Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sacrificing Our Children to the god of Self


"When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”  Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them." Mark 10:14-16


When the children were prevented from coming to Jesus, he was angry! Jesus knew the value of these precious little ones. He himself came to the world, born in a lowly stable, the King of Kings as a newborn babe. Not born in the finest castle, wrapped in robes of silk, but as a baby, nursed and carried in His mother's arms. To receive the Kingdom of God, we are to be always the Father's children, leaning on Him and relying on Him to carry us. God wants a pure and undefiled heart. He wants us to remain His children, just as Jesus instructed us to pray "Our Father..." (Matthew 6:9)

"And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”" Galations 4:6

God, ever the loving, perfect and holy Father, sent His son to be sacrificed for us. He loved us, His children, enough to sacrifice for us. This is the example of perfect, spotless love. This is the love we must show our children.

Children, more than ever, are sacrificed to our own gods and idols. Children are left alone or with others while we 'pursue our future.' They are sacrificed to materialism, busyness, selfishness and ignorance. God's precious creation, the heart of a child, is blemished, bruised and hardened through time by our careless, thoughtless treatment. 

Children have so much to teach us. To slow down, look at the flowers, birds, bees and all of God's creation. To snuggle, read, love and teach. If we allow them to soften our hard edges, we learn of God's love for us, His own children. God says "children are a blessing" and they are for so many reasons. They teach us about ourselves, sometimes bringing the ugliness in ourselves to the surface, they help to refine us and point us toward seeking the pure things of God.

God's little ones are often treated as "accessories" to our lives. Toted around in cars to this activity and that. Are they 'known' to us, their parents? Do they feel loved, cherished and known just for who they are? We are known to God, loved and cherished as His children. Each one of us is made in His image. Each little one is an image bearer of God, precious and loved. They bear a heart and soul that need to know God's love for them. Their little hearts were made to sing and often our own sinful, hard ways take that away from them. We reject them and in doing so, we reject the very heart of God.

"On the very day that they sacrificed their children to their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house." Ezekial 23:39

Children are shoved off quickly as they 'come of age', sent out of the house, to relieve us of the "burden" and to give us more 'time to ourselves.' So often it is that we truly cannot face ourselves, we are unwilling to sacrifice our own selfishness, forsake it, for the love of our children. How many times do we sacrifice our own children, God's gift, and then turn around and pray, ask Him for His blessings in our lives, or turn and go to church?

People spend so many years blindly worshiping idols, worshiping ourselves and the things we think make us 'important', in the meantime, our children's hearts are sacrificed to these gods. Riches and wealth, houses, hobbies, busy social lives and entertainment are a cheap substitute for what many are running from, and our children suffer.

"You worship your idols with great passion beneath the oaks and under every green tree. You sacrifice your children down in the valleys, among the jagged rocks in the cliffs." Isaiah 57:5

As we walk with our Heavenly Father, who holds us by the hand, guides us and heals our wounds to make us whole, only then can we show this love to our children. They long to see in our eyes a healthy, whole parent, one who sees them as a whole human being, worthy of our time and pure devotion. God holds us and slows us down to hear Him, we slow down to hold our children and hear them. We surrender ourselves to our Father's love and walk with Him day by day and our heart is opened to share this ultimate love with our children. It is willing to sacrifice for the little one that bears God's image, and the ones we are told to be like to inherit God's Kingdom.

It really is no sacrifice at all. That belief is just the lies and layers of the world that tell us that children are not worthy of devotion, sacrifice and investment. It is a blessing to the heart that knows they are worth it. It is a death to selfishness and the ultimate god we worship, self. God shows us the path of life, and we walk on it with our children. It is forsaking that which is not truly valuable and will pass away for that which is valuable and treasured in God's eyes. We sacrifice God's treasure, our children, for that which will eventually rot. May God give us His wisdom and grace to walk in His ways, and walk towards the eternal truths He gives.

May our children have the light, grace and purity of God in their eyes, as we invest in them and love them as God requires of us. That light, grace, and purity just might come back into our eyes, as we come to know our Heavenly Father in a new way.

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3

Prayer: "Lord, the world tells me to forsake my children and chase after it. Give me the wisdom and strength to forsake the world but gain my children's hearts for you. Show me your slow paths, that I may walk on them with my children, just as you walk with us, your beloved children. You guide us and teach us slowly and love us tenderly. Show me how to give this love to my children and in doing so, reflect the love you have for them. Amen."

Busyness and Spiritual Poverty


"We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing." Psalm 39:6


God tells us "be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)   Culture is busier than ever today. Families and individuals have more apps, calenders and time schedules to block every inch of time with "activity." Information comes at us faster than we can even absorb it, and we can always be reached at any time. Self imposed busyness is a type of addiction, a "high" of feeling important and lots of activity gives a buzz, and it continues for years. Sometimes fear causes busyness, afraid of what we will face within ourselves, or simply afraid of not keeping up with the culture around us. Sometimes it is imposed by others, some even well meaning and we must learn to say no.

  Spiritual riches, which are the true riches we should be seeking after will fill our souls to overflowing. This is how God, our great Father and Creator, made His children. He wants us to be made whole in Him, not fragmenting bits and pieces of our soul out to various parts of the world. Frazzled, exhausted or overwhelmed from a rush of activity, the soul is depleted and the heart can hardly come to God in a state of listening. Life is lived in a state of busy rushing, God is not truly known. The heart of God, who He is, and the peace and rest He offers are missed. 

Our relationship with God has to be sought after with as much effort and time as we put into our busyness. Self imposed busyness distracts us from this diligent seeking and relationship building. The enemy, always prowling around to devour, wants nothing more than to keep us busy with meaningless activities. This rushing deprives our relationship with God, our children, families and loved ones from meaningful life. Children are not filled by meaningless activities. If we give them anything may it be God and ourselves. Too many children are longing to be shown what really matters, to feel their tiny hearts and souls filled with the love of God, and with the true riches He offers. It is a great blessing to our children to set them up on this path.

The path of the world (humanism) has people wearing busyness as a badge of honor. They are supposed to be fulfilled, and feel important. Their days packed to the max, they have most certainly lived their day to it's full potential and made the most of reaching their 'destiny.' Their busyness is temporary and it will pass away. These very same ones, as they approach their later years and the end of their lives, will be living in spiritual poverty.

Walking the path pursuing spiritual riches takes intent, discipline and a strong and courageous heart. It means walking against the currents pushing against us, but those currents lead to fruitless things. Hearing God, getting to know Him will require that our hearts face hard things, that God will pluck out roots He doesn't want growing there. As we grow in His grace, we find peace and rest. Life will change as we learn what is important and worthy of our time, because pursuing God is first and He helps make the rest fall into it's rightful place. We will pursue the meaningful and enriching, and cast off the depleting, meaningless things.  Lack of self imposed rushing---choosing a life of God's health for the soul brings a new found strength to the mind, heart and body. God renews us and heals us as we choose to follow His holy way.

Our souls do not pass away, they are made to live on in eternity. So why do we pursue that which rots and rusts? Busyness is one of the biggest lies of the enemy. Busyness distracts from focusing on that which is eternal, salvation. Not being filled with endless busyness is almost a radical lifestyle choice these days. May God give us the grace to choose His paths. We do not want to look back in the end, wondering where we spent all of our time and left wondering about the state of our eternity.

We want to be the ones who at the end of our lives look back and say "I took up my cross and carried it. I forsook all other paths. Now by the gift and grace of God, I go to receive the crown of my salvation."  God in His love and wisdom will help us cast of the chains of busyness to receive the freedom of pursuing Him.

"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

Prayer: "Lord, I desperately am seeking your way and I need your wisdom. Show me what to pursue and what to forsake. Show me your path to life and salvation, show me the things that are lasting and grant me your grace to stay the course for a lifetime." Amen.

"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act." Psalm 37:5  


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heavenward Thinking and The World's Positive Thinking Lies


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27


As followers of Jesus, we are called to have "heavenward" thinking. Looking to and fixing our eyes on the "author and finisher of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2) Setting our hearts on Jesus and His sacrifice for us, a life in eternity, is heavenward, joyful thinking. God speaks His promises out of His heart of love for us to give our minds a renewal of true positive thinking.   

"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13

There are many 'positive thinking' gurus these days. They teach that if we can just project a "rich" image and speak enough that we want to be rich, we will be rich! If we save up enough money, dream big enough and set our minds to these things, it will all happen! Just visualizing our dreams and working hard enough will help us build our dream life with our own two hands! Then we will be satisfied, fulfilled and our positive thinking has fulfilled our every desire. 

This way of life dethrones God from His rightful place, and puts our positive thinking on the throne. The 'positive thinking' lifestyle takes away from a life of total submission to the will of God and a pure dependency on Christ. Working with our hands, being focused, diligent and working towards ideals God puts in our heart are blessings. These are parts of heavenward thinking. The lifestyle gurus positive thinking makes one depend upon himself and his own thinking, never relying on God and getting to know His ways.

When an unexpected difficulty is thrown our way, an illness or a number of trying years, the god of positive thinking will not pull us through. Positive thought alone will let us down and leave us wanting to cling to something real and eternal.

The good news is God filled His word with truths, promises and love to carry us through. He shows His true, holy, God-centered positive thinking. We shouldn't rely on the new guru of the day to fill our minds with new thoughts and ideas that will not carry us into eternity. We can rely on God's eternal truths to fill our hearts and minds with His good and perfect will.

Jesus' tells us "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

If we face uncertainty, pain, loss and difficulty we know that Jesus has already overcome the world, and as believers we can share in those words He speaks to us and plant them in our hearts.

When we feel undervalued or that no one sees us, we know that God sees. "Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

When we fear the future and it seems uncertain, or when we think God does not care about our life or dreams, we have His words of promise for our life. "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

When we lack strength to keep going, we can remember that by our strength alone we can accomplish nothing, all of our strength is given by God. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

God's gift of His son, sent to reconcile us to God, to wipe away our sins, is God's ultimate positive thinking! He does not wish for any of His children to perish. He wants us to have eternal life with Him. God is a loving, gracious, merciful, dream giver, life giving God. He keeps all of His promises and cannot fail. Positive thinking gurus can never match or top God's gifts to us, or preach anything that will fill the heart, mind and soul the way Jesus can. 

Fixing our eyes on things that we can see in front of us now, focused on positive thinking to make them into reality as our only source of hope will leave us empty. Accomplishing one thing and rapidly moving onto another to fill ourselves will not satisfy. These things are temporal. Heavenward thinking focuses on the unseen, the things that are lasting.

"For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 Our ultimate, eternal hope and life is only found in Jesus. Remembering, like Jesus, that following God's perfect will will lead us to the fullest life.  "...yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)  This is the path to life in abundance, and a heart of communion with God. It's is God's perfect, holy and loving way. The need that we have to fill ourselves with 'positive thinking' to carry us through life is filled by God and His perfect love and promises that never fail.

"The Lord is righteous in everything he does, he is filled with kindness.  The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.  He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them." Psalm 145:17-19

Prayer: "Lord, help me to see your unchanging love, to live in it and hold fast to it. Help me to cling to your promises of hope and life and not the worlds. Your promises are always life giving and fulfill the heart. Rid me of false positive thinking, and fill me with your steadfast, eternal hope and promises. Amen." 

"Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and
with firm conviction that You will govern all." Amen
      -Elisabeth Elliot

"The Lord always keeps his promises;
    he is gracious in all he does.  The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads." Psalm 145:13-14





Thursday, July 10, 2014

Streams of Righteousness


"Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord." Psalm 36:6


God is righteous. Righteous means to be just and good; God's character cannot lie. He cannot fail in His goodness to us. Human wisdom will not understand God's unfailing goodness, or why He in His righteousness and justice allows difficult circumstances and hard things to happen. The confidence we can have in God is that even when we doubt, wonder why, and do not understand, He has not changed.

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne." ~Psalm 97:2

He loves and cares for us--- He has shown us the essence of His love by sending His son to die for us, to reconcile us to Him. He wants us to live with Him in eternity, where His perfect streams of righteousness flow in heaven.

"Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins." Romans 3:24

Jesus came so that we may drink from God's streams of righteousness every day. He is waiting for us to come and drink. He offers us His hand so that He can lead us to holy living. To pursue holiness is a journey to a pure and devout faith, consecrating ourselves to God and His service.  Hearts renewed after drinking from God's living streams desire to live a godly life with a spiritually pure love for Jesus.

"Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy." Romans 6:19

Is our new and renewed heart now a slave to God's righteousness? Perhaps we are still hanging on to the last chains of slavery that bind us and prevent us from walking God's righteous path for us. Jesus asks us to give up the things that are not food for our souls, for the true living food that will bring us life---Himself. 

Many Christian's refuse to give up the old, stale water of this world to drink from the streams of God's righteousness. The new taste is unfamiliar, the stale is familiar and secure. Yet the stale, dirty water leads to sickness and death, the pure water leads to life. Those trying to lead a holy and righteous life before God will be laughed at and persecuted on earth, yet they possess a richness in their souls that many never find. The pure water now runs in their hearts because of Jesus love.

"And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God..." Titus 2:12

We hear "I am a Christian" from many lips, while so many hearts are far from God--- refusing to turn from the old ways and truly seek Him and the new holy way of Christ. This is the path of many contemporary Christians. It is not God's way. He sacrificed His only son so that we may fully turn from our old ways and be transformed.

As the loving, righteous and just God He is this is for our good. We turn from our old ways; we are made new.  "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2

The heart turns away from things vile and impure; we find peace and purity of heart.
"Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you." Psalm 86:11

The mind rejects untruths, false wisdom and begins to remove old ideas; it is renewed and healthy and there is clarity in the mind.  "We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love." 2 Corinthians 6:6

Drink from the streams of God's righteousness daily and be made new. He freely offers them by His grace and mercy. He guides us by the hand and leads on His pure paths, asking that we turn away from that which is not of God to find life. God is righteous and His paths are holy and true. 

"Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace." 2 Timothy 2:22

"It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life." 2 Peter 2:21

Prayer: "Lord, show us how to turn away from that which is unclean to you. Give us discernment to give up things in our lives that do not lead us down your paths. Show us your path to holiness, guide us and fill our lives with pure, clean and righteous living. Amen."

"Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous." 1 John 3:7


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Walking With Jesus

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps..." ~1 Peter 2:21

As we walk and talk with Jesus, the master teacher, He brings us closer to His heart and His ways. His ways are opposite of ours, and our man made wisdom is proven to be foolishness. The ideas of "self fulfillment" and "seeking the self" that the world surrounds us with are proven to be lies. There was no idol of "self" in Jesus. He came to teach us that worshiping ourselves---only serving our own purposes and feelings throughout a lifetime would be to our shame. He tells us we should serve others and die to our selfish desires so that we will find Him. Of course, when the world heard the message that self should not be worshiped, He was slain. "So the Pharisees said to one another, “This isn’t getting us anywhere. Look how the whole world is following him!” John 12:19

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty..." 1 Corinthians 1:27

The ideas of elevating ones own self and mapping out life's plan according to one's own desires, to seek money, pleasure, fame and fortune, being strong to "get what we want" run deep in the human heart and in society. Jesus enters the picture, He enters our hearts---and He flips these ideas upside down, He slays them and gently points out that to worship and serve ourselves will lead to our death. We don't like this idea, because to change this idea will mean that the self we thought we were has to be changed. The old self must die, and we must become a new creation with Jesus. Old ideas must be removed, the heart needs a transplant. To worship Jesus and die to ourselves is to choose the weak things in the eyes of the world and shame the things which are viewed as mighty.

“I did not speak on my own. The Father who sent me commanded me what to say. He also told me how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life. So everything I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:49-50

The idol of "self" causes many to worship other god's. The seeking of pleasure, money, vanity and "following your dreams" becomes as a giant road block and idol we come to worship. To walk on these paths serves no one but ourselves. So many are following self fulfillment yet they are not fulfilled. Emptier than ever they continue on the same path, seeking the next thing and then the next, hoping it fulfills. On this path there is no room for Jesus to be truly worshiped and served. But when we are following Jesus and these things are laid down at His scarred feet, as He takes us by the hand and hold ours---teaches us, we begin to see that the self we served needs to be slain, and the new self and identity in Jesus comes to serve Jesus. We are then a new creation, growing and seeking after the heart of Jesus.

 "What I’m about to tell you is true. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only one seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
 “Anyone who loves his life will lose it. But anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it and have eternal life.  Anyone who serves me must follow me. And where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:24-26 

 Following in Jesus' steps, being crucified with Him and becoming new is the foundation of character formation. For men and women following after Jesus, He is our character study. We must be careful whose footsteps we walk in, and what messages we listen to and believe in today's contemporary Christianity. The messages of self and self fulfillment will be preached, but we must look to the One who died so that we may live for the true, life giving message. Many books and studies have been written to help others seeking life find what they are looking for but the answers are only found in Jesus' death on the cross. Many search a lifetime to find their calling. Jesus by His grace makes it easily known. To follow in His footsteps and be taught by Him is our calling, He will guide our steps and not let us stumble. With Him and abiding with Him we will find our life.

There is no true maturity without following in Jesus' steps. He teaches us how to lay down selfishness, put to death false ideas and god's to follow after Him, offering ourselves to Him as His students. To grow into the self Jesus wants us to be requires that we seek after Him with the same zeal that we have sought after other things in our life. Have we shoved Jesus aside for tv, games, entertainment and pursuit of wealth and vanity? Now these things must be set aside, to pursue Jesus with our whole heart.

The true path to life, fullness, joy and character in ourselves is walking the path with Jesus. His death on the cross was not for vanity. It was for salvation, it was an example of how life is to be lived. Live for others, lay yourself at my cross, be crucified with me and you will find life.

"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." 1 John 2:3-6

Prayer: "Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear your voice telling me the way I should go. Open my eyes and heart to walk your path and give me a new heart. Crucify my old selfish ways with you and show me your new and life giving ways that lead to maturity Lord. Give me discernment to know how to follow only you and your path, and wisdom to know when your truth is being distorted. Show me how to walk the same way you walked and walk beside me. Amen."

"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galations 2:20