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A Shared Joy

DadAndSonWhat father hasn’t tried to share a joy with his son?

A sunrise, a field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes, a particularly tasty treat – we share not because we are lonely, crave gratitude, or need the affirmation, but because we enjoy bringing a wonderful discovery to someone we cherish.  When their eyes light up and they smile with delight – Wow!  Our attempts are not always received, but when they are there is something lovely about a shared joy.

Our heavenly Father created not because he was lonely, craved gratitude, or needed affirmation, but to share his great love for his eternal Son.  By the Holy Spirit he attempts to make his Son known and loved.  That wonderful Son we know as Jesus volunteered to do what was needed to remove all obstacles to sharing that joy and by the Holy Spirit attempts to share with us what he loves about his eternal Father.

His attempts are not always received, but when they are there is something lovely about a shared joy.

These things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves…Father, ….I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17

-fritz

JesusCalsmsStormMatthew 8:23-26

The story is brief, Jesus enters a “ship”, the disciples follow, and the going gets rough.

Storms happened all the time, ships sank all the time; the danger was real and the disciple thought they were going to die; others had died in just such circumstances and Jesus was asleep, letting it all happen.

Frantically they wake Jesus, but his response is to rebuke them for being fearful. Then he rebukes the wind and sea and all becomes calm, inside and out.

Jesus expected his disciples to realize with him there’s no going under but over.

I chose to follow Jesus, like his disciples. The storms of life threaten like they did his disciples. I am fearful like his disciples and, like his disciples, I have Jesus present though sometimes he appears to be sleeping.

Jesus expects me to not be fearful but trust God will see me through, storms are no match for him and me together.

- fritz

Donald Miller in “Blue Like Jazz” points out that “sinners” outside the church are often more loving than the “saints” inside. Correctly, I believe, he says people will never hear our message if they think we don’t love them; that God loves sinners and so should we by not using our acceptance as currency to purchase desired behavior.

This is a true message, but only half the story written by someone with no children, spouse, or responsibility for anyone but himself. A parent or pastor would most likely have an additional perspective.

The world accepts the quirky because the world is quirky — even religious views are considered by most of the world as just one more quirk. All have quirks bundled in various combinations and God does accept us and love us, quirks and all. But the other half of the story (outside Donald’s book) is that some quirks like profanity, inebriation, immorality, and such, are actually harmful.

Those with responsibility to protect flock or family can’t allow harmful quirks to be unchecked.

Determining which quirks are benign and which are not is where families and churches get their distinctions — and are not always bad.

The role of family and church is not evangelism but protection and nourishment. It is the responsibility of each member to evangelize with the love of Christ for all.

– fritz

Why Does God Let Churches Die?

DeadChurch

The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it. – 1 Corinthians 11:19 (The Message)

Why does God let vibrant exciting Holy Spirit led local churches dwindle, die, and/or become hollowed out shells?

There is a tendency to look at the local church, any local church, as THE CHURCH; easy to pour our efforts into a group or building thinking we are doing God’s work; easy to think our group is different than their group.

It becomes easy to forget our connection to God is a faith and choice connection to Christ Jesus alone; easy to turn the encouragement of like-minded people into a dependence on like-minded people.

I think if God did NOT let churches die we would put our fellowship gatherings above him.

Just a thought.

Fritz.

cola
More often than not, taking time out for spontaneous prayer is like opening the cap on a bottle of cola — disconnected ideas and concerns flitting from one topic to another without any real substance or peace.

But if I take more than just a few moments and let the “fizz” dissipate an inner calm makes real contact with my Heavenly Father.

How long does it take?

Depends on how shaken up I’ve been; usually not less than half an hour.

- fritz

LittleBeeBefore meeting Christ, Saul (who later became the Apostle Paul) “breathed” anger and murder against Christ’s early followers.

When he had his own encounter Jesus told him an interesting fact still true today.

“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” – Jesus (Acts 9:5b)

The word translated, “pricks”, literally means a “stinger” — like on a bee or scorpion.

Abusing Christ’s followers is seen by God as personal assault against himself and the one really getting hurt is the abuser.

fritz

Faith Is Not Enough!

stream

Simon Peter … to them that have obtained like precious faith with us … Add to your faith … virtue…knowledge …temperance … patience … godliness … brotherly kindness … charity. For if these things be in you … ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful … but he that lacketh these things is blind…” — 2nd Peter 5:1-10

Faith in Christ, alone, makes us his but it isn’t all he wants to accomplish. God’s intent is not to just take us to heaven, he wants to do something with us here.

There are several additives listed but one that gets easily overlooked is “Brotherly Kindness”. It can’t be done when alone. Being kind to brothers, sisters, neighbors, or anyone can’t be done from the prayer closet.

Isolation is the goal of our culture and time in history — living in our own world the way we want, content to be left alone, perturbed when others try to enter. That’s the flow of the river we swim in and the current carries us along without us realizing…its not spiritual it’s cultural, just going with today’s flow.

We must choose to come out and interact with people, especially people of faith.

If regular church attendance, mingling and interacting with people who are different, is not on the agenda; if letting people we don’t know well in is not our style then it will blind us to God’s purposes and stunt our growth!

Don’t let the stream of our culture prevent the embracing of God’s desires and blessing. Reach out and show brotherly kindness.

– fritz.

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