Monday, August 26, 2013

Oak Tree or Acorn?

Why is it that Christians seem to be so content with so little of what Jesus offers. Its kind of like an acorn being content with being an acorn though it knows that it could be an oak tree. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14:12ff Do we really believe this? I sometimes think that when we don't see the power of God in healings, deliverance, or provision that we believe that Jesus must be kidding when he said the words above. Could it really be true that we could do 'greater things' than Jesus? The context here is clearly referring to the miracles Jesus did. Maybe we don't see 'greater things' because  we don't really take Jesus at His word, even if we took Him at His word we don't expect Him to do them through us and because maybe He knows that all to often we would steal His glory if He did do them through us. So we go on living an acorns life when we could become the oak tree God created us to be.

The Father's Poem

I've been thinking about a verse that sometimes gets neglected because of the two verses that precede it. Ephesians 2:8,9 says,

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

These are critical verses in  understanding the relationship  between grace, faith, and salvation. But the next verse, often omitted, is critical in understanding who we are as God's creation. It says,
"For we are his workmanship,..." The word 'workmanship' can mislead us. It can give us the impression that God was toiling,  hard at work when He created you and me, hardly enjoying the process. This couldn't be further from the truth .Recently I attended a conference where Len Sweet was a speaker and he pointed out that creation is the result of a Creator at play, not work.  Think about it, when are we most creative? We are far more creative when we are free from the pressures of work. It has been said that if one enjoys what they do, they will never work a day in their life. You see, in the original language the word 'poiema' is used. This is the same word from which we get the English word  'poem'. This is huge. We are the lyric written by the Master lyricist and we are the result of His playful creativity. Any true artist will tell you that their masterpiece was a labor of love and enjoyment. None of us are an accident. The reality of our birth means that we are the product of God's labor of love. He created us with aptitudes, personalities, gifts and environments that are unique to each one.

Since God wrote the lyric that is each one of us, I think He gives us the freedom to supply the tune by our attitudes, word, and actions . A song's tune can make the difference between a song that brings people joyful tears or one that is painful to listen to. We have all heard the national anthem sung done by professional musicians and jr. high choirs. One is generally much easier to listen to than the other.

When I look at my own life I see times when  the tune I supplied was angry, or without hope, or sad, or confused or defeated. My life was out of tune. It doesn't matter how beautiful the lyric, or how perfect the tune fits the lyric,if it is sung out of tune, it is difficult to listen to.These times didn't reflect the faith I professed. As I practice with the Master as my teacher, I sing more and more on-key and my life sounds more of contentment, hope, joy, victory and trust. Maybe you can relate.

It is amazing to me that He wrote the lyric of our lives for His pleasure, purpose and enjoyment. Like the parent of the novice musician beams with pride and joy at the recital even when there are missed notes, so our heavenly Father beams with the same as He hears the recital which is our life. He is not surprised by our missed notes and being off key at times. He knows that it gets better with time and practice. Most of all He knows that there is coming a day when the tunes of all of those who love Him will blend in perfect harmony as we sing His praise before His throne. How cool is that!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I like  CSI/NCIS shows and something I have noticed is how often the word 'evidence' is used. There seems to be two kinds of evidence; hard evidence and circumstantial evidence. Hard evidence is what is needed to offer some certainty of guilt while circumstantial evidence may suggest guilt but doesn't prove guilt.

Likewise, our lives as followers of Jesus are proved by evidence. Too often the evidence we offer is merely circumstantial. We attend church regularly, behave as good citizens, practice good hygiene, and give to good causes. All of these and more are just circumstantial evidence. So what is the hard evidence of a relationship with Jesus? The apostle Peter tells us...

"... always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, " (1 Peter 3:15)

It appears that hope is hard evidence. For someone to ask about our hope they must first recognize it in us. Do our attitudes, words and actions reveal hope or fear. Do they suggest confidence concerning the future especially when circumstances would allow otherwise. I'm afraid that many who claim the name of Jesus have put more of their hope in their wealth or a political stance than in Jesus.

Jesus gives us another piece of hard evidence when he says...

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
(John 13:35)

Love is the other key piece of hard evidence that proves our guilt as followers of Jesus. Why are so many telling of how they have been hurt by the church? The bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves yet this is interpreted to mean send a check to someone far away. How many of us  would rather turn away from someone who is hurting rather than risk getting our hands dirty and our reputations tarnished loving someone who, by most accounts, doesn't deserve our love. (see the parable of the Good Samaritan) We seem to forget the we are undeserving of His love for us. You see love is a great evidence because we can't generate this kind of love. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4) We have the ability to love the unlovable because we have experienced His love for us!

With this in mind the question  has been suggested by another, and paraphrased ' If we were on trial for being a follower of Jesus would there be enough hard evidence to convict us?'

I wonder...

Gotta go, CSI is on.