On this Monday after Easter, I am grateful that I follow the Overcoming One. By His resurrection, He has removed the fear of death that must inevitably come for all of us and His resurrection life is a foretaste of our own future resurrection life.
Heb. 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
1Cor. 15:19-22 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Cor. 15:52-58 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Beware of awakening hope! Is change possible? Yes, says Dave Johnson, in an article in the spring/summer 2010 issue of Conversations.
Mindy Caliguire introduces Johnson’s article with these words about hope which are as good as the words of Johnson.
We are invited once again to hope. But when we awaken hope, we had better be able to make good on the deal. Because hope is the most dangerous thing in the world. Do not awaken it falsely; it destroys. It unwinds rather than binds up, it wounds rather than heals, it corrodes rather than strengthens. False hope can kill.
Caliguire says that Johnson shares authentic hope about the possibility of change, hope that will not disappoint us. Johnson says we need three things for transformation to happen. He says relationships and spiritual disciplines are not enough without the following three points. They are necessary and non-negotiable!
1. Authentic–paraphrasing Mtt 5:3-4, Johnson says, “Blessed are those who start gettining ‘out here’ what is going on ‘in here.’” “Whether it’s pain, fear, sin, or shame, “Blessed are those who quit pretending,; they get the comfort.”
2. Courageous–”to live authentically in light of what is true about you and true about me–about my motives, fears, sin, shame, and weakness–is the most courageous things we will ever do.”
3. Grace–”the only thing I know that has ever given me the courage to bring out into the light the things I would tend to hide in the dark.” Without “an environment of grace in our churches and small groups , people will never find the courage to really be authentic.”
Other quote from Johnson
If you are in a system of any kind–a family, a small group, or a church–in which how things look is what matters most, then I promise you that how things really are will never get dealt with.
If you are feeling down, then the following video is a must watch. Rather than focusing on his limitations and disabilities, Patrick Henry Hughes sees abilities and possibilities. Thanks to Michael Hyatt
Found these on Michael Hyatt’s blog but he pointed the way to the original source, Kent M. Keith. Here they are from his web site which includes an explanation on why these were associated with Mother Theresa. Keith wrote these when he was 19! You can also check out his universal moral code.
The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
To understand this post, you need to know that I am currently making my second attempt towards completing a Doctor of Ministry degree. I am now almost at the point where I was about 10 years ago–with all coursework completed and working on my dissertation proposal. About ten years ago, my study flooded (another story since we lived on a hill!) and all my dissertation documents were soaked. I am not saying that led to me not completing my dissertation but it accelerated the decline in effort so that a few years later I was removed from the program. And now for my post for today.
When I saw the water
Flowing over the edge of the desk
Onto the floor
A feeling of dread came upon me
And I remembered another flood
One that erased the lines typed on the pages
Along with the last glimmers of hope
Has this project become too important to me?
As I saw the water, my anger poured out
And it seems that I am
For the frustration of this project
For my lack of self-discipline
Anything to avoid the hidden fears
That maybe I cannot do this again
That I don’t want to fail again
Confronted with the possibility of failure
I grow afraid
And want to withdraw, hide deep inside
Or escape to places and times where there is no fear
Where I can relax and just be
The child of God You created me to be
In this place?
I don’t want to admit that the fingers of my heart
Have been groping and clinging to these
Wet notes and ideas rolling around in my head
Yet I must see clearly
Before I can let go
And be set free
Reading this week in Psalm 25, a Psalm in which the author seems to be trying to trust (wait, hope, follow) a God, full of unfailing love and faithfulness despite defeat, deceit, deep distress and potential disgrace. Verse 11 stands powerfully at the center of the Psalm, “For the honor of Your name, forgive my many, many sins.” NLT And then, in verse 18, the Psalmist pleads,
Feel my pain, see my trouble and forgive all my sins
This is a Psalm I needed to read! Then, I pulled out Craige’s commentary on Psalms 1-50 and this is what he had to say,
The prayer is that of a person who has made the choice and is walking the road of the righteous; but the dispassionate wisdom has been transformed to passionate petition, for the right road is not an easy one on which to walk. It is lined with enemies who would like nothing better than to put the walker to shame; and the traveler on the road is also plagued with internal doubts, as he recalls in his mind previous wanderings from the road and former sins. The essence of the road of the righteous is this: it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God.
The Psalmist, troubled from without and within, has stopped for a moment in the way; he knows he cannot turn back, but scarcely knows how to continue. And so he prays that God would show him the raod and make him walk in it (4-5). He knows that he does not deserve such guidance and strength, but as one forgiven of sin, he is confident that God will show him the road again (v2b).
Now, I know why I need to read this Psalm this week. I am desperate for the companionship and friendship of God on this journey.
Read “Hope” by C.S. Lewis in a small book called, Christian Behaviour. This was a series of 10 minute talks that Lewis gave on BBC. Lewis explains how those longings within us that are never quite satisfied here on earth are really longings for heaven. He says that the fulfillment of our longings is elusive, always fading away just when we think they will be fulfilled. Lewis suggests there are three responses when we realize our longings are going unmet.
- Fools Response–they blame things, have an attitude of “if only,” and attempt to have more experiences so that the longings will be fulfilled.
- Disillusioned “Sensible” response–give up, learn not to expect too much, repress that part of self that has these longings
- Christian way–they believe “Creatures are not borne with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist. . . If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that i was made for another world.”
- intimacy with another
- to be understood, valued, appreciated
- to be loved
- significance, praise
- to know and be known, to not be alone
I don’t know about you but if you have ever tried to pray through Psalm 131, it is not easy. How can I say in verse 1, “My heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me.” I want to pray these words—I want them to be true but if I am honest, I can’t really pray them.
Not on my own. That is where verse 2 comes in. As I still and quiet myself before the Lord and enjoy Him for who He is and not for what I can get, is there not a movement away from dependence on myself and to Him?
How do I maintain this trust and dependence on God and not myself? Verse 3 “Put your hope in the LORD, now and always.” God alone is my hope. Remember that, David!! Read 2 Cor 4 after spending some time with Psalm 131 and what a wonderful fit it is. Over and over, Paul writes that it is all about the glory of Christ—beginning at the end of chapter 3. So, says Paul, “we never give up” (4:1)—because we have a New Covenant ministry in which we reflect His glory (3:18); “we don’t give up and quit” (4:8) so that the life of Jesus (4:10) and the glorious power of God is seen in us (4:7); “we never give up” (4:16) because in doing so “God will receive more and more glory.” (4:15)
Reading in the New Living Translation
Gary Thomas talks about the crucial importance of the ascension in the third chapter of The Beautiful Fight. Spent this morning reflecting on his powerful words, so heavy on me that I can hardly type.
“Celebrating Christmas gives us faith . . . Celebrating Easter gives us assurance . . . Celebrating the ascension gives us hope and points us toward transformation; it affirms that we can become more and more like Jesus is right now.” 36
“Without the ascension, we might look around and forget that Christ is the ruling Lord of this fallen, broken world.” 36
“We serve the ascended and reigning Christ. The world may mock our King. We may disdain his rule by our own sinful rebellion–but the fact is, he reigns. And we can participate in the spread of his kingdom, in the Beautiful Fight, not simply by imitating how he lived on earth but by surrendering to his dynamic, life-transforming presence within us, by letting him change the way we see, think, feel, hear, speak, and serve. It’s the life of Christ in us, continuing his work, exercising his reign, manifesting his presence.” 37
“Without, Christ, we have no power to change. . . Christ isn’t buried in history; he is risen and ascended. ” He reigns, acts, speaks, guides, and is building his church. The ascension can help to keep us from smothering the supernatural and the mysterious elements of our faith, recapturing the dynamic reality of Christ manifesting himself through us.”
“Sadly, like the biblical Esau (see Genesis 25:29-34), we sometimes feel pridefully tempted to sell this amazing birthright of Christ’s presence for our own presence. We focus on our work, our influence and our ministry. One of the biggest threats to incarnational living is pride. Instead of manifesting Christ’s presence, we want to showcase our own presence; instead of dispensing Christ’s truth, we want to spotlight our own opinions; instead of adopting Christ’s agenda, we want to accomplish our own five-or ten-year plans; instead of building Christ’s kingdom, we want to spread our own ‘ministry’.” 38
“Because Jesus reigns now, we have hope. Even though my eyes are weak and greedy and judgmental and lustful, there stands Christ, with eyes filled with burning purity, holy passion, and self-less love. Even though I sometimes speak with a hurtful tongue or blurt our unkind comments, there is Christ, with his healing tongue in perfect control. And here is where it gets really good. Jesus is not simply watching me, asking me to imitate him; on the contrary, he has released, is releasing and will release his Holy Spirit to help me see and talk just as he does. He will live through me. 43
“Let us discard the pride, the preening, the bloated arrogance of our opinions. Let us shun the small lives of desperate people who try to make themselves large through frenetic activity and modern gimmicks. Let us quiet our hearts long enough to experience the restful, amazingly powerful, and compellingly pure passion of Jesus, and changing what we see, tuning us in to what must really be heard, and helping us to feel what God himself feels. This is real human experience, exalted by divine impact, it is our birthright through the ascension–a sacred truth we need to hold dear. ” 44