Saturday, October 21, 2006

I wish I could describe Him

James 1:17 (MSG)
Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

This past Friday and Saturday I was in Baltimore with a group of our men.
It was exhilarating with amazing worship with 1500 other men raising their voices with all they had.
As good as the speakers were I became distracted early on because of something God showed me. It was very quick, and I could easily have missed it.
It was during the first worship time we had on Friday night. I was a bit tired, with some stray thoughts about responsibilities and worries.
Suddenly there was an image in my mind of Jesus not as a man, or on the cross, or as the one we read about doing great things in the Bible. I had a picture of Jesus as the best of everything- as the one who is incapable of failure, or of letting anyone down in any way. I had a picture of Jesus as someone I could totally trust and I really had the faith to trust Him to do anything.
This Jesus so surpassed anything I had ever known before, that there was no comparison. I have known Jesus for 27 years, but it was as though I just met Him. It was as if I had been following a 2 dimensional Jesus, and now He was suddenly 3D!

I saw Him as a perfect Father. I had a great dad who was more concerned about me than I was about myself. He did everything he could to help and guide me in life. No one could ask for a better dad.
But as big a man as my dad was, he had human flaws and weaknesses. I saw Jesus as a dad with not a single flaw. His advice always on target and delivered in the right way.
I saw Him as a perfect friend. One who understands what you mean and always loves you no matter what. He is a friend you never need to explain things to, He already understands, and gives perfect advice. He is never two-faced, and never unduly critical.
He is the perfect brother. A friend is good, but a brother is born for adversity. When the going gets rough blood is thicker than water. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I think the world is looking for a Jesus like that, and I am grateful the Lord pulled the veil away for me for just a moment.

A man named JB Phillips wrote a book many years ago entitled “Your God is too small.” In it he details a number of false images that we have of God that hinder us from really knowing Him in deep relationship. Unless we clear our mind and spirit of false images and ideas of who Jesus is we can never see Him for who He is.

-He is not a cosmic cop or a killjoy, or a wimp

-He is a friend and companion and rescuer, and provider

He is a perfect friend, Father and brother

-He is huge and there are no words in the English language I can use to describe Him adequately.

He is the Heart of Gold that this generation has been seeking for so long.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Have You Ever Given Yourself Completely to Anything?

Life is pretty dull until you find your passion- the thing you were made to do, and the thing you would do for free for the rest of your life if you could. Very few people ever find it because they never give themselves to it without reservation. They want the fulfillment that comes with finding their passion, but they don’t want to get in too deep. It’s about commitment.

Watching the Winter Olympics from Italy last month I was a little startled at the sharp explosions of emotion when victory or defeat became apparent. Tears flowed in most cases whether the athlete won or lost. It was like a dam bursting, and there was no self control. Amazing, isn’t it that these paragons of self control, who could put any of us to shame in the area of discipline, should erupt in uncontrollable tears as soon as the climactic moment was reached. Why?

I think the answer lies in the level of commitment and life energy these folks have invested in their pursuit of greatness. They have dropped absolutely everything, and given themselves over to chasing a dream. It has ruled their sleep habits, diet, relationships, employment, thought life and much more for a very long time. When the end is reached there is nothing left to do but let it all gush out!

If you have never given yourself completely to anything, then you can only watch and wonder what they really feel. So it is with God. How few ever give themselves completely to the only One who deserves complete devotion. They write books about the ones who do.

Abraham was asked to leave his home and kinsmen, Moses was asked to confront the most powerful man in the world, Paul was struck blind and told to align himself with those who was in the midst of destroying. Jesus willingly hung His sinless body on a wooden cross to have the life sucked right out of Him.

Giving yourself completely to one thing provides the sense of purpose that we all need. It takes faith to commit so completely. Imagine the gush that will take place when we finish our course....and see Him face to face......

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Grace Trumps Karma

We live in unusual times. I watched the National Prayer Breakfast from Washington on Thursday and the keynote speaker was Bono from the rock group U2. Faith and I were privileged to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in 1996 and it is an elegant affair. Bono held them spellbound with his talk of redemption, and love, and his crusade for the eradication of AIDS and world poverty.

There is something that Bono said in a recent book about his life that struck a real chord and I want to share it with you. He said, speaking of His need for Christ that “we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma and into one of grace.”
I was fascinated that he used a term like Karma, which is a crucial doctrine of both Hinduism and Buddhism, to present a contrast in terms of his relationship to Christ. I began to do some research and learned that some 1.5 billion people on this planet, primarily in Asia, believe in Karma as a foundational fact of life. It is rooted in their culture and they believe in it like you and I believe that the sun rises everyday.
So what is Karma as understood in Buddhism and Hinduism? Simply stated it is
“the force generated by a person's perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's next existence” (transmigration has to do with the soul transferring to another body after death-kind of like recycling)

Now while we do not believe in karma we do have a similar doctrine in Christianity known as "the law of reaping and sowing"
Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for
whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Every Christian should understand this principle- that our actions in this life will affect our circumstances now and for eternity. The difference lies in the fact that we do not believe in reincarnation- we are not reborn in different forms in order to either be punished or rewarded for our previous life.
Those who believe in karma believe that if you had good karma in the previous life you will be reborn into a higher form of life. For those who had bad karma, it follows you into the next life and you suffer for it.
Karma is a basic doctrine of almost one quarter of the worlds population. This accounts for a great deal of suffering worldwide because in such a culture relieving suffering is wrong since in so doing you are interfering with their karma, and you make it impossible for them to pay off their bad karma and be reincarnated in a better state. Suffering is redemption.
Grace trumps karma because Jesus taught us to alleviate suffering, and to show compassion on the poor and needy. Mother Teresa spent her life sharing the love of Christ with people who were under the devilish spell of karma. She stunned their world with such love. She lived out what Jesus said…
And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you,
inasmuch as you did it to one of the least these My brethren, you did
it to Me.' Matthew 25:40
But even more important than relieving suffering is providing forgiveness and washing away all my sins. I do not have to reap what I have sown, and for the Hindu and the Buddhist, he does not have to live with the Bad Karma that his religion places on him like a noose.
It’s GRACE and It’s Amazing

In What's So Amazing about Grace?, Philip Yancey recounts this story about C. S. Lewis: During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith.
They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. "What's the rumpus about?" he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace." After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. Only Christianity dares to make God's love unconditional.

Ephes. 2:8-9 NASB "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."