Jesus.
Will you choose to follow his example? Will you choose to receive the healing that can comes from God alone? Will you choose to live in the present and look forward to the future and what God will do in your life? Will you choose to trust God? Choose to trust that God is just and will bring about justice however and whenever he deems best? Will you daily recognize that God has forgiven you? Will you challenge yourself to daily follow his example? When stretched to your limit…will you turn to God and ask him to give you the grace you need to forgive? To fill you with his mercy…so you can in turn demonstrate it towards another?
Will you choose to take a risk today, and tomorrow and the day after that? Risk being hurt…and having to forgive again? Great will be your reward when you walk in grace and mercy…both here on earth and in heaven to come.
Dear Lord…enable me to walk humbly in your grace and mercy…and demonstrate it toward others daily.
Below are notes taken from Bob Kraning's message on March 19th as he continued in the study of the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9
From the Message Translation…Matthew 5:9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
Amplified translation…Matthew 5:9 Blessed (enjoying [a]enviable happiness, [b]spiritually prosperous--[c]with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and [d]maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!
New Living Translation…Matthew 5:9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
The Bible begins with peace in the garden…and ends with peace in eternity. Jesus on the cross bought and made peace with sinful man and God.
“Peace is when everyone stops to reload” – Author Unknown. In every age of history, the greatest heroes have been warriors.
When self is first…peace is last. God calls his people to be peacemakers. Unresolved conflict blocks peace and relationship with God. Peace is God’s call to us. He expects us to bring peace to our world.
1) Meaning of peace…is more than the absence of conflict. Presence of righteousness. Righteousness without prejudice, aggressiveness…but pursues peace.
The most people can offer is a truce…which only ends up buying cold war. Instead we need to bring people together in mental peace, love and harmony. Righteousness, holiness, purity, love and harmony. These attributes should make up a Christian.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Purity of motive. Can’t be at peace without resolving a wrong attitude. Righteousness and peace and caring for others. Lack of harmony with God will mean lack of harmony with each other.
2) We are to be the messengers of peace. How do we do that?
Jesus Christ is God’s divine and eternal peace child. God gave him so you can be at peace with God in heaven.
Messenger of Peace
P = Plan a peace conference…resolve conflict…if only for the sake of the kingdom.
E = Empathize with their feelings. Look out for one another’s interest.
A = Attack the problem and not the person.
C = Cooperate as much as possible.
E = Emphasize reconciliation…not total resolution.
Fixing the blame won’t fix the problem. It’s beautiful thing to fix the problem.
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Peace always has a price. Must let go of ego, selfishness and pride. Words like “I’m sorry”, “I’m wrong”, and “You were right”…are part of our regular vocabulary.
Unlike the stupid movie line…love is all about saying I’m sorry.
Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. Resolution focuses on the problem. “If you can’t solve the problem, save the relationships.” That’s what’s valuable and what it’s all about.
Colossians 1:19 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”
Making peace though his blood she on the cross. Jesus modeled what God would have us to do.
3) Merits of Peace
The greatest human heritage can not match our inheritance with God. We are joint heirs in the Kingdom of God. Peacemaking is the hallmark of God’s children.
Are you critical or thankful? You will know as you get older. Are you divisive, critical or critical? Take a personal inventory.
God asks us to be peacemakers. Shall we be called the sons and daughters of God.
God cares for us. So much so that his word tells us that he put the tears of his children in a bottle. He remember our problems because his love for us.
John 15:15 - “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
God tells us he is changing us. There is never an accident in the family of God.
We need to make a difference…and bring forth fruit. How do I find the missing peace? Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
Like a referee in a soccer game. The may be conflict and dispute. But when he holds up the yellow sign…it calms things down real quick. Why? Because they team knows that the next sign is a red sign. At that point, not only does the game end…but so does the tournament.
So let conflict act as your yellow sign. When you see it…calm down…resolve the conflict and make peace.
Peace with God
Have the peace of God
Peace with other people
“I’m not a happy man.” When asked why not he went on to expound that he was not happy because he had not found what he was looking for. Peace. Peace with myself, the world, people and God.
John 16:33 – "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
In the world you will have trouble. But Jesus has overcome the world. In him you will have peace. To get thing right in our life with God…we need to also have things right with people. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
The above picture of our beloved former Pastor, Chuck Obremski was done by Lyn Ferdig…a member of Kindred Community Church. Chuck’s work and life inspired many, including Lyn.
In talking about her art work…Lyn said that she likes to draw but doesn’t consider herself an artist.
As you can see God has gifted and blessed Lyn with artistic talent. She really captured Chuck’s spirit of happiness, joy, peace and love of life.
Thanks Lyn for letting me share your work with others!
So you’ve been hurt, somebody did something or said something and it hurt your feelings…or you were “offended”. And now you’re angry…and feel quite justified in being angry. After all…look what this person did…or didn’t do. Right?
Wrong…not when you are a Christian. If you think that God will leave you alone…in your unforgiveness, anger or bitterness…you’ve got another think coming. God will not leave you alone. When you are his own…he will deal with you. Just like a parent disciplines their own child when they misbehave…God will put the pressure on and deal with you.
I’d really like to say I got the inspiration to write this…out of the “clear blue sky”. That God inspired me…but then…I’d be lying in addition my recent failure of being slow to forgive.
I’m a bit of a “bonehead”…a slow learner sometimes…and can be quite willful. Not a good combination when God desires obedience and repentance when I fail.
Recently…I had the opportunity to be offended. Now I know I should have forgiven the offence immediately…and moved on. But I didn’t. I didn’t reach out and try to communicate and clear up any misunderstanding. And when an apology was forthcoming…I did not respond kindly. In fact I was downright ugly and stated “I don’t care that you’re sorry.”
You can be certain that the Holy Spirit started dealing with me right away. I knew I was wrong, I knew I responded wrongly…I knew I was being unforgiving. Something that God has quite clearly made known as wrong.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. -- Matthew 6:14
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. -- Matthew 18:21-22
Following my disappointing failure…the pressure started. Here’s some of the dialogue that ensued:
“Susan…you know when I died on the cross…I forgave the very people who beat, mocked, flogged and put me to death. And you are being unforgiving over what?”
“Yeah…you’re right they may have done wrong…but even so…you forgiving someone is not based on them being worthy or deserving of forgiveness.”
“Now have you even considered whether they did this intentionally or not? Perhaps they didn’t really mean to hurt you.”
“Have you ever hurt someone unintentionally? Didn’t you want to be forgiven when you did that?”
“Do you think that perhaps you are little less than perfect…a sinner that I had to forgive? Did I withhold my forgiveness from you? Susan…I forgave you before you ever sinned…or before you were even born.”
“Susan…I died on the cross to pay the penalty for this man’s sins. I…Jesus Christ have forgiven him of his sins. And you are holding something against him for which I have forgiven him.”
Of course…God brought all sorts of things into my path to remind me and reinforce His message. One was a sermon on mercy. You know the scripture. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
And then there was Bible Study Fellowship…and seeing the life of Jacob and Esau. Seeing how Jacob schemed against his brother…and his brother was unforgiving. Going down this avenue was not one that produced good fruit in the life of Esau.
So even this slow learner got the message and apologized for not being quick to forgive.
Now I wish I could take it take it back…or have a mulligan. I failed a test…which of course means I’ll be repeating that test in the future. I pray that I will not fail and disappoint my Savior again. I brought reproach upon the name of Christ by acting in an unrighteous and un-Christ like manner.
Now if I had acted rightly…and forgiven the offense immediately…not only would I have spared myself the other person the consequences of my wrong action…but I would have also been developing a habit of being forgiving.
Good habits make right action easier to obey, quickly and consistently. Part of developing good habits is right thinking. Right thinking for a Christian is found in the Word of God. Nowhere can we find better examples than in the life of Christ. So if I’m consistently reading the Word of God…filling my mind with godly examples of right action…I will increase the likelihood that I will be obedient to God.
Another benefit to filling my mind with God’s Word…is that it gives the Holy Spirit some tools to aid me in my daily walk. By bringing to mind God’s Word and his wisdom in how I should respond or handle life’s events and people.
So if ever I’m tempted to get cocky and think I’m better than someone else…I just need to remind myself that if I was the only person ever created…would Jesus still have had to die on the cross to pay for my sins? And the answer is a resounding yes.
How can I a sinner…forgiven much by my Savior…remain in unforgiveness towards another for whom God has died?
“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” - Matthew 5:7
How much damage is done to the body of God by bitterness that is held onto?
If you are merciful…you will be shown mercy also. Mercy is forgiveness and pardon to another one who is totally in the wrong.
Micah 6:8 – What does the Lord require of you?
Walk humbly with your God
What you are is more important than what you do. Character will guide what you do. Character controls us and our actions.
Christians have experienced grace and mercy and we are to walk in the world with grace and mercy. God enables us to be merciful and act in way which is not natural. The Holy Spirit is always there…pressing and pushing me.
“Beatitude” – something at the center or core of our being. We have been reborn. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Everything changes when we understand God’s grace and mercy. Redone…rebirth.
What do you do when you’ve been seriously wronged? What is your attitude? Do you feel and offer forgiveness, love and mercy?
Grace is freely given by God. It’s giving me what I don’t deserve. Mercy is something we ask for. Mercy is withholding from me what I really deserve. It’s compassion to those who are hurting and struggling. Mercy…is compassion in action.
A Biblical example of mercy is the “Good Samaritan”. Which of these three was really a neighbor to the man who had fallen into trouble? The one who had mercy.
Jesus tells us to “go and do likewise.” Compassion in action.
Example of compassion in action. A poor man’s horse drops dead in the middle of the street. The people standing around offer him a word that they are sorry for his misfortune. One man…instead of offering words says “I’m sorry five pounds worth.” His puts his money…and starts passing the hat. Before long others have put in enough money to help buy the poor man a new horse. The one who was merciful…the one who showed compassion…is the one who helped with the dead horse.
Our actions should change because of the mercy that God has shown us. Old Testament example is Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. When tempted to sin…he responds, “How could I sin against my master? How could I sin against my God?” Finally he became the Vice Pharaoh in Egypt and his brothers showed up to buy food because of a famine in their land. Joseph had the power to repay them for what they had done to him. Instead he responded by answering, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” Kindness…compassion and love…in action.
Respond in love when hurt. A merciful person always remembers his own sin and God’s mercy towards him. Matthew 18:21-35
How many times shall I forgive? Seventy times seven? Mercy…is an attitude of your heart…one in which you loose the accounting of wrongs done to you by others.
Matthew 18:35 – This is how my heavenly Father will treat you unless you forgive you brother from your heart.
We are to make things right…before you offer up your sacrifice.
Mercy…compassion in action…needs to be way of life. This is who you are. “I have shown you mercy and given you grace…now go and do likewise.”
Do you have a death grip on a grudge and have no intention of letting it go?
Be merciful…and mercy will be extended to you. You can…and will forgive.
“Jesus had died for this man…was I going to ask for more?” -- Corrie Ten Boom
Forgiveness is possible. It’s possible to show mercy. By God’s grace I can forgive a wrong. The authenticity of our faith is seen in the beatitudes. It’s also an indicator if our spiritual health.
Fall in love with mercy. Show it all your life. God can do a work in your heart…and also in the heart of the person who did you harm.
If this is an area that you need help in…pray to God for you to help you demonstrate mercy. Go and be merciful…get involved with those who are hurting.
Mercy can bring new life into all you encounter and mercy and brings health.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” - Matthew 5:8
When you read this verse…everyone should stop, think and examine themselves.
The story of the woman names Anna who was blind for the last 46 years. When her sight has been restored…she says, “Look at the world that has been invisible all my life.”
Seeing God in heaven…surpasses our physical sight.
David said, “Create in me a clean heart.”
What does pure mean? Internal cleansing. Clean hands and a pure heart. God alone can give clean hands and a pure heart. God will put a new spirit in you. Longing for a new heart? Go to God.
Pharisees said blessed are those who are clean outwardly. But Jesus said to clean the inside…your heart…and the outside will be clean.
Outward clean…Jesus says be clean from the inside out.
What does it mean to be Pure in Heart…a heart that does not bring insincere motives and divided longings to your relationship with God.
Pure: 1) Concentration – fix one’s mind totally upon God; 2) Sincerity; 3) Singleness of mind.
Pure is impossible on my own. “I don’t know what the heart of an evil man is like. But I do know what the heart of a good man is like…and it’s terrible.”
Jesus has called us to perfection. I know I can never achieve that on my own. Instead I need to throw myself upon the grace of God.
John Newton cried out to God when his ship was sinking in the storm, “Oh God, save us and I will serve you.” God gave him a new and clean heart…and changed his life forever. Character of the Kingdom of God…God can place it in my heart.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? – Romans 6:1-2
Like the pig when cleaned up…he is still a pig and seeks out and returns to the mud. Or we can have the nature of the sheep…who seeks out the grassy, green hill. The sheep doesn’t like the mud…he has a different nature than the pig.
How’s your nature? Have you been given a new nature? Is my heart clean? Truly clean?
God demands a new character and give us the new character by his grace. Before Jesus our vision is narrow. How does it change after Jesus?
The reason? Blessed are the pure in heart…for they will see Jesus. This seeing is continuous.
“It is better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing. – Helen Keller
Max Lucado reminds us that we may have constructed a temple and forgotten why? The church has both temple builders…and Savior seekers. Do you say, “What a great Christ” or “What a great building”?
So how do you improve or purify your heart?
Be honest with God about the condition of your heart.
Acknowledge it’s only God who can make your heart pure.
Allow God’s Word to do the work in your life. That means…being in the Word of God daily.
Think about where you are going and who you will be with in eternity.
Remember…God’s grace will get me home.
Anna had lived 42 of her 60 years blind because she didn’t know about the surgery…the cure for her blindness.
Our cure is 2,000 years old…and is 100% effective.
God will bring together and merge the old me and the new me. Then he will start removing anything that is not of God.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Probably not to many you would imagine your pastor telling the following story. But not so with Chuck Obremski. He would be the first to call a spade a spade…especially if that person was a Christian or a Pastor.
One of Chucks favorite sayings was, “May the tongue of you mouth and the tongue of you shoe…be going in the same direction.” A definite challenge for Christians in today’s society.
Hope you have great week…and may the trials, tribulations and successes that you have this week reveal a godly character that would pleasing to God.
God bless…and enjoy the audio clip below.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
12. I need that goal in sight…an eternity in heaven…where there is no more pain, sickness or sorrow.
11. I need someone who will never leave me nor forsake me…for man is not so faithful.
10. I need an example on how to live…and forgiveness when I fail.
9. I need to an example how to forgive others…and help to do so when the hurts just seems too darn big on my own.
8. I need great wisdom from the Holy Word of God…for "In the beginning was the Word…and Word was with God, and the Word was God".
7. I need strength for today…and bright hope for tomorrow…and please...be sure to send the blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
6. I need help in the spiritual battle…for the battle is not against flesh and blood.
5. I need that firm foundation…upon which to build my house.
4. I need the healing balm of grace and mercy…poured out upon me daily.
3. I need to sing praises to my Savior…and let my spirit soar.
2. I need to remember that there is Holy, Righteous, Just, Gracious, Merciful, Faithful and Loving God…who choose me…a foolish one to confound the wise.
1. I’m a sinner…saved only by the grace of God…and the sacrifice of my precious Lord Jesus Christ on that cross a Calvary.
In surfing the blogasphere I recently discovered a website called She Live’s. Carol’s website will draw you in…first with the lovely picture with Carol among flowers…and keep you coming back…with some posts that will challenge you…or bring you peace. On today’s visit…I found Thirteen Thursday’s Challenge. So with just a couple hours to go…here’s my first Thirteen Thursday post. Thanks Carol!