Thursday, April 30, 2009

Freedom from tradition - how sweet!

One of my favorite all-time television programs is the latest reincarnation of the everlasting Doctor Who adventures. The new Doctor Who ran four seasons, from 2005 to 2008, and will supposedly pick up again next year.

I love this scene from Season Three's episode entitled Utopia.

Brief setup, without giving away any of the plot (which wouldn't matter anyway): The Doctor and his companion Martha had accidentally ended up in a place where they had befriended a certain professor and his alien companion.

Throughout the episode, every time the professor's companion speaks she begins by saying "Chan" and she ends by saying "Doh." Martha eventually questions her, as to why she does this. It seems as if the woman has always done this and has never questioned it, and in fact says with a tinge of unease, "Chan that would be rude doh!" if she didn't do that.

In this quick little scene, Martha, the wonderful grace revelator (hehehe), helps her to break her legalistic tradition! As I said, I love this scene. :)

(0:27 to 1:14)

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Legacy" - Christ in me

For some reason I've been thinking about the Apostle Paul, and what he said he hoped people saw in him. You know how people talk about leaving a "legacy" - how they want to be remembered, or what they want to be remembered for? Paul, in his writings, did mention various places he had gone and specific deeds he had accomplished --- but I don't think it was so much those specific things that he wanted people to remember. Rather, what he boasted about - and what he hoped people had seen in him - was Christ, the Person, and the power of God that was at work in him.

In essence, I see Paul as saying, "Indeed I've worked hard! But take your eyes off of me and please see that anything and everything worthwhile that I've accomplished hasn't been me and isn't about me but is the result of God's grace and power, and the very life of Christ in me. Don't congratulate me or pat me on the back. Give praise to God!

Same here. No matter what I do in this life here on earth in this body, that's what I hope people see in me as well. The life of Christ. My works are going to be different than somebody else's works. I don't want people comparing my works with other people's works, nor comparing their works with my works. I think it's great for us to share the specific things that Christ's life is doing in and through us, but again, the specific things I do may look totally different than the specific things someone else does. If my works happen to have attention drawn to them, let it be so that it can be said, "Christ is living in and through Joel."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Synchroblog Idea - Your Performance-Based Acceptance Story

A stand alone sentence in Paul Anderson-Walsh's book Until Christ is Formed reads:
Each and every one of us has our own story to tell about the problem of Performance-based Acceptance.
I reckon that's true - and so I ask: What about you? What's your story? In what ways has Performance-Based Acceptance been a problem in your life? In what ways have you gained freedom?

In order to join together in sharing our stories (hopefully encouraging one another), I propose a Synchroblog on Tuesday, May 12 (just a couple of weeks away), based on the theme "Performance-Based Acceptance," in which we use our blogs/websites/forums/social sites/etc to post our personal stories of the problems and solutions of Performance-Based Acceptance. Consider yourself invited to participate in this!

So what's your story? Perhaps your story has to do with finding acceptance from God based on His unconditional love for you and your true identity in Him, apart from your works/performance. Perhaps it has to do with a need for approval and acceptance from others, and learning to break free from that bondage. Perhaps it has to do with your own struggle to accept others. Perhaps it's a combination of some or all of this, or something entirely different.

How long was this a problem for you (or is it still a problem for you)? How has this affected your life and the lives of those around you? How have you overcome, or how are you currently gaining victory and freedom in this? You get the picture.

I won't be "tagging" anyone to participate in this. Instead, as I said before, simply consider yourself invited to participate in this! I'll post reminders of this proposed Synchroblog event between now and May 12th, and I'll post my own story that morning. I'll then ask you to link to your story in the comments section of my post that day, and then I'll gather all the links together and write a new post, linking to all of the posts.

If you're interested in this, I also think it would be great if you would spread the word! Feel free to link to this post on your own blog and internet site(s). Let's encourage one another and help one another to break free from Performance-Based Acceptance!

GIG 188 - Trusting the Power of God or the Ability of the Flesh

This is a continuation of last week's chat about God's Work in Us. We talk about the difference between trusting the life of Christ in us/God's power at work in us, and trusting in our own efforts. Are the things we do the result of the life of Christ expressing itself in and through us or are they the result of the abilities of the flesh?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The destination is the journey.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Church Pharisees

In the comments of Monday's "Am I here to judge or condemn your behavior?" post, Richard joked, "Christ did not come into the world to condemn it. He sent the church out to condemn the world for Him!"

That's funny. :) And isn't it also sad at the same time, since it points to the reality that so many people in the church today seem to think that it's their job to go around pointing out sin, and condemning people for their behavior and lifestyles? "Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus came to save the world, so who's now going to carry the condemnation torch??? Might as well be us!!!"


Seems like they'll wear their WWJD bracelets (figuratively speaking)... but forget about Jesus' grace-full encounters with the woman caught in adultery, the tax-collectors and sinners, the woman at the well, and so many other encounters with people in which their behavior was not His focus but rather the love, grace and mercy of God, and His kindness toward them and acceptance of them!

Forgetting that condemnation was done away with and that "the handwriting of requirements that was against us, that was contrary to us" (the law) was "taken out of the way" and "nailed to the cross" (Col 2:14-15), they bring the law back in to point out and protest how others are living such terrible lives - and they even make up their own rules, laws, traditions, principles, etc, heaping heavy burdens and condemnation upon people.

I don't like to be so negative, and really I am far more about simply sharing the love and grace of God with people than getting down and negative about what legalism does, but sometimes it helps to point out the contrasts and differences to show the absurdity of what the church is up to these days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't Look Back

The change from bondage to freedom?
Fear to love?
Religion to relationship?
Legalism to grace?
Churchianity to true life in Christ?
___________ to __________?

Boston - Don't Look Back
(Longer version with higher quality audio below)

Don't look back
A new day is breaking
It's been too long since I felt this way
I don't mind where I get taken
The road is calling
Today is the day

I can see
It took so long just to realize
I'm much too strong
Not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I'll turn it around
Oh yes I will

I finally see the dawn arriving
I see beyond the road I'm driving

It's a bright horizon and I'm awaking
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shining
The clouds are breaking
Cause I can't lose now.
There's no game to play

I can tell
There's no more time left to criticize
I've seen what I could not recognize
Everything in my life was leading me on
But I can be strong

I finally see the dawn arriving
I see beyond the road I'm driving
Far away and left behind

All of this reminds me of Aida's blog, Forgetting the Former Things.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Am I here to judge or condemn your behavior?

Am I here to judge or condemn your behavior? If so, you could judge me 1,000 times over! No, I'm here to let you know that God accepts and loves you as you are, unconditionally. (Or is John 3:seventeen wrong?)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

GIG 187 - God's Work In Us

Most would agree that the Christian life is not a passive lifestyle. But just how is the life of the Christian animated? Where does the "action" come from? We know we're saved by the grace of God, but then is it up to us - and our own striving - to hop into action for God and His kingdom?

The Apostle Paul said he "labored abundantly." What was it that was working so mightily in him that caused him to spring into action? Was it a sense of duty to "work for God?" Was he compelled by a sense of obligation to serve God and to labor and strive for the kingdom? Or did he simply yield to God and trust His work to work mightily in Him?

The religious system is good at burdening people with heavy labor and wearing people out! Jesus told those who labored and were weary to come to Him for rest! And He said the work of God is to believe. Since we do trust God's grace to save us, can't we also trust His grace to animate us and to accomplish all that He wants to accomplish in and through us - as we simply believe, and rest in Him and trust Him!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"God is kind to the unthankful and evil."

"...If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)
I'm not sure if some people notice, but the above passage doesn't say, "Be kind to others only if they're Christians or display good morals. Protest the evil behavior of society. Shut out everyone who doesn't agree with you."

But oh my, don't we have too much of that in the church today, and too little of the words that Jesus spoke here?

What I like is the "why" here. Why love our enemies? Why lend expecting nothing in return? Why be merciful to others? Is it because God expects or demands us to be that way? Is it a command to follow? Will it make us better Christians?

I think it's none of that! Rather it's because God is kind. Period. He is kind to the unthankful and evil. He is kind to the people we consider our enemies. He gives, expecting nothing in return. He loves, not with the motive of getting something back, but because He is love. God is love, and love is kind.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself --- not protesting their sins!!! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Can we at least understand, then, that when we're out there protesting the bad morals of others, that's not Christ in us?

Can we talk about the issues and discuss the doctrines with believers and non-believers alike? Sure! But when there's a choice between getting bent out of shape over the ideas and lifestyles of others, and loving them and being kind and merciful to them, I think the latter is much more of a display of the life of Christ in us!

Whatcha think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ohio gathering in June!!!

Who: Just some people who want to share Christ's life with one another!
What: Gathering in Ohio!
When: Friday - Sunday, June 26 - 28, 2009
Where: Sandusky/Bayshore KOA Campground and/or the adjacent Knights Inn, Sandusky, Ohio
Why: Why not!!
How: Make your reservations, and show up in June!

Wow, wow, wow... it's only a couple months and a couple weeks away from our gathering in Ohio! If you want to come along and share some simple friendship and fellowship with other people who are walking in grace, YOU are invited!!! Ok, "simple" maybe should be replaced with "radical!" ;) Ha ha!

Really though, we have no agenda, except to meet one another and spend time together. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, and have read some of the other blogs as well, you've perhaps noticed that a "community" of sorts has developed in the past year or two. We simply love sharing in Christ's life with one another, and we're moving things away from the blogs for a couple of days for some person-to-person "real life" fellowship! I certainly understand that there are those who are a little shy, or leery of meeting people they've only known online! In that regard, I think that with our venue being in such a public place, it's probably the safest and least 'intrusive' way to meet. Everyone will be free to 'come and go,' spending time together or to 'retreating' back to their own places.

There is quite a choice of accommodations. The campground has tent and RV camping, and cabins and mobile homes of various sizes (see the website for various rates and options). There is also a motel adjacent to the campground, the Knights Inn. The link for the Knights Inn is also on the website.

My family will be staying in one of the three bedroom mobile homes at the campground, along with my parents! Ryan and Jamie and their family, along with Matthew, will be staying in the same type of mobile home. While making reservations, we requested that we be next door to each other, so that no matter where others stay in the campground or motel, we'll have one common "gathering place."

There are also such things as basketball, volleyball, a playground, swimming pool, game room, etc, on the campground site. Again, see the above link, where you'll also find links to area attractions, such as the Cedar Point amusement park and many other things. I'm guessing that since our time together will be relatively short, we won't necessarily be doing a whole lot of extra activities - but that is up to individuals and families. Again, people are free to do what they please! With all the local attractions, feel free to make this into a longer family vacation if you'd like! We've simply set aside these particular days for our get-together.

FYI, Sandusky is in northern Ohio, and is located on Lake Erie about 65 miles east of Toledo and 65 miles west of Cleveland. Any questions... email me and I'll try to help! My contact info is on the side column of the blog.

Now, or at least very soon, is the time to make your reservations! "The sooner the better." :) I don't know how far in advance the campground and motel begin to fill up.

Hope to see you there!!!

By the way, if you are planning on going, would you let me know? I'd like to post an update to let others know who is planning on going. You can either reply here or send me an email. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Giving of our resources

A recent post of Aida's, "Giving - Darin Hufford Quotes," along with some of the comments that followed the post, turned my mind to something that I've often thought about but I don't know if I've spent a whole lot of time talking with others about it. When the subject of "giving" is taught in the church today, how much of the teaching is related to giving to a church and/or giving to a ministry? Quite a bit, in my experience! You go into a church and they're talking about giving to their church. You flip on the TV or radio and hear someone from a certain ministry talking about giving, and they're wanting you to believe that God is calling you to give to their ministry.

I'll say from the start that I'm not coming against the idea of people focusing the giving of their resources on supporting the work of a local body of believers (church, building, missions, etc, etc) nor to any other types of ministries - as long as that's truly what's in their hearts to do! My wife and I personally give money to "a church" and to various "ministries," simply because we enjoy being a part of the larger work that's going on and we want to support those works with our resources, when we're able to.

But as long as I've been in the Evangelical church (and I know it extends far beyond my experience), "giving" messages generally aren't preached unless the focus is on getting people to give money to that particular church or ministry... and not so much on giving amongst ourselves to help the needy among us, or to give to help outside of the church where there are many needs as well. Or, if those other things are talked about, the main emphasis still remains giving money for that church or ministry. It's kind of like, "we have to keep this ministry going, so give to us and then if you have money left over, give to others as well." That's not the way it's worded, of course, but isn't that really what's being said?

Aida's comment (I hope you don't mind me sharing this, Aida!) on her blog had something to do with how very often "giving to a church" is equated with giving to God Himself! You're either robbing God, or you're simply not giving Him your best, if a certain portion of your income is not given to a church or ministry. Again, let me be clear that if that's what a person wants to do, then go for it! Even though organized "churches" and "ministries" are not perfect, a lot of great work can come out of the sharing of resources in various ways in these settings, and people may truly enjoy supporting those things.

But when did the emphasis change from giving to people to giving to "a church" or "a ministry." What if I'm really ignoring the prompting of God's love in my heart by giving to my church when there's a homeless man who is in far more need? "Well, just give to your church, and the church will have outreaches that will help the homeless." Nice answer, but what if I truly want to relate personally to the homeless man with my own time and money, but yet the church has taught me to give to IT and to serve IT, and I now have no money or time left to give.

I've been "out of church" for a couple years now. ( I'm not "attending" a church). Some people have wondered out loud to me how I could possibly be 'serving' or 'giving' in the body of Christ, if I'm not focusing my time and money and other resources on a "local church" (the building, the programs, the outreaches, etc). The wonderful thing is that I don't have to answer to anyone... only my heart and my conscience... and all I can say is I'm quite happy to be giving of myself in the ways that I do.

An organized local church is not a "storehouse." Can a local body of believers organize an efficient way to gather together the resources of many and hand it out for the welfare of others? Sure!!! How wonderful it is when that happens! But don't let "a church" or "a ministry" manipulatively rob you of serving others and giving cheerfully from your heart as the love of God compels or directs you! Grow in the grace of giving from your heart... not in the legalistic bondage of giving!

We're Not Gonna Take It! (Two years later)

It was two years ago today that I first posted this video. I posted it because it was a favorite of mine from the days of my youth (!) and also because I saw it as a comical and exaggerated (or not so exaggerated (!) look at the legalism that goes on in the church today. A while later I posted a pretty cool animated video that someone had made with the Super Mario Brothers performing the song (with Luigi on drums and Mario on lead guitar), but unfortunately the video is no longer available so I won't link to it. :( Too bad - I think someone put a lot of work into it!

Well anyway, out of all this, the song We're Not Gonna Take It has become somewhat of an anthem for those of us who have left behind the chains of legalism and have embraced the freedom that we have in Christ. This is really thanks to my big sister-from-another-mother, Aida! I had actually sought to corrupt her with this song, and you can see some of the effects of that on her blog posts here, here and here. :-D But really, it turns out that it had a liberating effect on my big sis - and I have to say that's even better than my original evil plan! ;)

I also thought it was neat that Steve McVey posted the video (here), and his words on his blog were part of an overall "wake up call" that was going on in my life at the time, giving me a deeper sensitivity toward those who were affected in one way or another by the heavy-handed legalism and condemnation that is being dealt out in the church today. I shared my thoughts on that here.

I'm thinking I may just go ahead and post this video annually. If for no other reason, it's just because I can't get enough of the video! But really, the minute-and-a-half disparaging diatribe at the beginning of the video is (in my mind) a great picture of the disgraceful, condemning preaching that snuffs the life out of the body of Christ, and also because the song itself is a great liberating anthem that can be applied into our free lives in Christ. On top of that, I know that new readers are always coming along and since I think this video speaks volumes, I simply want to continue to share it. Please indulge me, if you will!

Were Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Religion vs. Relationship - Part 2

This week it's Part 2 of our chat about how life in Christ is not about religion, but about relationship. We share a short list of some of the BIG differences between religion and real life in Christ! We talk about our futile attempts to keep God pleased with us through "self-imposed religion" and by subjecting ourselves to rules and regulations, as well as focusing on external, outward behavior - all of which is "of no value against the indulgence of the flesh!" Comparing all of this with the freedom and grace that we have in our lives in Christ, which do you want?!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Let it go... Depend on Him!

As I ever so slooowwly put material together that will eventually turn into a book, I sometimes find it helpful to look back on my old blog posts. Sometimes I'm reminded of some things that I would truly love to include in a book and sometimes I'm reminded of how I once saw things and how my thinking has changed, even if only slightly most of the time.

When this blog was still brand new in June 2006, I wrote Let it go... Depend on Him!

At the time, it went like this:


I've been "growing in grace" for a long time now. I mean, trusting in God's power in me - Christ's life - to be my victory and to be my sufficiency. But still I don't do everything perfectly. "I'm not what I want to be but I'm not what I used to be."

Growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus doesn't mean everything changes instantly! Growing "slowly" hurts as it is, but forcing it to happen quickly is deadly! There are certain things I wish God would change in me right now, and I've prayed for certain changes in my life. Sometimes I can see how I've changed and sometimes I can only see just how far I have to go! But the thing about resting in God's grace and sufficiency is that YOU don't control the changes in your life. The One who knows best is the one who's life is working in you according to His perfect plan. Jesus said if you rest in Him, you will bear fruit... right?

Take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds. Let it go..

Literally, let it go.

The only power in you to change is the perfect power of the Almighty. He may not be doing things the way you think you should be doing things. That's OK! He's got your -- WHOLE LIFE -- in His hands. You might not have come as far as you wish but you haven't slipped so far as to be out of His plan!

He has taken into account your weakness.

In fact... He has said that His strength is made perfect in your weakness. He is not depending upon YOU. Rather, you are fully dependent upon Him. And He will accomplish what He wants to accomplish in your life. Don't doubt it!

Man looks on the outside. God looks on the heart. You are a person after God's own heart - not because you have done everything perfectly, but because you trust Him.


I like a lot of what I said back then, but some things that I would add or change today would be to say that the reason we are weak is due to the fact that we no longer live! But Christ lives in us! When we are weak, then we are strong... but also when we are dead, then we are alive! "I have died, and I no longer live," says the Apostle Paul, "but Christ lives in me." Christ is my life. I'm not worried about "becoming" something better. I'm not concerned with "how far I've come" and "how far I have to go." I'm concerned with "today." I'm concerned with "right now." And Christ is my life right now, and I'm fully alive with Him right now! That's what matters!

Sure, I do look ahead. I "press on," as Paul would say. But press on toward what? Toward becoming a better person or a "better Christian?" Toward my own personal growth goals? Toward bigger and better "supernatural experiences?" No, I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has already laid hold of me! It's a pressing on toward experiencing more and more fully who Christ is in me, and who I am in Him. A maturing... not of my actions, but of the realization of the fullness of Christ. I keep my eyes on Him.

Will my actions change? Sure! Will my attitudes change? The outward expression of the inward reality will truly change as I grow and mature, and as the life of Christ is more fully developed in me. And it all happens as I rest in Him, realizing more and more that He Himself is my life and sufficiency.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes here and on Facebook! I wanted to take time to respond to each and every comment, but this evening my internet suddenly went out for a few hours... and now that it's back up this "old man" has to get to bed!

It's been a great day, up to and including the Suzy Q's for desert tonight! Tracey had asked me what kind of cake I wanted, and that's what I asked for. :)

By the way, my home-made built-in faux-real email/blogger filter accidentally blocked all comments with the word "dance" and/or "Macarena" in it, so I apologize if I've missed something... er... important!

Mark Lowry - Turning 40

Thanks, everyone, for helping me become 40!!!

Jennifer is 40

If you're gonna call me old, just remember, she's 2 months older!!

How to Survive Turning 40

Oh goody, a "how to" guide for turning 40!

How to Survive Turning Forty

(By the way, if 40 is the new 30, and 30 is the new 20, then I guess I'll consider myself 20!!!)

Symphony 40 - with bottles

40 in French

Boring! But helps me work on my fake French accent.

40 years (and multiples of 40 years)

40 years times 15; 40 days and 40 nights
Gen 7:11-12
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Married at 40 years
Gen 25:20
Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.

Gen 26:34-35
When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

40 years of manna
Ex 16:35
And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

40 years in the wilderness
Num 32:13
So the Lord's anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.
40 years reigning over Israel
1 Kings 2:11-12
The period that David reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years. Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

2 Chron 9:30
Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.

Moses' 40 year events
And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

"Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?' Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.

"And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, 'I am the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses trembled and dared not look. 'Then the Lord said to him, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt."'

"This Moses whom they rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. (Acts 7:22-36)


Funny WD-40 commercial


UB40 - Can't Help Falling In Love

UB40 - Red Red Wine

U2 - 40

U2 - 40

Psalm 40

Psalm 40

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done,
And Thy thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with Thee;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

6 Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired;
My ears Thou hast opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required.
7 Then I said, "Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me;
8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God;
Thy Law is within my heart."

9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Lord, Thou knowest.
10 I have not hidden Thy righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation;
I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation.

11 Thou, O Lord, wilt not withhold Thy compassion from me;
Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth will continually preserve me.
12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head;
And my heart has failed me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, "Aha, aha!"
16 Let all who seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee;
Let those who love Thy salvation say continually,
"The Lord be magnified!"
17 Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me;
Thou art my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.


Man Smashes 40 Melons with Head

The number 40

Did you know... 40 (forty) is the natural number following 39 and preceding 41?

All the facts here!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Religion vs. Relationship - Part 1

This week we talk about how life in Christ is not about religion, but about relationship. Religion is man's attempt to get to God. It's based upon self-effort and performance. It puts the focus on us. Relationship is based upon faith and trust, and relying upon the finished work of Jesus.

A little leaven can go a long way. A little legalism, or a little religion, worked into our lives in Christ can blur our perspective of the perfect relationship we have with God that is based solely upon His love and grace.

Gmail turns 5

Gmail turned five years old the other day. Does anyone have any idea why it's still in beta??? It's a great product, but I simply wonder why it's taking so long to become an 'officially released' product.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

April... um... showers

A Lion Called Christian - on TV tonight

I just saw an ad for this on Animal Planet. You've probably seen one of the "Christian the Lion" viral videos that's gone around the internet. A one hour special, featuring the story of the two men and their pet lion that they released into the wild and then were reunited with a year later, will air tonight at 8pm Eastern, and then again at 11. Actually it looks like it will air several times this week. Check Animal Planet's TV schedule here.

This is for all those I love. I don't have to say it, because if I love you I've shown it to you, and if I haven't shown it to you then saying it won't make it so!

Final Recover Your Good Heart online study tonight!

The final Recover Your Good Heart study will be tonight!

The chat starts at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and goes for about an hour or a little longer. We're using Yahoo Messenger. 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 'buzz' me or 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.

After we're done with this study, many of us are thinking that we'll continue to meet online like this and study something else... perhaps a book or a study guide or a book of the Bible. I'll post updates as we decide what we'll be doing.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Atlanta reflections - Video

Yesterday I said I'd post Part 2 of my Atlanta reflections, and the reason this is in more than one part is simply because I got a little wordy in that post (nothing new) and I didn't have time to write more yesterday... and it's not because I think everyone's just dying to hear all my thoughts. =D

Anyway, instead of typing it all out, I thought I'd do a video! And no, Free Spirit and Leonard, this is not me doing the Macarena!

That 'Love Thy Neighbor Thing...' (repost)

In July 2007 I wrote a series of five posts called "That 'Love Thy Neighbor Thing...'," which was sort of my response to the billboard that essentially says that God meant it when He said it. I spent four posts building up to my main point, and I just thought I'd repost the final post in that series. If interested, the first four parts are here:
Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3 -- Part 4


Part 5
I hope by now I've made the point that to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is no small task. In fact, it's an impossible task! In this fifth and final post, I hope to address two things: "Why" would Jesus teach impossible laws and "how" are the commandments ultimately fulfilled in us?

Years after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, many things would be revealed to Paul that weren't necessarily understood during Jesus' life of ministry and teaching. Something that I think we often fail to grasp from Paul's writings is his teachings on the true purpose of the law.

Rom 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. NKJV

Gal 3:24-25 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor . NKJV

I've made a habit of often pointing out that the law's purpose is to stop every mouth and to make the world guilty before God. By the law is the knowledge of sin, but not the power to overcome sin, so no one can be justified by the deeds of the law!

Remember the lawyer, who "wanted to justify himself" by asking, "who is my neighbor?" And remember the rich young ruler, trying to justify himself by his law keeping with his words, "all these I've kept since my youth." When he found out the true depths of the meaning of the law, he went away sad. The law's purpose was indeed to produce sorrow, and much more. I like how Matthew (Daelon) commented on the previous post: "Jesus is laying such heavy loads of the law on these people so they will scream "I give up!", not so that they will try harder." That's well put.

But yet Jesus said He came not to condemn, but to save! (John 3:17) Why then would He teach the law, which only produces guilt and condemnation? We return to Paul's revelation of the purpose of the law from his letter to the Galatians. The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. In order to come to Christ, the tutor of the law must first do its work! Jesus wanted people to come to Him in order to be justified by faith - didn't He? The law then had to first do its perfect work!

But somehow we have looked at the law and not seen it for the true condemning factor that it is. We've looked at it as a "moral guide." We've tried to keep it, and we've changed it and amended it and made our own interpretations out of it so we could try to justify ourselves with our own keeping of it. Jesus, I believe, came and laid down the true depths and meaning of the law, so that it would do its perfect work and fulfill its perfect purpose: to condemn and bring guilt, so that people would then turn to Him and be justified by faith. Once the law has finally done that in the life of an individual, he comes to this place: "After faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."

There are many, many examples of Jesus using the law, which the church today has turned into "teachings" or "principles" for Christian living. One example would be His words, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt 5:27-28)

We've "Christianized" Jesus' words that He spoke to those under the law, and since we see that adultery comes from the heart, and not just the physical deed, we've invented our own Christian principle by saying that we need to be very careful to obey Jesus' words to not lust. After all, what holy person would argue that lusting after someone else's wife is a good thing? But yet we miss the whole point! There are many, many people, even such as the rich young ruler, who have never committed the physical act of adultery. According to a simple knowledge of the law, they've "kept" that law. But Jesus says, "not so." This teaching of His, I would say, is a mouth-stopping, guilt-producing teaching to every person in the world who would justify themselves by their keeping of the law.

Jesus' words to the rich younger ruler, "sell all you have and distribute to the poor," were mouth-stopping, guilt-producing words to this man who considered himself justified by his law keeping. Jesus' words to the lawyer were mouth-stopping, guilt-producing words.

No one can be justified by keeping the law. That is the whole point of the law!

That 'Love Thy Neighbor' Thing... I meant that.

Yup. He meant it alright! He meant it more than most people will ever realize!

So, how do we then walk in love? How do we fulfill 1 Corinthians 13? How do we agape God and agape others as we agape ourselves?

The answer isn't really a "how." It's a "Who." As Christians who have died to the law in order to be married to Christ, by faith, that we may bear fruit to God (see Rom 7:4), we seem to quickly fall back on law and principles as the means by which we live our lives and fulfill the call to love God and one another. But a person can know - and know well - all Christian principles in the world - and still have no power and still have no life and still have no love!

The "how" is really a Person - Jesus Christ. He is in us, and we are in Him. His life is our life. We are one spirit with Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. When it came down to the truth of living a godly life and bearing godly fruit, Jesus didn't say, "follow all these laws and principles and you'll bear fruit." He said, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Under the law and principles, we could bear no fruit. In fact, Paul says, "the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death!" (See Rom 7:5). But now that we've died to what once bound us (the law), we serve in the newness of the Spirit! The good fruit that comes forth is the Spirit's own fruit that He produces in and through us as we simply abide in Christ, not struggling to fulfill commands and principles. Maybe I'll put it this way: The commands of God and the principles for Christian living are fulfilled in us, not as we set out to try to do them, but as we rest in Christ and let His life in us take over and produce all of it. All of it!

I'd most certainly like to discuss all this with anyone who has any thoughts, questions, opinions, etc.

The command to love vs. the law of love

This past weekend at the Radical Sonship Conference in Atlanta, Steve McVey asked a question that went something like, "Do you know what the most legalistic teaching in the church is?" I mean, if you were to survey all the legalistic stuff you've ever been taught, which do you think would be the most legalistic? Well, Steve went on to talk about the man who came up to Jesus and asked Him what the greatest commandment in the law is. Jesus, of course, replied that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

And so there you have it. The greatest LAW is to love God more. Therefore the greatest LEGAListic teaching in the church is teaching people to love God more. We can teach people that they're supposed to love God more, but there is simply no power to be found in a law, rule or principle to actually do it!

About a year and a half ago I drove past one of those "-God" billboards.

That 'Love Thy Neighbor' Thing... I meant that.

Well of course He meant it. After all, it's the second greatest commandment! But to teach it as a Christian principle or rule, just as with the greatest commandment, is to miss the point entirely!!!

The command to love is bondage, as is any and all of God's law. But the "royal law of love" is something that is fulfilled, not as we look to commandments, but as we abide in the Vine and as we submit ourselves not to our own attempts at loving others, but to God's very life that we've been made alive to!

I ended up writing a series of five posts in July 2007, based upon what I saw on that billboard, and building up to the impossibility and futility of trying to keep the commands to love. I essentially took four posts to show how our attempts at keeping the commands don't work, and then in the final post I made my point that it's all about a "Who," not a "how," when it comes to loving God and loving people. My next post will be a repost of the final post in that series.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Atlanta reflections

Well I was gone from home for approximately 72 hours and now it's been approximately 72 hours since I arrived back home.

After two days of looking online at the flight status of my plane out of Cedar Rapids, and seeing that Tuesday's and Wednesday's flights had been canceled, and then Thursdays was delayed due to "needed crew rest," I was wondering what kind of troubles I'd have with my Friday morning flight! But thankfully everything went very well. In fact, that first flight, from C.R. to Detroit, was probably the best ever flight for me. I was tired, and pretty much wanted to be left alone, and that's what I got! I had a seat by a window, and as we took off from dark and gloomy, rainy C.R., I rested my head back and rested. And then I got to see the most amazing thing. We were flying over miles and miles of a beautiful blanket of white, puffy cotton balls, and off in the distance I saw a little orange ball begin to appear over the cloud-horizon. Due to the fact that we were going 500mph, give or take, and heading east, the sun rose more quickly than it would've, and it was simply a glorious sight for my tired eyes!

Landing in Detroit, I was rather bummed because in the past day or two I had gotten a wild hair about having Bino come to the airport during my layover, so we could finally meet and just spend perhaps 5 minutes together, but we had both come to the conclusion that that probably wouldn't work in such a busy airport. I knew I was so close to him, and yet so far! (But Ohio is coming soon)! And right after I got on the plane I was extra bummed, because they announced that the flight would be delayed an hour, due to heavy rains in Atlanta. But then within a few minutes we moved out to the runway and we ended up being only 15 minutes behind schedule.

I was greeted in Atlanta by John Fincher, who, along with his wife Donna were VERY cordial and hospitable to me throughout the entire weekend! I'm so thankful for friends like this! And to think we've only known each other through our blogs, for about half a year! John drove me to his home, south of the big city and we had some really great conversations about God's grace and all that jazz. Later in the afternoon we came up to the city again, and grabbed a bite to eat at a mall near the hotel where the Radical Sonship Conference was being held. Then it was over to the hotel, where I caught my first glimpses of Ryan, Jamie and Matthew! Some tears were already beginning to be shed as I approached Jamie and we had a big ol' hug! You have to understand, although I've known Jamie for a fairly short time (since last summer or fall), she has become like a very close sister to me. This may sound strange, but I was adopted by very wonderful parents and to me Jamie looks somewhat like a cross between my birth mother (who I've met), and what I imagine my biological father looks like. In other words, it's as if she's my birth sister that I never had. =D But so much more than all that, the conversations and the grace we have shared, along with all the other brothers and sisters in our little grace community, have been such a great thing in my life!

And then I got to see Matthew face to face and hug him for the first time as well! There is such special affection in my heart for Matthew. "Brother" fits the bill perfectly, and I guess I've also sort of felt like an "uncle" or something as well, perhaps due to the fact that I'm almost twice his age. :) We've known one another since the summer of 2007, when Matthew was very new in his grace walk, and it has been such a thrill to be a part of his life as he's grown, and as I've grown right alongside him. It was sweet meeting John, and then Matthew and Jamie, as well as Ryan, who up till that time I'd not had a whole lot of interaction with, but yet I felt I really knew him through Jamie. To be standing there with these four people was very surreal at first! My mind couldn't comprehend it all. But it didn't take long before it began to feel so very natural and real, and I felt like we'd all known each other forever! We all seem to fit together.

Then right before the first session of the conference began on Friday evening, I looked over and saw Gary Kirkham, along with his wife Sherry! I went over to them and was able to share in another long awaited hug with Gary. Again, having only known Gary through blogging, it was incomprehensible to my mind to be standing right there chatting face to face with him!

We were also able to chat briefly with Paul Anderson-Walsh, who came over to us as I think he recognized me through previous online interaction that we've had. Paul has such a welcoming, loving presence. He doesn't just preach it, it truly comes across as he interacts with others. Later, I think after the first session that evening, it was also a pleasure to chat briefly with Steve McVey. I bugged him about coming back here to Waterloo/Cedar Falls, and he said he'd give Pastor Dan a call. The Vineyard church here in town, which my family has been a part of since early 2000, has had visits from Steve ever since the mid 90's, I think. Anyway, we chatted briefly about that, and about our blogs... and Twisted Sister even came up in the conversation! ;)

And there was morning, and there was afternoon, and there was evening, and then there was Part 2, yet to come... :)

Gotta get busy!

Hey all... I've been seeing some things lately about grace that I've been keeping inside me, but I just need to share. Grace is a wonderful thing, but there just has to be more to it, and here's what I've been thinking. If we can just look at Hebrews 7 and see that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, and Melchizedek is a type of Christ, and grace is so much better than Melchizedek, then shouldn't we give our ALL to Jesus?

We have grace, but don't we need to put forth our efforts to make this grace thing actually work? It's nice to talk about grace, but the kingdom needs its worker bees to take care of producing the honey! I mean, if we don't follow the rules set forth in the Bible how are we ever going to be blessed and grow into the people who God will one day finally be satisfied with, and will be able to look upon with happy eyes and not stern or angry eyes.

We must put on that heavy yoke every day, bearing the weight and becoming stronger and stronger in the process, and then we'll finally be able to start doing great things for the Lord. But if we relax for just a minute our spiritual muscles will begin to shrivel up and dry out, and grace will be ineffective. I hope you'll join me in this radical way of thinking and living. We'll start something new in the grace community! We'll be bigger and better than all the rest! I'm excited. I'm pumped! But I have to get going now. Not much time for talk. Gotta get busy!!!

Oh, and I have a very special impartation for all who will receive it. A very special word for you. It's for you only if you feel you've been putting forth enough effort in this walk. To see it, scroll down.






















April Fools!!!!!