To the one I love . . .

I’m listening to Keith Green’s “When I hear the praises start” and a thought struck me that at least some of my tears when I meet Jesus will be because some people chose to be left behind. One person I love said that if I am going to talk about Jesus with them I can’t talk about any of my experience with Jesus. They have essentially said, “I don’t want to talk about Jesus with you.” And I have honored that. One of the first things Jesus taught me when he was drawing me with chords of loving-kindness was He will not force anyone to love Him. In fact, love cannot be forced. Jesus respects the one I love and their right to choose even if they choose to reject Him. This is hard. And I cannot think about it long.

God has given me the solution: I can pray for them. Lord, would you create the circumstances the one I love needs to see your love clearly and completely. Fight for them dear Jesus. They are hurt, give them healing from your hand. They fear to love again, help them know you are faithful and true, the only one who is. They have lost at love so many times they protect themselves with a bitter and cynical spirit. Absorb their attacks and let them know you will absorb more, infinitely more, until they realize you will never leave them. When satan reminds them of their sins, remind them their sins have been more than paid for by you, specifically for them. Lord, do not give them rest until they know how much you love them, that you love them just the way they are, that you will never leave them if they want you in their life, you are theirs for the taking.

It is expected . . .

Luke 17:7–10 NASB95

“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ ”

I have asked Jesus to work through me to do his will. Then, after he has done this, I get proud because I think I have done something good and I am worthy of praise. The above verses ground me to reality: I do not deserve thanks and praise but rather Jesus does. And after Jesus gets the credit for what he has done, and I realize that my role was only to follow his orders and do what I ought to do and that I do not deserve praise, then I can properly see myself and my role.

Treating others with the love of Jesus is the bare minimum, it is expected.

Before time began, Love was thinking of you . . .

When God was contemplating creating men and women – in his image – he had a lot to think about. He decided that, like himself, he would make them able to decide for themselves if they wanted to love Love or whether they would rather live for themselves. God knew before the foundation of the earth that though God would make men and women Very Good, Adam would fail to protect Eve, Eve would be deceived by satan and men and women would rebel against him, against Love. God decided that the soul that rebelled against Love could not live with him, it must have its own place to exist away from the Love it hated with such passion. Previously God had made a place for satan and demons, and God now decided this is where those people who hated Love would reside after they had died a Second time.

Though all people would hate Love, Love loved all people, each person individually. Love decided he would take the place of people that hated him and suffer and die for their wrongs himself. And so Love was crucified before the foundations of the world. And God decided, Love would rise again to bring Love to all that wanted him.

His love is greater than my sin

Just as Martin Luther was trying to correct the Catholic Church and not harm the same (with his 95 theses), I am not against the Wesleyan Church. I love the people there and God is using them mightily to spread the love of Jesus. The problem is, as I see it, that the security God describes in Scripture for the Christian, namely that we can know, for sure, that we can never be separated from Jesus no matter what we do, has been exchanged for the lie that we can never know for sure we are going to heaven (until we are in heaven) because we may “reject Christ” before we die and go to hell.

I started my relationship with Jesus by believing he is who he says he is and then learned I have eternal life:

13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13 (NASB95)

I believe that once I trusted Jesus, He took responsibility for me becoming like Him; from start to finish:

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 (NASB95)

When I first trusted Him He said He would be with me always, forever, unconditionally:

16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
John 14:16 (NASB95)

5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Hebrews 13:5 (NASB95)

He said, “No one” (and that includes me), can snatch me out of Jesus’ and the Father’s hand; He said, I will never perish; He said, I have eternal life:

27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:27–29 (NASB95)

Paul the Apostle says that neither the future (things to come) nor me (I am a created thing) can separate me from God’s love in Jesus:

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39 (NASB95)

The following verse shows that though we may grieve God (and rejecting Christ would grieve Him), he does not separate us from himself.

30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 (NASB95)

Some verses appear to contradict the above verses. Below is an example. How does the previous scriptures affect our understanding of the following passage? How does the last statement, “for He cannot deny Himself” affect our interpretation?

11 It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:11–13 (NASB95)

Unfortunately, Wesleyan teaching gives Wesleyan Christians no basis for believing they are going to heaven. Rather, they are told IF they don’t “reject Christ” before they die they will go to heaven. Wesleyans never know for sure if they are going to spend eternity with Jesus until they are actually in heaven, because they don’t know for sure if they will ever reject Jesus while they are on earth.

I have peace and freedom and security knowing my future is based on Jesus’ character and ability to bring me to heaven with him, not on my feeble, inconsistent attempts not to reject Christ in my own strength.

You may ask, can I abuse that freedom to the point of license? Absolutely. And Jesus will chastise me even up to the point of physical death; because He loves me. But he will not leave me, he will not reject me. Even if I reject Him. Because He cannot reject Himself.

One Pastor asked me why someone can be a Christian for years and then leave their relationship with Jesus. He implied this proves that a Christian can “lose their salvation” or “reject Christ.” My answer is that they were never in a relationship with Jesus to begin with, it only appeared they were following Jesus.

This Pastor parodied my statement by use of a computer analogy, he said:

“That’s like saying, If I am entered and then deleted, I was never entered.”

However that is NOT what I am saying.

I am saying:
If I leave it is because I was never entered; I acted like I was entered; then I left because I was never entered.

Consider the following:

19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
1 John 2:19 (NASB95)

Jesus’ love is greater than all my sin, past, present and future.

Picture a child, throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their own way from their father; saying, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.” Their father still loves them. And their relationship is not based on the child’s perspective. It is based on the Father’s love, which is based on Jesus’ love when He suffered, died and was raised on the third day.

Water for kids #8 (Victory)

Last Sunday, on October 20, 2019, in the very cold morning and very warm near noon, Jeremy ran and I walked 13.1 miles. Jeremy’s time was 2 hours and 49 minutes and 34 seconds, my time was 4 hours and 41 minutes and 20 seconds. “Our whole bodies hurt” is, of course, an understatement. But we were happy that we finished.

Thank you for praying, thank you for reading, thank you for giving. Over $600,000 dollars was raised by Team World Vision as a whole during the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. And over 13,000 kids will get clean water in their village and be able to go to school and lift themselves out of poverty.

I raised with your help, and the help of my wife putting out a Facebook plea during the marathon, around $500. That is 10 kids lives changed that is directly attributed to you. Thank you.

And so, it is over.

Or is it?

The day before the half-marathon I signed up for next year. The wisdom of which I challenged the next day during the middle of the half-marathon :>)

I hate to ask people for money, even for worthy causes. So, this year I asked through WordPress and Facebook, because it was emotionally safer. Over the next 52 weeks I am going to ask you to put $1, $2 or $5 a week towards the lives of kids you may never meet, and for water you may never drink . . . this side of heaven.

Mathew 25:34-40, NASB95

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Again, it’s your money, it’s your choice, and there is absolutely no pressure.

But I find fun in giving.

If you want to help kids next year, you may want to get a jar or envelope or something to separate the money, and put a few dollars away each week. That way it will be easy to give next year.

Water for kids #7

With the help of Jesus and my son Jeremy, we walked up and back down our hill covering 3.01 miles in 1 hour and 2 minutes. We also went up and down 416 vertical feet or 41 stories. Jeremy went with me the whole way, even though he wasn’t feeling the greatest; he had been to the dentist today and was tired and had a small headache.

Jesus and you make a great team as well. Jesus said he would supply food, clothing and shelter to those who put him first. And sometimes he gives extra that you might want to use to help supply water to a village and set the children free to learn how to get out of poverty.

It’s your money. It’s your choice. No guilt trip here. God will accomplish this with or without me or you.

But I find fun in giving.

Please use the link below if you would like:

https://teamworldvision.org/participant/James-McNaughton/

There may be a security issue with the above link. Please go to:

https://teamworldvision.org

and then use

James McNaughton

Thank you!

Water for kids #6

First of all, I take full responsibility for my actions, or rather lack thereof. I have not trained much in the last four weeks or so. Even though once I start to walk, I love to walk, and I love the feeling when I am done; I haven’t won the battle in my mind of getting out and starting in about a month.

I really don’t understand this.

I have been filled with the fear of walking or rather the pain of walking. And I know that this fear comes from satan and all I had to do was take one step (pardon the pun) toward walking and the fear would dissolve into the lie it is . . . But I chose not to take the step that would have led to freedom from my fear. I chose “safe” failure.

If I don’t finish the 13.1 miles in a week from today it is my own fault . . . It is not satan’s fault, because I have not been tempted beyond what I am able to resist. With the temptation, Jesus has provided a way of escape (just walk outside and start) so that I might be able to bear the temptation. I can’t say along with Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it!” Or, rather, not do it.

If no one else has benefited from this experiment of faith and lack thereof, I have benefited. I know what it is like to try something far beyond my comfort zone and have initial success. And I know what it is like to cave to fear when success is in sight.

Now, only Jesus can get me across that finish line. Please pray for me. But, more importantly, pray for the water carrying kids. I can fail and go home and have clean water right in my home.

They cannot.

Fifty dollars provides one child a new future. Just click the link below.

https://teamworldvision.org/participant/James-McNaughton/