Posted in Uncategorized

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

Life is a funny thing. For many of us, we can look around and find a host of people, to compare to ourselves, who seem to face nothing of the rejection that we have experienced. However, at the same time, we can look around at others, who when we consider their plight in life, we just want to fall on the ground and thank God for sparing us their heartache, and then cry for them.

Personally, I have been married for forty-three years to a person who delights in others. She is warm and friendly, and many people over the years have expressed how much they wait for and enjoy her hugs. She loves to care for children, even though because of her partial disability due to back surgery, it is very difficult physically to care for them they way that she would prefer.

For many years it has been my privilege to observe the concern my wife has for people, and her willingness to give herself to those that others would deplore and avoid. It’s a strange thing, that the most common reaction that people have, who have experienced the kind of life as my wife, is to become hateful and try to avoid others as much as possible. On the other hand some try to gain the acceptance of others at any cost, that is, without really caring and giving of themselves to them. I have observed all three kinds of people many times in my lifetime.

I have had the good fortune, under the sovereign design of Almighty God, to enjoy the loving protection and care of two very loving and giving parents. My mother lost her own mom when she was barely four, and spent almost a year searching for her. My father possesses the manor, wisdom, and grace of sheriff Andy Taylor. Therefore, I cannot imagine what life is like to be brought up in a home, having been sent to my grandmother because my father didn’t want me.

My wife’s grandmother was a very godly and loving woman, who herself met with betrayal, rejection, and trials that no sane person would choose to face. However, in time she returned her granddaughter to her daughter-in-law so she could be with her mom. Her stepfather was very abusive and brought her up as though she was in the military and not a family.

Rejection defines my wife’s existence during her formative years. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my grandmother tell me my real dad is not the man, who is married to my mom. I would like to be able to say that abuse ended with my wife’s childhood, but that would misrepresent her life.

We all begin with the inclination to be selfish, hateful, jealous, spiteful, gossipy, and judgmental because we are all part of a fallen and sinful race – the human race. We begin innocent in the sense that we are born naive, and then we have to grow into an intelligent and discerning human being. The heart of every boy and girl learns from their parents, family members, peers, and culture as a whole, how to act and react to their environment.

The heart of each person begins soft and hardens over time, to some extent. For this reason the bible says, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7, 8a) Some people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and harden their hearts to the truth of His salvation. They refuse to accept the call to be saved from their own sins, being too self-righteous to accept the fact that they sin. Others, by the grace of God, turn from their sins, regardless of the suffering they have faced throughout the course of their lives, and turn to Jesus Christ as the Bible reveals Him.

Last night my wife, a friend, and I went to see, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Sitting their and observing the life of Bart Millard, I could only think about my own wife. During the eighties we went to visit her birth dad, whom she forgave for abandonment, and who never tried to contact her. As if feeling rejected for her whole life up to that point were not enough, she was rejected yet again.

Because of the love of Christ, my wife forgave even her stepdad, and has only said good things about him to me since that time. She honors him as a military man, having given himself to the service of his country for many years.

It is all too easy to become bitter because of difficult circumstances we face. It is also possible to respond in a positive way to the evils that befall us. We can pick our self up from trials and send our life in a new direction. I have witnessed numerous people make such decisions, as in the case of drug addicts. There is, however, a vast difference between picking up one self and being picked up by Jesus Christ.

It is one thing to be brought up in a Christian home, with all the advantages that such an environment brings, and still another to respond in faith to Him amidst all the pain and suffering that a wicked world can provide. It is one thing to see Jesus through the lens of our own perceived goodness, and still another to see Jesus through the lens of our own wicked reactions to the evils of this present world. For this reason Jesus said to a religious leader, who was consumed with his own goodness, who was judging Jesus for having kept company with a street woman.

“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. “You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. “You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Mark 7:44-47)

Those who TRULY love much have been forgiven for much, because they have recognized the depth of their own vile and sinful soul, and found forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love at the cross of Jesus Christ.

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In the heart of a person that has been rejected through neglect, and abused physically and emotionally by the one that should exemplify sacrificial love and respect, there is an absence of belief in the ability of others to love them.

Only God in Christ can fix it!

 

 

 

Posted in A Passion for Christ, A PERSON OVER A PRINCIPLE, Eternal Life, FALSE RELIGION AND TRUE FAITH, Knowing Jesus, Uncategorized

DO YOU KNOW JESUS as a FACT or as the TRUTH?

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It probably seems strange to ask whether or not you know Jesus by fact or truth.  Isn’t a truth also a fact? However, a fact may be far less than a truth, because truth can transform a person in a way that a mere fact cannot. The best statement to this effect that I know of is by A.W. Tozer.

“The essence of my belief is that there is a difference, a vast difference, between fact and truth. Truth in the Scriptures is more than a fact. A fact may be detached, impersonal, cold and totally dissociated from life. Truth on the other hand, is warm, living and spiritual. A theological fact may be held in the mind for a lifetime without its having any positive effect upon the moral character; but truth is creative, saving, transforming, and it always changes the one who receives it into a humbler and holier man. At what point, then, does a theological fact become for the one who holds it a life-giving truth? At the point where obedience begins. When faith gains the consent of the will to make an irrevocable committal to Christ as Lord, truth begins its saving, illuminating work; and not one moment before.”

I have one major question regarding Tozer’s statement. How does faith gain consent; or put another way, what part do you and I play in faith and obedience? It is not certain to me what Tozer meant by faith gaining consent of the will, but the Bible speaks in this way.

 “…just as you have always obeyed …work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12, 13)

It is essential to understand that even the willingness to obey God must come from Him. Continuing from my last blog, intimacy with God is the most important and relevant factor. Jesus said, apart from Him we can do nothing. Therefore, abiding in Him, resting in Him, and allowing Him to take up residence in our heart is essential to obedience. To abide, rest, and desire Christ to reside in our heart are actuated through the privacy of prayer.

Prayer changes me 3There is one thing more than all others that will keep us from prayer – sin. Jesus said, we should go into the closet, that is to say, we should spend alone time with God. Prayer brings faith to its place of completion. Prayer is where we ask God for what we need, and learn to see ourselves as we actually are, that is, in desperate need of Him. However, praying is not merely saying words. If prayer is not deeply heart-felt and personal, it dishonors the One to whom we pray.

Prayer changes me 1The year was 1979, walking into the chapel of the Bible Institute a voice became audible. Someone was obviously having a conversation, but the closer I got to the person  the more evident it became that he was alone. He was having a heart to heart to be sure, but it was with no person that could be seen. It was not like any prayer that I had ever heard. The intimacy level took prayer to a place I’d never been. Suddenly it became clear that I was intruding on a private conversation. All I could do was to walk quietly backwards and let myself out. As serious as the conversation was, there is no doubt in my mind that he was not aware of my presence.

Prayer is never to be done as a ritual or something on a check list. If prayer is not as a personal transaction with the person of God, it accomplishes nothing good. When our faith goes to work, then we willingly invite God into our lives, recognize Jesus Christ as Lord, and thereby, live a life of obedience.

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As we pray and meditate on the truths of scripture, and consider them against the backdrop of our own ignorance, biases, cultural mores, and sinful desires, then God speaks to us through His word. Only intimacy with God can overcome the perils of the world, the flesh, and the devil that distort a proper interpretation of scripture.

Again I say, faith is made complete in prayer, and God honoring prayer always honors God’s revealed word more than our own misunderstandings. Only then do we hear Him with a willingness to believe Him and obey. To know Jesus Christ in this way is to live a new and transformed life.

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The best way to know the one true Jesus is to know well what the Bible has to say about Him. THE JESUS YOU NEED TO KNOW was written to give you much to meditate upon, regarding the person of the Son of God. 

There is nothing better than to know Jesus Christ.