Oars in or oars out?

I can’t do it. I want to but I can’t. Fit in. Mold myself to the culture around me. I try but I can’t. I get stuck half way. Wanting to conform but this whole Jesus thing, his love for me, his sacrifice, he died for me, it calls me back. Most of my day I spend running back and forth between two masters. How can I just stop being drawn away from Jesus who loves me, to the world and worldly pleasures that I love?

I read a verse today, I have read it many times, but if I put this into practice, I will be launched and supported in the way I should go.

“Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2.

Putting this into practice will mean I act on this verse by adding the rest of the Bible, bit by bit, to my heart and head. Head and heart, I know what it says, and I believe it, and I do it.

I have been a Christian since 1981 and in that time I have gone through seasons of intensely following Jesus and seasons of coasting, like journeying up a river, against the flow, and then at times pulling in the oars, laying down and taking a nap, waking to find that the boat that is my life didn’t stay where I pulled in the oars. What a rude way to wake up, with the roar of the falls of destruction in my ears, and the mists of the tears of the fallen on my face.

The Christian life is rowing the boat against the current of our culture and our world, but not in judgement of those around us floating with the flow, in concern and care of them, warning, loving, helping.

I’ve said enough. I need to get back to rowing.

I am part of his family

The book of Romans has some hard things. Chapter 9 is especially hard in places. Election, mercy and where do we fit?

The take away for me this morning is this:

“What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ “

I have been adopted into Gods family, not because of anything I have done but because God is a merciful God.

In All Things

I’ve been reading through the book of Romans this year. I started in January. I read through a chapter a day and start over when I’m done with chapter 16.

This month I have been posting as I read through and verses jump out at me.

I am up to chapter 8.

Anticipating what I would say about chapter 8 before I read it because it holds my “life verse”. That verse that explains me and my relationship with Jesus better than any other single verse in the bible.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

My childhood was traumatic. I have a steel plate in my jaw and some nasty burn scars on my face. I got these before I turned 12. When I was burned I almost died. Getting the injuries that resulted in the steel plate I was actually clinically dead by the time I reached the hospital.

Again, ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

You’d think scars on a face would be a deterrent to finding love. It worked the other way around for me. Mary was actually drawn to me because I was scarred yet I was still laughing. Our story reminds me of the joke about the soldier in a doctors waiting room with a spear stuck through him. He was asked if it hurt. His answer was “only when I laugh”. Mary and I became friends in part because of my scars. We became friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend and then we got?

Broken up. You thought I was going to say married. Well we did, eventually but first for almost a year we were broken up. We even dated other people. I did not do well with that. I wanted out of town. I decided to join the Air Force. I was going to quit school, I had all of my credits already, quit and join and get out of town. I had all the papers signed except one. The medical release form. The recruiter went through rather casually until we got to the question about steel pins or plates. As it turns out the Air Force wouldn’t take folks with steel plates in them. I was stuck in Soap Lake and that and a big blue Dodge Polara are how Mary and I got back together.

The steel plate in my jaw God used to keep me around so that I could participate in the greatest blessing of my life. That blessing was to make up with Mary and get engaged to Mary on the same night then get married, have 4 kids and 10 grandkids and still be married 38 years later.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even burn scars and a brief dance with Death with a steel plate as a bonus prize. God has used all things in my life, even ugly and painful things for my good.

Tomorrow is our 38th anniversary. Happy anniversary baby! Love you SO much.

The tug-of-war

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil that I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.”

The voice of my sinful nature is never silent and the pull of my fleshly appetites never goes away. Like gravity there is a constant tug to go the opposite way that God is calling me to follow. How do I do what is right? Like a dog being called by two “owners” I am conflicted. I need to follow the one who loves me the best. The one who loves me the best is the one who made me, paid for me, and wants my the best for me not only now, but in the life to come. The “owner” that loves me best may not have a treat in his hand, but he has love in his eyes and his voice as he says, “come, follow me”.

“…Who will rescue me from this body of death?thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:18,19,24,25

Reconciled

Reconciled. I can’t get past that word. I’m reading in Romans chapter 5 today and the word reconciled is like a road detour or a stop sign. I have to sit here and think about this for awhile.

Being reconciled. Two parties that have been separated have been brought back together. Another definition is making what is into what it should be. At McDonalds we had to reconcile the cash drawers. Making sure the amount we had equaled what should be there from receipts. I don’t remember what we would do if it came up short. Somehow we had to make up for what if anything was missing.

How can a morally bankrupt person, someone with a moral cash drawer that is empty be reconciled to a God who has the receipts of what should be or what could be in our moral cash drawer?

“…we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation.” Romans 5:11b

And this is how and why he did this.

“You see, at just the right time, when we still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will Anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man some one might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrate s his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God himself made up for our morally empty cash drawer through Jesus. He paid our debt. He reconciled our debt AND he has reconciled our relationship to him.

“Since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from Gods wrath through him! For if, when we were Gods enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.” Romans 5:6-10

Our Account with God has been reconciled and now we are free to have a good and right relationship with Him. Him who made us and loves us.

Jesus- not just for Jews anymore.

Jesus- not just for Jews anymore.

I have been working my way through Matthew 22 and it ends on this verse about whose son is the messiah. What does that matter?

“Matthew 22:41-46 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. “

If the messiah is just the son of David then the kingdom he will rule is at a minimum, Jewish. Even if he were to rule the Jews and the Jews were to take over the world, his kingdom would be earthly and only continue as long as he or his son would maintain the throne.

But, if the messiah is God’s son? The playing field just got bigger. The players list just went from exclusive to inclusive.

Jesus had come as the messiah, the redeemer, the savior from the Jewish people but he was promised to all people, all the way back in the garden of Eden, God would provide a way for us to re establish our relationship with Him. He was from the Jews but he will be for all people.

We have a king, we have a savior, we have a redeemer. His name is Jesus. He has beaten our two biggest enemies; death and sin. He has restored our broken relationship with our creator God.

It is a transaction that you must initiate. If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today is a good day to start.

Oh what a world

Train musings:

As I’m looking out the window of our train to Venice I’m realizing that the air, the water, the plants and trees don’t know or seem to care what country they are in. They listen to and obey a higher authority than a man who draws a line in the dirt and says “this is mine and that is yours”. They obey a higher authority, the one who made them.

People have some strong opinions about who belongs where. I’m sure that there were meetings in a smoke filled room somewhere. men wearing suits looked at a map and argued where the lines should go.

I don’t think that God sees it that way. The planet that is. One reason might be his vantage point looking down from

Heaven it all looks the same. No colors of states or countries. No lines.

Another reason could be that it is all his. All the land, all the animals, the trees plants fish birds all are his. He made it. He made it and he made us. All of us. No matter what hue our skin is or what language we speak or inside which lines drawn on the map we find our feet or our home. We are his. God is an international God because he only made one planet earth.

Growing up I thought God dressed like captain America Except he wore a robe but his robe was red white and blue because he loved America more than any other country. We were right and they( whomever) were wrong. In any fight, God was on our side.

In the revelation of John the apostle described the vision of the city of God. In that vision he describes the foundation stones of the heavenly city. It is made of 12 different colored stones. I wonder if those 12 colors encompass the colors of all the flags of all the nations?

From Johns description There isn’t going to be an American heaven and an Italian heaven and a French heaven. There is just going to be heaven, the place God dwells. Neither will there be sections for Catholics and a part for Protestants, a space for Jews there will be an all inclusive home for those who believe and receive Gods gift of salvation, being bought back to be a child of God from slavery to sin. No denominations of Protestantism , one God, one heaven, one family. Strange to think about.

One of the creeds I learned as a child said about us believers that we’re one holy catholic, which means universal, church. We are after all part of one body, the bride of Christ, his church.