Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What Do You See?

Did you see the real Santa Clause this Christmas? My guess is many children believe they did and will gladly tell you about him with great enthusiasm. Adults saw the same man in a red suit but only smile at the sight of him if they acknowledged him at all.

“Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing.” That line caught my attention in The Santa Claus 2. Charlie (son of Santa) encourages an unbelieving adult to believe like she did as a child then she is able to see what he sees.

In The Santa Clause 2, Charlie was frustrated to the point of rebellion because he could not tell others that his dad was Santa Clause. Think about that. Why did he not tell others?

John 14:17 The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.

Hebrews 11:6 Anyone who comes to him [God] must believe that he exists.

John 6:62-64 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.

What you see reflects what you believe. What do you see today?

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Got Peace?

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

Do you need peace today? I can testify to the truth of this scripture. It is not knowledge of our circumstances but knowledge of God that brings peace.

If you lack peace, pick up your Bible and read or simply quote a favorite verse over and over. Knowledge of God puts all things in proper perspective especially when we live by that knowledge.

May the perfect peace of Christ be with you today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What is Advent?

The Advent season is underway. For those who don’t know what Advent is all about, you are not alone. I’m not sure there is one shared understanding.

Some churches have an advent wreath as part of their weekly service this time of year. Even that is not standardized. Some use four candles, others use five. The colors of the candles are symbolic but the colors and symbolisms vary too.

I had the joy of contributing to two advent devotional books this season. That experience gave me a new understanding for the Advent.

Most people who celebrate Advent, do so as preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This makes sense because Advent starts four weeks before Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent varies.

I’ve decided Advent should be our season of life. The definition of advent has to do with coming into view. Christ came into the world’s view 2,000 years ago.

First Corinthians 13:12 says “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

It is so easy to add “Christ” to the name Jesus without considering the significance of who Jesus, the Christ, is. The birth of Jesus is the “coming into view.” We haven’t seen the full picture in clear focus yet.

Sure it’s great to celebrate the coming into view of something great - like seeing the beginning of the parade coming your way. But if we made the effort to get a good spot to view the parade, it would be a bit silly to leave just after it comes into view several blocks away.

This reminds me of the story in Mark 8 where Jesus healed a blind man. The first time Jesus touched his eyes the man could see but not clear. People looked like trees. Jesus touched him again and he could see clearly.

Anyone out there following me? I’m just a bit excited as I type.

Before this healing, the Pharisees have asked for miracles and Jesus says they aren’t going to see any. They have eyes. Jesus is doing miracles all around them but they don’t see it. Then he tells the disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. The disciples are clueless. I sense a little frustration in Jesus words at Mark 8:21 “Do you still not understand?”

The blind man healing comes right after that question. When the disciples are scratching their heads, Jesus usually sits them down and explains things. (i.e. Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13).

The healing is followed by Peter’s confession of who Jesus is. “Who do people say I am?” Jesus continues “But what about you? Who do you say I am? Peter answered, you are the Christ.”

I hope someone out there is catching the significance of this because I know my words are not expressing the plethora of thoughts rushing through my mind right now.

Jesus, the Christ, came into view. One day we will see him clearly. Not as a baby in a manger. And not in human likeness (see Philippians 2:7). We are living in Advent. Many of us can see Christ but only as a poor reflection. He looks like a person – like us. One day we will see him face to face. Then we will understand fully.

I’m convinced that if we are going to celebrate Advent, it should be celebrated with shouts of Revelation 22:20. “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Keep watching, the Grand Marshal says “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why Do I Write

The facilitator in the writers group last night asked the question “why do you write?” I’ve blogged before about writers who say “I can’t not write.” That phrase has been a stumbling block to me because I’ve not felt that way. I could easily not write. There are plenty of other things I could fill my time with.

I woke up thinking about the facilitator’s question this morning and sensed something deeper. Why do I write? Why does anyone write or talk or do anything?

Another phrase was also on my mind. “If I had been the only person on earth, Christ still would have died for me.” I’ve heard that said many times and it always puzzles me. God gave me new insight on these thoughts during my quiet time with him this morning.

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

That last scripture is very interesting to me. Do we assume that God thought the male he created might do ok alone? Was creating the female a second thought after seeing that the man needed someone else? Maybe. Maybe not.

Why did man need woman?

Look again at John 1. The Word, which is Christ, was with God and he was God. Yet we worship one God. Explaining the trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit can be difficult. Even more difficult is trying to separate the three. Which one do we worship? Is one greater than the other?

Genesis 1:27, male and female are created in the image of God. It does not say males are made in the image of God the Father and females are made in the image of God the Son.

Let’s add one more scripture Matthew 22:36-40. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why do I write? It is the way I share myself with others. It is out of love for God and the desire to be one with others just as the Father and the Son are one. Maybe the bigger question is why do I hesitate to write? Could that be Satan’s attempt to make me believe that God created me and sent his son to die for me alone?

Writing is not the only way to love God and love others. How are you sharing yourself and uniting with others?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christian vs Christ-follower

I'm trying to stay focused on writing advent devotionals. So this week, I offer you a blog that speaks my language. It's aimed at writers but applies to everyone.

"Are you a Christian or a Christ-follower? Is it about you and your words, or is it about the Word you are following?" Mick Silva

Just click on Link below or the title of this post to read Silva's article. It's worth the click.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another Walk to Emmaus

My sister-in-law attended the Ashland (KY) Area Women’s Emmaus Walk #24 this past weekend. The sense of anticipation on Thursday was just as I remember it for my walk. The “Pilgrims” were eager but apprehensive because they don’t know what will happen over the next 72 hours. The sponsors and servants have silly grins because they know exactly what the pilgrims are about to experience.

Some think the Emmaus Community is a secretive group. It’s not at all. The reason it seems hush, hush is because words cannot fully describe the experience.

The women attempted to express the same sentiments over and over at the closing service Sunday evening. “I saw the face of Jesus,” several said. How can you explain that to someone who hasn’t seen him face to face? It’s impossible. It seems to be just a cliché but it’s not. At some point on the walk, each Pilgrim looks around and realizes she has been with Jesus all weekend. A transformation takes place at that instant. She knows her life will never be the same again.

God has been speaking to me about the need to be in real community. This weekend and my Bible reading this morning are strong nudges from God.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit enables the disciples to speak in other languages. There were “God-fearing Jews from every nation” in Jerusalem that day. A sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven. Then “a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” Verse 11 says they heard them declaring the wonders of God in their own language. This crowd asked “What does this mean?” But others made fun of the disciples and accused them of being drunk.

Experiencing the manifest presence of God brings people together. Those who “hear” the wonders of God are united in their search for more understanding. Those who refuse to “hear” and prefer to accuse and point out differences continue in life unchanged.

The Emmaus Community is a gathering of people united by their experience of God’s manifest presence. The indescribable wonders create a hunger to know God more deeply and a realization that without Christ I am absolutely nothing.

Do you have to go on a Walk to Emmaus to see the face of Jesus? No. But you do have to be in community with other believers to experience the fullness of the Body of Christ. Once you’ve seen his face, you’ll either be drawn in or you will reject the experience as too bizarre to be true. If you are drawn in, you will want to be with others having the same experience. That’s all the Emmaus Community is.

The Walk to Emmaus is an ecumenical Christian Renewal program open to anyone interested in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Links to several Christian Renewal programs are listed below. Don’t be satisfied with learning about God. Find a community of people who experience God’s presence.

o Catholic Cursillo
o Christ Renews His Parish
o Cum Christo
o Episcopal Cursillo (or Happening Youth Weekend)
o High School Catholic Kairos
o Koinonia
o Lutheran Via De Cristo
o The Great Banquet
o Tres Dias
o Walk to Emmaus ( or Chrysalis Youth Weekend)

Read about my Walk in post titled I Have Seen Jesus.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Talking it Out

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

Luke 24:14-16

Last week I blogged about the people at the crucifixion. Those who knew him kept watching even after he stopped breathing.

Beginning at Luke 24:13 we read about two of these people who knew Jesus. They most likely were at the crucifixion – watching. Now they are on the road to Emmaus a couple days later. Their conversation indicates that the events of Jesus’ crucifixion were still puzzling them. They were no longer watching the cross with expectation. They were now attempting to make sense of everything among themselves.

Then Jesus joins them and they don’t recognize him.

Does that stab you like it stabs me? How often do we discuss the things of Jesus without recognizing his presence and power right there with us?

Awesome Lord, forgive us for treating you as a joiner to our groups. May we seek your face. May we wait with anticipation as long as takes. May we recognize you in our midst and listen to your voice.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Keep Watching

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. - Luke 23:47-49

When Jesus died, the people watching responded in different ways.

The centurion was impressed with Jesus’ response to death. Because of what he saw, the centurion believed Jesus was an innocent man.

Many people turned and walked away disappointed. Perhaps they had something different in mind for him to do. For them, it was finished.

Those who knew him kept watching even after he died.

How are you responding to Christ? Is he just an innocent man who was wrongly put to death? Are you disappointed in circumstances that didn’t turn out the way you expected? Is your hope in your ideas or in Christ?

Keep watching.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9

Thursday, October 05, 2006

When Darkness Reigns

Read: Luke 22:39-53

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."

Luke 22:39-40

This narrative follows the account of the last Passover meal Jesus had with his disciples. During that time together, Jesus revealed that one would betray him. They tried to determine which one that would be then went into a discussion of who was the greatest. I can just imagine these grown men. “Well, I’m not going to betray him. I’m his best friend.” Another pipes in, “You may spend more time with him now but I’m the one that’s going to be his right hand man in running the kingdom.”

Jesus tries to get his message across to his disciples. He even warns one of those closest to him that he will turn away from him. He also encourages him to strengthen the others after he gets through the rough times.

Then he goes to his place of solitude. The disciples follow. Jesus’ heart is heavy. He knows what this night holds. He petitions his friends to pray not for him but for themselves. The Son of God steps away to cry out to his Father. He returns exhausted and saddened to find the disciples asleep. Once again, he tries to get the significance of his message across to his friends.

While he is still speaking…Judas, one of the twelve approached Jesus to kiss him. Now the adrenaline is flowing. The disciples jump into action. Swords come out. But Jesus stops the commotion.

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour--when darkness reigns.’”

Luke 22:52-53

It’s been a couple thousand years since the events of this passage took place. All the things happened just as Jesus said they would. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied knowing him. It was a dark time for all the disciples. Eleven of the twelve found strength in reuniting. Judas, alone, committed suicide.

Have you become so accustomed to the darkness around you that you are falling asleep? Pray for strength to resist temptation before it comes?

Maybe you are struggling with a dark circumstance in your life. Petition your friends to pray with you, not for you but for themselves in this circumstance. Their strength to support God’s will for you is vital.

Dear Jesus, you are our Lord and Savior yet you call us friends. May we wake up and heed your message. May we always be prepared to resist the impulse of our flesh. Thank you for pouring out your Spirit so that we have the strength to follow you when darkness reigns.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Giving to Get

Guilty. Convicted. Pardoned.

A few years ago, God gave me a sneak preview of his plan for my life. It was puzzling at the time. But, I began giving and doing for the sake of this vision.

Prayer a passion of mine. I desire to teach others to pray because of the experiences I’ve had. However, at the Moms in Touch Rally this weekend, God showed me how my heart is often giving so that I can get to be the speaker God told me I would one day be. Ouch.

This morning I read Luke 22:19-20. Jesus is having the Passover meal with his disciples “and he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

Then I looked at Leviticus 17:11-12. “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.’”

Why were the Israelites not to drink the blood of the animal but we are to drink from the cup which represents the blood of Christ? I’ll give you my thoughts.

The animal was certainly a sacrifice. It was to be without blemish and valuable. It was a sign of surrender to God. It was giving to get forgiveness.

Jesus brought us a new covenant. The old covenant showed what God has for us and how to get it – forgiveness through surrender. The new covenant added how to give out of what we have been given.

Jesus had everything. There was nothing for him to get. His body was broken and distributed to those who accept the new covenant – total surrender for the purpose of giving to others.

Jesus poured out his life source – the Holy Spirit. The only thing I can compare with this is donating blood. Many people give blood without getting much in return. But how many would be willing to empty out their life source so that others – including enemies - could have life?

If my life source is wholey from Christ, then there is nothing greater to gain. I can give for the sole purpose of giving.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.”
Luke 12:48

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
Romans 12:1

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Can't Sleep

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight
Proverbs 3:5-6

I rarely have trouble sleeping. When I wake up stressed over a project or life issue, I begin to doubt myself. Why did I volunteer for this? I don’t know what I’m doing! This is not going to turn out as I envisioned. How do I get this stuff done along with all the other stuff I feel like you’ve really called me to do, God? I am not gifted in event planning. Ok, maybe this was a mistake. Maybe this wasn’t your idea. So now what?

That’s what was on my mind at 5:00am this morning. At 5:20 I opened email. A friend had forwarded a piece with the above verses. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This is not the first time God has sent flesh to get a message to me. The real kicker is those thoughts – be still, trust God – were also going through my mind as I lay restless in bed. But I was more focused on the negative thoughts.

Do you ever do that? You sense God trying to affirm and comfort but you prefer to struggle with the doubts. It’s pretty much a life long thing for me. Years ago, that character trait in me took me away from God completely. A miracle brought me back to him.

He was always there but I refused to listen to his still small voice. Refused is probably not the best word. It was more like aggressively debated it. Even that sounds nicer than the memory of my emotions during that period of my life. Now, my times of doubt don’t last as long because I know what it feels like to trust him. And that is exactly where I want to be.

Here area some other favorite verses that are coming to mind as I still my mind to listen to him

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

I can sleep because He will be exalted regardless of what I do. And that is really the purpose of life.

May the peace of Christ be with you today whether you face tasks of choice or life issues beyond your control.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Great Expectations

“The chief priests and the scribes were looking for some way to kill Jesus. However, they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles.”  Luke 22:2-3 (GWT)

Have you ever wondered why high profile Christians get involved in stuff that hurts the reputation of the Church – the Body of Christ?

Or maybe it’s not a high profile Christian. Maybe it’s just someone you look to for your faith.

Let’s think about that. There are plenty of unbelievers (those who don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, the only way to a relationship with God) doing wretched stuff, right? And, many of those unbelievers would like to destroy the influence of the Church so that they can live the way they want without being challenged. They are afraid of the Body of Christ. If they weren’t afraid, they wouldn’t care about things like Christian prayer in public schools.

Now, there have been attempts to destroy the Church since Jesus was born. Remember Herod’s attempt to kill him. (Matthew 2:13-16) That didn’t work. But Judas was an insider. That made a difference. And you can look at any church today that has had a split and see that the biggest damage comes from within the church, not outside.

So why did God impress on me to blog about this? Honestly, I’m not sure. But I think the more important verse is Luke 21:34 where Jesus has been talking about his return.

"But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap.” Luke 21:34 (MSG)

Are we really expecting Christ to return at any moment? Sometimes it seems that busyness of ministry has dulled our expectation.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Pressed, Persecuted and Perplexed

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Have you ever felt that way? It can be easy to get wrapped up in our circumstances. Sometimes it’s just the day to day stuff that gets pressed against a perplexing event. I’ve read the verses above to be reminded that nothing can destroy me because of God.

But today I read more in this section of scripture. Verse 10 says “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

Do you see it? Verses 8 and 9 are not talking about unusual circumstances. Paul seems to be saying “look, this is the way it is or at least it should be.”

Do I always carry around in my body the death of Jesus? Uh, I don’t think so. It is those times when I feel pressed, perplexed, persecuted or struck down by stuff in this world that I cry out to Jesus, “Lord, help me here.”

It has been said that a person’s true character is revealed under pressure. What I heard from God today is that he expects His character to be revealed every day of my life.

Jesus was born in a barn. His family fled to a foreign country to avoid those seeking to kill him even as an infant. We don’t know much about his childhood but we do know that every day for about 3 ½ years he was pressed on every side and persecuted by those with great influence and authority. There are indications that he was perplexed by the disbelief and the actions of mankind. And, he eventually was struck down but certainly not destroyed.

I whimper over a few days, maybe a few weeks of tough circumstances that often have no eternal value and are completely about comfort in this life.

I want to offer my body to Christ every moment of the day. I hesitate to type this next thought. Do I really mean it? I want to be hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in my body.

Why would I say such a crazy thing? Because I don’t want anyone to be confused about God’s incomparable power. There are many good causes to suffer for in this world. Christ didn’t suffer for what is seen. He suffered so that we could experience the unseen.

What’s pressing on you today?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Life for Life

They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Joshua 6:21

Jericho is not the only place in the Old Testament that God instructed the Israelites to kill men, women and children. Why would a loving God require that?

The Israelites were far from perfect but God’s Spirit was with them. He guided them in the desert. He spoke to the prophets. He provided food. He even sent armies of angels. The Israelites lived by the Spirit around them.

I wonder… was God showing us throughout the Old Testament that physical life is nothing compared to the Spirit. John 6:63 says “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”

In the Old Testament, God destroys those who threaten the physical and spiritual life of the Israelites. Just like in a movie today, the “bad” guys our killed off. The “good” guys survive. In this case, the only reason the Israelites are "good" is because Jehovah is their God.

In the New Testament, God takes us a step farther. A “good” guy is murdered. Jesus Christ, the only person without ever doing a “bad” thing is put to death as part of God’s plan. Wow. What a twist in the plot.

Could it be that God is teaching us again, that physical life is nothing compared to the Spirit? Only this time, he offers to give us the Spirit in exchange for what we think is life. That's an investment I would die for. How about you?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Matthew 6:21, 24

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Want to See

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."

Mark 10:51

Yesterday I wrote some thoughts on mercy based on the blind mans plea in Mark 10:47-50. The next verse sent me into some deep reflection this morning.

After we recognize our wretchedness and we face Jesus responding to our plea, what do we want him to do for us?

Now a lot of sermons are preached on our need to reverse that question and ask Jesus what we can do for him. But we can’t do a thing for Jesus until he does this one thing for us.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” Rabbi is a teacher. When we acknowledge someone as a teacher we are indicating they have the ability to influence our lives with insight we don’t have.

My daughter loves to do for others. This week she has been trying to do the right things but seems to get herself into more trouble because of the way she does the task. She will do exactly what I ask but she fails to see the result I expect.

We can be that way with Christ. Our desire to do for him can be great but if we don’t see things the way God sees them, then there is little chance that our service to him will be meaningful.

Oh Lord, give us eyes to see what you see.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mercy, Me?

“When he heard that Jesus from Nazareth [was passing by], he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ The people told him to be quiet. But he shouted even louder… Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him!’ They called the blind man and told him, ‘Cheer up! Get up! He's calling you.’ The blind man threw off his coat, jumped up, and went to Jesus.” Mark 10:47-50 (GWT)

Mercy, in the above passage, comes from a Greek word that means “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.” Another definition referred to helping the wretched.

In our feel good about yourself culture, it seems we’ve lost the reality of our need for mercy. I hear a lot more about God’s grace than I do about his mercy. Oh, mercy is thrown in there but his grace is much more palatable.

Grace refers to that which gives pleasure. Mercy indicates our state of being.

We pat ourselves on the back for offering aid to those we see as miserable and afflicted. We want to offer them a more pleasurable existence. We live in a country of peace and can’t understand those who stir up war.

The truth is that we are as wretched as those who kill for political power or personal vengeance.

Maybe if we realized our position before God, we too would cry out “have mercy on me!” Then when he calls, we would throw off everything that slows us down, jump up and go to Jesus.

I want to have that much gratefulness for God’s mercy. Do you?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Life from a Tree

I’ve had a few great responses from my last blog. So I thought I’d add a few more thoughts.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us Life. Was this the same “Life” available from the Tree of Life in the Garden? If not, how was it different?

In John 14:6, Jesus says he is “the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” I have always assumed that meant no one could ever come to the Father (past, present or future) except through Christ. Perhaps many religions have a problem with this for a good reason. Maybe there was (past tense) a different way but now Jesus is the way.

We constantly preach that Christianity is about relationship not legalistic acts of religion. Yet, we teach that sin originated with an act of disobedience.

Jesus points out to the Pharisees that God desires mercy not sacrifice when they are questioning his relationship with "sinners." Jesus quotes from Hosea 6 where the "mercy not sacrifice" statement compares Judah's unfaithfulness to Adam's sin. Unfaithfulness is an act of the heart not of the flesh - Jesus points that out as he talks about adultery in Matthew 5.

One thing that has puzzled me is why did God put the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden if he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from it?

Imagine this: Ok, Son, let’s create people. I’m going to test them right from the beginning. And because I know everything, I know they are going to mess up. But that’s ok. I’m going to send you to suffer a gruesome death to give them Life.

Does that match God’s character? But isn’t that what we teach?

Now imagine this description from God the Father to his Son:

Son, let’s create people. I want to make them very much like us but obviously they won’t be timeless like us because we are creating them. I want to give them the opportunity to live forever with us in a perfect world. A perfect world requires perfect unity. To have that unity we must offer them our spirit.

I love all the creatures we have brought to life but we have given them instincts for survival. I want mankind to have more than instincts. I want to give people the ability to reason with us.

Therefore, they must have a choice in the matter. I want them to be able to ask me questions and learn. I want to dialogue with them just like I do with you.

If they choose to become one with us, they will see everything from our perspective. A perspective of love. Their hearts will be filled with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They will have everything we have because they will become one with us.

If they attempt to understand things without us, it will be very difficult for them. This saddens me to think about. I want them to know everything we know but they must first understand the significance of Life.

Without Love, their perspective of knowledge will cause them to hunger for control. Knowledge without love will block their ability to see life beyond their physical existence. They will become the center of their own world.

It breaks my heart to know that some of them will want to live independent of my love for them. Many of them, though, will realize that independence is unfulfilling.

When they are ready, I will send you to them, son. You will walk among them. You will live just as they live. You will experience the life of freewill. You will have the fullness of my Spirit in you while you are in this human form. You will show them how to live by my Spirit.

Many will accept your words and desire to live in the Spirit. They will see you empty yourself of the physical life. Your blood – the source of physical life - will be poured out. Those who truly desire to be one with you will have great sorrow in this because they will recognize that they have valued knowledge more than Life with me.

The source of true Life is my Spirit. You will also give up my Spirit so that they will worship me, not just their knowledge of me. I will give you all my glory and you will surrender it all so that they can experience my glory in them. You are the Prince of Peace.

When you return from death, they will recognize that Life is much greater than knowledge. Then they will be open to receiving true Life. When you return to me in heaven, we will send my Spirit to live in those who have surrendered their physical life because of the life you surrendered for them.

Because of your sacrifice, Son, I will again offer mankind Life through my Spirit and Knowledge through my Word. Once again, they must take of the Life first. For my Words bring only war and death without my Spirit.

It is my desire that all mankind will choose Life. But we have created them so much like us they will be easily deceived into thinking they are equal to us. They will assume their perspective is our perspective. But our ways are much higher than theirs. We’ll show them this through parenting. They will be mothers and fathers of precious children.

I’m having fun with this. I could keep going but I’m way past my intended word count for this blog. So you finish these thoughts yourself.

We haven't changed much since Adam and Eve. We still have a choice: Knowledge or Life. Which one is your priority?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Some Bizarre Thoughts on Trees

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’m working on my first paid assignment and the deadline is tomorrow so I won’t take the time to explore these thoughts too deeply. Just wanted to share with you where my mind is today.

What was Adam and Eve’s sin? What has been God’s plan from the beginning? What if Adam and Eve had not eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Today, because of Christ, we are able to be one with God through his Life (the Holy Spirit) dwelling in us.

Adam and Eve walked with God but God was not in them. Was God’s plan from the beginning to have a relationship with mankind like he had with Adam and Eve or did he intend for the relationship to be even more meaningful from the beginning?

Was the crucifixion of Jesus his plan from the beginning or was pouring his Spirit into man his plan?

What if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life instead of the Tree of Knowledge? Would they have received the Spirit and oneness with God as God desired? Would the Word have been eaten in the form of fruit from a tree rather than death of a man on a cross?

John 6:54 says “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Jesus is the vine, we are the branches (John 15). We are one with God through the vine.

Mark 8:35 (NLT) “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”

Did Adam and Eve try to keep their life for themselves by eating from the tree of knowledge? Is that still our biggest struggle? Do we want to figure out life through knowledge we gain through our own efforts?

I know that was my struggle 17 years ago. How about you? Are you eating from the tree of knowledge or the tree of life?

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Useful Life

In preparing to go through a Life Plan Facilitation with Kelly Thorne of Blooming Ministries I’ve discovered something. I’m lazy.

God has given me circumstances and people to confirm his useful plan for my life. Yet I keep coming back to “Why would God want me to do that? Maybe I should just enjoy life as it is.”

Two weeks ago at a writers conference, Jim Watkins said “If I'm going to be a faithful Christian, I must write.” It was one of those times when I felt like there was a megaphone aimed right at me.

Yesterday Greg McNichols at Newstart Community Church made this comment: “If you are not doing what you are created to do, then you are useless.” Greg was speaking on Matthew 5:13-16.

Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.

If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.

Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)

Greg pointed out the Greek for “shine” in verse 17 indicates active participation. We are not a shiny piece of silver for God to display. One of my favorite verses, 2 Peter 1:3-4, also reminds us that we are given everything we need to participate in God’s divine nature. This is not about staying busy. It’s about doing what we are created to do.

A hidden light is of no use at all. Salt that is contaminated is thrown out as useless.

I can sit back and blend in, or share my thoughts in circles that create more havoc than peace. Or, I can do what God created me to do and be useful in this world. I don’t want people to look at me as a wall flower. I want to be useful in making others thirsty for truth and light the path to Christ. That requires active participation with God.

How about you? Are you allowing the “just enjoy life” culture to render your life useless. Being busy isn’t always useful and being useful is not generally the easiest path.

Here’s the choice as I see it. Do you want to just exist (busy or not) until you die? Or do you want to experience life as it is intended to be?

I’m choosing Life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Quit Striving

Are you frustrated with life? Maybe you are frustrated with your boss or a family member? Have you thought about the real reasons for your frustration?

I’m not a full blown Type A. But I used to get frustrated when I wasn’t getting things done on my to-do list. Or when others wouldn’t do what they needed to do so that I could accomplish my goals. Another major frustration was being interrupted. Children are very good at interrupting life in small and big ways.

Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life begins with a powerful phrase. The first sentence in chapter one reads “It’s not about me.”

All Christ followers know that, right? Our frustration is because we want the best for others or the best for God’s kingdom, isn’t it? I’ve learned when I’m frustrated, I’m not trusting God.

Luke 1 tells about the angel’s news of John the Baptist and Jesus. John’s father and Jesus’ mother had very different reactions.

The Greek words for “how” in Zachariah’s and Mary’s questions are not the same. (search Luke 1 using the NAV with Strong’s Numbers at for more on the Greek)

Zach wanted to know the full game plan and proof that it was going to work before he believed. Mary was in awe and recognized that it couldn’t be in her power.

Zach is like many of us. We want to get the details from God so we will know what we are supposed to do. After all, God has gifted us to do things. Surely he will give us the game plan so that we can get started and get the task accomplished.

Can you imagine Zach at home after that? Headache? You can’t have a headache tonight. He can’t talk but he is doing everything he can to make this happen. He’s striving.

Mary left town immediately. She wasn’t thinking about her part in accomplishing this goal. She was anxious to get to someone who would understand God’s way of controlling the situation. She was living, not striving.

Our Type A personalities drive us to think life is about accomplishing tasks. Our only goal is to love God and love others. God gives us gifts to do that successfully. Most of the time, the circumstance is insignificant. The key is to remember that accomplishing God’s will for your life is not about you.

In John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Quit striving. Be excited about what God has revealed to you. Don’t try to take control of his goals. You can’t change people. You are not the way to God. You may know truth but you are not the truth. Enjoy the life of letting Jesus manifest all the truth he wants in exactly the way he desires. Our giftedness, personality, circumstances are God’s tools, not ours.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Who Moved?

Have you ever felt distanced from God only to hear someone say “well, if you don’t feel close to God like you once did, he’s not the one who moved.”

Hmmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve said that to others but I’m not so sure it’s true. Numbers 9:15-23 talks about the visible presence of God in the cloud by day and fire at night. This is how God guided the Israelites in their travels. Verse 22 says “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.”

My first thought after reading this section of scripture was wouldn’t it be nice to have the visible presence of God like that now? I was quickly reminded that we have even better than that. We don’t have to open our eyes to see God; we have his presence inside us. We are the Tabernacle.

The Israelites moved as one body. God’s presence is now spread all over the world but he still leads one body for one purpose.

God’s purpose is not about finding a place for us to be physically comfortable and stay put forever. His presence is in our lives so that we may carry on the work of Christ.

In Luke 4 we find the people amazed with Jesus’ teaching and healing. They don’t want him to leave their town. But Jesus says “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Numbers 9:21 says “Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning they set out.” A generation of Israelites wandered through the wilderness being taught by God how to live in peace. The next generation entered the Promised Land after being raised to move from place to place as God leads even if it isn’t where you really want to be.

Has God’s peace lifted from you? Maybe he is the one who moved.

Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.

Ephesians 6:15 (GWT)

Personal note:

I told someone recently that God would show them the right decision. The nonverbal response said that’s easy for you to say. I laughed thinking of the times I was in her shoes. But the truth is, I’m learning this day by day right now. I have discovered that every day can be peaceful if I simply stay focused on God for directions. I used to have a schedule for everything. Now… my house is a mess and I’m not up-to-date on bookkeeping which caused some finance charges on credit cards. Those things would once upon a time have sent me into hysterics. But last night I had so much fun passing Frisbee with my kids and earlier this week we hit golf balls. I spent all of Wednesday at my son’s Pioneer Day and he even allowed me to be his square dance partner. My daughter and I have gone for walks without me ending up irritated at her (that happens when I have other things on my schedule that I want to get to) and I’ve even let the kids stay up a little later. Life is so much easier when I remember that I really don’t have as much control over tomorrow as I think I do. I’ve come to love Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” If I try to step according to my plans, there will be an awkward struggle. I’m becoming much more graceful (pun intended) in my walk with God. And it makes life so beautiful.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


A few weeks ago during a Kairos team formation meeting, we built a rock altar. As we entered the prayer room, we each picked up a rock. These weren’t pretty rocks. They were various shapes and sizes, lots of rough edges.

Through the meditation time we were instructed to symbolically place on that rock anything in our lives that may be a distraction to doing God’s will throughout this Kairos experience.

Many of the team members had family issues and illness that could have easily given them reason to quit the team. I didn’t feel I had anything major going on in my life distracting me from God’s purpose for me on this Kairos team.

Then I heard that whisper. You know the one when God quietly gets our attention and then lays out something huge.

Only this didn’t sound huge. He simply said, “Quit trying to figure out why you are here.”

Ok, I can handle that. I was enjoying the team formation and looking forward to every aspect of the experience. So, I agreed. Yes, you can laugh. You know you do it too. God gives you instruction and you act as though you have the power and wisdom to veto his plan.

I took my rock up and placed it on the altar with everyone else’s rocks. Some had chosen very large rocks. They knew they had big stuff distracting them. Then I realized… “God, you didn’t just mean for this Kairos stuff, did you?”

Many of you know that I have a dream to write and speak. I also believe that every event in our lives makes an impact on our future. That belief leads me to spend a lot of time trying to see what God is up to in some of the most unusual situations.

Since the rock altar experience, I have been enjoying one day at a time. I know God has a plan for my life but there is not one bit of analyzing that can make that plan happen any smoother or faster. That doesn’t mean that I don’t dream and make some practical plans. It simply means I surrender the dream completely to God. It was his dream to begin with. The gift was that he revealed a glimpse of it to me.

I could spend a lot of time and money trying to develop this dream the way I think God intends for it to happen. I’m sure I would learn some valuable lessons along the way. But I’m choosing to take on the motto my husband came up with from his Walk to Emmaus, “Listen to the Spirit and do what he says.”

We really aren’t promised a tomorrow. Total surrender to the Holy Spirit is the most peaceful and enjoyable life imaginable.

What’s distracting you from the life God has for you today? Place it on a rock and carry that rough edged chunk of creation to a place of surrender and worship. Enjoy the peace of realizing you are not in control.

"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Luke 12:29-32 (The Message)

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42(NIV)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Do you want to be wise? Think about your life. What circumstances have helped you most to have the wisdom you have?

James 1:2-4 and 5-8 have been favorite verses of mine for a long time. But I had never put them together until recently. Verses 2-4 talk about our trials. Verses 5-8 are about gaining wisdom.

When I look at all the verses together it makes me hesitate when I think about asking God for wisdom. Oh, yes, he gives generously without finding fault but it’s verses 2-4 that tell how that wisdom is disbursed.

Well, the book of Proverbs gives plenty of examples of the fool. I think I’ll accept the generous wisdom that comes with the trials.

Here’s the prayer that stirred these thoughts:

“Dear Lord, help me to realize my wisdom emerges as I accept and integrate all that has happened to me.” from Daily E-mail

I recommend that you go to and read James 1:2-8 in a few different versions. One of them will hit home with where you are today.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Did God plan the fall?

Now that’s my kind of question! This is my response to the question posted at (forum: [Theology] Christian Doctrine):

This question just recently began occupying my contemplative mind. Here's a scripture that seems to apply. Exodus 20:20 "Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.'"

I'm not going to try to say yes or no to whether God planned the fall but it is a new concept for me to consider that the "fall" as I have always considered to be "evil" or "bad" may have been exactly what God wanted to use to teach us to fear him - not our circumstances - from the very beginning.

I've recently began viewing everything in scripture as relationship issues rather than dos and don'ts (good/evil). It's been fascinating.

We claim that God loves us unconditionally. I have discovered that my relationship with God is greatly enhanced more by my struggles, trials/tests etc than by perfect obedience without questions. I'm not saying that disobedience is good. I'm saying God allows us to be maturing children so that we can grow into deeper relationship with him.

I've seen children who are so compliant that they don't know what to do away from "normal" situations. They don't question and attempt to reason because they fear consequences more than they fear the authority figure over them. When we have a healthy fear of the authority over us rather than merely avoiding consequences, we strive to get to know the person so that we can understand the consequences.

I also wonder if the "fall" was a test to teach us how male and female must work together. Looking at the events that took place seems to represent the same way men and women communicate today.

Is it possible that Eve failed to express all her thoughts - assuming that Adam comprehended her reasoning - while she acted more out of emotion than logic? Is it possible that Adam misunderstood Eve's intentions because he failed to enter into conversation with her - he assumed she was processing information the same way he did - without emotion - therefore he could not encourage her appropriately.

Emotion and logic are equally significant in decisions. God calls us to be full of compassion as he is and he will give us the wisdom to administer mercy, grace and encouragement. We must consider the relationship aspect of our decisions along with the logic for each circumstance.

I find the story of Job and the response of his wife to be a very similar lesson. We cannot throw out emotions. They are part of God's design for us. We are limited in our ability to reason, therefore human logic is not always accurate. The question is how do we use our God given emotions along with God given ability to reason logically to discover the wisdom he offers in each situation we face.

Just my perspective - not conclusive.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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