United with God in Heaven, I Need to Die to Self

April 30th, 2011

I woke up this morning on the couch at 5 a.m. Instantly, the ticketing of the clock over my head bothered me. I’m easily rattled by the repetition and the seemingly lound noise in the quiet of the morning.

No, I did not have a fight with my wife and ended up on the sterotypical couch. I just crashed – after a long week. I fell asleep sometime between 10 and 11 and again around midnight or so.

In the evening, I was determined to watch some TV with the family, putting out of my mind anything else – work, friends, Bible study, even prayer.

I just wanted comfort and rest.

I guess there is nothing wrong with rest; Jesus took breaks as well – got away from everyone. But of course, those Bible references also typically note that he retreated to pray (Luke 5:15-16).

And I didn’t. The funny thing is that my sweatshirt of the day said; “Prayer – The World’s Greatest Wireless Connection.”

This morning, I’ve already said some prayers and rounded up some devotional books. I also shopped online for a couple copies of “The Calvary Road” by Roy Hession. I know some people who would benefit from the message on brokeness.

I keep thinking of the book because it clearly explains that that God calls us to revival, to humility, to surrender.

God wants more of me and less of me.

In other words, the Lord wants me wholly devoted to Him, His ways and His will. And he wants me to die to self, to walk in obedience to His ways, not my plans or preferences.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ ” (Matthew 16:24)

How’s that going for me? I’m nowhere near being consistent about taking  up my cross. In fact, Luke 9:23 refers to it as a daily activity for those who want to act as disciples of Jesus.

I’m much closer – and sometimes do take up my cross – when I serve others and not just my self interests.

As I face this morning and turn back to prayer and His Word, I’m trying to stay centered on a few things – acknowledging my sins, yielding to the Holy Spirit and surrendering my will.

So much good can come from that – faith tells me it’s good to experience all of them.

Here are a few apt words from “The Calvary Road.”

If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we must learn is that our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is being “Not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20), and a “C” is a bent “I.”

The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

 

Abortions – Ohio Heartbeat Legislation and Women Who Aren’t Doomed to Hell

April 10th, 2011

Anyone supporting the so-called Heartbeat Bill to ban abortions should get the support of all Ohioans.

Unfortunately, the bill is doomed. It only narrowly passed the state House Health Commitee (12-11).

Abortion is such a touchy subject. People have sex and a baby is murdered. Or, I guess it’s slaughtered, torn apart and murdered in the process – tossed in the garbage like rotten food.

A woman’s “reproductive rights” seem to matter more than a baby. At least the child gets to heaven sooner – if a woman makes it to heaven at all.

Ohio Right to Life isn’t even keen on the bill that would make it illegal to have an abortion when there is a detectable heartbeat – often 6 weeks into a pregnancy. I guess the group and its leaders fear that court challenges to the legislation would somehow disrupt current abortion limits and regulations in Ohio.

Isn’t conception enough to say a baby can live?

I’ve always hated abortion, but I’ve been Pro Sensible. I just made up that term.

Short of a miracle, abortions will continue. But can’t we agree to draw the line somewhere? If we can’t win on conception, what about the heartbeat?

I realize women and men have sex under many situations (many are just teen-agers). So what? Put the kid up for adoption. Leave it at a hospital. But don’t you dare kill a human being.

Yes, rape isn’t even a reason to murder people.

In the rare case in which a doctor says a woman is likely to die if she carries the baby, I say it’s time to protect her life and kill the baby.

In an AP story, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland lashed out at bill backers.

“This just shows this committee doesn’t give a damn about the reproductive rights of Ohio women nor does it trust them to make their own decisions,” Copeland said. “And I would encourage everyone who cares about women’s reproductive health care to remember this the next time they go to the polls.”

Oh, give me a break.

I want good health care for men, women and children of all sizes, shapes and colors. Women should eat right and care for their bodies – for themselves and the babies.

If teens and adults have sex and create babies, they should bear the responsibility. Destroying babies isn’t what we mean by being responsible.

Do girls and women who have abortions go to hell?

No way.

People who don’t love Jesus as their personal Savior go to hell. The huge hell-bound population includes females with 10 kids those with 10 abortions.

People who won’t love Jesus for loving them go to hell, not just men who encourage their girlfriends to have doctors crush their babies because they got in the way of college, jobs, convertibles, cruises, ski trips, sports and good times with family and friends.

The practical Heartbeat Bill won’t succeed. But maybe it will make us think about life and death and our Lord and Creator who will judge whether we really know Jesus or just think we do because we belong to some denomination or do some nice things now and then.

The Shack Book – Unusual Take on God, Heaven, Jesus

March 13th, 2011

I’ve been digesting The Shack, a controversial book that’s caused quite a stir since its release in 2007.

I haven’t reconciled some of the finer points on forgiveness – and who can be forgiven.

But I continue to be captivated by its approach and its bold statements on the Trinity and our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus.

If you haven’t heard, it’s about a guy named Mackenzie whose daughter is brutally murdered by a serial killer. Three years later, he’s summoned to the shack where her bloody dress was found.

At the shack, he encounters the Trinity in an amazing setting. We haven’t had the Second Coming, so having a God encounter like this gives me some pause. But I imagine there are many writings from Christian writers with striking imaginations. It’s not portrayed as an addition to the Word.

Of course Mackenzie (Mack) must deal with his attitude toward the killer and his tattered faith. You can probably guess how he questions God about how He could allow his daughter to be such a victim.

Part of the controversy is how God is portrayed – for a long period as a black woman. God clearly and quickly explains why He appears this way. Maybe that should trouble me, but it doesn’t (having read the whole book).

If you like to read, it’s a great book with extensive dialog between God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and Mack.

On evil, God tells Mack: “Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought me, but it will not have the final say … If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”

Mack …sighed. “It’s just so hard to understand.”

“Honey, let me tell you one of the reasons that it makes no sense to you. It’s because you have such a small view of what it means to be human. You and this creation are incredible whether you understand that or not…”

Later, members of the Trinity carefully explains the problem with making God the priority in our lives. The Holy Spirit questions whether that’s even possible – like how much time is sufficient each day to define that God has been a priority.

God says: “I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.”

Jesus echoes the desire: “Mack, I don’t want to be first among a list of values. I want to be the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you …”

I believe God speaks to us in may ways – in the still small voice in our hearts, in dreams or visions, in circumstances, through music, etc. But I think it’s the Word and prayer that matter most.

And yet, God touched my heart. I couldn’t help but ponder him as I read the book. Was it the book or my personal reflection that connected me to my King?

What matters is that I hunger to live for Him. What matters more is that I find ways to allow Him to live more richly through my life.

I’ve had some incredible encounters with the Lord, some very simple. One day on my birthday he reminded me about the beautiful fall colors as I drove down I-77 near south of Cleveland. Another day I clearly heard Him say, “Enter My presence” as I prepared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another time I heard Him speak to me as I prayed and sang while folding laundry (Coldplay’s “The Scientist” played in the other room and the Lord reminded me that His way is easy as the song spoke about life’s difficulties.

I want what the Lord wants.

I’d like to take a week off work, a week away from friends and family. I’d like to walk and talk with the Lord more often and for long stretches. He’s not opposed to nice breaks. What He wants is all of me and to have first place in all I do.

My job is to die to self and yield to Him right in my car, right here in the living room surrounded by my sons and my wife, right where I work, at a Cavs game, as I clean the dishes and the very moment I wake each morning.

How are you doing with that in your life? How do you die each day?

Bound for Heaven By God’s Plentiful Grace and Mercy

March 13th, 2011

Sin has a way of making me feel unworthy.

If I mess up – say the wrong thing or fail to do the right thing – then I feel ill-equipped to be an effective disciple of Jesus.

For me, it’s not just a matter of moving on and knowing my sins are forgiven.

I do enough to take God for granted.

I need to do a better job of taking stock of my sins on a regular basis.

And I need to trust in and experience the Lord’s grace and mercy.

Pastors at my church (Cuyahoga Valley Church) have underscored this in recent weeks.

During a Sunday morning service, Pastor Rick Duncan encouraged my heart by referencing Peter in John 21:15-19. The heart of the passage – where Jesus prepares breakfast for some followers – is about how Jesus reminds Peter that he’s forgiven even though Peter denied Him three times hours before Jesus was nailed to a cross. He asks Peter to “feed my sheep.” Peter who went on the lead the church got a new set of responsibilities.

“We have to stop beating ourselves up and disqualifying ourselves and putting ourselves on the shelf,” Rick told the congregation.

Jesus doesn’t ignore our sins, our failures. But he doesn’t give up on us either. “He uses ordinary, flawed people and that’s amazing grace,” Rick said. “He doesn’t wait until we’re all cleaned up to use us.”

He underscored the message by referencing popular radio broadcaster and author Steve Brown:

“Let it go, and quit making your goodness the issue!  This isn’t about you and me; it’s about Jesus.  When you obsess over anything but him – and that includes being free – you can lose it.  Jesus is freedom, and to the degree that you stay focused on him, you will find yourself free.”

- Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel, copyright 2004, Howard Books

I don’t really bring much to the table as far as heaven goes. I get in by the Lord’s grace, not my good works. God views me through Jesus’ righteousness.

God wants me to cease striving and lean on Him. It’s time for me to get closer to Him, to re-discover His heart in ways I’ve been missing.

How do you know His heart? He knows yours.

Jesus – In Him, Through Him, With Him & More

March 9th, 2011

I’ve long been intrigued by the many ways the Bible references Jesus and our relationship with Him. It’s not enough to say we live for Him or believe in Him and what He accomplished on the cross.

Look through some of these verses that underscore how we exist or should exist.



“…Apart from me you can do nothing…” – John 15

In him we live and move and have our being…” — Acts 17:28

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

“…we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.” — Colossians 1:4

 

“saints in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:1

 

“filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.” — Philippians 1:11

 

Christ is proclaimed and in this I rejoice.” — Philippians 1:18

 

“to live is Christ and to die is gain.” — Philippians 1:21

 

“believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake.” — Philippians 1:29

 

“encouragement in Christ.” — Philippians 2:1

 

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” — Philippians 2:9-11

 

“…Who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus…”  – Philippians 3:3

 

Philippians 3:7-10

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and  the fellowship of His sufferings, being  conformed to His death.”

 

“Our citizenship is in heaven.” — Philippians 4:20

 

We have our being in Him


Col 1:15-18

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory.” — Colossians 1:27

 

“…stability of your faith in Christ.” — Colossians 2:5

 

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk with Him.” Colossians 2:6

 

“And in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” — Colossians 2:10

 

“…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead…He made you alive together with Him…” — Colossians 2:12-13

 

“…raised up with Christ.” — Colossians 3:1

 

your life is hidden with Christ in God.” — Colossians 3:3

 

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” — Colossians 3:4

 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..” — Colossians3:15

 

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” — Colossians 3:16

 

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” — Colossians 3:17

 

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” — Colossians 3:23-24

 

“a bondslave of Jesus Christ.” — Colossians 4:12

 

“become imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Thessalonians 2:14

 

“exhort you in the Lord Jesus…” — 1 Thessalonians 4:1

 

“so that the (1) name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” — 2 Thessalonians 1:12

 

“May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

“faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Timothy 1:14

 

“Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” — 1 Timothy 1:16

 

“[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the  man Christ Jesus.” — 1 Timothy 2:4-5

 

“you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.” — 1 Timothy 4:6

 

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19

 

“Immediately…they followed Him.” — Matthew 4:20

 

“His disciples came to Him.” — Matthew 5:1

 

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”

– Matthew 5:11

 

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” — Matthew 5:48

 

“So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” — Matthew 7:20-23

 

The Two Foundations

 

Matthew 7:21-29
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

 

“He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.” — Matthew 8:15

 

He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.” — Matthew 8:16

 

Matthew 9:36-38

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

 

 

Matthew 10:1-8

The Twelve Disciples; Instructions for Service

 

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”

 

“You will be hated by all because of My name.” — Matthew 10:22

 

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” — Matthew 10:38-40

 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30

 

“He who is not with Me is against me; and he who does not work with me scatters.” — Matthew 12:30

Parable of the Sower

 

In this parable, we are the soil and the seed is the Gospel and the sower is the Lord working to help us grow. It’s all a matter of our hearts, our openness – the quality of the soil.

 

“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some ) a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” — Matthew 13:20-23

 

 

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and  take up his cross and follow Me.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” –Matthew 16:24-25

 

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, ( I am there in their midst.” — Matthew 18:20

 

“Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” — Matthew 19:21

 

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” — Matthew 25:37-41

 

The Lord’s Supper Instituted

 

“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.”

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’ ” –Matthew 26:26-28

 

 

 

The Great Commission

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:18:20

 

“bond-servant of Christ” — Romans 1:1

 

“you also are called of Jesus Christ.” — Romans 1:6

 

“I thank God through Jesus Christ.” — Romans 1:8

 

“God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” — Romans 2:16

 

“being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” — Romans 3:24

 

“of the one who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:26

 

justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Romans 5:1

 

“We shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10

 

“but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:11

 

through Jesus Christ our Lord.” — Romans 5:21

 

“We have been buried with Him, through baptism…our old self was crucified with Him…so we would no longer be slaves to sin…now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” — Romans 6:4-8

 

“you became slaves of righteousness [Jesus]” — Romans 6:18

 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23

 

“so you might be joined to another, to Him…in order that we might bear fruit for God.” — Romans 7:4

 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

– Romans 8:1

 

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live

–Romans 8:9-13

 

“heirs of God. and fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” — Romans 8:17

 

“[nothing] will separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:39

 

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” — Romans 10:9

 

Romans 13:14

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

 

Romans 14:9

“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

 

Romans 15:5

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.”

 

Romans 15:17-18

“Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.

For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed.”

 

Romans 15:30

“Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

 

1 Corinthians 1:1-2

“Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

 

1 Corinthians 1:30

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”

 

1 Corinthians 2:16

“But we have the mind of Christ.”

 

1 Corinthians 3:23

You belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.”

 

1 Corinthians 4:10

“We are fools for Christ’s sake.”

 

1 Corinthians 6:11

“You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

 

1 Corinthians 8:5-6

“For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

 

1 Corinthians 11:1

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

 

1 Corinthians 11:3

Christ is the head of every man…”

 

1 Corinthians 11:23-27

The Lord’s Supper

 

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that  the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;

and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way He took (the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”

 

1 Corinthians 12:27

“Now you are Christ’s body.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:22

 ”For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

 

2 Corinthians 1:5

“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

 

2 Corinthians 4:11

“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

 

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

“or the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;

and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

2 Corinthians 10:5

“We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

 

2 Corinthians 11:3

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

 

2 Corinthians 13:5

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”

 

Galatians 1:10

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

 

Galatians 2:16,20 and 3:24

“A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

“But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found (4) sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

“The Law…leads us to Christ so that we may be justified by faith.”

 

Ephesians 1:13

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with  the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Ephesians 2:4-9

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved),

and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

 

Ephesians 3:12

“We have boldness and confident access [to God] through faith in Him [Jesus].”

 

Ephesians 3:17

“So Christ may dwell in your hearts.”

 

Ephesians 5:24

“As the church is subject to Christ.”

 

Hebrews 1:2

“In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

 

Hebrews 2:10

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”

 

Hebrews 3:14

“we have become partakers of Christ…”

 

Hebrews 7:25

“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

 

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

Hebrews 13:15

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God…”

 

 

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” — 1 Peter 3:15

 

“But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” — 1 Peter 4:13

 

“Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” — 1 Peter 5:14

 

“Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” — 1 John 1:3

 

“God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” — 1 John 4:9

 

“[God's] testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” — 1 John 5:11-12

 

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” — John 1:12

 

“The next day…He found Philip…and said to him: ‘Follow Me’.” –John 1:43

 

“Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” — John 3:3,5

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever  believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

“For God did not send the Son into the world  to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of  the only begotten Son of God.” — John 3:16-18

 

He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” — John 3:30

 

John 6:47-58

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

I am the bread of life.

Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of  the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood  abides in Me, and I in him.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.

This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

 

John 7:37-39

 

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.’

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

 

John 8:31-32

” So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

and you will know the truth, and (the truth will make you free.’ “

 

John 10

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice…

So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly…

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me…”

 

John 10:27-30

“My sheep hear My voice, and  I know them, and they follow Me;

and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

I and the Father are one.”

 

John 11:25-26

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ “

 

John 12:3

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

 

John 12:25-26

 

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

 

John 13:34-35

 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

John 14:1-20

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

 

“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

 

“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

 

 

John 14:21

“He who has My commandments and keeps them…I will love him and disclose Myself to him.”

 

John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this, that one  lay down his life for his friends.

You are My friends if you do what I command you.

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

This  I command you, that you love one another.”

 

John 16:33

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but (3) take courage; I have overcome the world.”

 

“After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’

Luke 5:27

 

“And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?’ ” Luke 5:34

 

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

“Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

“But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”  — Luke 6:46-49

 

Luke 7:44-50

Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

“You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.

“You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”

And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Luke 8:4:
Parable of the Sower (we’re the soil, Christ is the seed)

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable.

 

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up.

 

Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture.

Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.

And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.”

 

After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

 

Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be.

He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.’

 

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God.

 

Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved.

Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial.

 

As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.

 

But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

 

John 1

Jesus IS the Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” — John 1:1-5

 

He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” Luke 11:23

 

Thomas Merton…
The
Seven Storey Mountain

            1940s Book my Dad gave me to read…

 

“I never knew what relics and what wonderful and holy things were

hidden in the churches whose doors and aisles and arches had

become the refuge of my mind…

 

And now for the first time in my life I began to find out some-

thing of Who this Person was that men called Christ. It was

obscure, but it was a true knowledge of Him, in some sense, truer

than I knew and truer than I would admit. But it was in Rome

that my conception of Christ was formed. It was there I first saw

Him, Whom I now serve as my God and my King, and Who owns

and rules my life.

 

It is the Christ of the Apocalypse, the Christ of the Martyrs,

the Christ of the Fathers. It is the Christ of St. John, and of St.

Paul, and of St. Augustine and St. Jerome and all the Fathers—

and of the Desert Fathers. It is Christ God, Christ King,

“[in Colossians 1] for in Him dwelleth the fullness of the
Godhead corporeally, and you are filled in Him, Who is the
Head of all principality and power

. . . For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth,

visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or principalities

or powers, all things: were created by Him and in Him. And.

He is before all, and by Him all things consist . . . because in

Him it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell

. . . Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every

creature . . .The first-begotten of the dead, and the prince of the

kings of the earth. Who hath loved us, and washed us from our

sins in His own Blood, and hath made us a kingdom and priests

to God His Father.”

Does Jesus Matter?

March 9th, 2011

In my book, 52 Paths to Heaven, I have a little graphic that illustrates how we view Jesus. He’s either the central part of our life or afterthought.

How does he rate in your life?

Jesus doesn’t demand that we exclude much from our lives. He just longs to be a big part of what we have going on.

Check it out. How do you ensure it’s about Jesus gets the glory?

jesus heaven book

Light of Jesus Demands I Leave the Shadows

March 9th, 2011

It’s been a long haul – trying to make ends meet while I stiff arm Jesus.

Career pursuits exert untold pressure. But I’m stepping out in faith and doing what I was meant to do: serve.

We can always improve out quiet time with the Lord, our consumption of the Word, etc.

But I yearn to serve – not just in the formal ways like a regular commitment (I’m doing that).

But I want to be spiritually sensitive – showing up where I’m needed, making a call at the right time or writing a note.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression – Be like Jesus with skin on. It’s time to let Him live through me. I need the light of Jesus – no excuses.

And I’m already getting a taste of that. Last night, in the midst of life’s pressures (and job demands), I received the gift of peace. It was one of those simple blessings I could otherwise have taken for granted.

So what’s in store? I don’t know. I don’t think it will be bliss.

Jesus is calling from to stop pretending I’m in charge and defer to Him. I simply can’t navigate what lies ahead without Him, without the Holy Spirit directing my steps.

It’s time for me to step out of the shadows and into the light of Jesus. How is His light shining on and through you?

Jesus in Heaven

December 10th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from my book, “52 Paths to Heaven.”

Having Confidence in My Relationship with Jesus (from the extra chapter, “Not the End”)

Although it isn’t as deeply rooted as I would like, I have a secure confidence that says I would give up anything for Him.

My identity isn’t in myself. My true identity is found in Him. I have that peace about my relationship to God as an adopted son – I’m royalty (John 1;13, Revelation 19:16).

I know I’m going to heaven. No one, says the Lord in John 10:28-29, can take me out of His hand. He emphasizes that promise, repeating it twice within three verses.

“… and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

The neat thing about Christianity is that I didn’t need to get cleaned up first. I could have been a pornographer, pimp, adulterer, seasoned thief, foul-mouthed gossiper, anger management failure, or a drug addict. Who cares? Jesus didn’t.

After asking Jesus to rule my life, I kept sinning. As a Christian, I’m still allowed to sin. Pretty weird, eh?

The difference is that I now have a relationship with Jesus and that my sins bother me. I keep working on them with Him.

Non-Christians may know that they sin, but they neglect the Jesus as Lord and Savior part. He’s kind of a big deal.

Sure, Jesus hates sin. But sin didn’t push Him away from His desire to keep me from hell. My pride did block Him at every turn until love broke through my deteriorating defenses.

Amazingly, Jesus now even considers me His friend. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you…” (John 15:15-16).

I can’t predict what Jesus will do next in my life, but I can look back, and it gives me great hope and courage as I face my future.

When I’m broken and dependent upon Him, the sky literally is the limit. I picture His graces and mercy in a giant warehouse of balloons, like those stored in the ceilings of the Democratic and Republic conventions. In this case, His balloons could fill Texas. He can’t wait to let the balloons fall so I can pop them and bask in what’s inside – His presence I sense in the quiet of the morning, people, voices, moments, embraces and more. I can’t reach those balloon blessings when my eyes are on me.

To keep my attention on Him, the Lord provides a Code of Conduct in the “fruits of the Spirit” verses. I joke with my family that I don’t like the verses because I fall short on any given day:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:21-23)

The Lord brands His Word in my heart to stretch me. I’m to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love all neighbors (Mark 12:30-31). Romans 8:13 calms me with the assurance that the Holy Spirit has my back and helps me put to “death the deeds of the body.” Sanctification is a process leading to perfection that may not arrive until the moment I walk into heaven.

If I’m going to stay close to the Lord, I must be devoted to His Word (Psalm 119). In John 15, He’s all about abiding in Him. He wants me so tied to Him that my life is transformed by His voice and presence. Often, that’s really the Holy Spirit working in my life. Where He ends and Jesus begins is a mystery I don’t dwell on that too much.

In his book, Free at Last, Tony Evans encourages Christians to live victoriously. The Lord, he writes, will ensure that we’re as productive as possible. “Being a Christian isn’t just hanging onto Jesus, drawing life from Him, and not producing anything. Even productive believers undergo pruning to increase their fruit-bearing.”

Now that He’s with me, Jesus wants me to ensure that I have the right foundation to see me through the tough times. In the Bible, He tells the story of homes built on sand and the rock.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”
(Matthew 7:24-29)

Heaven Family

December 10th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from my book, “52 Paths to Heaven.”

Focusing on My Primary Ministry (from the extra chapter, “Not the End”)

Above all, I just need to be the best minister I can in my home. It’s about putting my wife and boys first.

I really resist the sarcastic streak in me, but I have bad days. I have trouble with being absent-mindedness and inattentiveness. I strive to deal with these deficiencies more than my kids and wife know.

I also cry out loud and deep in my heart at the heinous things of the world that my kids inevitably come across – so many killings, drugs, drivel, mindless TV shows and giant parades of extramarital sex (men and women characterized as nothing more than play objects for our eyes).

For example, is Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion popularized on TV really a bastion of joy and ecstasy or a despicable castle of depravity and disease surrounded by a mote of sin that leaks inside and out?

I help my family lead our fight against worldly things like excessively gory movies, nasty song lyrics, inappropriate displays of sexuality in films and on TV, trash-talking, judgmental attitudes, abusing someone’s dignity, etc.

I also need to strike a balance while integrating my faith into all aspects of my life (segmenting it isn’t as productive).

Another problem for Christians like me, especially new ones, is that I can be (as they say) be so heavenly minded that I do no earthly good in the home. I can lose focus on the essentials on this side of heaven.

It’s still nice when my wife and boys see the Lord working in me.

In 2004, Eric, 8 years old at the time, asked me, “Does God love Jesus more than me?” I didn’t have a suitable answer for an awkward moment. I think God helped me with the reply, “He loves you through Jesus.”

Jesus Heaven

December 10th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from my book, “52 Paths to Heaven.”

Not The End

FOR IF YOU ARE LIVING ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, YOU MUST DIE; BUT IF BY THE SPIRIT YOU ARE PUTTING TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, YOU WILL LIVE.

Romans 8:13

I’m an alien.

Earth is not my home. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).

I’m on a journey to heaven and I would love to meet you there one day. Care to join me? “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

In verse after verse, the Lord talks about how I’m already home even if it doesn’t seem like it on earth. The Lord “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

The secret to my growth as a Christian isn’t religiosity – going through the motions, attending church, and singing songs around a nativity scene.
It’s about knowing Him today, hanging out with Him.

When I became a Christian in 1998, my paths to Jesus and heaven came to an end. I’m on the brink now. Death is my only obstacle. I’m facing a window more than a path.

Yet, it’s not the end because my walk with the Lord continues. I’m including this extra chapter to give you a glimpse of the challenges that I face as a Christian in the wake of my sins and supernatural forces.