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.

Overcoming

There are things that I used to to do as a child. Childhood bad habits. Did I outgrow them or did I overcome them?

I was a thumb sucker. I was a serious callous on the thumb thumb sucker. My parents tried many things to make me give it up. Nothing worked and then? I quit. I no longer suck my thumb. Did I overcome or outgrow thumb sucking?

More painful to admit, more embarrassing, I was a bed wetter. I don’t remember getting spanked for it but I do remember a couple of humiliating instances where the entire extended family got involved. Many things were tried. Fluid restrictions etc. nothing worked. And then it did. I quit wetting the bed. Did I overcome and or outgrow bed wetting?

What was it that changed? In both instances of leaving behind a childish behavior I had to change a pattern of action. I had to want change more than I wanted comfort.

I struggle with believing all of the Good News that the bible has to give me. I continue to fail and flop, trip and transgress so where am I once I have misbehaved?

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:1-5

Today I was making a change in part of our control logic in a control module. I made the change, saved the change, downloaded the change and opened up the module to find? It had reverted back to the original logic. Sometimes my life is like that. I find a fault in myself, confess it, vow to change it and then…? I repeat the same offense. Back at work I spent several minutes repeating the same scenario, change, save and download and each attempt was met with the same result. The logic reverted to the original unchanged version. Then i found the problem. The issue? It’s the same in me as it was inside the logic I was working on. It had to do with permission to change. There is a click box and an expansion arrow where I had to choose what information got rewritten. Once I told the logic to save and rewrite the logic with the new information my changes stayed when I went online.

In my life I have control over what gets rewritten in my heart soul and mind. If I don’t choose to save the new information, that I am loved by God, that I have been forgiven by God, that I am saved and adopted by God through Jesus, then the same lies and garbage, that I am unloved and unlovable, unforgiven and unforgivable, that I am alone in the universe,  get up loaded into my life. In order to save the changes I need to grant permission to the Saver, that what he has rewritten on my heart will now become the truth about me.

Paul tells us in His letter to the Romans that salvation is a 2-step process.

“Moses writes of righteousness-by-the-Law when he says that ‘the man who does those things shall live by them’—which is theoretically right but impossible in practice. But righteousness-by-faith says something like this: ‘Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?’ to bring Christ down to us, or ‘who will descend into the abyss’ to bring him up from the dead? ‘The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart’. It is the secret of faith, which is the burden of our preaching, and it says, in effect, “If you openly admit by your own mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and if you believe in your own heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” For it is believing in the heart that makes a man righteous before God, and it is stating his belief by his own mouth that confirms his salvation. And the scripture says: ‘Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame’.

Romans 10:5 – 11 PHILLIPS

There step one, confession that Jesus is the Lord of all the earth, and more specifically, he is the boss of me. And then there is step 2, believing that God has raised him from the dead.

I believe that the issue with saving the changes in my heart soul mind and spirit has to do with recommitting myself to Jesus being Lord of my life. It’s like when I first got saved I told Jesus, “you are my Lord”, but that was only over the part of my life that I was consciously aware of. As God continues to rummage through my heart soul mind and spirit we keep getting into new areas, and once again I have to turn to Jesus and say, “Jesus You are Lord of this area too…”

It’s taken me a couple of days to write this. This morning I was struggling to shake off the cobwebs of sleep. My mind and body wanted to either sleep or be entertained. Being transformed by the word of God was not even on the menu so I had to choose. Would I click the box that allowed change to take place? Who would be the boss of me this morning? My self seeking flesh or the spirit of God saying “wake up Peter, God has something new and fresh for you this morning!”

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. ….And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

When I began to write this blog it was the above verses that I wanted to highlight. By believing in Jesus, that he rose from the dead on the third day, that he is in fact the one and only son of God and that his sacrifice is the one and only way to be reconciled to God, by believing that, we are born of God. By being born of God, we overcome the world.

I overcame some things as a child. I made choices that changed my behavior. I chose self discipline over lazy comfort. I cannot choose self discipline and change my sin nature but God can change me from the inside out as I submit to the changes that he makes in me. I will never be made perfect as long as I am breathing, but as long as I am breathing, I am in the process of overcoming the world and its influences in my life. Because of Jesus’ death, I am adopted by God into his family and have access to the amazing well of forgiveness. There is no bottom to it. As I fumble and stumble along in life, God continues to forgive my sin and welcome me back as a child of his.

All of this is open to all.  Who so ever….

Peculiar

We watched an episode of Midsomer Murders last night. One of the characters was a Christian. Usually if a Christian is portrayed in modern fiction, they are the crazy ones and some how they will be the one who murdered in Judgement of a fallen character.

in this episode They weren’t crazy. They didn’t murder anyone. They prayed for the situation, offered hospitality, read their bible. They hated sin but were compassionate towards sinners. I was relieved.

Why do fiction writers portray us so badly? Why are Christians in fiction so weird? Is it that the writers have never met a genuine Christian? We are different, we are a peculiar people but we are not peculiar in a bad way. Well we shouldn’t be. How should a Christian act? We should be peculiar in a good way.

The apostle John says this in his first letter to Christians to remind us who Jesus is, what he has done and how we are to respond to his gift of salvation.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:16-18

Jesus loves. He loves us to death, his death. His love for us compelled him to die in our place. He is our example of love towards people who don’t deserve love. We are to care about and for others, to have concern and act on that concern.

John says more about it.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 4:7-21

We are a peculiar people, we have the spirit of God living in us. That alone should make us seem different. We have the Spirit at work in our lives. That should be what makes us stand out, the way we love, the way we live and the way care for each other.

Fictional characters are based on real people in the writers life. If someone based a character on me, how would I look? Am I peculiar? Yes but am I a Spirit guided person who loves self sacrificially?

How about you?

If we fail all we have left to do is confess our failures and start over, loving, being gracious, sharing life by sharing ourselves and our stuff with whoever needs it.

Accepting Jesus gift, his death that brings us life, that is the first step forward into a new life, the life of being a follower of Jesus. From that point on we are on a journey, a new adventure of change and remodeling of our our heart and our life. God is at work with the Holy Spirit changing us from the inside out. He is changing us into people that resemble his son. Changing us into people that love like his son loves, self sacrificially.

“I sum up”

“I sum up”

It’s one of my favorite quotes from “the Princess Bride”.

Jesus summed up the law and the prophets in two small quotes.

In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked this:

“34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”’

My favorite commandments are the ones that are easy not to break like , don’t murder. That WAS easy until Jesus said that if you hate someone, you’ve already murdered them in your heart. That one I’ve broken.

They seem be about behaviors to avoid. But the commandments Jesus lists are things to actively do. Love God. Love people.

So this Christian life, it may not be about not doing the don’ts, but more about doing the do’s.

Jesus says later, recorded in Johns Gospel, that the way the world will be able to tell us apart from the rest of the population is how we love one another.

If you look at how Christians are portrayed in our culture, that isn’t how we are known.

How do I appear? How do I live? How do I love? Do I treat people the way I want to be treated? Do I love self-sacrificially?

Things to ponder and correct if necessary. Paul gave us a summary of how we should live in his letter to the Romans.

“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

How are we doing with this?

1. Love God

2. Love people

3. Repeat