Friday, January 30, 2009

Radical Sonship Conference - Atlanta - March 27-28

Heads up on what looks to be a great conference in Atlanta in March! Paul Anderson-Walsh and Steve McVey are joining together for the Radical Sonship Conference, to be held Friday evening and all day Saturday, March 27-28. For details and registration information, click here. The conference is free, with an offering received to cover expenses. I'll be there, thanks to the help of some of my great friends!

It may be a surprise to some, but this will only bee the second time ever that I've attended any type of grace/exchanged-life conference or seminar! I suppose the reason is simply because there hasn't been much of that type of thing around here that I know of. In the past, Steve McVey has held Grace Walk Conferences at the Vineyard church here in town (before I knew of the church), and he's been here a couple of times since then, once for what I'd call 'weekend preaching' and once for a conference other than an actual Grace Walk Conference.

I've actually had thoughts in passing, but never impressed all that heavily upon my heart, to host this sort of thing myself. I think it would be hard work, but well worth it! I've got plenty to keep me busy for now, so we'll see. :) Maybe I should open up an exchanged life Midwest chapter. LOL... Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the info about the Radical Sonship Conference.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ten specific examples of what was against us and contrary to us...

If the last post didn't step on any toes, I'm sure this one will. But let's at least look at what the Scriptures say. "Let us reason together." :)

First, a summary:
Scripture tells us that something was against us and contrary to us. It tells us that we were in bondage to something. It tells us that in Christ, this has now been taken out of the way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete. Isn't it quite astounding for God to go to such great lengths to take something out of the way, nail it to the cross and make it obsolete! So what is it that was against us, and contrary to us, and put us into bondage... and God then took out of the way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete?
Gal 4:24 "For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage..."

Col 2:13-14 "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Heb 8:13 In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."
What came from Mount Sinai? God's LAW. What is the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us? God's LAW. What has been taken out of the way, nailed to the cross? God's LAW. What has been made obsolete? The Old Covenant, which was based upon man keeping God's LAW.

Brace yourself, I'm here to lay it down.


The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall have no other gods before Me."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not murder."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not commit adultery."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not steal."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
The following was against us, contrary to us, a source of bondage to us, and is now taken out of our way, nailed to the cross and made obsolete:
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
(All of the above: "The Ten Commandments," taken from Exodus 20:3-17)

We now have something so much better than all of this! All of the above is good and holy, but it was weak in that it could never do a thing to make us good and holy. All it did was to make us guilty before God. It was against us, contrary to us, and put us into nothing but bondage. But what the Law could not do, God did by sending His Son. We have now died to the above so that we could be joined with Christ, whose life in us will always lead us into what is good, holy and righteous. We are now free to serve righteousness, which is something we could never, ever find in the Law!

What was against us and contrary to us has been wiped out and made obsolete!

This post, and the post to follow, are not posts that are meant to turn your head a little. They're not simply "double-take" posts. These are absolute all-out in-your-face posts! I might even make some enemies with these posts, and I'm willing to take that risk. But my ultimate hope is that the words in these posts will be used to set people free.

For too long the Church of Jesus Christ has been involved in an atrocious, yet all too widely accepted, form of Christianity that continues to include within it various forms of the very thing that Christ came to set us free from! Actually, this has been going on for 2,000 years. Certain early Christians, such as the people in the churches of Galatia, were so involved in this atrocity that the Apostle Paul, in a strong rebuke, called them foolish and he asked them who had bewitched them that they would turn back to such things!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free," Paul said (Galatians 5:1), but yet there are still many Christians living today who are in bondage to the very thing that Christ set us free from! It should not be this way! So what is this terrible, heinous form of slavery that Christians are involved in, through the preaching and teaching of it, and through the daily yoking of themselves together with it?

The LAW. God's Law. God's holy Law. I'll be specific: The Ten Commandments (and any and all other of God's 600+ laws and ordinances in the Bible). This is what Christians, to their detriment, are misguidedly teaching and preaching as the way of the Christian life. The paradox here is that God's good, holy law... is not good for us! It was against us and contrary to us (Colossians 2:14). It was bondage to us (Galatians 4:24). See, God's good and holy Law has this itsy bitsy little shortcoming when it comes to sinful man: It can make no one perfect or holy or good! (See Hebrews 7:18-19 and Romans 8:3). So what God did through Christ was not to enable us to live according to the standards of His Law, but rather He took the Law out of the way by nailing it to the cross with Christ! (See again Colossians 2:14). And so with the Law nailed to the cross and our sin taken away, we were freed from our bondage and made close to God by His grace. We now live, not by God's Law, but by the Life of Christ that has come to indwell us.

So why the obsession with the Law in Christianity??? Do we not get that it was against us and that we had to die to it in order to belong to Christ? (Galatians 2:19-20, Romans 7:4). Jesus
said He didn't come to destroy the Law. He came to fullfil it. And guess what? At the cross, all was fulfilled!!! When Jesus died, God's Last Will and Testament (the New Covenant) was executed. When all was fullfilled, and the New Covenant came to be, God made the first covenant "obsolete" (Hebrews 8:13)! We can't miss the fact that Jesus, "after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus sat down, signifying that the work was complete and sufficient and finished forever!!! What the Law could never have done, Christ did once and for all.

Thank GOD that what was against us and contrary to us (God's Law) has been wiped out and nailed to the cross and made obsolete! Because of this, we are truly FREE!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Faith - What You Trust, Not What You Do

Latest GIGCast is up! Looking into Hebrews 11, often called the "Hall of Faith," we look at what the "faith" means. It was "by faith" that the people listed in this chapter did the things they did, but it wasn't "what they did" that gave them their testimony of righteousness. Rather, it was their Trust in God - their faith. We've got to keep in mind that faith shows itself by what we do, but what we do is not what makes us righteous! If what we do is what makes us righteous, and we call that "faith," then faith is nothing more than self-righteousness! Faith is trusting in God, not in ourselves or our works.

There's no catch

The other day I mentioned one of my all-time favorite TV shows, The Pretender. It aired in the late 90's. In recent years I've really been enjoying a USA Network program: Monk (along with another USA program called Psych). They're both well-written and well-acted shows, with comedy and drama mixed into both.

Adrian Monk is a detective who "developed an extreme case of obsessive-compulsive disorder" after the tragic death of his wife, Trudy. Monk is "consumed by peculiar obsessions and wracked with hundreds of phobias," and it makes for some great comedy as he drives people crazy, while at the same time solving cases like no one else can.

In last Friday's episode, Monk finds himself being surprisingly befriended by an older woman. She sort of embraces him like a mother, and she's able to help him get past some of his quirks as she loves him unconditionally and encourages him to do such things as cross a road while the sign says "Don't Walk," eat mixed vegetables, rearrange the furniture in his apartment, and do a few other things that his obsessive-compulsiveness normally doesn't allow him to do.

Early on in the episode, Mr. Monk comments to his assistant, Natalie, that when people embrace him or act nicely towards him, there's always a catch. They want something from him. Well, during the course of this episode, Monk ends up suspecting that his new friend's neighbor is the murderer in a case he is trying to solve. But yet the man has an alibi: Monk's new friend says she saw the man at home, playing his drums, at the time the murder happened. But Monk begins putting the clues of the case together, and he comes to the conclusion that this woman is actually the suspect's mother - not just his neighbor - and that she had lied to the police about the man's alibi.

Monk goes through his whole "Here's what happened" scenario that he does near the end of every program. He lays out his accusations toward the woman, as she stands there in puzzlement, wondering where all of these accusations are coming from. But Monk feels so very deceived, and he repeats his claim that there's "always a catch" when someone loves him unconditionally. He says the woman was only using him to cover up for her son. Now, usually when Monk comes to this "Here's what happened" revelation, he's right on target. However, in this case it turns out that the murder suspect's real mother posts bail for him. This woman who had befriended Monk was telling the truth all along, and had truly been loving him and accepting him as he was, with no "catch." Monk's suspicions about her had been wrong.

Do you have any "suspicions" about God? Do you think that in the midst of all this talk about His "unconditional love" there must be a catch? Sure, He does some nice things, but really He's not who people say He is. There's no way He can truly accept you as you are, and interact with you as His beloved child, right? He wants something from you. He's got ulterior motives. Sure, He's helped you to get over some of your fears and phobias, but really He's out to get you and deceive you. His love isn't really unconditional.

It seems to me that many people that I've come across in the church "talk the talk" about God's unconditional love, but yet they live in fear of Him, or they live as if there's got to be some "catch." They've got to perform up to a certain standard for Him. They end up putting all these conditions on God's unconditional love! But with God, there are no strings attached. He loves you and accepts you as you are. You don't need to try and figure out what the catch is, because there is no catch!

Bottom line: Live loved!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A couple of items about The Shack

1) Paul Young posted a link to this via his Myspace page (and I would guess in other places as well). If The Shack has affected you, Good Morning America wants to know. They're asking people to upload videos of themselves describing how The Shack has affected their lives, or reading a favorite passage from the book.

2) Over the course of a few days, James over at Idle musings of a bookseller has posted a few quotes from the book. Check out his last one, entitled "Rules!" (and while on his blog, check out the past ones too).

The whole quoted section on that post is good, but here's the bottom line: "It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you."


Related: Free Spirit's pithy blog post from today entitled "Religion is Resorted To..."

Oh brother --- Tithe Rap

Saw this here.

I just don't see the Levites and the other 11 tribes looking at it this way... at all!!!

Help others be who they are

Over the years I've had a few favorite TV programs. I used to love Thursday night Must See TV on NBC! At various times the lineup included programs such as Cheers, Night Court, The Cosby Show, Wings, Family Ties, Frasier, Seinfeld, Friends, etc. Ah... the good old days!

But in the late 90's one NBC program in particular really captured me, and it aired on Saturday nights. The Pretender. Oh man, I loved that show! In our married life, it became the first program my wife and I watched together religiously. A few years after the show was canceled, I would watch reruns in syndication on another channel at 6am as I got up to do some at-home work for the radio station I worked at. And now... I have 3 of the 4 seasons on DVD!

The Pretender was a program in which a grown man, Jarod, had escaped from The Centre... a secret organization that had kidnapped him as a child and exploited his genius, using him in running simulations for their not-so-good purposes. But after escaping, Jarod began using what he had learned over the years as a means to help people. He would "pretend" to be a police officer, a pilot, a race car driver, an FBI agent... or whatever it took to bring justice to someone who had done wrong to someone else.

There are plenty of applications I could make about Jarod's life. He was a man who could be whoever he wanted to be - but yet he didn't know who he was. Maybe I'll get into that sometime. However, this post isn't about that, but rather about a particular episode that I watched the other day on DVD. As a side-plot in this episode, Jarod had moved into a roach-infested apartment building in which one of his neighbors was always playing musical instruments - very badly! The man had been 'practicing' for years but it hadn't helped at all. The other neighbors were always pounding on the walls and shouting for the man to stop playing and making those terrible noises. The man was basically a grump, and he simply shouted back and kept on playing.

But Jarod, instead of complaining to the man, befriended him - to the man's surprise - and won him over, and had some great conversations with him. Near the end of the program Jarod noticed some small decorative instruments in the man's apartment, that were made out of glass. Jarod asked the man if he had made them, and he said he had. With great wisdom and gentleness, Jarod pointed out to the man that perhaps his "art" was not in playing musical intruments, but rather was in creating these beautiful glass decorations. It had never dawned on the man that perhaps music wasn't his thing...

It's probably not too hard to see where I'm going with all this. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Individually members of one another

The worldwide body of Christ is a body that is made up of many very diverse and unique individuals. Each member of the body is set apart for specific functions within the body. We're not all the same, and we don't all do the same things within the body. This is such a wonderful, beautiful thing to me! No part of Christ's body is unimportant; in fact each part is equally important, even if some parts have higher or lower visibility than others. Each part is gifted in its own way - in exactly the way that God wants it to be gifted. He has set you apart as a very special and important part of His body.

The practical applications that I want to make with all of this are very general. Depending upon who you are, the following will play out in your life in its own unique ways. First off, I think it's very important that you be who you are and that you don't try to be who anyone else is! In my earlier days in the church, I would see various people operating in various spiritual gifts and I so much wanted to be able to do the things I saw them doing. But it wasn't until later on, after I had discovered some of the unique things that God has set me apart to do within His body that I finally began to understand that it's quite all right that I can't and don't do what certain other people are doing. God has given me plenty to do within His body! I finally began enjoying the ways in which He had gifted me and I quit trying to be what I wasn't.

This lesson also taught me to stop trying to get others to be who they're not, but instead to help them find out who they are and to encourage them in who they are. I think there is a lot of manipulative "ministry" going on in the church because people simply aren't content to do what they're called to do and they're also not content when other people aren't doing what they think they should be doing!

Knowing who you are and being who you are is very freeing. When I used to wish I could do what others were doing, I really felt as if I was missing out. But I came to find out that what I was really missing out on was being who I was! Knowing and being who you are is also very beneficial to the body as a whole. God Himself has made you who you are and He has not made you to be someone else. When you are who you are, and everyone else is who they are, then Christ's body works exactly as it's intended to work! "The body is a unit," says the Apostle Paul (or "the body is one"). It's One Body that is made up of countless parts that God has strategically placed throughout the Body. The placement of the parts is God's doing! The functions that you walk in all come from God! He has done well placing you exactly where you are.

You are free to be who you are and not who anyone else thinks you should be. You are free to celebrate what God is doing in your life and in the lives of others, and to not be envious of others or fearful that God has left you out in the cold, even if He's not doing the same thing(s) in your life as He's doing in theirs. You might not be called to have the same type of unique, massive evangelistic call on your life that Billy Graham has had... but Billy Graham also hasn't had the same unique call on his life that you have on your life! You may say, "I'm no Billy Graham..." but on the same token, Billy Graham is no YOU! Whatever God does through individuals is good for the Body as a whole.

I know some people who are very grace-based that don't like to hear what I'm about to say, but I think it's simply the truth. All the members of the Body of Christ, while having a super abundance of grace in regards to all that God has called them to do individually, are also limited in the respect that God hasn't enabled them to do what He hasn't called them to do! In a certain context, Paul put it this way: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Cor 12:29-30). Of course not! This goes along with what Paul had just finished saying: "God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body" (1 Cor 12:18-20).

So don't be down on yourself, and don't feel like God has jilted you when you find you're not operating in the same gifts that others are operating in! And don't look down on others when they're not operating in the same gifts as you! "We being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Rom 12:5). I love that phrase! Individually members of one another. The body doesn't work by having everyone doing the same things! It works when the individual members each do their individual things as part of the whole body.

And please don't think that the ways in which individuals are gifted and used by God within the Body are solely found listed in the Bible. Yes, Paul presents us with many of the diverse ways in which God gifts His body, but just think of all the ways in which God has made you a beneficial part of His body that aren't even listed in the scriptures! Your hobbies, your talents, your abilities, your desires, the things you do that give you and others great joy... are all a part of how God has fitted you into His wonderful worldwide body!

Remember too, we're all in this together. It's not as if it's a competition. That would be like saying that when a man is out for a walk, his heart is in competition with his legs. No! The heart and the legs and the lungs and the blood cells and the feet and the sweat glands and... every single part of the body... all work together for the good of the body as a whole, to get it where it's going!

I think we need recognize as well that some parts of the Body never "see" each other and don't even realize what the other members of the Body are doing. But yet each part affects the other parts, even in these unseen ways. I'm pretty sure my hands and fingers don't have a clue what function my liver plays in my body, but yet if my liver wasn't functioning correctly it would seriously affect my ability to sit here and type out this blog post! Christ, the Head of the Body, knows exactly what signals He's sending to each and every part of the Body for proper functioning, and He Himself makes His body work. So just relax and be who you are, and trust that the Head of the Body knows what He's doing with the rest of the Body!

A few related posts:
Let me be
Be yourself - You can't be what you're not
Why I blog - Part 1

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A hospital system - one organization, many parts

The hospital where I work is part of a larger organization that is made up of 3 hospitals, along with various clinics, pharmacies and other facilities and offices that are spread throughout northeast Iowa. The organization is staffed with people who do all kinds of work: physicians, nurses, secretaries, administrators, housekeepers, nurse aides, dietary workers, managers, lab assistants, maintenance workers, materials and distribution workers, and so much more. I was just reading a report that shows that as of June 30, 2008, there were 3,020 associates who worked in one way or another in the organization.

It's pretty easy to walk into a medical clinic or a hospital and give no thought to what and who actually makes the place run. But with me being a part of this organization - and being one who happens to visit a handful of the clinics and other offices daily (I'm a courier) - I have sort of an 'insiders look' at what makes it all run. In the various places I go, I interact with lots of different associates every day, of all types of different occupations, and I can see how so many seemingly little things work together to make it all happen. And the thing is, when everyone is doing their job, the whole thing generally works out very well!

But what if a person who is trained as a physical therapist were to go in and try to perform heart surgery? Or what if an office manager were to go in and attempt to cook the patients' meals? What if a courier (me) saw a nurse drawing a patient's blood and said, "here, let me take over for you!" I don't think the patient would appreciate that very much! Not to mention that that would mess up the entire system, and there would be disastrous results.

See, for our purposes here, the system works this way (in general): The patient comes in with a problem. The secretary handles the necessary paperwork. The physician works to diagnose the problem. The nurse draws the blood. I come and take the blood to the lab. The lab techs run the tests on the blood. They then send the test results to the office, where the secretary files them and gives them to the physician, and the physician gives the patient the proper care by either prescribing medicine, a medical procedure, more tests, etc, etc, all of which requires other staff within the organization to do their own jobs!

Each associate plays a very important part in the whole process. So again, with the what if's... What if the nurse drove the blood from the clinic to the hospital? Who would be there to draw blood on other patients and do all the other duties of a nurse? What if the physician had to handle all the paperwork? Who would treat the patients? What if the lab techs decided they wanted to see the patients themselves and try to diagnose their problems? Could they properly diagnose the problems? And who would run the lab tests on the blood? I'm being absurd to make an obvious point. With each person doing what they're specifically set apart to do, the organization runs well. And really this is only a very tiny glimpse into the many roles that each of the above people play.

No one in the organization is unimportant. Sure, some of the higher-paid doctors act like snobs... LOL... but yet they couldn't do what they do unless everyone else was doing what they do. And some of the lower-paid associates may feel unimportant when they compare themselves to some of the higher profile associates, but yet if you remove them from their positions, the whole thing can fall apart quickly! Each person does their part, and allows others to do their parts.

In my "One Body..." post I said that in this post I would give some practical applications to life in the Body of Christ... and really I didn't intend to go quite so far with this one particular example, so the next post will be where I had intended to go. Still, to me the hospital system example is a great example of how there are no unimportant parts in a "body" and how it's important that each person knows their part and sticks to it, and doesn't try to be what they're not!

Recover Your Good Heart... Week 3 tomorrow!

For the past couple of Sundays we've been doing an online study of Jim Robbins' study guide for his book Recover Your Good Heart, and we'll continue this week and for several weeks until we get through the ten chapters of the guide. Ten of us were present together last Sunday and the discussion really did move along quite well! You're more than welcome to join us this week and any week. If you're shy about something like this, no worries! Just come and hang out with us and read along with our Yahoo chat.

We'll begin at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific, and we'll go for about an hour each Sunday. We're using Yahoo Messenger (it will probably help if everybody's running the latest version). My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One Body, Many Parts, Members of One Another

I've said before that if life were college, my "major" would be God's grace and my "minor" would be "the body of Christ." I know it's probably quite a deep revelation to you that I really love discussing God's grace! Haha! However, my "minor" doesn't get enough time on this blog. I've written about it several times, but not nearly as often as it's on my heart.

The identity and the functions of the individual members of the body of Christ (you, me and everyone else in Christ), is all woven together with God's grace. Along with that, the life of each individual member is woven together with all of the other individual members to form one body. "The body is a unit," Paul says in 1 Cor 12:12 (NIV). "Though is is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." In the same chapter of a different epistle, Paul writes, "For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Rom 12:4-5 NKJV).

What I want to point out here is that we're one body and we're individually members of one another. Not all the "parts" are the same. We're each unique in our individual functions within Christ's body, but as one body we are individually members of one another. Christ Himself is the Head of this body, and we are all fully part of Christ's body and fully indwelled by His life that flows throughout the entire body, but we're not all the same "part" --- and that's a really good thing!

In all my talk of "grace" and our "identity in Christ," I love encouraging individuals in who they are in Christ. Each individual is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), born again of incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23), complete in Christ (Col 2:10), and so on and so on. This is all good news for us to individually digest and be rooted and grounded in! But I would be remiss if I spoke of our identity in Christ solely in terms of who we are individually. The life of Christ flows throughout the individual parts of His body and makes them all work together. Our identity in Christ is not simply who we are as individuals, but who we are as many parts that make up one body.

In both 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Paul talks about some of the "parts" that people are in the body of Christ. He talks about those who teach and those who prophecy and those who heal and those who exhort. He talks about tongues and the interpretation of tongues. He talks about "the word of wisdom" and "the word of knowledge." He talks about so many different things that go on in the body of Christ. I don't believe his list is full and complete. In other words, your "part" in the body may or may not be mentioned by Paul. And the various things that Paul does mention may or may not have anything to do with who you are in the worldwide body of Christ. But his overall point is solid and clear: we're not all the same, yet together we form one complete body. Isn't that beautiful!

By using the human body as an illustration, Paul makes it clear that we're not all the same, but that each part is equally important!

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body" (1 Cor 12:14-20).

I think it's absolutely wonderful that the fullness of Christ dwells in each of us, and yet we're not all the same and we don't all function in the same ways... and yet we all form one body! In the next post I'll get into practical applications of all of this.

Here are a few of my past posts that relate to all this:
We're All Important Parts of the Body of Christ (an article I wrote for a church publication)
One body, many parts - We're not all the same!
Fixed Eyes

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The message of the cross of Christ is foolishness

Excerpts from 1 Cor 1:18-2:2
For the message of the cross is
foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?... it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men...

But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

...And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Along with what I said in my Goody Two Shoes post last week, I think that when the church today preaches the "foolishness" of the cross, they wrongfully make it mean that a Christian who is living a godly lifestyle appears "foolish" to ungodly people. But that's nowhere close to what the message of the foolishness of the cross really means!

The foolish message of the cross has nothing to do with how righteously a person is living. That's why it was a stumbling block for the Jews, who sought righteousness by their own works and not by the gift of God (Romans 9:32-33). The message of the cross is also not "look at how logical all of this is." The message of the cross is not about anything that man can think of, devise, work toward, strive for, plan, solve, etc, etc. The message of the cross vs. logic or science is not a debate you can win! It's not meant to be debatable --- because the message is foolishness to the wise!!! It can't be "proven." A person either believes in the "foolishness" and "weakness" of God or he doesn't.

Part of Paul's message to the Corinthians was that even as a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit and with the great power and life of Jesus in Him, his speech was still lacking in persuasiveness and wisdom. He knew he could never prove his words or his message to anyone. But, you see, it's not Paul that Paul was interested in showing them. Rather, he said, "I determined to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." There you have, in a nutshell, the foolish message of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

By the Grace of God I Am What I Am

Last week in our Growing in Grace program, Kap and I talked about how God has qualified us as His children, and how He has qualified us to do all the things we are called to do. It's all by His grace. This week we continue discussing this, and we talk about how in Christ we are complete (Col 2:10) and how the anointing that we have in God abides in us (1 John2:27). It's not up to us to struggle or strive or spend hours in prayer, or spend a certain amount of time meeting with other saints, or in Bible reading in order to become more anointed or to walk in the anointing. Not that any of those things are "bad" in and of themselves, but we rely upon God's grace, not upon those things, in order to live our daily lives in Christ. The Father Himself has already qualified us in every way!

Finally, we take a look at the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Cor 15:10, "by the grace of God I am what I am," and we look at what he meant by those words.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tears Are Falling - Or Not

This post has come about in a very odd way today. Thinking back to a couple of minor events in my life, I was simply reminded that how we treat others can truly affect their lives. My examples here may sound cheesy, or lacking in substance, but I think the point will come across.

It started this evening when I was listening to the Forgotten 45 at 5 on my favorite radio station, Cool 105.7 here in Waterloo. DJ Don Betts played a tune from 1985 by Kiss called Tears Are Falling. I hadn't heard that song in years! (Hence the 'forgotten' 45). By the way, if you have to ask what a 45 is, you're way too young. I'll just tell you that it won't fit into your mp3 player. Anyway I decided to check out the video on youtube, and that's when the memories started coming back.

If I can remember right, I've been to four Kiss concerts. When I was about 16 or 17, I was at one particular Kiss concert in which Bruce Kulick was the guitar player. He's also the guitar player in this particular video. I don't know what was up with me that night, but I must've appeared pretty sad. I mean, my countenance must've shown that I was not happy. Being at that awkward teenage age, it could've been due to any of a number of things.

I was pretty close to the stage, and I remember looking around, and then as I looked up to the stage I saw Bruce staring right at me. It was as if he was intentionally waiting for me to look at him. As soon as we made eye contact, he smiled at me. For a teenager, that's pretty cool for a rock star to take notice of you! But for whatever reason, I didn't smile at him. So he kept looking at me... and he put his forefinger and his thumb on the sides of his mouth and made a sad face, as if to ask, "Why are you so sad?" Then, with his finger and thumb still in place, he turned it into a smile, and then took his hand away and opened up into a huge smile. That did the trick for me, and whatever had been making me sad was now history, and I was happy for the rest of the evening! I'm sure Bruce remembers that night just as much as I do! LOL

The other minor event in my life that I remembered tonight was not such a nice memory. But it really was minor. :) This happened before a Slaughter concert (the rock band is named "Slaughter"). To the right of the stage, an area was fenced off and the fans were able to get autographs from the band over the fence. I took off my neon green baseball cap (this was the 80's!) and I handed it to lead singer Mark Slaughter for him to sign it. He signed it, and then, looking straight at me, he intentionally handed it off to my left to someone else (another fan), around the corner of the fence, and I never saw the hat again! My happy mood, when I got to interact with a rock star, was changed in an instant as I suddenly turned sad, mad, confused and disillusioned all at once! I'm sure Mark remembers that night just as much as I do! (But don't worry, I've since forgiven him...) Hehe...

Anyway... all that to say that even the "little" things - the ways in which we treat others - can make a difference in their lives, in a good way or in a bad way. Don't underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a kind deed, an unexpected act of grace... or the power of a word of condemnation, an act of unkindness, a scornful look.

Thank God that He has given us Himself as an example of love and grace, and also Himself as our life from which our acts of love and grace come!

The videos here aren't related in any way to the post. Just indulge me. :) The songs are a reminder of my youth, and you can see Bruce Kulick in the first one (guitar player in the red shirt) and Mark Slaughter in the second one (singer).

Kiss - Tears Are Falling
By the way, Don Betts picked this one to play on this day (January 20) because it's Paul Stanley's (lead singer) 57th birthday. Paul has had 3 hip replacement surgeries, and I wonder if it's partially a result of jumps like the one at 3:23 in the video. ;)

Slaughter - Fly To the Angels

Anyone want some SNOW???

Apparently RJW has an affinity for snow... which is easy to say when you live in the southeast! And on my Facebook account I see several people from the south and southeast talking about and posting pictures of snow. Um, you guys don't have a clue what snow is!! Well anyway, if y'all want some more, come and get it!!! Pretty soon, we won't have anywhere else to go with it!

The fence running along our driveway

Our back yard, between the house and garage

Taken with my cell phone - a parking lot in Waverly (20 miles from here), divided in two by the plowed snow
(notice how it's almost as tall as the building behind it!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recover Your Good Heart... Week 2 tomorrow night!

Last Sunday we began our study of Jim Robbins' study guide for his book Recover Your Good Heart, and we'll continue this week and for several weeks until we get through the ten chapters of the guide. Seven of us were present together on Yahoo Messenger, and we certainly had a lively discussion! You're more than welcome to join us this week and any week. If you're shy about something like this, no worries! Just come and hang out with us and read along with our Yahoo chat.

I did have one issue with not being able to invite an individual into our conference. For some reason, Yahoo Messenger would not give me the option to invite that particular person. I'm pretty sure that if someone's using Messenger on a cell phone, it won't work, but this person said they were using a laptop, so I don't know why it wouldn't work. Does anyone happen to know anything about Yahoo Messenger conferencing limitations?

We'll begin at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific, and we'll go for about an hour each Sunday. We're using Yahoo Messenger (it will probably help if everybody's running the latest version). My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat.

One of the participants was Aida. Here's Aida's 'review' of last week's chat.

Friday, January 16, 2009

One more peek at the temperature... -28

8am today. Not sure what the overnight low was. Things can only go up from here... or at least the 5 day forecast thankfully shows that! Today is the kids' third day in a row off of school. Wednesday was due to a huge snowstorm. Yesterday was due to the cold. Today, they started off by saying it was a two hour delay, but they ended up having problems getting buses started (gee, wonder why!) so they ended up canceling school again.

For my foreign friends, the temp in C.

Yahoo! Widgets
Yahoo! Weather Widget

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A 99 degree change in temperature in a matter of hours!

From this story at
Passengers flying in to Cedar Rapids Thursday knew they were in for a rude awakening.

"It was funny because when we got on the plane the pilot was like, yeah, we'll be landing in Cedar Rapids at 11:00 and it's gonna be negative 30," said Mount Mercy student Jimmy Scroggins. "And I was just like 'Negative thirty'!"

Scroggins was returning from the 70-degree sunshine of Phoenix for the spring semester at Mount Mercy.
The story is about Cedar Rapids (less than an hour south of here) experiencing their coldest day ever, today. The actual temperature was -29º. Can you imagine leaving a place that is 70º and arriving in another place that is -29º!!!

Persecuted for being a Goody Two Shoes?

I'm writing about something that I've written about before, but it never hurts to repeat certain things! Persecution. I'll first say that I know that persecution takes many forms, and people around the world are persecuted for various reasons, from political to religious to intolerance to... all sorts of reasons.

But I'm writing here about a specific type of persecution. It's the persecution that the Apostle Paul and the other apostles and people in the early church dealt with. In fact, before becoming a Christian, Paul himself dealt out this type of persecution towards the church.

Now, the church today has become a place in which we think we're being persecuted in Christ's name if someone makes fun of us for being a goody two shoes - for "standing up for 'moral behavior.'" But here's the thing. When Paul was going around persecuting the church, HE was the one who was standing up for moral, lawful behavior! But when Jesus took hold of him, lovingly and gracefully, Paul found out that all his moral law-keeping was DUNG (see Philippians 3:1-11), and he turned from that to trusting in a righteousness that has nothing to do with his own morals or law-keeping, but rather is a righteousness that is imputed as a gift!

Paul himself then became part of those who were persecuted by the religious do-gooders. His life became a matter of "standing up" for this gift of righteousness that came by the grace of God. When he wrote these words to the Romans, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ," he was saying this not in the face of anyone who was putting him down for being a goody two shoes, but rather in the face of those who were persecuting him for rejecting the law and embracing the good news of God's righteousness being received by faith, not works.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ" was a very bold statement for Paul to make, and the message of grace that he went on to share in the rest of the epistle was as bold as bold could be! There were those who vehemently opposed the gospel message of salvation by grace alone through faith, and Paul was bravely and unashamedly giving himself over in reckless abandonment to this good news message! He was essentially saying, "Who cares what the legalists think! This is God's message of love and grace, and I'm not gonna be shy about proclaiming it!"

All that said, I'm partially ashamed to say that I'm going to use this post as an excuse to post a video by my all time favorite artist. ;) I've been an "Ant Person" since the late 70's, when I was a boy in England and this band, Adam and the Ants, broke into the punk/pop scene with their own "brand" of music (Antmusic). Adam Ant went solo a few years later, and while he didn't make it big in the United States, I continued to follow and enjoy his music. This is the only Top 40 hit he had here in the States, as far as I know. It hit Number 10 on Billboard's charts.

Adam Ant - Goody Two Shoes

Don't drink, don't smoke - what do you do?
Don't drink, don't smoke - what do you do?
Subtle innuendos follow
Must be something inside he's hiding

If global warming is really man-made...

...then I wish those guys would get to work!

Ha ha! (OK, the above comment was a joke! No need for any political comments here...) :)

That's the actual temperature here in Waterloo, Iowa, today at 7am. -23ºF (-30ºC)! But no worries... We're gonna warm up today to a toasty high of -6ºF (-21ºC)! The image is of my Yahoo! Weather Widget, and it's set against my desktop's background pic --- a tiny tropical island. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


B52's - Roam

(Partial lyrics)
I hear a wind
Whistling air
Whispering in my ear
Fly the great big sky
See the great big sea
Kick through continents
Bustin' boundaries
Take it hip to hip rocket through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels
Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without anything but the love we feel

John 3:6-8 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Please pray for Kyle Sweet

I don't often share 'prayer requests' but for some reason I'm moved in my heart to share this one. Please click this link. Michael Sweet (lead singer of Stryper) shares a wonderful testimony about his wife, Kyle, and he asks for prayers as she battles ovarian cancer. The song below says "Free to open up - and believe; Free to simply ask - and receive." This is what Michael and his family are doing for Kyle, and I'm simply one of many who are joining in.

Stryper's music played a huge role in my life in the mid to late 80's. I was big into MTV, where I would watch all my favorites like Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Billy Idol, Adam Ant, Poison, Metallica, ZZ Top and so on and so on. I would come home from school every day and watch the top ten requested videos of the day. In the midst of all this, Stryper came on the scene with songs like Calling On You, Free and Honestly, remaining at Number 1 for weeks on end. I remember crying at times when I would hear lyrics such as "You, You make my life complete; You give me all I need; You help me through and through; I'm calling on you." I certainly wasn't getting that message from any of my friends! ;)

I knew there was something more to this life, and I believed in Jesus, but I honestly thought I had to clean up my act before I could truly come to Christ, and I just never could clean up my act. But yet among all the other music I listened to, the lyrics from the Stryper songs really kept my head up and my ears open, desiring this "peace" with God... that I would eventually find out was a free gift, not something I ever deserved or could earn.

They've still got it! Stryper - Free (live in 2004)

Free to turn away - say goodbye
Free to walk away - and deny
The gift waiting for you
Whispers a still small voice
It's your choice - you're...

Free - Free to do what you want to
Choose your own destiny
Free to do what you want to
Free to open up - and believe
Free to simply ask - and receive
There's no better time than now
You've got the right to choose
You can't lose - you're...

The original video from the 80's

What you said in 2008 - Slick Breeze

To wrap up a look at some of my favorite blog posts from others in 2008, we now turn to my holier-than-thou twin-brother-from another-mother in-a-parallel-universe, The Extra Very Reverend J. Slick Breeze. Actually, I can't say that these are "favorites" of mine, but, well, the man is family so I thought I'd include him anyway.

The first one was actually posted on my blog, as I did ol' Slick a favor and introduced him to the world (well, to those who read my blog). The other two are the only two posts he wrote in 2008. I reckon he's too busy going around preaching the law and raising funds for his ministry, and simply doesn't have much time to blog.

1. Introducing my alter ego - The Rev. J. Slick Breeze (posted on my blog 5/13/08)
2. Send Money (Grease Roots - The Very Extra Rev. J. Slick Breeze - 5/14/08)
3. Your support is necessary (Grease Roots - The Very Extra Rev. J. Slick Breeze - 11/18/08)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

God Has Qualified You

Are you qualified to be used by God for His purposes within the church and in the world? Have you messed up too many times? Do you feel that you're able to do all that God has called you to do? Do you feel as if your own lack of ability has disqualified you? No matter what your answer to any of these questions, and no matter what you've thought in the past, this week we talk about what the scriptures say about how it's God who has qualified us, and how He isn't dependent upon US or our own strengths, but rather how He has enabled us, by His grace, to do all that we are called to do. Be encouraged as you listen to words that will hopefully take the pressure off of yourself, and that will put the focus on the One who is at work in us to will and do to according to His good pleasure!

Recover Your Good Heart - online study starts today!

The online study of the book Recover Your Good Heart by author Jim Robbins starts today! All the details, including links to purchase the book and study guide, are here, and I really hope you're able to join in! Although I've made mention of how to get the book and study guide (which I encourage whether or not you take part in the study), you are in no way obliged to have either or both in order to join in. We simply want to be able to build one another up in the goodness and grace of God, and in the new heart/spirit that we have, and these discussions will be based upon the material in the book and study guide.

We'll begin at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific, and we'll go for about an hour each Sunday until we get through the study guide. We'll do this using Yahoo Messenger (it will probably help if everybody's running the latest version). My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat.

You don't have to "say" anything (type anything) during the chats. You're welcome to just join in so that you can see what everyone else has to say. But in order for this to work, we do need at least some people to chat!

This is something new - I've never done anything like this - so there may be technical issues. We'll play it by ear and see what happens! I'm not the type who is easily flustered if things don't work out in my 'pre-planned' way. We'll do all right, no matter what. ;) Looking forward to some great discussions!

What you said in 2008 31-33

Almost done with these (some "slick" ones coming tomorrow... LOL), although there's a lot more I could share if I'd been more organized! ;) As I said in the beginning, I don't mean to exclude anyone, but I wasn't consistent in bookmarking all my favorite posts and I just haven't had time to go back and make sure everyone was included. Anyway, I love your blogs! I love the victories shared, the struggles shared, the realities of life shared. I love the talk of the love and grace of God, and of life in the body of Christ. Thanks so much for blogging, and keep it up! If you don't yet have your own blog, what's stopping you?!

31. Just over a year (Grace in Flood - Grace - 7/15/08)
32. Love, Day 3 - (Women of Worship - Angela - 10/15/08) (Click "Older Post" to see the other parts of the series)
33. "Just Give Me Jesus" or "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?" (One Day At A Time - Maureen - 7/13/08)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What you said in 2008 28-30

28. GPS Journey – God’s Positioning System (A Journey Worth Taking - Nicole - 1/11/08)
29. Matthew 4:19 (Modern Church Translations - Mark Main - 7/13/08)
30. turn to, live by, pay attention to, be filled by... (The Blog of Nancy - Nancy - 9/15/08)

Friday, January 09, 2009

A dog's first snow of the season

A coworker of my wife sent this. A dog's reaction to the first snow of the season. Wow... talk about lots of snow! Light and fluffy snow is usually not all that fun (can't build snowmen) (although it does makes clearing it a lot easier), but with this much snow and a dog this size, how could it not be fun!

What you said in 2008 25-27

More of my fav's of '08. These have all been in a completely random order. A few more to come...
25. The Script Has Never Really Worked Anyway...Not Really (Faithfully Dangerous - Kent - 9/20/08)
26. Bags packed, I am travelling light! (Meeting of One - Walking Church - 2/15/08)
27. We Don’t Have To Be, We Already Are! (See the World Through His Heart - Alan Hiu - 10/8/08)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What you said in 2008 22-24

22. I will build my charitable organization (The Assembling of the Church - Alan Knox - 10/30/08)
23. How Are We Really Treating Unbelievers? (Walking In The Spirit - Amy - 8/23/08)
24. Written in Stone Before the Foundation of the World (Walking in the Spirit of Grace - Gary Kirkham - 6/12/08)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What you said in 2008 19-21

Another "sandwich" here. :) (I honestly did not set these up this way... my list of my fav's of '08 is all completely random). Here are the two bloggers who I have known longer than most of the other bloggers that I know, sandwiching the blogger who probably has the most "different" (in a good way) blog out of all those that I read (that's a compliment, LivingSword)!

I met both Bino and "In Christ Alone" through the Grace Walk Forum, in my B.B. years (Before Blogging). Another interesting side note that I just realized - there are two Canadians here, and one from India (living in the U.S.).

19. Approval Addiction - Overcoming (Branch of Vine - Bino M. - 4/23/08)
20. Martin Luther: Indulgences (Life on the Blade - LivingSword - 2/17/08)
21. Peace! (nightwatch - In Christ Alone - 7/25/08)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A change in covenants: From bad news to good news!

I'm going to speak in general here, but under the Old Covenant, prophets would be sent out now and then to point out how the people were failing to follow God's commandments, and to proclaim the judgment that was awaiting them if they didn't repent of their evil deeds and start doing right.

There is no such bad-news prophet 'office' in the New Covenant! We got a taste of the change when the angels appeared to the shepherds with a brand new message, all focused around the Savior of the world, and no longer focused on what had condemned the world (the law).

Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

A stark change from the message of "change your ways or suffer the consequences!"

The law had done its job - death and condemnation. However, "when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5).

No longer is the message, "change your ways so that you won't be punished." That's bad news! The reason it's bad news is because there is none righteous, no not one. There is no one who can ever change their ways in a way that satisfies God! The new message, the message of the gospel (good news) is this: "Having been justified [made righteous] by faith [not by turning from bad behavior to good behavior], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom 5:1-2).

The Old Covenant gave birth to bondage! There is nothing about the Old Covenant that is good for us. Nothing! Cast out the bondwoman (the Old Covenant) and her son (the bondage that comes from the Old Covenant)! We are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Gal 5:1).

What you said in 2008 16-18

Two blogs that I "met" in 2008, sandwiching one that I "met" the previous year. :)

16. Faulty Concepts of What Father is Really Like (John's Grace Walk - John Fincher - 8/27/08)
17. Consider the butterfly..... (A Joy To Be Me - Lydia Joy - 8/21/08)
18. When We Meet Grace (Better Than We Know - RJW - 7/21/08)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Spirits in the Material World

The Police - Spirits in the Material World

What you said in 2008 13-15

Did I mention how much I like reading your blogs??!!

13. The Well Adjusted Sinner (The Journey to Christishness - Socoteanu - 11/2/08)
14. Jesus Took the Punishment! (The Rising Sons of Grace - Craig Glenn - 9/28/08)
15. Unripe Grapes (Following Him Alone - Tyler Dawn - 10/4/08)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Recover Your Good Heart - online study starts in 1 week!

We're just one week away from beginning an online study of the book Recover Your Good Heart by author Jim Robbins! All the details, including links to purchase the book and study guide, are here, and I really hope you're able to join in!

We'll begin at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific, and we'll go for about an hour each Sunday until we get through the study guide. I encourage you to get the study guide for yourself, but you won't be turned away from the discussion if you don't have it. We'll do this using Yahoo Messenger (it will probably help if everybody's running the latest version). My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat.

You don't have to "say" anything (type anything) during the chats. You're welcome to just join in so that you can see what everyone else has to say. But in order for this to work, we do need at least some people to chat!

This is something new - I've never done anything like this - so there may be technical issues. We'll play it by ear and see what happens! I'm not the type who is easily flustered if things don't work out in my 'pre-planned' way. We'll do all right, no matter what. ;) Looking forward to some great discussions!

There is No Other Sacrifice for Sins

This is a continuation of the conversation from last week. We recap the previous week's discussion about how the one sacrifice of Jesus took away all our sin and we move on to discussing what we do when we sin, because after all, we do still sin! Looking at some more encouraging words from the book of Hebrews, we talk about how we don't need to live with a consciousness of sin, wallowing around in guilt and condemnation, but rather we can "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful," resting in God's grace, knowing that where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more!

There is nothing we can do to take away our own sins. There has only been one sacrifice for all sins, once and for all, and it was sufficient! Our conversation this week ends up with a look at how all this relates to a misunderstood verse that so very often gets taken out of context:

Heb 10:26 "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..."

We hope you'll be encouraged as we look at this in the context of the previous chapters - taking into account all of what the writer of Hebrews has previously said about the "sacrifice for sins."

Everybody cut footloose

I don't know what that really means. But it's a few days into 2009, and I think it's time for everybody to cut footloose (again, whatever that means)!

What you said in 2008 10-12

Sharing more of my fav blog posts of 2008.

10. The Prodigal God (Idle musings of a bookseller - JPS - 10/28-11/7/08) (This is actually a series of posts about a book called The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. After clicking on the link, scroll down to read the individual posts in order from bottom to top).
11. Behavior modification vs. life transformation... (Family: The Final Frontier - Richard J - 9/12/08
12. Behavior modification vs. life transformation, part 2... (Family: The Final Frontier - Richard J - 10/2/08)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

I think this must be the year of the salt. Or the winter of the salt, that is. It's out on our front porch and on our driveway, and they're spreading it all over the streets right now. And this has happened quite a bit since the beginning of December! We've had a fair share of snow already, but we've also had more ice than normal. I already told how the ice kept us from getting all the way home a week ago after our vacation to Missouri. Now it's keeping me from enjoying Christmas with the in-laws! My wife's family had scheduled their Christmas gathering for December 20th, but a huge snow storm kept that from happening. So they rescheduled it for today.

My wife and kids went earlier (it's about 60 to 90 minutes away). I had to work today and I have to work in the morning, so if I had gone I would have left much later than them, and I would've had to drive back home tonight. But then the ice began! Looking out my window, it's actually very beautiful to look at. Everything's so nice and shiny out there. But I wouldn't want to be driving in the stuff! So they're staying the night there, and I'm here at home. And actually, it's a nice quiet evening alone! Just kicking back, relaxing.

Well, first I replaced our thermostat, which is something I've never done before. Turns out to be quite easy. I came home earlier today and it was 63º in the house! I went down to the furnace, and the burners were coming on, but then turning off as the fan began to blow, so it was blowing cold air. I went through all the possibilities of what could be wrong - not that I know a thing! - and I eventually temporarily decided to call the furnace people. But then I got a tiny bit of 'inspiration,' and I wondered if, since the burners were actually igniting ok, if it was a thermostat problem that was making them turn off right away. So I went to Menards after work and bought a new thermostat. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought if I could save a few bucks it'd be worth it, and if this didn't solve the problem, at least we'd have a brand new programmable thermostat!

So far so good... The instructions said it takes less than 30 minutes to install. Took me close to an hour, those liars!!! But it seems to be working. The furnace is running and I'm staying cozy! And they're out there covering the streets with layers of salt. Hopefully all will be drivable again when I have to work in the morning!

Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure. This is the song that Vanilla Ice "sampled" in Ice Ice Baby - although he says that technically he didn't sample it. If you listen, Under pressure goes:

dum dum dum dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum dum dum dum

But Ice Ice Baby goes:
dum dum dum dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum
(There's an extra 'dum' in the second set of dums)
Technically... yep. LOL

What you said in 2008 7-9

More of my favorite blog posts of yours in 2008.

7. The Hybrid 'Gospel' (Voice of Grace - Jul - 6/18/08)
8. Naked and Unashamed… (A branch, strengthened by God, henceforth, excellent - Leonard - 11/15/08)
(Bonus - Thought this would interest people - Leonard's first post, explaining the title of his blog - 9/13/08)
9. Light your Candle (Through the narrow gate - ViolableWings - 11/20/08)

Friday, January 02, 2009

What you said in 2008 4-6

Some of my favorite blog posts of 2008, continued.

4. Expecting to sin (Recover Your Good Heart - Jim Robbins - 9/29/08)
5. Faith is the Assurance of Things Not Seen (Somewhere in my Memory - Matthew Daelon - 4/10/08)
6. TV Interview - Day 5 (Grace Walk - Steve McVey - 11/22/08)
I highly recommend taking time to watch all 5 days. Also, in addition to Steve's written posts, he also posted a series of videos called "101 Lies Taught in Church Every Sunday." If you missed them, or want to see them again, go to his blog and search for the phrase "101 Lies Taught in Church." You'll find the first 77 videos that way. After that, the post titles were simply entitled "Lie #__."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What you said in 2008 1-3

The world of blogging sure has opened me up to friendships with a lot of wonderful people! It was so great reading all of your blogs in 2008. For the next week or two, I'd like to share some of my favorite blog posts of yours from the past year. Right off the bat, I have to admit (actually this is more of a disclaimer) that I'm certain that I'll leave some people out because I didn't quite keep up with this in the way I had hoped to do throughout the year! At the beginning of the year I created a folder on my desktop in which I intended to save my favorite posts, and I did somewhat ok with it, but not as good as I'd hoped. In other words, I didn't save all my favorite posts, so please don't take it personally if one of yours doesn't show up. But I do want to shine the spotlight on my friends, so let's get to it! These will be absolutely random!

1. Isn't Salvation By Grace? (Caesura - Aussie John - 11/8/08)
2. If Forgiveness Can't Be Earned... (With Unveiled Face - Free Spirit - 8/23/08)
3. Winter - a season of rest (Forgetting the Former Things - Aida - 12/1/08)

The Prodigal Pup

Our dog Puppa is the nicest little dog... but over the years he's also been quite the rebel. Any chance he gets to sneak out the gate, he's gone. And if you go after him, he just runs. Just when you think you're gonna get him, he takes off again. He used to run to other people who would go after him, but as soon as he figured out that other people return him to us, he quit doing that! He's probably run away at least 10 times per year since we got him in 1999. Yep, he's quite the prodigal dog. Running wild and wastefully throughout the neighborhood, sniffing whatever he can get his nose into.

A couple of evenings ago I came home from work and opened up our gate so I could drive my car into the garage. At the same time, inside the house, Puppa was apparently throwing up and so Tracey rushed him to the door so he'd do it outside. When I walked back toward the house, Tracey told me that Puppa had just gotten loose. The temperature was barely above 0, so I told her that Puppa would be back before we knew it. In this weather, he barely even wants to come outside to do his regular 'business,' and when he does, he's outside for less than the time it takes to microwave myself a cup of hot water to make some tea!

Well, a few minutes went by, and no Puppa. I wondered aloud if maybe he had run into the garage while I was closing it, and I just didn't see him, but Tracey said she'd seen him run down the drive toward the street. So I started to get concerned. Like I said, in these temps, he's usually back in no time. So I went down the drive and looked up the street and around the corner, and didn't see him anywhere. It was dark, and because of all the snow we've had, there's lots of ploughed snow piled high on the sides of the streets, so it's hard to see anything.

All we could think of was how cold and scared he must be. Even in the cold weather, for some reason this time around, his instinct was to run away from the place where he was loved, and where he was safe and warm. Eventually Tracey got in the van to go look for him, while I was walking down the street, calling for him. Then, across the street I looked down the sidewalk, and there I could see him, hobbling slowly toward in my direction. At that moment I RAN to him. When I got to him, I could see that his feet were hurting from the coldness of the icy sidewalk, and when I picked him up he was shivering like I never seen him shiver before.

Was Puppa a prodigal? Sure! I can't see it being anything other than a wasteful use of energy to go out sniffing around in such cold weather! Was he stupid? I'd say it was kind of a stupid thing to do! :) Did I care about any of that? Not at all. I just wanted him home safe and sound. So I carried him home, brought him inside and wrapped him up in a warm blanket, petting him and telling him everything was ok now, and telling him there was never a need to run away again, because he has all he needs here at home. Not that he understood a word of what I was saying!

It was at that time that I realized the similarities (sort of) between this episode and the story of the prodigal son. The only character missing was the elder brother, because Mr. Nibbles the hamster was in his cage sleeping and he didn't care that we were throwing a welcome home party for Puppa!

The love of the Father is great. When He saw us far off, He ran to us and brought us home and didn't even make one ounce of a deal about our prodigal living. Instead He was filled with joy and threw royal robes around us and gave us the keys to His mansion, giving us the full benefits of sons. What a wonderful, loving God we have!