Life verse?

The source of courage for a “reed shaking in the wind.”

Acts 4:13 in the Bible (KJV):

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

I have always been fascinated with life verses: how did people choose them, how could one verse capture their whole life, why didn’t I have one?

Today the above verse struck me.  I present as timid, my hand shakes when I am nervous, my voice shakes as well.  Yet, out of obedience to Jesus, I have risked my job, my family’s income, saying I would not work with ads that promoted pornography, abortion or the occult.  I have been filled with the Holy Spirit explaining to upper management why these things are wrong, how they hurt all the people involved with them.

At another job I pointed out to the Executive Director that the self-care we were teaching our clients, we ourselves were being forced to ignore for ourselves because we were being forced to work 60 hours a week (for 40 hours pay).  Their initial stated reaction to my email was appreciation for what I had “uncovered.”  After a few months they turned on me and  I quit before they could fire me.

In another situation, a group I was a part of were deciding if they should use their influence to encourage a family to stop life-support, and let someone die because if they lived it would dramatically change everyone’s life for the “worse.” (this last part was unstated by our group).  I firmly dissented to stopping life-support because I believed in the long run they would recover.  I was the only one that dissented.  The person died.  The family now regrets their decision and wishes they could choose over again.  The group has never acknowledged their wrong.

I have no courage to do these things; but Jesus does.  He fills me with his courage, courage to do the right thing and let God the Father handle what comes next.  I may appear to others to be a “reed shaking in the wind.”

But some see that I have “been with Jesus.”

He’s not what you may think

There are many definitions of the “Glory of God”.  To me the greatest attribute of God’s glory is his humility. God chose to humble Himself and love me when I was arrogant, boastful, insulting and rude; to others and especially to Him.  If God had not endured my disrespect, I would probably be in hell by now.  And rightfully so.  

My greatest weakness may be “Pride.”  I wrote evangelistic advertisements for a newspaper.  The ads ran every Saturday.  I did this for two years until my pride was such that I couldn’t hear from God any more.  I didn’t write again for 8 years.  I knew I was getting proud.  I didn’t want to get proud.  I thought I confessed my pride to God.  But I was proud.

Pride is the opposite of love.  Love gets its joy from helping others.  Pride thinks only about itself.  I still need to die to myself.  Every day.

On the other hand, God’s humility is amazing.  His depths of self-denial are so great that if I loved like He does I would feel embarrassed.  Like the father of the prodigal son, God undignifies Himself and runs after us to love us.  Where I would feel humiliated to love someone who treated me like I treated God, His strength-of-self knows no such weakness.  He voluntarily throws aside the respect due Him, in order to meet my need.  And He has.  And He truly has my Respect.

How about you?  Did you think God was stuffy, formal and pretentious?  Did you think you were too low for Him to come down to meet you where you are?  He’s already there.  And He is waiting for you to ask Him into your life.  And He wants to give you His love.

Why Give?

The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant
to the lender.
Proverbs 22:07 NIV84


Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:5-9 NKJV

Darwin suggested that the “strong” were to win out over the “weak”; the survival of the “fittest,” and the extinction of the rest.  But what if the rich are allowed their riches by God in order to give the rich the opportunity to bless the poor?  Not forced redistribution of wealth that the socialist advocates, but a freewill chance to love like Jesus loves.  The rich could provide resources and knowledge to those who lack them.

What if the poor has something to offer the rich?  “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith…?”  The poor could help the rich see past this material world, which operates on the principle of selfish gain; to see another world: A world which operates on the principle of loving service, powered by God’s love flowing through each of us to the other.  This world’s system operates on the basis of “what’s in it for me?”  Jesus’ system operates on the basis of: “God, what can you give others through me?”  It is a battle of the “get” (or “greed”) versus the “give” (or “love”) systems of thinking.

Complementariness, or each providing what the other lacks, is a theme that runs through God’s creation.  Unequal distribution of wealth (and faith) is no accident.  God made us each of equal value to Him, but unequal in our various abilities.  This is so we come to realize that we need each other.  This is so we can truly bless each other by giving some of what we have more than enough of (resources or faith), and giving it to the other, to meet each other’s needs.

And when God gives to you and me, and we each give to each other, the joy you and I and God share with each other, will tell a dying world where to find God.

Satan’s work exposed

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV84

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I suffer from lack of confidence sometimes, especially in new situations.  Satan knows this and regularly attacks me there.  Satan’s fiery darts, those destructive thoughts and feelings, are hitting me most recently in my new job.  I am praying that Jesus will take care of my thought life and me personally and my company and their customers.  I am praying that Jesus will expose the lies of satan (that I believe) to the light of God’s truth.  The truth will disarm the lies and make them powerless against me.  How does this work?

When satan tells me a lie it is usually aimed at a shame and insecurity I feel.  He threatens to expose my weakness and I fear telling anyone because I feel ashamed.  And the lie grows hidden in the dark.  But if I have the courage and insight to realize what the lie is and expose it, or I talk to someone who helps me to do this, I can compare satan’s lie to the truth found in the Bible.  Then I realize that Jesus loves me just as I am, that He has already paid for whatever I’m ashamed of, that I am complete in Him, and that satan cannot harm me.

Writing about this is easier than dealing with it and so though I know what’s going on I still have to fight the battle.  Praying and reading the Bible, talking with Christian friends who understand, and even writing a blog post about it, helps expose and destroy satan’s work in my life.

Thanks for reading this and feel free to comment about anything you would like.

Jesus tells us to be "Meek" not Weak!

My son and I were watching an old 1950s era episode of “Denise the Menace”.  Denise’s Mom said to his Dad, “If you’re too meek and mild to stand up for what is right, I will”.  The Bible called Jesus’ mother Mary, “meek and mild”.  I always assumed by the way it was used with the word “mild” that meek meant weak.  Then I heard somewhere that the word “meek” meant “great strength under control”.  To find out what “meek” really means I looked in: online dictionaries, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias and Googled “What is the Biblical definition of meek?”

Some online dictionaries define “meek” as “weak” using its current common use as the definition.  W. L. Walker in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that: “[‘Meekness’] presupposes humility, flows from it, and finds expression in moderation.”  However the most help I received was from Mr. Grady Scott and his explanation of Matthew 5:5 found at the following URL:

http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/Grady_Scott/matt5-5.htm

Mr. Scott describes Moses as standing up to the most powerful man on earth at that time (Pharaoh Ramses) and yet describing himself as the most meek of men.  Jesus controlled nature (stilled the wind and waves), demons (cast them out of their victims) and the elements (turned water into wine) and yet describes Himself as “meek and lowly of heart”.

Mr Scott describes the origin of the word “meek”:

An understanding of the root definition of meek in the original language and how it was used will help us in understanding what Jesus meant.
 1. Greek word praus
   a. Used to describe a soothing medicine.
   b. Used by sailors to describe a gentle breeze.
   c. Used by farmers to describe a broken colt.
 2. What do all these definitions have in common? They all describe great power under control.

So “meek” does not mean “weak”, rather it means having your strength under control.  When someone wrongs you, you don’t lose your temper.  You don’t seek revenge.  You do what Jesus did and entrust all things to your Father in Heaven and do exactly what He says to do.  To those who don’t know Jesus that may appear to be weak – forgiveness, grace, longsuffering, putting others ahead of yourself – can be misinterpreted by the masses.  But to the person whom you forgive, give undeserved favor, endure without retaliation, and put before yourself, you convey the unmistakable love of Jesus.

“Perception is Reality.” – Lee Atwater – “Is Mr. Atwater’s statement a Perception or Reality?” – Jim McNaughton

According to perception, Jesus was a failure.  He was tortured, mocked, beaten, and spat upon.  His followers ran.  One of His friends had turned Him over to His enemies.  His only defense was to validate the charge against Him.  One of those closest to Him, denied that he ever knew Him, in order not to experience His fate.  The thousands that had heard Him preach and experienced His miracles didn’t show up.

He was buried and His own disciples didn’t expect Him to rise from the dead as He had claimed He would.  Guards posted at His tomb said His disciples stole His body.  No reputable government official ever saw Him after that.  It was over.  It was finished.  It was done.

Yet the reality is that Jesus won the ultimate victory for all time!  He conquered death when He was raised from the dead.  His followers stopped running and, once filled with His Spirit, risked their lives boldly proclaiming that He was alive, that only He was King, and forgiveness of sins is found only in Him.

His message of God’s unconditional love for everyone has never stopped growing.  Though many have tried to stop Jesus and His love, they have all met with or will meet with, ultimate failure.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”.

And so, in the end, Jesus words, the words of the Bible, are the only Reality.