Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Motives. Motives. Motives. The totality of our lives springs from our hearts. So, the way we live is formed upon our motives. What we desire. What we want to avoid.

Life experiences impact how we think about life. Life experiences impact our motives. Did we fail at something important? Some people never try again. Some people shake their fist at the world and plan to succeed at every cost. Both are agreements about personal worth and how it is attained.

Were we rejected in a relationship? Some people bury themselves in activities ot home or work. Some people charge from place to place seeking an elusive acceptance. Both are agreements about personal worth and how it is attained.

A child comes with a 92 on a test. And Mom wants to know why he did not get a 100. I do not think there is anything wrong with urging children to pursue excellence. But how many come to believe they can never be good enough? One child pursues excellence, because excellence is a worthwhile goal. Another pursues excellence to attain Mom's love and acceptance. And another drops out of school altogether.

How does God wish us to pursue life? Motives affect our relationship with God, and with people. It defines excellence, holiness and success.

People's hearts have been messed up. All people's hearts. There was a movement for inner healing. It was a big spiritual buzzword. Are hearts suddenly all healed? Hearts still need health. Hearts will always need healing in this world. Motives will never be pure. But God knows this. God continues to love and acce;pt. God continues to heal hearts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

God's Seed: Distractions

I lost my wallet yesterday. Too many things going on in my mind at one time. I stopped for gas, and evidently did not quite get the wallet back into my pocket correctly. What a mess! Fortunately, I have only one credit card which I canceled. I called my bank and reported the ATM card gone. Now I have to replace my driver's license and several other cards. Plus a new wallet.

When I called my financial institutions, they asked if I reported it to the police. I had not, and I am still wondering if it is a good idea. If it had been stolen, it would be a no-brainer. (I suppose technically, the 80% honest person who found it, took the $40 and tossed it, could be considered a thief. It wasn't planned, just a chance opportunity.) But it would be nice if someone would say if it was wise or not. [I have since run into a policeman, asked him, and officially reported it.]

With helping my daughter change her major at the local community college, and losing my wallet, it was a frazzling day. I was grumpy, grouchy, cranky and several other dwarf-names by noon. And I walked it all without God.

Jesus talks about how God's word is planted among thorns. Thorns choke off water and nutrients from getting to the plants. They are life thieves.

The worries of the world are like spiritual thorns. And losing a wallet is a worry of the world. It disrupts the focus of your heart. A person's brain flies in a million directions besides feeling like a total idiot. Look at all the opportunities, the real thief, Satan has to sneak in. There has to be a multitude of agreements -- foremost being that one really is a total idiot -- that Satan would love to hook into you heart.

Wealth is a thorn too. It's not having wealth that is a problem. Poverty has its own share of thorniness. It is how wealth focuses your heart. people look at wealth as if it isd the final solution to all problems. "Can't buy me love" as the song says. It cannot secure beauty, hope, meaning or worth. There are a whole of things the spirit needs to thrive that can't be bought. And people do try to buy them. Or a substitute. And the heart focus on God and the relationship with him get buried. So, the heart experiences a lack of its most vital nutrient.

There are other desires that can block a person's heart from focusing on God. We probably all know people who had to have a boy\girl friend. The pursuit of "couple-ness" left them frustrated and miserable, without a God-focus in their heart. I have a fairly long list of secular idols -- things people focus their heart on in place of God -- that constitute things people use to attempt to fill an empty spot in their hearts.

And without this heart focus, our lives are cut off from God's life flowing to us. There is no growth and no fruit. God is not glorified. We are not living as designed. They enemy succeeds somewhat.

It would seem no matter what life throws at us, what ever good (a new boy\girl firend) or bad (losing a wallet), we need to renew our heart focus on God. That focus connects us to the giver of life, and the relationship we were designed to have.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Of course, the whole east coast is getting ready for Irene to visit. We live quite a bit north of Cape Hatteras. The last time a hurricane was in this area was around WWII. The news media is going nuts. (I sometimes think they select which stories to follow based on how close to Doom's Day it brings us. The only good thing is that they will stop going on about the earthquake.)

Since, I work with computers I take a lot of this computer modeling with a little salt. (Remember Y2K.) I know we need to do some preparation -- it could as easily get worse as better. But we also shouldn't go crazy.

And I know it is going to hit some people. So, I have been praying for those along Irene's path. Safety, peace and grace.

God's Seed: Troubles

There are often people captivated by the idea of Jesus. They like the idea of forgiveness from a loving God. They like the idea of a loving community that changes the world for good. They are excited about learning about the spiritual world, experiencing rock-concert worship and witnessing a miracle or two.

But reality creeps in. Some people do not like Jesus. (Read: persecution.) The "not yet" aspect of the Kingdom rears its uglyu head. People's hearts are not toally healed. So, there are disagreements, strife, jealousy, personal ambitions, as well as natural disasters, crime and physical\mental breakdowns. Ugliness invades the beautiful world built as a protecting wall.

Christians today do not totally bail on Jesus. They look for greener pastures. They feel God has called them to a different a new church, and leave all the trouble behind.

What bailing on different situations really show is that the people do not have roots deep into Jesus. They still rely on circumstances and other people to satisfy the deep heart needs and to provide security. But God designed people to find fulfillment of these thngs in God. If you do not sink roots deep into him, we are destined to be disapointed again and again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God's Seed : Snatched by Satan

Scripture describes God's Word as living and active. It is a powerful force in people's hearts; and a powerful force for positive change. God's Word obviously includes his written Word. But it also includes his spoken Word.

There are some Christians who believe God ceased communicating when the Scriptures were completed. Or he only speaks through drawing and warming hearts about portions of Scripture. There are others who believe God continues to speak outside of Scripture. He speaks directly to hearts. He speaks directly through events in nature or through others. This "new" speaking does not contradict his written Word. It acts to apply, illustrate or amplify his written Word.

An example of this amplification speech is when he invites people who do not know him to begin a relationship with him. He is always inviting people to join him. This invitation is very important. Something must stir in a person's heart -- perhaps a person who has ignored God or had no regard for anything spiritual or religious -- to give serious thought about such a relationship. Something must wake the person up to the possibilities.

The last thing Satan wants is a person's heart stirred up to the possibility that God's promise off love and abundant living might just be true after all. Any communication God gives, Satan quickly works to stamp it out. He confuses. He overwhelms God's invitation so a person's heart on anything and everything but what God is trying to say. And if Satan is successful, the invitation is forgotten. 

Does Satan seek to snatch God's Word from the heart of someone already walking with God?

Monday, August 22, 2011

God's Seed : Increase the Kingdom

For most people, the work of the Kingdom is a mystery. Most farmers do not really understand germination. They do see that once seed is planted, it produces a crop if the soil is good. But they do take advantage of the harvest when it is ready.

God is at work in the unseen areas of life. He plants seed in the soil. It germanates and the roots spread. And in due time, the plant matures and the fruit becomes visible.

We are partners with God in this work. We work to prepare the soil and plant the seed. The process of germination and growing the roots is God's. We cannot see it. We can only wait to see the fruit.

Because we do not see any activity, we often grow impatient. What would you think about someone who planted tomatoes in May, and then roto-tilled the plants back into the ground in June, because there was no fruit? Probably the kindest thing you would think would be that person does not know a lot about growing tomatoes. 

The process of Kingdom harvest requires that the workers have the fruit of the Spirit. Love is foremost, because it is water and fertilizer for the new plants. And patience is necessary because we need to wait for the root system to grow sufficiently. And God's timetable is rarely the same as ours.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Plowing and Planting

There is a story Jesus tells about planting seed. The seed gets planted in all sorts of conditions; and, as a result, there is a variety of fruitfulness. Jesus later reveals to the disciples that the story is a description of the gospel, and how people respond to it. The word of God is scattered, connecting with the hearts of people. It bears fruit depending on the condition of the heart.

Then, Jesus starts talking about lamps. If a person lights a lamp, it does not do any good to put a bucket over it. A lamp needs to be out in the open, if it is going to do what it is meant to do.

Seed is a very good metaphor for the gospel. Seed gives life, provides nourishment and reproduces.

Light is alos a good metaphor for the gospel. It reveals the way, exposes what is really true, and is not worth anything if it is hidden away.

I would like to draw two conclusions from this. First, Christians are generally concerned with the direction the world is going. They consider the course of the things to be moving in a decidedly negative direction. Yet, the power to revolutionize the world lies hidden in their hearts. People are designed to fellowship with God. And the gospel holds the key to why they cannot, how they can correct this, and how to move into a greater, more intimate relationship with God. The light that leads mankind back to God is hidden under a bucket of their making.

Second, the gospel is a specific message that has ramifications in all areas of life. A large part of the world is blinded by the enemy of all. People need to apply the gospel to what separates man from God, in order to break down that barrier that separates them. But they cannot see the solution in the gospel.

Part of the process of re-uniting man and God is getting man to see past the enemy's deceptions and to discover the solution. there are many devices that can break through the deceptions. Prayer, love, service, kindness, changed biography, even reasonable speech are all means ti pierce the darkness. And there are more.

Both parts of the process need to be employed. One to break the hold of the enemy. The other to apply God's solution to the heart of someone seeking God's love. Often, groups of Christians apply one or the other.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jesus began a revolution of religious expression. He did not follow the religious disciplines like the Jews did and expected others to follow.

The Jews practiced a religion. Jesus practiced a relationship. Being part of an institution is different than being part of a family.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Spiritual War: Battle Ground -- the Heart

Most followers of Christ agree that we are in the midst of a war. But most of the time, it buzzes around our consciousness and we are not really aware that it's there.

Cannon are firing overhead. Enemy soldiers are trying to flank us. And we turn up the volume of the ball game so we can hear better. (And no ... this is not about ball games.)

We realize that Satan's goal is to steal glory from God, to disrupt his purposes, and to hinder people from learning about him. But we seem to be woefully lacking in understanding about his tactics. We think his aim is the corruption of some big name pastor. We think he wants to take out the celebrity superstar Christians.

As important as that superstar is to Jesus (Jesus died for him too), he is not the vehicle that God will use to accomplish his purposes through. God accomplishes his purposes through his family.

As powerful as some preacher proclaiming the word of God on TV is, a more powerful force is the love of Jesus beaming through the hearts of his sons and daughters.

When God's children walk out the door each morning, they take the Spirit of God with them. they take Jesus into work, to school, to the grocery store and onto the interstate highway system. The people of God have much more impact than pastors do. They rub shoulder with people that pastors will never get close to. They touch more people than pastors do.

Satan knows this. Satan's goal is to make sure that Jesus does not rule your heart. If he can cause a child of God to shift the focus of his heart away from Jesus, he has diminished the likelihood that someone will see the light of God through that person.

He has gotten really good a pushing people's buttons. He will push the lust button. Or he will push the button that replays the video about the most stupid thing you have ever done. Or you biggest disappointment. Or he will remind you of the lie that he had gotten you to agree with. And we have all agreed to some lie, somewhere in our life.

I wonder how many of us have decided that we are so far down the spiritual totem pole, that we are not worth the enemy bothering about.

Where is the Spirit of God? He is in our hearts. The power of God, the love of God and the truth of God all reside in our hearts. All that is necessary is that someone lights the fuze. Maybe we are expecting some big, huge thing to happen. It has to be a 100 megaton H-bomb or it is not God. Yet Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. The Kingdom of the Lord and Creator of all begins in small things, hidden where no one can see it. But it grows to rule over all.

Satan knows that in each one of God's children is the potential to spark world-wide revival. An act of kindness or service can begin the avalanche than can span the world in the blink of an eye. That's why the heart of each child of the King is important. That's why Satan attack each one of our hearts. That's why God commands us to guard our hearts. That's why spiritual war is ultimately reduced to who has control of a person's heart.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Tax Gatherers and Sinners

Jesus would spend time hangng with bad people. He would talk to them. He would listen to them. He would eat with them.

Many think that keeping pure means avoiding associating with certain types of people. (Read: bad people.) If someone spends time with these people, who they are can rub off on who you are.

Many think that association gives implicit approval. If someone is with them and does not loudly condemn their actions, choices or lifestyle, it is the same as saying "You are OK! What you do is OK!"

Many think that associating with these people will tarnish their reputation. If someone is with them, then they must be like them.

Was Jesus concerned about any of these things? It really doesn't seem like it. It seems more like Jesus decided that whatever is important deserves his personal attention.Those of us who want to walk with God know that he gives us his personal attention so we learn to walk stronger, better, with more obedience, more intimacy, more abundance, more like we are designed to walk. We also that many do not walk with him. We know his heart on this. He gives that his personal attention too. And he has decided that his presence in a situation makes all the difference in the world. His presence gives the situation a strong push in a positive direction.

So, maybe those things are true. And maybe within the heart of God, the possibility of temptation, of giving the wrong impression or of damaging a reputation comes second to bringing Jesus into a particular arena.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Balanced Living

To main the correct the correct positive momentum that Jesus wishes we need to keep tension in three areas.

We need to keep our lifestyles and our world views in agreement with the word of God. We need to keep the written word ever before us. We need to be alert to the word spoken by the Holy Spirit to our hearts.

We need to let the word of god direct and leas us as we simultaneously express ourselves in maintaining loving in maintaining loving relationships and completing God's mission.

If we only pursue one of these areas, we will grow in unhealthy, crippling ways. It will like only eating chicken. Chicken is a good and healthy food. But the human body will sicken and fall apart if it eats only chicken. Worship is good for the Body of Christ. But it will sicken if it only pursues worship.

There are numerous ways we can pursue these three things. People can get hung up (and have gotten hung up) on details that are equal in God's view. What God is more concerned about is that our hearts are focused on obedience in the three.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Who Is Jesus ? - IIIb

We enter into connection with Jesus by focusing our hearts on him. We use prayer, reading scripture, worship, fellowship to initiate and enhance that focus.

This connection is an exercise of the relationship we have. Just like going on a date, weeding the garden or playing softball are exercising the relationships we have with people. Jesus proclaims that our relationship with God is a love relationship. There are ways to enhance this love relationship and there are ways to damage it.

Human beings were designed in a specific way. There are ways to improve\damage physical health. There are ways to improve\damage emotional health. There are ways to improve\damage spiritual health.

God has prescribed the means to improve spiritual health in scripture. The advice can be summarized as "obey what God says."

When we obey God:

  • We work with God's design,
  • We strengthen the connection with Jesus,
  • Joy flows from our hearts.
God commands us to live out our design. the introduction of sin has confused us from naturally moving with our design. He needs to remind us what we should do. We need to remind each other what we should do.

The primary design requirements is love. Love completes the law. Scripture specifies this in many places. Love of Jesus and love of people strengthen the connection. Love bears fruit.

The connection ties into God's heart. We know him better. We conduct ourselves in ways that please him better. What we desire in hour hearts flows with his purposes and his design so he acts as we pray for things.

(Prayer is an not an expression of a "bless me" club. It is our first means of partnering with God in his purposes. God is concerned about our needs. He does want us to ask him to meet desires we have. But far too much of our prayer is for those personal needs and desires, and not enough is aimed beyond the horizon.)