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I found a better way for me to sing the old hymn, “I Must Tell Jesus”

I have told Jesus all of my trials;
I do not bear these burdens alone;
In my distress, He kindly did help me
He every loves and cares for his own.
Chorus:
I have told Jesus!  I have told Jesus!
I do not bear my burdens alone;
I have told Jesus!  I have told Jesus!
Jesus has helped me, Jesus alone.
I have told Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
I did but ask him, He did deliver,
Made of my troubles, quickly an end.
Tempted and tried I have a great Savior;
One who has helped my burdens to bear;
I have told Jesus, I have told Jesus,
He all my cares and sorrows has shared.
O how the word to evil allured me!
O how my heart was tempted to sin!
I have told Jesus, he has enabled
Over the world the vic'try to win.

God is not …

“God is not a control freak”

– Steve Meeks, Calvary Community Church, 06/01/2018

 

“Jesus came to …”

“And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins” – 1 John 3:5

The real reason Jesus came, according to Scripture, was to take away our sins.

If you don’t see sin as your problem, then you can’t see the importance of what Jesus did and continues to do.

I found a better way for me to sing the old hymn, “I Need The Every Hour”

I have Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

 

Chorus
I have Thee, oh, I have Thee;
Every hour I have Thee;
You've blessed me now, my Savior!
I've come to Thee.

 

I have Thee every hour,
You stay near by;
Temptations lost their power
for Thou are nigh.

 

I have Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
You came quickly to abide
For life was vain.

 

I have thee every hour,
Team me thy will;
And Thy rich promises
In me fulfill.

 

I have Thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
You've made me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son.

Some of my teens hung around a crazy kid in the neighborhood and no amount of warning or reasoning kept them away.

I tried to change my teenagers, that didn’t work.  I tried to change the crazy kid, that didn’t work.  I asked God to move the kid, and that didn’t work.

I even considered moving but realized that wouldn’t work either, my kids would just find someone else just like him to hang with.

It seemed like God put him there, just like God put the wrong tree in the garden (Genesis 2:9) when it all began.

It taught me:

  1. What we do, right or wrong, comes from our heart, not the opportunity;
  2. God is helping my children as they make their choices and learn how to make better ones, just like he helps me;
  3.  Jesus has the power to change anyone when they get serious about it.

“People who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11 (GNT)

I Surrender!

As a student pastor, praying one evening about what I would preach on Sunday, I had a disturbing thought.

What if all I do for the rest of my life is teach the Bible to a small handful of people?

“God,” I said, “I don’t mind doing this for a while as I prepare for real ministry but for the rest of my life?  This my life we are talking about; I want to do something exciting, different, make my mark in this world.”

That evening was a turning point for me; I surrendered and made an amazing discovery.

Trying to squeeze out of life what I want never satisfies.  Real satisfaction, joy, and lasting excitement comes through surrender.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. – Jesus (Mark 8:35 KJV)

I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate – Paul (Romans 12:1 GW)

 

I found a better way for me to sing the hymn, “Are you washed in the Blood”

I have been to Jesus for the cleansing pow'r;
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.
I am fully trusting in His grace this hour;
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb!

Chorus:
I am washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.
My garments are spotless, they are white as snow,
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.

I am walking daily by the Savior's side;
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.
I rest each moment in the Crucified;
I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.

When the Bridegroom commeth my robes will be white!
For I'm washed in the blood of the Lamb.
My soul will be ready for His presence bright,
For I'm washed in the blood of the Lamb!

I laid aside my garments that were stained with sin,
and was washed in the blood of the Lamb,
I found the fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
I was washed in the blood of the lamb.

Moses

“And Moses said unto the Lord …I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?”

  • Exodus 4:10-11 KJV

Telling God our limitations is a bit silly, and can actually be just an excuse.

Explaining all the details to God doesn’t do him any good, he already knows.  If there is something holding you back or causing you problems, instead of telling God all the little details, exactly what you want him to do about it, and waiting until he does what you told him, ask him fix it his way and show you what he wants you to do next.

 

4 Books

OpenBook

So far, other than the Bible, there are four books which have impact on my life and way of thinking:

  1. The Christian Family by Larry Christenson;
  2. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper;
  3. Delighting in the Trinity: An introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves;
  4. The Naked Gospel: The Truth you May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley.

splinter_02The Apostle Paul spent three chapters in his letter to the Romans identifying the source of their pain.

Something was lodged in their bodies that was, actually, the real cause of their problems.

“I know that good doesn’t live in me–that is, in my body..if I do the very things that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore.  Instead it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. – Romans 7:18-20 CEB

We are not “miserable sinners saved by grace”, we are saints redeemed by the blood of Christ.  Though renewed, forgiven, justified, and changed on the inside, there is something on the outside, in our bodies, still causing a problem.  Sin (not “sins”) is lodged there, like a thorn in the flesh, dragging us down.

The real us, has been cleaned, and choosing to believe our bodies are crucified with Christ, we stand before God renewed.  As we live with God’s power to say, “No!” to our bodies when they pull us the wrong way, we act more and more like Jesus.  When we lay down our bodies to be with Jesus all the struggle is over.  When he returns and changes our bodies to be like his there will be no problems at all.

This is not a “devil makes me do it” mentality, quite the opposite!  If the problem was me, it would be hard to fight against myself, but since the problem is something outside of me, I can defeat it!  God and I can defeat anything!

Faith like Abraham’s

JesusFaceThe apostle Paul had a analogy in Romans 4 perplexing me until just recently.

Abraham and Sarah were just too old to have children but God had promised.  Instead of focusing on the contradiction he saw in his body, Abraham believed what God had said and held fast.

God took Abraham’s faith in the Promise and considered him righteous, right then and there, in spite of the fact he was not all that holy before or after.

How could Abraham’s faith for a son be compared to my faith in Jesus?  It’s found in the way we, both, view(ed) the contradictions in our “flesh”.

Abraham was promised a son, but his flesh told him otherwise – he believed the promise.

We are told we have been (past tense) crucified with Christ, raised to new life in/with Christ, Holy and seated with him in heavenly places, but our flesh tells us otherwise – we believe the promise.

 

If God calls me righteous right here and now, that’s good enough for me.

“Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, ‘It’s hopeless…’ That’s why it is said, ‘Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.  But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us!  The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe” – Romans 4:19-25 Message

Bible Contradictions

WhichWayWhen giving directions to my house I tell some people to turn right onto my street, others I tell to turn left.  I’m not confused about where I live nor am I contradicting myself, my instructions depend on which way people are headed when they come to my street.

Bible passages can be understood like this, too.  For example:

“But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” – Matthew 6:15 (spoken by Jesus)

“And be ye kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgive you” – Ephesians 4:32 (written by Paul)

One passage appears to say our forgiveness from God comes AFTER we forgive and the other appears to say it comes BEFORE.  But notice to whom the instructions were given and when.

Jesus was speaking to the crowd before the cross; Paul was writing to those after the cross, ones who had their sins paid for by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Before the cross, the best anyone could do was try to live right and hope for the coming redemption through God’s messiah.  Many still think the best they can do is try to get and keep on God’s good side by their acts of sacrifice.

The good news is that Jesus, the Messiah, has now paid for my sins.  I cannot forgive enough to earn my way to heaven no matter how hard I try, but He exchanged my sins for his righteousness.  My forgiveness came as a gift when I gave my life to Jesus before I did any forgiving of my own.  He took my sins away and put his Holy Spirit in me, enabling me to extend the forgiveness by choice and from gratitude that I could not on my own.

I am headed a different direction than before.

Many Bible passages turn out to need only a simple understanding of who is being spoken to and which way they are headed in life’s journey.

Please be seated.

Chair

Of all the items Moses was instructed to make and place in God’s temple, one was notably missing.  There were tables and candlesticks, altars and basins, etc. but nowhere was there a chair.

This suggests the Old Testament sacrifices were never finished.  Each year, each month, each day, and throughout the day another sacrifice was required, another sin needed atoning.  The priests were never allowed to sit.

But Jesus brought a new priesthood.  When he offered himself, the work was finished and he sat down.

“Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices and never makes a dent in the sin problem.  Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it!  Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.” – Hebrews 10:11-14 (Message)

We don’t need a constant reminder of our sins, Jesus on the cross took our sins away and we can rest in him as if they were never there in the first place.

How would things be different if you believed Jesus really did remove all your sins forever?

Andrew Farley asks it this way,

“What position are you in with regards to your sins?  Are you standing up, running around, and trying to make up for them?  Attempting to get forgiven, to get cleansed?  Or are you seated with Jesus in a relaxed position?  Do you realize that your Savior has taken them away once all?” – The Naked Gospel, page 145

 

 

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.

Where’s Waldo?

waldo

“…he [the Lord] be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being;” — Acts 17:27b-28a

There are times God feels distant. But the Bible tells us we live and move in him like a fish lives and moves in water.

John Ortbert in his little book God is Closer Than You Think says God sometimes plays a spiritual version of “Where’s Waldo”. Waldo is on every page but as those books progress he becomes more difficult to find. Why? The author, Martin Handford, never says but when Waldo is found there is joy and a sense of discovery. The experience teaches children to pay attention to detail and to keep seeking because they know his is there somewhere, the author promises that he is!

God never says why he is sometimes hard to feel, either, but I think it is to produce a similar response in his children.

Have you found Waldo on today’s page, yet?

–fritz

goldencalf

When the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, “Do something” – Exodus 32:1

When you don’t know what to do, sometimes the very worst thing is to just do something!

– Fritz

Very Big Obstacles

TheTomb

They were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. — Mark 16:2-4

With God, the things causing us the most concern in life’s journey turn out to be non-issues.

– fritz

John Ortberg

John Ortberg

“The central promise in the Bible is not ‘I will forgive you,’ although of course that promise is there. It is not the promise of life after death, although we are offered that as well. The most frequent promise in the Bible is ‘I will be with you.'”

– John Ortberg, God is Closer Than You Think pg.16

Shh!

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” — Psalm 91:1

God has a secret!

King David called it a place1 of God’s protection and a shelter from strife and pride.2 Job, (pronounced with a long “o” and best known for his personal suffering) said it was a place where wisdom lived but that it had only been heard of, never yet discovered.3

The apostle Paul called that place a mystery, hidden for hundreds of years … until NOW! He said he, actually, discovered it and so could we!

He wrote the mystery is found by getting connected, literally, to God through Jesus!

This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you” – Colossians 1:26-27

Not a euphemism, when joined to Christ we become a physical extension of himself — so much so that what we do in our bodies, good and bad, is what we are doing with and to Christ.4

When God looks at us he is seeing an extension of his son. Christ’s payment on the cross for sin, ours5. The Holy Spirit working in Jesus, now working in us. Our debts, his. Our bodies, his. Our needs, his. His closeness to the Father, ours. And when Jesus returns for us we shall be like him.6

This changes everything!

– fritz
1. Psalm 91:1
2. Psalm 31:20
3. Job 28:20-23
4. 1st Corinthians 6:13-17
5. 1st John 4:17
6. 1st John 3:2

Related Post: “Thin Places” — March 20, 2012

Noah Lang

How do you know when God is calling you to be his or to do a particular service or ministry?

“One little boy describes it this way”, our pastor said, “It’s like fishing. You can’t see the fish or hear it, but you feel it tugging on your line.”

God’s call is like that.  When he’s calling, you may not see or hear anything new or different but you feel Him tugging on your heart.

— fritz
Related Post: “What’s My Calling” – June 27, 2010
Related Post: “Itchy” – January 11, 2012

An Old Joke, Revisited

The famous Abraham Lincoln had a favorite joke: “If we consider the tail of a lamb as a leg, how many legs would a lamb have?” — His answer: “Four, considering it one doesn’t make it one!”

Except….whatever God considers is just that!

God considered something for Abraham:

Abraham “believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness”. — Genesis 15:5-6

God considered Abraham righteous though Abraham had done and continued doing some pretty stinky things! God considering him righteousness was all that was required!

King David, too! He wrote:

“Blessed is he whose sin is covered unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity.” — Psalm 32:1-3a

The word imputeth means to consider. He wrote about those to whom the judge of the universe looks at and says, “Not Guilty!” That is a blessing!! Where do you get that?!

The Bible says

“It was not written for [Abraham’s] sake alone … but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned (considered), who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification. — Romans 4:23-25

Joining our lives to Christ enters us in that consideration.

So, If We consider five (5) unrighteousness men in a room as righteous, how many righteous men are in the room? — Five, if they have given their lives to Christ, God considers it so!

— fritz

The Honda Doctor

scooterclub2

Simon Peter answered [Jesus], “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” — John 6:60

There is a retired mechanic in the area who calls himself the “Honda Doctor”. Anything too old for dealers to fix he will.

One thing, though, he works on his own terms. He doesn’t need you but if you have an old Honda motorcycle you need him. He charges a flat hourly rate plus parts. Do his repairs take too long? Sometimes. Are the parts too expensive? Sometimes. Your only option is to either choose him to fix your bike or not and don’t tick him off.

God is like that in some ways. He works on his own schedule his own way. Does he take too long? Does he cost more than expected? Sometimes. Our only real option is to either choose him or not.

Fortunately for us he is good, loves us dearly, and works all things to our benefit.

The Honda Doctor doesn’t do that.

— fritz.

SharedCar3Yesterday I had a conversation with our Son about the car. He was incensed we would put our car he drives in the shop without providing another for his use. I tried to explain it was my job to administer our shared resources for the good of all — which means sometimes he has to wait and/or find alternatives to the places he wants to go.

Reasoning did no good, I guess because it combined two words: “Him” and “Wait”.

Today God had a conversation with me about almost the same thing. This world, everyone and everything in it, is a shared resource. It’s his dirt, he must administer those resources according to his wisdom and love — which means sometimes I have to wait and/or find alternatives to get me places I want to go, trusting that what I really need he will provide.

Sharing resources requires patience, a positive attitude, and perseverance.

— fritz

* Get your own dirt. April 27, 2012

angryThe last step for successfully enduring difficulty may be surprising.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” – Psalm 37:8

The word translated “anger” literally means “nostril”. Nostrils flare when a person gets really mad.

Why mention anger? One of the same reasons most marriages fail where there is a tragedy or handicapped/difficult child. Anger easily comes to the surface in times of stress.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Don’t manage anger, stop it by being alert, deciding it will never produces good results, and letting it go as a sacrifice to Jesus.

Prayer: “Father, let this struggle this time be different. Help me keep your word in front of me and to cease being angry. I let it go as a sacrifice to Christ. Amen!”

hourglassThe fifth step to successfully handle difficulties takes a bit of research to understand.

The King James translates it this way:

“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psalms 37:7)

“Rest” comes from the word that means “stop and keep silence” and “wait patiently” actually comes from one word in the Hebrew meaning “to twist and whirl’. It can also mean to “writhe in pain or fear” but to stay in one place when doing so.

Old king David looking back on life said the best thing to do in pain or distress is to quietly stay put expecting God to rescue. God’s rescue doesn’t come on our timetable but on God’s and there are some things only learned through enduring emotional/physical distress. We don’t like it, but there it is, He is God and we are not.

We must learn that if we choose to trust him for our eternity we must also choose to trust him for today and tomorrow.

It is responsible do what we can to fix our problems but when all has been done we just have to dangle there a while with the expectation God in his wisdom will intervene at the right time — and until he does so we will endure

Step #5: Dangle in the wind expecting God’s rescue at the right time.

— fritz

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