Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why do you call me good?!?!?

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good?

No one is good but One, that is, God.

Mark 10:18 NKJV

Do you consider yourself to be a “good” person? Do you do the right thing? Follow the rules? Treat others like you would like to be treated?

Do you believe in the Ten Commandments? If so, do you keep them? Would you say that you do a better job of being good than Jesus?

Of course you don’t think that you are “good-er” then Jesus especially considering the verse quoted at the start of this post. But, let’s be honest here,  if only for a moment – You know that you aren’t better than Jesus but you KNOW you are better than __________! You fill in the blank. There’s someone whose name you would write in there.

It is a shame but true that human nature causes us to compare ourselves against one another.  The way others dress, speak, park there car, care for their children and on and on all comes into our focus and is accepted or criticized based on our own standard of right and wrong. I may not be the best Christian but at least I never did __________ like he/she did. Again, you can fill in the blank.

The only problem with this aspect of human nature is  that it goes contrary to Gods Word and Jesus’ teaching. Sure, you never killed or raped anyone like so-and-so but Jesus clearly said that if you harbor hatred or lust in your heart – YOU HAVE DONE SO. But, of course, you know that you aren’t guilty of doing those things because you can clearly see those who do and you look nothing like them.

The comparisons continue. Even comparing what’s forgivable and what is not. We have our own list of what is forgivable and what is not. You can disrespect me but don’t you dare say anything about my kids! You can have different beliefs than I but don’t put my beliefs down. You can …….. the list is endless but you get my point. But in the final analyses we have no legs to stand on here.

In Gods eyes the murders, perverts, liars are in the same group as cowards and unbelievers and idolaters and they are all on the same bus heading to the lake of fire for all eternity. Don’t even get me started on the Gossip!!

When Jesus was approached by a rich young ruler He corrected the man for calling Him good. So, if Jesus says that He shouldn’t be called good – Who are you to think so highly of yourself? The next time you look down on someone try to remember that Jesus looked down on you – from the Cross where He died for YOUR sins and loved you the whole time.

Judge not that you be not judged.

Forgive or don’t be forgiven!

Love because He first Loved us!

ps – I know this isn’t the usual “feel-good” post but I felt lead to write it and hear it. Be Blessed, Al

When Anger turns to Anarchy

Fires are burning in Ferguson

Not just buildings or cars but the hearts and minds of the people there are on fire. Burning with anger, fear and resentment. When the expectations of large groups aren’t met then disappoint can lead to destruction.

But, does it have to be this way? Did the riots in Philadelphia bring about the expected change? Did the Los Angeles riots change anything? Did the unrest in Ferguson in August have a lasting impact?

The answer to all these questions is NO!

My comments here are not about the shooting. I have nothing to say about that other than any lose of life is tragic.  I pray for the Brown family even though I know that you never get over the lose of a child – never.  I am also praying for Officer Wilson because I know that regret is a form of torment that never goes away. There’s nothing that can undo the harm that has been done – ESPECIALLY  more harm.

The fact that people are angry and outraged about what they see as a great injustice doesn’t warrant further outrageous behavior. There are ways of demonstrating without destruction. Voices can be heard without screaming. Martin Luther King is but one example of those who chose to speak rather than yell. He will continue to be remembered while those who loot and set fires are forgotten.

History may well remember Ferguson in a different light than we see today but lets not let the riots overshadow what really should be heard – We MUST overcome!

WE MUST OVERCOME RACIAL DIFFERENCES

WE MUST OVERCOME ECONOMIC DIFFERENCES

WE MUST OVERCOME OUR ANGER AND FEAR

BECAUSE

ALL THIS ISN’T WORKING

BW Sunset

LET’S LET THE SUN COME UP ON A NEW DAY WHERE WE CAN SAY HOW MUCH WE ARE HURTING INSIDE WITHOUT HURTING OTHERS OUTSIDE

Please pray for the people of Ferguson and St. Louis, Mo and for all of us around the country to peacefully express our pain. Then, maybe, with God’s help – change will come – someday.

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

I do not know this man !!!!!

A little later others standing around the fire began saying to Peter, “You are, too, one of them, for you are from Galilee!” He began to curse and swear. “I don’t even know this fellow you are talking about,” he said. And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

And he began to cry.

Mark 14-70-72 Living Bible

Peter, Peter, Peter. Poor Simon Peter. The disciple who walked on water with Jesus and swore to keep Jesus from harm. The one who heard from Heaven that Jesus was the Son of God. It was Peter (along with his brother Andrew) who were the first to drop everything in a moments notice to follow Jesus. Now he is the one who denied Him three times – just as Jesus told him he would.

Peter reminds me a little of myself. I can tend to speak first without thinking. My enthusiasm can get me into trouble at times and like Peter, I lack a filter too often. Peter is almost child-like in his wide-eyed wonder of the world around him. With Jesus, James and John upon the mount of Transfiguration it was Peter who stepped forward with the idea of building memorials to Jesus, Moses and Elias.  But this spontaneous life-loving attitude of Peter will be used greatly in the Kingdom of God.

After 3 1/2 years of traveling with Jesus and suffering from foot-in-mouth-disease and after outright swearing that he doesn’t know Jesus, it is Peter who will stand up in public and preach the first sermon about the deity of Jesus and win 3 thousand souls to the kingdom.

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Peter’s denial of Jesus must have been a very dark time in his life. But having seen the resurrected Lord and being so lovingly forgiven Peter was free to return to his enthusiastic old self – only stronger.

Do not discount the gifts God has placed inside of you. If you see yourself as clumsy, awkward, uncertain or boisterous – just go for it! Be all that you are to the Glory of God. It is your destiny. It’s what you were made to do.

So if anyone asks you if you know Jesus don’t hold back. Stand up and tell them all about Him because He has your back.

Be blessed, Al

Where is the Love?!?!?

 Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.  Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:14-16 TLB

Many years ago, 20 years ago unfortunately, my brothers in Christ and I used to have a saying that we would use in response to any harsh criticism voiced by another – “Oh Brother! Where’s the Love in that?”

This plea for compassion was voiced because we all knew this scripture Paul wrote in his letter to the church is Ephesus encouraging the believers to speak the truth in love. You see, it’s not that we don’t need to hear the truth or be corrected from time to time. But, rather, the truth we need to hear should be sprinkled with liberal amounts of Love. The world has a similar expression – you can catch more flies with honey than yo can with vinegar.

So, lets take this to the next level.

If this is how we are encouraged to speak to one another within the body of believers why shouldn’t we do the same for those who are outside? Many of us know this verse found in Mark when the scribes questioned Jesus about which commandment was the greatest –

 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

But, how many of us remember the rest of His answer?

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:28-31 KJV

I have a saying. Not one I made up but one I like and try to use. It says that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. We can do so much more for the Kingdom of God with love and compassion than we can with soapboxes and banners. Have you ever heard of believers being called “Bible-thumpers”? I can only imagine that this expression was born from those of us who have tried to use the Bible as a blunt force weapon of conversion rather than the scalpel for heat surgery its intended to be.

Jude gave us an encouraging word regarding not only how to care for our own salvation but the fate of those unsaved souls around us.

21 Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you. Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. 22 Try to help those who argue against you. Be merciful to those who doubt. 23 Save some by snatching them as from the very flames of hell itself. And as for others, help them to find the Lord by being kind to them, but be careful that you yourselves aren’t pulled along into their sins. Hate every trace of their sin while being merciful to them as sinners.

Do it all 1So, lets try to ask ourselves, just before we open our mouths to speak – Where’s the Love in what I want to say?

Be Blessed. Al

The Same..Only Different

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 11:29 NKJV

We all have gifts. They are as much a part of us as our hair color or fingerprints. They have been given to us by God long before we knew him. Whether we misused these gifts or tried to hide them, they are in us and make up who we are. Saul of Tarsus was a man who had a gift. His gift was a true love for God. A zeal for God that was unwavering and unquenchable. He considered himself to be a true follower of God. His impressive resume is clearly shown in Philippians 3:4-6 –

although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.”

Very impressive. Today we would say that Saul is the right man for the job. Fully qualified. From the best family and educated at the best school. An Ivy League, well breed man. Except….

Except, he was kicking against the thorns. He was fighting the wrong fight. This man with a righteous upbringing and a vast knowledge of God was going in the wrong direction and actually fighting against the God whom he loved. That’s why God knocked him off his horse and blinded him long enough to show him his error.

Saul became the Apostle Paul. The same Paul who went on to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the known world, wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, considered the afflictions suffered for Christ’s sake as minor, saw a glimpse of heaven and lived to tell us about it.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come

2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

So, I want to ask you a question. Did Saul become a new man named Paul? Or, was he still the same?

I see in Paul a man with a great personal knowledge of God and zeal that carried him all over the world telling people about Jesus. Kinda sounds like something didn’t change.

So, he was the same…only different!

That’s my point exactly. Paul had gifts inside him that made him who he was. Smart, well read, passionate, bold, courageous. These gifts didn’t disappear when he was converted. No, they were re-directed. He was turned around and set in the right direction by the hand of God to the glory of God and for the fulfillment of his calling. The “newness” of Paul (besides his name change) was that he no longer opposed God and was now working with God. But his gift remained in him.

So, by now, if you are still reading, you are asking – “What does this have to do with me?” – Clearly, EVERYTHING!!

God created all of us with gifts. Gifts, abilities, passions, aptitudes, talents, call them what you will, they are in you and are you. If you don’t know Jesus right now those gifts might be being misused or hijacked but they can be redirected. Call out to Jesus and He will answer you and direct you.

If you do know Jesus but think you have no talent – you’re wrong. What you need to do is stop looking around at others and seeing their gifts and look inside yourself. Quietly, thoughtfully, prayerfully and patiently look for the passion within you and ask God to use it for His glory.

It does not matter what level of education or position in society. It doesn’t matter where you live or how you were raised. It doesn’t matter who old you are or how physically fit you may be.

You are unique! You are Special and you are GIFTED! There is a place in this world for you and your gift – it’s waiting for you. Like an empty space in Gods Kingdom that’s ready for you to fill.

Don’t worry, you’ll still be you – the same…only different!!

Be Blessed, Al

PS – The Apostle Peter is also a wonderful example of a gifted man who was redirected to the glory of god – look for him in an up coming post. Al

Friend Me

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

Here we are in 2014 and, oh my!, how things have changed. The advent of the internet and social media has changed the way we interact with each other and the world around us. In the click of a phone camera and a post to a web-sharing site we can tell anyone listening where we are and what we are doing. Just as quickly we can be “friend-ed” and don’t we love to see our friend count or likes grow! But just how close are these friends?

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association.

Friendship for most people is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. The general traits of a friendship include similar interests, mutual respect and an attachment to each other, and in order to experience friendship, you need to have true friends. The emotional safety provided by friendship means not having to weigh your thoughts and measure words. Definition of Friends
Friendship is one of life’s intangibles. It’s something we all have felt but we all may not have the same idea of what makes up a “friend”. Just the word brings to mind days gone by where friendships were started or activities shared with friends. But if we use the scripture verse found in Proverbs as a guide – a man (or woman) who has friends must show himself (or herself) to be friendly –  we can ask ourselves am I a true friend?
Have you ever heard a one sided phone conversation? Do you know someone who texts or tweets you but doesn’t read or respond to your texts? It’s so easy for people to get caught up in the “sharing” without really caring. Selfies epitomize this kind of self absorption social media has brought us to. It’s the “look at me” revolution of superficial friendships that make up too much of our interaction with each other. Social media sites have been used to raise people to over night stardom and fame as well as knock someone down to despair and suicide. Not discounting the ability of social media to rally people for a cause I still have to ask – how many real friends do you have.
The second part of today’s scripture tells us about One who sticks closer than a brother. This tells us two very specific things – one – it’s assumed that family ties are closer than friendships. Secondly, that there is one person referenced who may only be a friend but will defend and protect as if He were a family member.
Jesus is that friend Who is closer than a brother. He did what few “friends” would do. He died in your place for the sins you committed. AND He did it gladly and would do it again even if you were the only person who needed it.
For over two thousand years – long before social media was invented – He has been saying – FRIEND ME!
 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Rev 3:20 NKJV
Be Blessed, Al
PS, All social media icons shown here are registered trademarks of the respective site/organization and are used here in editorial fashion only.

Happy Anniversary (to us)

Our first anniversary is almost here and it’s been a great year – thanks to all of you who have stopped by to read the posts and give feedback.

For a long time I wanted to start a blog as a way to sharing, growing and interacting with a community of believers. Last year I finally set aside my fears and stepped out in faith. As some of you may have noticed the blog has gone threw changes as I have become more familiar with the process.

Two major things I have taken away from this past year are –

I don’t have to have the answers. I am only one voice in a sea of many but the need to “have the answer” doesn’t exist. The Bible has the answer and the Holy Spirit leads us all to that truth. I only hoped to create a place where conversations can start. I hope I have done that and will continue to challenge us all to grow in the knowledge of His love.

Another thing I learn is I am only a part of the much larger community. As I see on the internet so many different types of blogs from believers I have to accept that I am only a small part of a larger body. Much like the foot is only part of the body and should not compare itself to the hand or the head. We all have our part to play in keeping the body whole and functioning.

Autumn Tree 3

 As a child plays in a pile of freshly raked Autumn leaves let us dive into Gods Word together this coming year and see what wonderful things He has for us to learn.

Thank you all for stopping by. Be Blessed, AL