How Not to Climb the Corporate Ladder

You know the bible is real when you read verses 35-37 in Mark 10.

Jesus has just finished telling his disciples the horrible death that awaits him in Jerusalem, but instead of sympathy or concern, James and John ask for a promotion. They want the power seats in heaven. When the others find out what they’re up to, they become indignant because they didn’t think of it first most likely. Bible4

The focus is ripped away from Jesus’ death and lands on human ambition. It affords Jesus an opportunity to teach his disciples what it takes to live in his kingdom.

To be a bully, to seek your own status, and to be only interested in your own agenda is the world’s way.

As a disciple you seek to be nothing, a servant ready to help others. Just like Jesus. Why was he on his way to Jerusalem? So he could die in our place on the cross for our sins. The sins of James and John. The sins of all his people.

I’m amazed at Jesus’ patience with his own.

Thank God because I’m just like James and John.

I’m committed to me. My goals. My honor.

Every once in a while I catch myself serving others.

I wish it was the reverse.

That’s why I need a Savior.

And that’s why he’s given me his perfect record.

Because I need it!

Talk to me.

 

 

Safely Home

Was the Exodus a splashy demonstration of God’s power?

Absolutely.

Who else could have mobilized millions of people with their animals and belongings across a body of water like that?

Not even Disney World.

But why did God do that?

Because God had set his love on these people and they were being abused by Pharaoh.

“Time to get up and leave!” God said to them one night.

But was that all there was to it – to usher out a body of people into a new location?

Hardly.

God wanted to free Israel from slavery so they could serve him and sing his praises.

That’s what Israel was made to do, and that’s our purpose, too.

God is worthy of our praise and we need to give it to him.

We express our highest purpose when we celebrate his glory, and honor, and power.

The God who parted the Red Sea is not old and feeble. He’s still in the exodus business.

Every time a person comes to faith in Christ, he experiences his own exodus from sin and hell.

In the Exodus Israel was as guilty as Egypt. Israel deserved death as much as the Egyptians. They were all sinners.

But the waters parted for Israel while it drowned the Egyptians.

What was the difference?  Red Sea

God’s people obeyed by putting the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. A picture of Christ’s blood for the remission of sins.

It wasn’t because the Israelites were a better race of people. They weren’t. It was because they had the blood of the lamb on their houses which protected them from death.

And that’s exactly what Jesus has done for you. If you believe in him by faith alone, then you have experienced your own exodus in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

You are now free to serve God and sing his praises.

Are you doing that?

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

How Big Is Your Love?

Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?

If our sin is the biggest impediment to the Father’s love, then the cross is His supreme gift to us. Why is that? Because it’s the only way to his approval. Nothing else will do. Igor Mitoraj2

Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.

Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.

Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.

We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.

Christ won it all at the cross.

Thank the Father today!

Talk to me.

Turnstile Trickster

There’s a new cheating trend I’ve noticed lately at the subway station.

There’s a few seconds delay at the turnstile after you’ve swiped the transit card to exit. And it’s just enough time for a quick footed-hoodlum to follow behind you and exit for free before the gate closes.

I’ve seen it happen several times now, especially when there aren’t too many riders at the turnstile.

Today was my turn. I approached the turnstile with transit card in hand and noticed out of the corner of my eye a tall, lanky, jeans-down-the-hips, baseball capped young man waiting for me to swipe my card.

No way, I thought.

I took a few paces back and looked at him.

In a flash he moved over to the next unsuspecting rider and followed behind her and got out for free. The maneuver was done in a blink of an eye. Talk about quick footed. He’s missed his calling. He should be a dancer.

I noticed he took the same path I take out of the station and we ended up at the same curb waiting for the light to change.

“Good morning,” I said looking up at him. He looked down at me from the corner of his eye.

“You think you can get away with cheating, but God sees everything you do, and you will have to give an account to him one day. Do you know that?”

“I wasn’t cheating,” he said.

“Really? What do you call what you just did in the station down there?” I asked.

“I paid for a ticket, it’s just I didn’t have money to add a fare to it,” he said.

“So robbing from somebody else’s ticket is okay?”

He smirked.

“Do you know who God is?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“And what about the Lord Jesus Christ?”

“Sure.”  Wall2

“Well, you have some talking to do then,” I said.

The light had changed to green and it was time to cross.

While he shuffled away, I prayed for him.

In a way I was sorry for him, who knows what life he’s living.

On the other hand, I hope my words stung his conscience and he’ll think about them.

But probably not.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

Shout!

If you think the bible is about good people doing wonderful things for God, you ought to read it sometime!

The fact is, the bible is about a wonderful God doing good things for bad people.

The only good guys in the bible are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Everybody else is bad.

That includes you and me.

There is none righteous, no not one.” – Romans 3:10

The truth is not a single soul can stand before God and say, “I’ve done my best.”

We haven’t done our best, not even on our good days.

If God is going to save us and use us and make something of us, He’s going to have to do it in spite of ourselves. Not because we read the bible every day; not because we give thanks before every meal; not because we never miss church; and not because we try to be good parents, friends and neighbors.

We are promise breakers, we’re not people of integrity, and we don’t measure up to our own standards let alone God’s.

We need a God for failures.

And that’s exactly what we have.

Jesus Christ joined the human race so he could become our substitute.

He lived the life we should have lived, obeying every one of God’s commands from the heart.

That means he won God’s favor and secured a place in heaven for us.

His righteousness was charged to our accounts, so that we with all our sins and failures are declared righteous.

What happened to our sin?

God charged it to Jesus’s account, he absorbed the penalty, and died in our place on the cross.

It’s all paid for.

We stand forgiven and accepted because of the work of our Savior.

HappyNow if that’s doesn’t put a smile on your face, sit down right now and read your bible!

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

Shout Out!

Rev. William Willimon said in reference to the resurrection, “A dead body got loose.”

I love it.

Not only did a dead body get loose, but the only body to walk out of the grave.

Have you spent time thinking about the resurrection lately? I have. Maybe because it’s springtime and all the blossoms and tender green shoots are shouting at me. It’s God social media to a dying world.

I was on a hike last week surrounded by brilliant blue skies, a gurgling creek, and trees bursting with new life.

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I found myself looking around at the breathtaking scenery, taking in the magnificence of God’s handiwork. Who but God could have designed green and blue and yellow and put them together.

I stumbled across a baby rattle snake with skin that rivaled anything in today’s fashion styles.

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And yet most of my fellow hikers were plugged into their headsets with their eyes on the ground.

The outdoors is speaking God’s message for all to hear.

There’s life to be embraced in the one who got away from death.

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As C. S. Lewis put it, “Christianity is a world that is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going around the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”

Look up and think about that today.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

This Old House

Sanctification is like being brought up again but this time in Christ. God is your Father, Jesus is your elder brother who has blazed the trail for you, and the Holy Spirit draws you deeper into your new identity in Christ.

You are born again but living inside an old house. Don’t get focused on the rusty hinges, the peeling paint, and the overgrown lawn. Keep your attention focused on the architect and builder of the new house you’ll be living in. Old House

Meanwhile, refuse to participate in the conspiracy of silence. You continue to be a wretched sinner even as a Christian. You have great examples of confession from the apostles. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. So can you. There’s no shame in that.

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make you more humble and dependent on the Lord, more grateful for his sacrifice, and more adoring of him as a wonderful Savior.

Don’t be surprised at your trials then, Peter said. They’re meant to make your faith like gold. And faith attaches itself to Jesus who was meek and lowly and won salvation for you.

Joy here and now is your birthright and inheritance even when you sin miserably as a Christian.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

Time to Pray to God About God

The first thing we notice in the Lord’s Prayer is this:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.”

He’s our Father, not our own personal possession.

He’s a Father, perfect in all aspects of fatherhood, completely different from all earthly fathers. Discover who he is by reading your bible every day.

We are to hallow his name. What does that mean?

It’s a petition. God himself is our priority. He is not a means to any end. He is the end of all ends.

How often do we pray to God about himself?  Lamb of God

Ouch! I confess it’s rarely, if ever. I’m more eager to unroll my long list of petitions that center on me and my desires.

Hallowed means to make holy, to recognize his holiness, separation, not common.

God is unlike his created beings.

There is an unbridgeable gap between him and me and you.

God wants us to recognize and treat him as uncommon.

He’s not our buddy.

He wants us to think worthy thoughts of him that reflect what he has revealed himself to be. (Have you noticed how often the devil gets you thinking unworthy thoughts of him, especially in the midst of trials?)

God wants you to live in his presence every day.

How do we do that?

By fixing our eyes on the cross. It’s there where we see his infinite hatred of sin and his justice.

Christ was overwhelmed by the wrath of God on the cross. And at the same time the cross proves God’s infinite mercy.

We are debt-free with God on account of Christ. Hallelujah!

Now we are fully accepted in the favor of God. Praise him!

We pray because we have tasted that the Lord is good. Yes!

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

The Many Disguises of the Devil

Have you noticed how subtle the devil can be in your life?

He never attacks straight on. He’s too clever for that. It’s always sideways or from the back.

He offered Eve an apple in exchange for Paradise. (Maybe God gave us apples to eat as a reminder?) apples2

He comes camouflaged as a sheep, but if you look closely, you’ll see the razor-sharp teeth of a wolf waiting to pounce and devour.

He shines bright as an angel of light. He’s prepared to take you on sublime flights of mystical fantasy, but does that light speak of Jesus as your only source of satisfaction and peace?

The devil paints sin in spellbinding colors. He minimizes the horrors of following God-substitutes by suggesting ways to inflate your potential, live your dreams, and squeeze all the gusto out of life.

What he fails to disclose is that all his ways lead to the four D’s:

  • disappointment
  • discouragement
  • death

In contrast, God and his love for you in Christ is the answer to all your needs. His kingdom is Paradise on earth, and the new heavens and the new earth he promises to send will be Paradise throughout eternity.

He is all your heart’s desire whether you are single or married or divorced. He is the perfect Parent, Spouse, and Friend.

He is your identity because he has placed you in Christ. You don’t need another. Now you’re free to love your neighbor by serving him through your calling in life as firefighter, nurse, garbage collector, teacher, or artist.

Next time you find yourself under attack, say this:

“Devil, if you can’t do better than that, kiss my backside. I have no time for you now.” – Martin Luther

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest

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You have been given Christ, and in being given Christ, you have been given life.

  • You don’t need to search for meaning and purpose.
  • You don’t need to search for identity.
  • You don’t need to look for something to give you the inner sense of well-being that every person wants.
  • You don’t have to wonder if you’ll ever be loved.
  • You don’t have to worry that your life and work will result in nothing.
  • You don’t have to wonder if you’ll have what you need to face what will be on your plate today.
  • You don’t have to worry about your future.You will never be left to the limited range of your own resources.
  • You will never, ever be left alone.
  • There is always someone who understands you and offers you the help that you need.
  • You don’t have to worry about whether your wrongs will be forgiven and your weaknesses greeted with patience and grace.
  • You don’t have to worry because you have a Savior who has invaded your life with his grace and has made you the place where he dwells.
So you have been freed from the endless quest for life that consumes so many people. So many look for life where it cannot be found. They hope their marriages will give them the happiness they have not yet found. They look to their jobs to give them identity. They look to people and possessions to give them peace. They don’t know it, but they are asking the situations, locations and relationships of everyday life to be their saviors. Sadly, they’re drinking from wells that are dry and eating bread that will never satisfy. The situations, locations and relationships of daily life are wonderful to enjoy, but we must understand that they will never, ever satisfy our hearts. For that, we have been given a true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So instead of wasting your time on that endless quest for life, you have been invited to enter into God’s rest for the rest of your life. Rest in your identity as his child. Rest in his eternal love. Rest in his powerful grace. Rest in his constant presence and faithful provision. Rest in his patience and forgiveness. Rest.
– from New Morning Mercies, a Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp