Nov 29, 2018

Jesus Is LORD

Many years ago, a man I was working with noticed my “Jesus is Lord” bumper sticker on my truck and asked me about it:

“I thought Jesus WAS Lord?” he asked; “Isn’t that an obvious statement?”

I quickly found myself lost in a theological debate on the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

If I were to ask you if you believed in His Lordship, I believe I would receive an overwhelming affirmation.

Yet, if I were to ask each of you “Is He Lord of all you are and all you have?” your answer would probably contradict the first answer.

It’s easy to put on a bumper sticker saying Jesus is Lord, another thing to proclaim His Lordship with our lips and our lives.

Most of us are so inundated with the saying: “Jesus is Lord” that perhaps we have never stopped to ponder what it means.

The Lordship of Jesus was the initial confession of the early church...
 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)                                        
When a Jewish convert said “Jesus is Lord” he meant: Jesus is God. When a Gentile believer said “Jesus is Lord” he meant: I have no other god besides Jesus.
When the church started out in the first century, Christians made a clean break with the rest of the world. They were willing to follow their Lord Jesus Christ no matter what the cost was. Their proclaiming Jesus as Lord cost many of them their very lives because it meant they rejected all allegiance to Caesar.

Soon, gentiles flocked into the church and brought with them their practices, their sins, and their idols. So, the church lowered the standard to accommodate them. And the church has never fully recovered from this mistake.

Today, too many church members serve two lords. Churches are filled with baptized pagans living double lives. They say that they fear the Lord; all the while serving their own gods.  They draw near to Him with their mouths and honor Him with their lips, while their hearts are still far from Him. Calling Him Lord, while not doing what He has said to do.

We are called to not only worship Him on Sunday but also to serve Him all week long.

The Lordship of Jesus Christ is the confession of a true Christian: in the New Testament it is never Jesus Christ and... It is always Jesus; the Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End

Calling Jesus Lord is the authentic work of the Holy Spirit:
1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and no one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.

Our old nature will simply never bow down to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Today we explain to a convert the difference between: Trusting Christ as Savior and confessing Jesus as Lord…when they are actually one experience.

Yet some have proclaimed Him Savior: “I accepted Christ...”

What we are actually saying is: “Yes, I accept Him...” Simply to escape hell and make it to heaven…while seeming unconcerned about proclaiming Him Lord of their lives.

Salvation is not the same as going to Old Country Buffet where you take salvation and pass up on His Lordship.

I think that some treat salvation as though they will “try it out” on some kind of trial plan; and if it doesn’t work out then they try something else.

Yes, I understand that none of us fully understands all that is involved at conversion; we are still learning. But, I need to  be really blunt with you: No one can willfully and knowingly take Christ as Savior and reject Him as Lord and be saved.

In Acts 16, the Philippian jailer asks Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul answers him; “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31)

Did you notice that Paul gives the jailer three names:
Master (Lord) Mediator (Jesus) and Messiah (Christ)?

He didn’t say; “Take Jesus as your Savior today and think about having Him be your Lord sometime in the future, and then we’ll get together and talk about it sometime.”
We do have a choice; we can receive the Lord or reject Him. But, once we receive Him, our option ends. We are no longer our own master because we have been bought with a price.

We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the first word and the last. He has the right to demand absolute loyalty even greater than any earthly dictator.

He alone has a right to do it because He alone not only made us, but also paid for our redemption by His death, burial and resurrection; HIS VERY LIFE WAS GIVEN FOR US!

It is absolute foolishness to say: “Nobody has the right to tell me what to do, how much to give, how I should live...”

He already has told us! His Word is final and we belong to Him. And yet, still we find ourselves talking like that.
One of the problems with not coming under His Lordship is that we honestly don’t understand what that means, so it doesn’t seem like any big thing.

I understand that we want to understand before do something, yet how many fully understood electricity before you used it?

When you gave your life to Jesus Christ, YOU came under new management.

You from that point on belonged to Jesus Christ and He was and is Lord of your life.                                                                                                                                                   
The sad state of much of the Christian church today is that there is no real confession of Jesus Christ as Lord; which is strange because the word ‘savior’ is in the New Testament 25 times, while the word “LORD” is found 682 times.

Christian = a believer, a disciple, and a witness. We come to Him as a believer, and follow Him as a disciple.

Some take a stand for the Lord and keep standing. Some take a step but not a walk. We must be born-again and then go on to become disciples and witnesses.                                                                                                                                 
Yes, salvation is a free gift available to anyone who asks. But, it was not without a price: It cost God His Son and the Son His life.

However, when we become believers we become disciples and that will cost us everything we have.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is after disciples, not merely card-carrying-pew-sitters. Americans are great ones to join things.

Jesus is not just Savior of the soul, He is Lord of the life. His Lordship is over all the earth.

The question is not whether or not you will confess Him as Lord; Philippians 2 tells us that one day EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess Jesus Christ as LORD.

But when will you confess Him as Lord? Will you do it now while you can still live for Him or when it will be too late?

Is He your Lord?
Is He Lord of your body?
Is He Lord of your thoughts?
Is He Lord of your tongue?
Is He Lord of your temper?
Is He Lord of your free time?
Is He Lord of your relationships?
Is He Lord of your past, good times and bad?
Is He Lord of your future plans?
Is He Lord of your money?
Is He Lord of your church life?
Is He Lord of your recreation?
Is He Lord of what you watch on television?
Is He Lord of what you listen to in regards to music?
His Lordship covers everything from eating and drinking to all of our daily affairs in this world.                                                                                                   
The heart of revival is making Jesus Lord, proclaiming His Lordship...Have YOU done that?

When this world passes away, some will be surprised:

Jesus said;
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out devils in Your name and done many wonders in Your name? (sang in the choir, worked at church, preached, built great buildings for you, worked in the nursery...) And then will I declare to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Nov 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Blog 2018

The way that Cathy and I celebrate Thanksgiving Day has changed over the past 38 years. 

Some of the traditions have survived the test of time; such as eating too much and going around at the meal and saying what each of us are thankful for.

When we were dating, we started off celebrating with both of our families; stuffing our faces at one house and then driving to the other family gathering to repeat the meal; and then waddle home under the influence of tryptophan.

When our children were growing up, we added breakfast at our house. Afterwards, we watched the parade, dog show, and some of the Detroit game before heading to one of the parents’ homes to start the feasting. After watching the Dallas game, we watched the movie “Home Alone” before waddling home under the influence of tryptophan.

As our children grew up, got married, and started having families (and in-laws) of their own, the way we celebrated Thanksgiving changed once again.

Currently, we spend the afternoon at one of Cathy sisters’ homes with her side of the family and some of our children and grandchildren. We eat, talk, eat, play games (and pool) and watch both the Detroit and Dallas football games and then waddle home under the influence of tryptophan.

Thanksgiving is to be celebrated EVERY no matter what day you are reading this, take time to give thanks to the LORD. 

Don’t let this day be the only day that you say what you are thankful for.

Thank the LORD for His provision (physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, relationally, spiritually) and His protection (more times than you could ever imagine!).

Thank Him for friends and family. Thank Him for your employment. Thank Him for vacation and times of refreshing. Thank Him for entertainment and sports and music and art.

Thank Him for good times and bad; for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part from this earth.

Thank Him even for that broken down, worn out vehicle that you wish you could afford to replace and yet still gets you through another day.

“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” (Psalms 50:14)

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalms 69:30)

“Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalms 107:22)

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalms 100:4)

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Nov 15, 2018

Happy Hockey

Two weeks ago, I was sitting poolside in Sunny Florida basking in 85-degree weather.

This past week, the temperatures in Minnesota dropped and snow coated the ground. In fact, on one day the snow was actually deep enough that I had to use both a brush to sweep of our vehicles and a shovel to clean our sidewalks.

And all across social media I saw posts complaining about the snow and cold temperatures as though something strange was happening.

I realize that for some people who live in the northern region of the USA, this is not a happy time of the year. It is the season when leaves, temperatures, and snow fall and all reminders that this region is a very lush and green place to live are gone (for at least for the next five months or so).

But for me, I am HAPPY and excited because that means that outdoor hockey season in Minnesota is a few weeks away. Soon all across this great state outdoor rinks in parks, lakes, and ponds will be filled with hockey games of all levels of age and experience.

This year marks my fifty first year of playing ice hockey. And for most of those fifty-one years, hockey has been one of my “happy places”.

I have many other happy places such as spending time with the Lord, my wife, children, grandchildren, friends, my workshop, at/on any body of water; as well as being outdoors simply enjoying God’s creation.

So where is your “happy place”? If it is hot, sunny weather and you live in Minnesota it will be subjective. If it is with people who always make you happy; again, it will be subjective.

It may surprise you that the word ‘blessed’ in the Bible means “happy”. We see it in Matthew 5 when Jesus gives His famous “Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 5-7). “Blessed are…”

We find it in Psalm 1:1 which says; “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”

BOTH the Hebrew and the Greek word used in those passages means ‘happy’.

In fact, those of us who KNOW Him are SUPPOSED to be HAPPY! We are told in the Bible; “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” (Psalm 144:15b)

In other words, our happiness is not based on our circumstances or activities, but rather, based on whether or not we are in the center of God’s will for our lives because it’s in the center of God’s will that we will be happy.

And, it is in this place that not only are we happy in our happy place(s), but our lives become a testimony to our friends and all those around us.

When they see you glowing and happy in spite of the circumstances, it speaks to them; it causes them to think; “Why is this person happy? Why is their response to life different from mine?”
When you walk in His will and follow His direction, you shine with His light, His joy; His happiness.

And it is a powerful testimony because no matter what is going on around you, others will see the abundant life that Jesus came to bring each one of us who call upon His name (John 101:10).

Be happy my friend as you take steps to be and remain in the center of the LORD's will for your life. Allow your happiness in Him to emanate from your life to others.

Nov 8, 2018

It’s A Miracle!

Most of my ideas for writing my blog come from events of my life. Many have been from family and from hockey.

Occasionally, Cathy will suggest an idea to me for a blog. And, oftentimes, it is “food for fodder” to get my creative juices flowing.

Recently, she suggested that I write on the casual use of the word or idea of “miracle”. Cathy had noticed just how many products use the word to describe how well their product works; such as a hair conditioner bottle that claims to be a “3-minute miracle”.

I suggested that she jot down some bullet points and set it on my desk; which she did.

In fact, it was around the same time that pastor and author Eugene Peterson passed away; October 22, 2018.

For those of you who don’t know who he was, Eugene was a clergyman, scholar, poet, and author who wrote over thirty books. One of his best-known books was his translation of the Bible called “The Message”; which is a paraphrase of the Bible in contemporary language.

And, as life usually happens, just as I was about to take Cathy’s suggestion and write a blog on miracles, I ran across a devotional by Eugene Peterson on miracles and decided that for this week, I would post it in honor of his contributions to the work of the Gospel.

A Skill of the Soul by Eugene Peterson
Eugene Peterson

When something happens that we can’t explain, we say that’s a miracle.

Under that set of definitions, most things that a magician does would be a miracle to me, and I know good and well they aren’t.

Miracle, through the biblical tradition, is not what we don’t understand but what is done for us that we can’t do ourselves.

Miracle is functional. It’s what God does for us or does for us through other people that we can’t do ourselves. 

It’s possible you could understand it, but even if you did, that wouldn’t make it stop being a miracle. The word does not mean that which is beyond our comprehension but rather that which is beyond our ability.

So in that way I can, when I walk out in the morning and see the sun coming up over the horizon, say, “That’s a miracle.” And I would be biblically correct. Every morning is a miracle. 

So how do you focus your eyes to see the miracle of each day?

How do you train yourself into that discipline that can tune out the cacophonous racket of the world so that you can hear the angel symphony singing God’s glory in the highest?

You can give your attention, your mental alertness, your curiosity, and your intelligence. Listening is not only a function of biological acoustics; it is a spiritual skill of the soul. 

Don’t be misled by the child in the manger. He was a child, but He is of the family of Moses the prophet and He speaks to you today.

He is saying something that is designed to rule your life, to lead you into a new way of existence, something that can evoke a response that has eternal dimensions to it.

He says that you are loved by God, that you are accepted by God, that your life has an eternal meaning and destiny.

Do I hear you say that you have heard all that before?

No, that is a crashing, enlivening, beautiful new word. Once you hear that, you will never hear anything old again. Everything will be new.

That is the kind of thing that keeps sounding new every time it is heard. 

What is one thing you could do today to attune your heart and mind to the miracles of God’s presence in your life?

From the book “Every Step An Arrival” A 90-Day Devotional for Exploring God’s Word by Eugene Peterson © 2018 WaterBrook & Multnomah Imprints of Penguin Random House.

Nov 1, 2018

“Do You Want To Be Made Well?”

I have had numbness in my left foot (and sometimes also leg) since May 6, 2018. I know the date because it is the only time that I have left a hockey game due to a physical problem. I even played a game after dislocating my right shoulder in a game. Needless to say, my whole arm was numb for an entire period!

I was warming up before my game by skating around the rink and suddenly, my whole left leg went numb, and I was in extreme pain. I tried to “skate-it-off”, but I could barely make a full lap around the rink.

I left the rink, went into the locker room, changed into my street clothes, packed up my gear, and drove home.

When I arrived home, Cathy, out of concern, asked me why I was home so early. I explained the situation to her and because she saw that I was in pain (and because I had left early), she told me to take a shower and then she would take me to Urgent care. 

At Urgent Care, they gave me pain meds and sent me home…the next day I went to our primary doctor and to our favorite chiropractor; Dr. Joel.

After that, I have been doing everything I can to fix it including more chiropractic and weekly treatments from our favorite PT Kathy…All with no complete healing. And it has been almost six months!

Stating the obvious, I want to be healed because I don’t like having a numb foot, and because my outdoor hockey season is about to start.

Have you ever struggled with an illness or physical condition for a very long time that won’t go away?
I would like to invite you to get a Bible and READ John 5:1-16 and then read my observations…

“Bethesda” means “house of kindness”. The Pool of Bethesda is deep enough to swim in. Beneath the pool was a subterranean stream that would occasionally bubble up and disturb the waters.

Ancient people believed that the disturbance was caused by an angel who occasionally would come, stir up the waters, and whoever stepped into the pool first would be healed.

To us it is mere superstition, but it is the kind of belief that is all around the world today; especially people who are ignorant of the Word of God and by people who are desperate to be healed and will believe anything to get their healing.

One day Jesus was passing by the pool and noticed a man who was sick lying on a mat.

The man had been sick for 38 years! He had tried to get into the pool to be healed, but someone always gets into the pool before him.

He was been committed to the same plan every day to get his healing and it hadn’t worked because someone always got their healing as they got in the pool first. And he was still sick, broken, and he was frustrated

All of us as humans deal with brokenness: Broken bodies, relationships, dreams, spirits…all longing to be healed.

We fool ourselves by telling ourselves; “It’s no big deal…” Trying to get through life walking with a limp and keeping ourselves busy as we ignore the deep need we all have for healing

But if we are truly honest with ourselves, we too would like to just once be the first person in the pool, and THEN we would be healed.

We hear how others have gotten healed and set free, so we pursue our healing. We set out on a plan of action for how we will get healed…

Someday, THIS plan will work, you will see….

Some of us have given up on ever getting healed and so we put our focus on our children. If one plan doesn’t work we will try another. We will try harder, driver further, believe harder…

Or we work on something else like our career. We are constantly on the move; all in an attempt for us to get rid of the pain in our lives.

And, like the man on the mat, we never quite get into the waters to be healed. And what’s worse, we lose focus and can no longer see God even when He is standing next to us.

Verse 6 Tells us that Jesus (the Healer) passed by the pool. But, the man was too filled with discouragement to see Jesus. He was too focused on being frustrated because no one helped him. In fact, this man almost missed seeing the only One who could heal him.

Jesus asked a simple question: “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?”

Why would Jesus ask that? Of course, he wanted to be made well! After all, he had been coming to the pool every day.

Sometimes we can get so used to the pain in our lives that we become a friend with it and it becomes part of who we are; even part of our identification.

Our pain becomes like a lizard on our shoulder: It irritates and hurts us all the time. It distracts us and prevents us from being truly free. It takes away a part of us.

AND YET, we don’t seem to be able to get rid of it and we treat it like it is our pet; not realizing that also pushes everyone away from us.

So, Jesus persisted with His question: “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?” – “well”, “sound”, “whole” Do you REALLY want to be healed?

Verse 7 Look at how the man responded: “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

This man hadn’t listened to the question that Jesus asked him; “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?”

It seems to me that this man wanted instead to form a committee to look into the problem; perhaps a committee to regulate who goes into the pool…A committee who will make sure that everyone gets their turn.

To me it seems that this man wants a ticket booth set up so we know when it is our turn or some other way to make sure that things are fair…THEN he will get his healing

Too often Jesus comes to us offering life; “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (John 7:37b)

And we respond by asking Him what He is going to do about injustice. Or by asking Him to fix the holes in the umbrella; instead of asking Him to stop the rain.

The man’s problem wasn’t just a physical problem; he had a heart condition. He was so focused upon himself. He was so focused on his plan that he couldn’t see the possibility for God to do something.

The healer Himself was present and all the man wanted was for Jesus to help him into the water; not to heal him another way.

Verse 8 Jesus responded to the man’s complaints; “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

Verse 9 And immediately the man was made well! He took up his bed and walked.

NOTICE: Jesus didn’t help the man into the pool. He didn’t dialog about the situation. He didn’t analyze what was the solution. He healed the man.
Jesus came to set us free, not help us in our futile plans.

Jesus didn’t get the man a new job that paid better or get him a new mat. Or get him new friends that would help him get into the pool. Or ask the Father to send an angel to stir up the waters.

Jesus healed the man.

You see, Jesus came to deal with the sin problem as well as the physical lameness. Verse 14 we read that the man’s condition was due to sin. We don’t know what he did, but Jesus tells us IN THIS CASE, sin was the issue.

Jesus said to the man; “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Jesus wants to do the same for each of us today: Not help us in our futile plans. Not help us get into the water. He wants to heal us totally in all areas of our lives.

The Heavenly Father wants you to be whole TODAY; restored to what God originally intended for you; through receiving the work done on the cross by Jesus

This healing is based upon what Jesus ALREADY did not your efforts! There was a very real debt to be paid and Jesus paid it with His death, burial, and resurrection.

Q: Have you given your life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?
     Have you been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God?

At this moment, you can bow your head and say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (He will hear that simple prayer).

You can do this right now by praying in your own words like this:
·        Ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins
·        Ask Jesus to take His rightful place as LORD & SAVIOR
·        And then turn away from whatever the Bible says is sin.
·        This is only possible after Christ has come to live inside of you.

And the Spirit of God will come into your heart and will enable you to stop trusting in your own efforts to please God and begin to trust in what Jesus Christ has already done.

The Healer is here today- His Name is JESUS

We read in John 5:6 that when Jesus passed by the pool, the man was too filled with discouragement to see Jesus. He was too focused on being frustrated because no one helped him. This man almost missed seeing the only One who could heal him.

Some of you are in that same position today. Do you see Him here? Or are you simply struggling to get into the water and mad that no one will help you in?

The Healer is here today- His Name is JESUS

Do you hear Him calling out to you? Or are you waiting for an angel to come instead? Or are you mad because others have gone ahead of you?

Jesus is asking each one of us the same question today: “DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?” Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually…
Why would Jesus ask that? Of course we want to be made well; after all, we’ve been coming to church for years!

The Healer is here today- His Name is JESUS! How will you respond to his question that He is asking to you? Will you respond with excuses? My family has always struggled with this…It’s our generational thing…

Or Will you respond by rising up, taking up your bed and receiving your healing?

IT’S REALLY UP TO YOU…. But you will need to respond to the question that Jesus is asking…