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Good for the Worst

God Almighty, Lord of Heaven & Earth, God-Who-Sees, God-Who-Provides, Judge & Counselor, our sinful lays before You revealed, nothing is hidden, everything is known to You. The darkest corners of our hearts & the false impressions we put on to impress others are exposed for what they are in Your sight. There are no secrets we can keep from You, nowhere we can run or hide from Your gaze. You know our going in & our coming out, our lying down & our rising up again. Grant us this mercy today, remind us of Your best, the good You have provided because of our worst. Let us see You & be reminded of our own condition in the light of Your glory. Let us remember today, pace ourselves with the footsteps of Jesus along the Way of Suffering & the Hill of the Skull. May we be present there today & turn our hearts heavenward. Remind us, sweet Jesus, of Your love, mercy & grace over us. Forgive us our deep failings, every one & restore our hearts with Your blood & Spirit. We pray this in the power of Your precious Name, Jesus, amen.

Read slowly.
Close Your eyes & imagine at the paragraph breaks.
Be present, an observer in the crowd today.
Walk through today aware of what He did for you as your day progresses.

Luke 22:54-23:56

(Friday, Early Morning)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”  And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”  And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”  And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

(Friday, Morning)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”  And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”  But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(Friday, About 9am)
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Friday, noon)
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

(Friday, 3pm)
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
(Friday, ~6pm)

Remember.

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Sifted & Strengthened

Father, thank You for understanding our weaknesses & loving us enough to expose them to us. Thank You for revealing the depths of our need for You & uncovering our insecurities. Your love for us is infinite & Your mercies are new every morning. Jesus, You have been our Advocate in a way that no one else ever could be. Our flesh is weak, but Holy Spirit, You bring strength to our bones & stamina to our hearts. Please embolden us for today & sustain us until tomorrow within Your peace. We lack nothing with You & remain impoverished without You. We praise You for Your great grace, O God. Carry us through our season of need & be glorified in the process. We are Yours.
This we acknowledge in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 22:31-38
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

I think we all know what it feels like to be sifted. Shaken & tossed, who we are at the core is exposed & we feel like we have been left bare to the world. Any covering we may have had is removed & we are left open & we feel vulnerable. I’m sure Peter felt exposed when Jesus spoke about this, his own fears & weaknesses laid bare before his friends. It probably hurt, I guarantee it did. I imagine that Peter’s face went ashen when Jesus spoke to him about this & even when he tried to defend his love for Christ, Jesus revealed how quickly his denial would come.

We all have aspirations for ourselves within our faith.We have an image of our own devotion & strength for Jesus, & this ‘best case scenario’ of our faith-life is rarely reality when the pressure is one & it’s time to speak up or take steps of real faith. We tell ourselves stories, we are creative in justifying what we do & how we live. But when it comes down to it, we will deny, just like Peter did, that we have the capacity for such a quick falling away. But the proof is in the pudding, & belief is tested by pressure. We revert quickly to who we actually are when those moments come & Jesus wanted Peter to be prepared & to hear a word of grace before it came for him.

No one want to be left feeling inadequate, especially for the One who conquered death & sin & saved us from facing the wrath of God. But it wasn’t our strength that sent Jesus through His Passion & it wasn’t our righteousness that allowed Him to serve as our perfect sacrifice. We brought nothing to the table in this regard, we were continue to be inadequate when it comes to strength & saving ourselves. But Jesus is sufficient. Jesus is more than enough for us all. So when Peter was told about his coming failure & when you & I see our own moments of stumbling coming along, we can be reminded that it ids Jesus who brought grace & it is God’s Holy Spirit that fills us with the grace we need & provides us with strength for every obstacle.

Satan will always be our accuser, until the day he is defeated with a word & God’s judgment comes for all of us. He desires to ruin us & break God’s heart in the process. Jesus said it best, that he comes to steal, kill & destroy. But Jesus came so that we might have life & have it abundantly. When the enemy tries to attack or to remind us of past failures, we need to remember that Jesus has already opened the doorway to forgiveness with His own blood & that the devil holds no authority over us & his accusations fall flat. When we receive Jesus as Savior & Lord, our names are covered by His Name. Our identities are found in Him, not in our past, not in our mistakes & not in our weaknesses.

All glory & honor & praise go to Him for His great grace & love. He calls us to walk daily in those rhythms, not the old discord that used to define us, but in new rhythms of His grace & His love. We may still stumble, but He has already stooped to serve & help us stand again. May we be bold for Him & trust in the depths of His strength & His awesome forgiveness. He alone is worthy & makes us worthy in Himself. Thank God for that today.

He gives us something different

Lord, I do not know why we continue to seek cheap and temporary comfort from the world, vying  for its approval when the richness of Your presence is all sustaining, peaceful and brings us rest. Direct us in the oath of Your love today, away from the hate & fear filled ways of the world. May our hope rest in You alone. Amen.

John 15:12-27
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

Notice how Jesus gives us a command and then proceeds to fulfill it Himself? He shows us just how it is to be done. This attitude of self-sacrifice is precisely what Jesus prescribes for His followers, an attitude unlike anything we see in this world. Not seeking enlightenment for self in the process, not seeking personal gain or prestige, the admiration of other people. We die to self so that someone else might see what it means to truly live and do the same. This is a selfless act, a sacrificial act. It is what Jesus calls for and precisely what He does as our Master.

And it is in this act of dying that we plant seeds for a fruitful harvest. Western, commercial ‘Christianity’ that spends its time fostering an ideal of consumerism drags us away from this posture of self-denial. Programs that pander, Bible studies that give no real accountability for action, worship services bent around emotional responses and lacking in any resemblance to the life of Christ Himself…these reasons (and more) guide us to see that something more must be out there when we follow Christ. Fruitfulness is not gauged by personal happiness, or by the number of Sundays we attend. Fruitfulness is determined by obedience and by bringing the lost to Christ, and discipling them along the new road afterward. We must be a disciple worth reproducing, not a follower of the latest fad. Jesus challenges us to die to earthly expectations, to accept the help of the Holy Spirit, and to be His witnesses.

We must ask a few simple questions:

Does my life truly reflect the actions and heart of Christ?
Am I exhibiting signs of consistent fruitfulness?
Do I feel challenged in my walk?

There are more, of course, that we could ask ourselves, but this will serve for one day. Remember, when Jesus told us to abide in Him, to die to self, to walk in our Master’s steps, He did not leave us alone to do so, with an insurmountable task.

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

He sends us the Holy Spirit, to guide, convict and press us on toward a deeper ownership of His heart every single day. Listen. Be still. Wait for His voice…then do as He guides. He will likely speak in that still, small way, but His encouragement will lead us to the strength to follow through.

Lord, I do not know why we continue to seek cheap and temporary comfort from the world, vying  for its approval when the richness of Your presence is all sustaining, peaceful and brings us rest. Direct us in the oath of Your love today, away from the hate & fear filled ways of the world. May our hope rest in You alone. Amen.

Acts 5:33-42 // Honor in suffering

“33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. 35 He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what youre going to do to these men. 36 Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered. 38 And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him. 40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. 42 Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Acts 5:33-42

To listen to some famous ‘preachers,’ you would think that they never read the book of Acts. To those who are always preaching a Gospel of prosperity, ease and giving empty encouragements to self-care, there is an obvious disconnect as to what constitutes the favor of God and what counts toward dishonor. Here we see the Apostles being jailed, flogged and discouraged by the leading court in the country, and they go away rejoicing that they were worthy to be dishonored in this way for the sake of Christ, and because of His Name. This idea of honor in suffering runs contrary to what Joel Osteen and others like him preach and teach. 

As we consider what it is we have been called to accomplish as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must remember some of the things that He said would identify us as belonging to Him. He told us that we would be known for the love that we have for one another. That sounds nice, but it is also a very difficult thing to live out. It’s not just a matter of loving people that we naturally like and get along with, but a matter of loving people that push all our buttons and that we would rather not be around. So, following Jesus continues to mean a death to self. Jesus also said that we could not be His disciples if we loved family, position or anything else more than Him. It must be like hate in comparison. Our priorities must be radically different. That means that sports schedules for children, hobbies, jobs and everything else you can think of must come in an infinitely distant second place in comparison to our devotion to Him. We must be unswerving in this, and that is not easily or lightly done, yet another difficulty. 

But even deeper than those, we see that Jesus told us that we must take up our cross daily if we are going to follow Him. The cross comes with scorn, derision, and a condemnation by the world that cannot be overlooked. Jesus told us that the world would hate us just like it hated Him. And if the world crucified Jesus, then we must also see that we are next in line behind Him. This isn’t comfortable. This isn’t easy. This isn’t marked by health, wealth or ‘your best life now.’ We are never promised those things, and they are never shown as being markers of the favor of God in Scripture. These charlitans who pretent to stand in line with the message of Jesus Christ, but who have no real allegiance to Him, must be called out and shown for what they are. It isn’t love and tolerance to allow false doctrine to pervade the minds and hearts of the people of God. We cannot pretend for a moment to have a part in Jesus Christ if we try to separate the things that Jesus Himself said would be part and parcel of our following of Him. 

These men and women to proclaim Jesus Christ while paying for luxury upon luxury that they ‘deserve’ from the donations of thier adherents, who have little to nothing in comparison, will be called to task one day by God Himself and they will be held responsible for their lies and their missteps. I cannot presume to stand in judgement over their souls, that is up to God. But I cannot imagine that He is pleased, nor holds them in favor, because of their actions and preying on people through a false gospel of prosperity. 

The markers of the favor of God come with a clean conscience, a life of fruitful evangelism and a peace that surpasses all understanding. It comes with a contendness in all things, in all circumstances, not a grasping for ‘more.’ It comes with a desire to give away everything, because nothing in this life is worth holding on to except Christ. It comes with an insatiable desire to GoLove others however God has gifted us to do so, and we find our fulfillment, not in small shallow thigns like possessions, wealth, land or houses, but in seeing the work of the Gospel done in the hearts and minds of those we encounter. It has nothing to do with wealth, and everything to do with the faithful following of a formerly dead slave brought to life again and made to be an heir of righteousness. Proper priorities show those who preach prosperity to be sad, hollow hucksters with snake-oil ‘cures’ ready to sell to the most willing buyers looking for a quick fix. Lasting change, real hope and a life overflowing with meaning comes only from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts and minds, and that cannot be bought, sold or acquired through any means we can devise. 

If we are folowing Christ, He has promised ot be with us always, even to the very end of the age. If we are not satisfied in this life, then it is because we are not actually following Him, not because we still have ‘favors’ to claim from God. He does desire to bless His chidlren, but not in the way that the world or people like Joel Osteen call ‘blessing.’ Take every thought, every teaching, captive and hold it accountable to Scripture, weigh it out and see if it is what God desires for you, truly, as you carry your cross for Christ. 

  

Mark 14:17-21 // Betrayal & Abandonment 

“17 When evening came, He arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me — one who is eating with Me!”

19 They began to be distressed and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”

20 He said to them, “It is one of the Twelve — the one who is dipping bread with Me in the bowl. 21 For the Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mark 14:17-21

— 

And while there would be only one betrayer, there would also be a triple-denier and nine who would abandon Him. Only John would stay nearby until everything was over. They all swore it wouldn’t be them, that they would stick with Him, support Him, die with Him. But only one out of the twelve would be faithful through it all. Loyalty to self overruled loyalty to Jesus for most of His closest disciples when push came to shove that night. 

This makes me wonder about us today. So far and so long removed from Jesus being here physically, how many of us give in too easily when things get difficult? How quickly do we step back from our faith and commitments when things get hard? How often do we choose self and selfishness over loyalty and devotion? 

For example, given the opportunity, how many remain quiet about their faith at work and school rather than speak up and share? Given the opportunity, how many people choose the easy path of ineffectiveness rather than press against discomfort and reach out to people in their community? Given the opportunity, how many people neglect their commitments to the ministries of the church because they are a) tired, b) forgot, c) just didn’t feel like it, lacking discipline and commitment to the body of Christ? 

When Jesus warned against those who cry ‘Lord, Lord’ but had no actual relationship with Him, and I wonder where that line is sometimes. Where does grace finally turn over to resignation to the flesh? Where is that line where self-concern finally won out over submission? Where did faith give way to fear? When did convenience win out over conviction? What is the line between John and James or John and Peter? 

If we have our eyes set on Jesus, desiring to grow in Him, wanting to be conformed to His likeness, then we should have no fear of crossing those lines. The committed disciple of Jesus Christ doesn’t daily wonder how close they are to abandonment and/or betrayal. Rather, they are daily seeking Him out, abiding in Him, taking up their cross and living out their faith. They are working out the salvation that has been freely received in grace by faith in Christ in their daily lives. There is no fear of abandoning Jesus because they are following Him, walking with Him, imitating His example as they GoLove others. 

The heart that has received Christ won’t flirt with abandoning Christ. The heart that has been baptized into His death, burial and ressurection won’t seek how far it can stray from Him. Dedication, devotion and discipleship are firmly embedded in the heart and mind of those who daily take up their cross. 

It’s obvious! We can all tell! // Matthew 26

“Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed.”
Matthew 26:71-74 NIV

When we are confident in our walk with Christ, we don’t mind if people notice. We don’t mind if they ask us about church, or other ‘spiritual’ things. (Everything is spiritual, by the way.) getting those confirmations about our proximity to Jesus comes across as a compliment, an affirmation to what He is doing in us, and having that recognition feels good. It would be lying to say it doesn’t. And we know that any and all credit for those appearances of Christ in us goes directly to Him. After all, He is the One at work.

But when we slip up, when we aren’t quite as close to Christ as we know we should be or as close as we would want to be, and someone notices that we have called ourselves Christians, but we are behaving in a way that seems to stand against those claims……ouch.

Even more so for Peter who, caught up in the moment, shows a greater concern for his own skin than for his Rabbi’s, and he denies the 2nd strongest allegiance held in his heart in exchange for his 1st, his allegiance to himself. The servant girl says it plainly, ‘Your accent gives you away.’ Everyone knew he had been with Jesus. He wasn’t part of the crowd there. He was easily recognizable as ‘one of those guys from Galilee’ and they knew he was linked in with Jesus.

Where is your courtyard? Where is it difficult to stand close to the fire and be recognized? Where does your accent give you away, and so you begin speaking differently? Where is it that standing for Jesus is the most difficult?
Do you have accusers? Are there people who try to call you out on your faith and their questioning is hard to deal with? Are there places where it seems all eyes are on you, waiting for your reaction?

Hopefully we have stood up for Christ enough to get called out for Christ. Hopefully the love He has given to us has overflowed to others so that our accent of grace points us out. Beyond Jesus-y T-shirts and bumper stickers or always wearing a cross on the outside of our shirt, helpfully people have actually seen Jesus at work in us, and that our allegiance to Him goes beyond the superficial.

And when it does, we have to know that there will be accusing fingers pointing at us. When we stand for and speak the truth, and when we love and serve as Jesus did, then people are going to notice and our accent is going to give us away.

The question then becomes, ‘Who has my first allegiance? Who am I loyal to above all else?’

If it is to self, then we will deny and dodge just like Peter did in that courtyard. We will seek shelter from public ridicule and questions by leaving Jesus to stand by Himself.

If it is to Jesus, then we know and believe that He is going to take those hits for us and that the ones accusing us have pointed out something we are proud to say has happened in our lives. And even if we are caught doing something contrary to our faith, if we stumble in a moment, we can own up to it, seek forgiveness from those we have offended and remember that grace is greater than all our sin. We confess, repent and seek our Master’s gracious love.

Being a Christian means standing with Christ. It doesn’t mean we are perfect, but it does mean we are being perfected. It doesn’t mean that we are strong, but it means that in Christ we can withstand anything. He is our Rock and Refuge. When our accent gives us away, we stand up straight and keep on speaking with it, not in arrogance, but out of gratitude. He has first loved us, and so that love saves us from ourselves. His justice demanded restitution, payment for our sin. His love desired reconciliation with His creation that had chosen self over service. This love keeps us standing tall in the face of opposition, and it compels us to ‘go’ and to GoLove as we have been loved, sharing the good news of Jesus.

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messy, messy, messy…

at least he liked to be clean...

as a child, you never understood just how dirty your face was after eating ice cream. you tried your best to get it all in your mouth because, really, who wants to waste ice cream? but you still wound up with some on your nose, your chin and your cheeks.

she knows she's messy, just not how much

it wasn’t a surprise that you had some on your face, you could feel the cold sticky build up taking place while you ate…but the quantity of ice cream that stuck was a complete mystery. why? because you can’t see your own face without a mirror. simple as that. you weren’t looking to get messy, you just did because that was the hazard of eating ice cream as a child.

and that’s our sin. we aren’t trying to get messy, but no matter how hard we try, we still wind up getting more dirty and stained than we would ever guess. there are drops of this and that here and there.we are sloppy, gummy messes. we are dirty and stained.

thankfully, God is a wonderful parent! He has prepared ahead of time for our messes. He wipes us clean as soon as we ask for help, and He shows us how to conduct ourselves in the future so we don’t keep getting dirty all the time. thanks be to God the Father, Christ the Son and the Spirit for their work in cleaning us up!

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it’s always easier to see the mess on other people’s faces, obviously, so we must be careful to be aware of the state of our own messes when confronting others with their neapolitan facial decorations. the best and simplest way to be mindful of the state of our own affairs is to constantly look to the Scriptures. when david said he found joy in meditating on God’s Law day and night, he wasn’t just being a bookworm (or scroll worm) he understood the value of being constantly in God’s Word, and what that would do to your life, and your daily actions and choices. holding up our lives to the light of the Scriptures will always help us to better understand just what it is we’re dealing with, what our own motivations may be (good intentions or not), and what the next step should be in dealing with whatever life throws our way.

we should never be afraid of looking at the mess we’ve made, because we cannot deal with it until we do. it does no good to deny that it’s there, and only prolongs the wait for the cleansing work of God in our lives…

ignoring the train

another unmarked journal entry:

kids may not sleep the night before Christmas. we may be excited and find it difficult to got o work the day before a vacation. there are a myriad of things that people get worked up about, things that excite them…but Judgment Day gets swept under the rug.

thankfully, God can dispose of this if we accept Jesus into our hearts

it’s really no surprise that we act that way. no one wants the depths of their soul exposed. there’s too much embarrassing filth piled up in there. but what we fail to realize is that everyone else has a heap all their own that probably looks a lot like ours. we, as individuals, are not unique in our sins, our friends, family & neighbors all have things that they deal with on a day-to-day basis, just like we do…

there is also a reverence for God that is missing from our lives, a sense of awe that is completely lacking. we want to feel like we are in control, or that our lives are something we can deal with on our own. but instead, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God with all the respect, honor and attention that He is due. Turning a blind eye won’t keep it from coming…just like plugging your ears and covering your eyes  doesn’t keep a train from barreling down the tracks towards you.

ignoring it doesn't change anything

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