Saturday, May 7, 2016

What is Your "Why?" How is Your "Who?" Where is Your "When?"

The answers to these questions are significant to living your fullest. In a huge way, they contribute to defining what "living your fullest" means to you.

Here are the 3 questions I like to combine to begin* giving the clearest vision for finding, and living, your purpose in life. To round it out, ask yourself these questions, not once, not twice, but at least 3 to 5 times. Depth is amazing; so dive in!

  • What is your "Why?" 
  • How is your "Who?"
  • Where is your "When?"

* I say "begin" because in your journey through life, there are other major contributions to living with purpose. Expect to continue refining your vision and mission, receiving and implementing feedback, and adjusting your walk based on experience and knowledge.

What do those questions mean?

What is your "Why?" creates a clear assertion you proclaim to yourself, and others as necessary, as the reason why you live. It is the discovery of God's will for your life on earth.

As you read and assimilate God's word, what stirs in your heart to the point of moving your feet? Thoughts in relation to others, lost or saved, and that begin with "I would love to..." can provide excellent insight into aligning your purpose with God's eternal plan.

In what way would you be inclined to come alongside others just as Christ came alongside you and is indeed in you? Answer "Why?" until you know it by heart, and then live by heart.

How is your "Who?" gives you an honest assessment of the welfare of the very people you intend to serve by providing the most value to the quality of their lives.

We know the only word of God can truly transform a person. We know He sends His Spirit to meet a person wherever they are in life. (They don't have to pre-qualify to receive the love of Christ.) We also know He loves them too much to leave them where they are.

Are you prepared to meet others where they are in life? Do you have a heart or yearning for people in, or from, particular circumstances? What are their situations and attitudes now, and where do you want to help them go and grow?

We know God gives the growth. How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to plant or water? How can you make yourself more receptive to them to increase your influence for their good? Are you really listening to understand their pain, security, and struggles?

Where is your "When?" locates your time for these resulting, purposeful tasks. It is the act of transforming your intangible dreams into tangible goals. It is living on purpose.

We all have something we want to do someday. But what can you do today that will move you in the direction of your purpose and goals? What about this week? This month?

If you're like me, tools for writing down and scheduling goals come in so handy; calendars, reminders, smart phone apps, to do lists, etc. Where can you store this information about your purpose and goals so they are readily available, and perhaps even alert you when things need to be done? What tools and methods works best for you? Use them wisely.

Final Note:

Living your purpose on purpose should be both challenging and rewarding. Helping others makes the hard work of getting clarity of purpose, sacrificing personally, and absorbing life experiences all worthwhile.

Learn to welcome the challenge of understanding your purpose; what it is, who it serves, and when you can live it out. Engaging with a Christian Life Coach can help you through this discovery process to maximize the value you can contribute as God's servant-leader.

~ ~ ~

Note: No doubt, you will have to put something else off in order to address these questions properly. You might as well decide right here and now what is less important than finding out what "living your fullest" means. You don't have to answer the questions right now; you can if you want. But, at least start thinking about how you can make time to do so.

Ask yourself, "What lies cold and empty inside you, like a worthless habit, that you can readily give up in order to stoke the coals that would set your soul on fire for God?"

Block time in your hectic schedule and get ready for some profound discovery! It is well-worth it because you are well worth it. Think of it as others unwittingly waiting for you to discover your purpose so you can positively impact their lives.

As always, in prayer with faith, in your words with action, seek God's righteousness first (Matthew 6:33), be transformed by the renewal of your mind, and do not be conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2). God bless you and others who will be blessed through your choice to live on purpose. Amen!

For the original post with more information about Christian Life Coaching, click here:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Are You in the Driver's Seat, or a Car Seat?

No, I haven't completely forgotten what it was like to be a kid. For example, I remember quite well I loved pretending in miniature. Just about any prop worked to enhance the experience: G.I. Joe, Lionel Trains, and Matchbox Cars, were my brand-name favorites.

Did you ever have one of those mini single seat cars, with the pedals that go back and forth for awesome power, and it actually steered? I might be showing my age, but mine was almost entirely metal. The only plastic was the little red hub cap covering the nut and bolt on the ends of each axle.

Pretend play was fun, even it mimicked real life scenarios. A journey to my neighbors, three houses down the block, in a suburb where the houses were about 50 feet from each other, was a trip worth repeating four to six times.

Gliding along the sidewalk was even better if someone pushed fast! I'm positive the pedals had a built-in speed control that would jam if you tried to pedal too quickly, like opposing keys on a manual typewriter from the 70's.

But, tell me to get in a real car because we're going on a real journey, and I'd run to hide in the closet quicker than a parent can ask, "Anybody have to 'go' before we go?"

Yes, I understand sometimes we have to get in the passenger seat of life, willingly or carried. But, if I have the option, I'll drive. I like to be in control of the vehicle, the chosen route, and my destiny, as much as I am motivated and able.

Today, (many) years later, I'm reminded of this childhood example, car rides, in regard to my spiritual walk. I have a heart to diligently seek God, know Christ, understand grace, truth, faith, and His eternal plan for His church, the body of Christ.

I don't wish to simply hand the reigns over to someone with worldly credentials who purports to be a spiritual authority, declaring, "I'm an excellent driver."

To me, it ultimately doesn't matter if they have a masters or doctorate degree in divinity, if they're in a denomination well established by solid church history, if they're intelligent scholars, best-selling Christian authors, charismatic crowd-pleasing orators, outspoken evangelists (dead or alive), if they have a heart-wrenching ministry, are well-dressed and highly moral, live in an exclusive secret society, or if they just love everybody all the time.

No, I'm convinced there is a higher purpose for God's word, the revelation of His eternal plan, and that we can and should know His will (Romans 12:2~). Only then will I know what "good works" are that He "prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10, following Ephesians 2:8-9~~).

No, I'm not going to simply hand over the reigns with something as precious as my soul. I believe God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6~~~). I believe this pleases Him as much as it delights me (Psalm 37:4*).

Definitely, there are eternal rewards. But, there are also rewards for here and now, such as rest for my soul, peace in my bones, contentment in my mind, joy in my heart, and (let the reader really get this point ...) growing into the fullness of Him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16**).

Those rewards, both eternal and present, are compromised, big time, when I let someone do the seeking for me. As a result, my "good works" may even be burned to a crisp (1 Corinthians 3:10b-15***).

Yes, I found an excellent pastor/teacher who teaches from Scripture. But I show up, listen carefully and thoughtfully, follow up with private study and prayer, and carefully test his teachings against the Scriptures (Acts 17:11****).

The idea is that learning from Scripture is so much better than learning from Religion. In the days Jesus walked the earth, religious leaders were constantly trying to trap Him in His words and even kill Him.

In fact, many religious leaders today, and throughout history, are trying to do the same thing by twisting Scripture and suppressing the truth. So, I assert Religion is the antithesis to understanding God's thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9*****).

But instead of running away from the Bible, I went deeper, essentially ignoring what religion had to say. Now, I'm getting, and have been getting for a few years, a lot of spiritual growth and enjoyment out of the study of Scripture.

And even that's saying it lightly; I frankly didn't know it was possible at first. I merely hung on to the hope the Scriptures were all true, and what religions were saying about it was false. That humble attitude was eventually rewarded.

How great are the rewards from God!

Previously, in attending a few mainstream religious churches, I was preoccupied with behavior modification, often having to wonder about and even maintain my salvation instead of using my freedom in Christ to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.

I got involved in humanitarian efforts in one place, which felt good to my soul, and religious tradition at another, which satisfied my self-righteous mind.

Neither shed much light, if any, on what God "decreed before the ages for our glory" (1 Corinthians 2:7+).

Now, although I'm in North Carolina and "attend" by conference call, I study with a small home-church based in New Jersey, where we are "serious students of God's word, the Bible."

Are we arrogant making a claim like that? Am I arrogant for bringing it up? You would think so, especially when I don't follow the norm of studying famous theologians, charismatic evangelists, seminary professors, best selling devotionals, common commentaries, larger and shorter catechisms, published confessions of faith, popular and wealthy congregations, or prioritizing involvement in just any local church family.

On the other hand, perhaps you see what I mean when you read that list and compare them to your own experiences. Rather, as I've studied His eternal word and His eternal plan, I've come to realize what He really means by "good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17++) and how to get there (2 Timothy 2:15+++).

Maybe you get my point, and maybe you don't.

This isn't private interpretation in isolation where we make the word mean whatever we want; we take His word for it. We clearly see in the world that our sort of study and reliance on God's word is very uncommon. We also see the common mistakes, hypocrisy, and arrogance that result from following the world's ways of religion. I wouldn't trade this intense focus on the word of God for anything in the world, especially man's religion.

Whose word are you following? Are you driving your own relationship with God? Or is someone else strapping you in the car seat of religion? (Galatians 5:1++++)

~  ~  ~
Scripture References:

~ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

~~ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-9, 10)

~~~ And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who [diligently, KJV] seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

* Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

** And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

*** Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10b-15)

**** For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

***** Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

+ But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7)

++ All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

+++ Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 MKJV)

++++ For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Simple Bible Study Outline - Lesson 3

Opening Comment: 

I was more intentional about making this interactive and it went very well. Please take your time to consider these questions thoroughly and look beyond what you think you already know. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you through this spiritual information.

I pray also, that the eyes of your heart, dear reader, are enlightened that you may know the incredible riches of His grace in Christ Jesus. Again, my Bible Study Lessons are actually intended to be interactive; best when live in person. Nevertheless, please leave your comments, post your questions, and let's dialogue. (You're welcome to use your username or remain anonymous.)

Review verses:

(I downloaded and use almost all the time, and prefer the ESV, NIV, and KJV translations. However, you can also look up these verses in your favorite translation at

John 16: 4-15
John 3: 16-18
Romans 3: 10-31
2 Peter 1: 16-21
1 Peter 2: 2-3

Discussion Questions:

1. In verses John 16:12-15, what is the role-name of the Holy Spirit in John 16? Why is this role assigned to Him? What does this mean for those who are saved? When did get this role? How can we benefit?

2. What are His other roles and responsibilities (verses John 16:8-10)? [We will study those in more detail later.]

3. What does it take to be saved according to Ephesians 2:8-9 & John 3:16-18? Is that it? Are you sure? How can we know? What about lifestyles and heinous sins? Do these have to change first before one can be saved, or at the same time that salvation occurs? In fact, is salvation a process or a moment? Why?

It's likely we'll be out of time before we get to all the questions above. But that should not thwart us from diligently and humbly seeking Him on our own, between lessons.

We should consider going deep and exhausting these doctrines until we see God leaves no wiggle room. His way cannot be one way for some people and other ways for other people.

Questions for Later:

1. Who has or who can do right by God before salvation, to find favor with Him?

2. Where should we go and with what attitude(s) to discover His grace and truth?

3. Why can't we just settle into a nice church family and let that suffice? What if you're deployed or away on business and there is no local church family?

Simple Bible Study Outline - Lesson 2

Even though this lesson had less outline notes, I talked a lot to fill in the gaps. It was mostly a review of the Scripture verses from last week with additional depth, context, and background.

I ended with some basic questions, but realized I should've been including these throughout. My lessons are meant to be interactive, so please, leave a comment, post questions. Let's dialogue!

Open w/ prayer. Start w/ Q&A. Teach.


1. Pick up from last week. Some Scripture is so basic and foundational, it's worth committing to memory, so it sinks into your heart. God is motivated by pure love for you to know Him and His eternal plan. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). [If seems I'm repeating this point, it's true. It is important to understand that it is proper to have expectation with a humble attitude.]

2. The Only way to learn spiritual information is from the Holy Spirit, who is our guide into all truth. Read from John 16. [Simply stated, yet profound. God's truth does not come from any man. Yet, so many put their trust in man's religion and tradition, often muddied with Bible verses here and there so it sounds like it comes from God.]

3. You cannot put the cart before the horse; spiritual milk comes before spiritual meat. Milk is the basics: why we are lost, condemned in Adam, saved by grace through faith, word is truth, etc. * [The human analogy works well. Babies need milk, not solid food. It is right for them to crave it.] For example...

4. Romans 3:10-28... None is righteous. Righteousness manifested & revealed apart from the law. Putting "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" into context. What is the context?

5. Why is Bible study critical? It is literally a matter of life and death. Who or what are you trusting in? Self-righteousness? Moral behavior? Tradition? Religion? Denomination?

Scripture Verses:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:10-28)

* Verses mentioned in context above...

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:15-19)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Simple Bible Study Outline - Lesson 1

Here are my notes from a discussion last night with a relatively new Christian. I elaborated in person, filling about 30 minutes. Below is just an outline.

My hope is that it may influence how someone thinks about their new born Christianity. It's not about suddenly getting involved in humanitarian efforts, or church outreach ministries. Nor is it about being moral. It's about growing in grace, then and only then will we be equipped for "every good work."

I hope you pay special attention to the verses I listed below as worth committing to heart.
~ ~ ~

Bible Study Notes

[Words in brackets are mine to add clarity.]

Lesson 1 Notes:

1. Read/study the Bible 1st, then other books. Like putting the genuine, unabridged classic before SparkNotes.

2. Hermeneutics- rules for interpretation, let clear direct Scripture help us understand ambiguous or seemingly contradicting Scripture (such as Php 2:14-16 helping us understand the time frame -in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation- of Col 1:21-23, which makes it sound like salvation is conditional w/ the words "if indeed," given Eph 2:8-9 which clearly says salvation is not conditional: we cannot earn it or maintain it), context is king, use original language to understand thought behind words, consider audience, etc.

3. Topics we mentioned: All Scripture is not only God-breathed, it's good for instruction in righteousness, etc. When saved, justification follows condemnation, sanctification follows salvation. Sanctification is made possible by truth, and God's word is truth (John 17:17).

4. Some Scripture is so basic to the foundation of faith, it's worth committing to memory, so it sinks into your heart. God is motivated by pure love for you to know Him and His eternal plan. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). [We didn't really get into this thought. We'll pick up from here next week.]

Scripture verses to take to heart:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
John 17:17 ESV

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 ESV

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

“Do your best to present [or, study to show] yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling [discerning] the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

“[God,] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the [full, accurate] knowledge of the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:4 ESV

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who [diligently] seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Scripture Q&A (Part 5) - Can't We Generally Agree?

Can't we generally agree on what it means to be a Christian? Basically, it just means we believe in Jesus Christ, doesn't it? Beyond that, let's just acknowledge some major themes of Christianity, but worship God in our own ways.

After all, what does it really matter if we go to churches of different denominations? The basic tenets are all the same. Aren't they? Diversity in the body of Christ is good. Isn't it? We just prefer different types of worship styles, preaching and music. Right? Some churches even have a distinct traditional service and a contemporary service on the same day.

God made us all unique. Right? The body is supposed to have many members. Yes? It's a grand thing we can each worship God in our own unique way. Isn't it? After all, it's all about your personal relationship with Christ and/or living out your Christianity. Well?

Yes and No. Mostly No.

Yes, we can seem to agree in basic, general terms: God is the Creator of all things; Jesus is the Son of God; People sin; Christ died for our sins; the Bible is the word of God; Be good, do good; Heaven and hell are real; go to church and try to be a good neighbor. A new Christian has to start somewhere.

But, hopefully, we recognize where some Christian denominations stray or quarrel. Some say Jesus was only a man, not God. Others say He was both. Some say you need to live a moral lifestyle and/or obey the Ten Commandments to avoid going to hell, or as evidence of being saved in the first placed. Others believe once saved, always saved, no matter what you do. I heard one pastor say that even "worry can keep you out of heaven."

Which of these is true? Does it matter? How do we establish what is truth, validate the truth, understand truth, or get more truth? How is it possible we could all have the same roots and same destiny, yet think polar opposite, or not think much at all, about doctrine pertaining to grace, truth, the gospel, salvation, sanctification, the definition and purpose of the Church versus Israel?

So No, absolutely not when it comes to specific terms and definitions. No, we cannot generally agree nor should we settle for that. "All truth" has a specific meaning and usage in Scripture. The gospel is only good news in contrast to the bad news. Scripture clearly defines the boundaries of both in such a way there is no chance for private interpretation or wiggle room.

Yet, it is the nature of the sin nature to want to jump to conclusions and make applications, or to put trust in worldly knowledge and history, or to highlight emotional experiences and unexplained, miraculous, and supernatural phenomena.

Scripture has specific answers to hard questions. The problem is with opposing thoughts, not with each other, but with God. Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD." It takes genuine humility to accept someone else's thoughts.

How far does God's grace go in a world filled with good and evil? What is salvation? What is it not? How does one get saved? How does sacrificial, biblical love differ from great heroism and humanitarian efforts? How much and what depends on our own attitude and actions? Why are we on this Earth? Why now? Why here? Who do we follow, why and how? What's our ultimate purpose?

There is a lot of division in the details of man-made religion. Sometimes, violent division. Ugly thoughts become harsh words. Harsh words become offensive, unloving behavior, often acted out. Unloving behavior becomes powerful enough to wound or kill, whether emotionally or physically.

However, these are not the thoughts and details God describes in Scripture. Indeed, Scripture can be used out of context and viciously; Satan himself attempted to tempt Jesus by quoting Scripture. So, just because someone quotes Scripture doesn't mean they understand it properly.

Scripture seems so voluminous and complicated. If it gets too complicated, many people dismiss further study by saying, "God works in mysterious ways." Or, "I guess we'll find out when we get to heaven." Or, "Who are we to question God?"

Can truth, the whole truth, be understood from Scripture? Yes! God wants us to know Him, in this life. He has given us His Spirit. We have the mind of Christ. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide us into All Truth. These are all part of God's thoughts in Scripture. They can be understood, but not by the sin nature. Only by someone who is first saved, believes and puts their trust in Christ, and then humbles themselves and diligently seeks after God. One must be born of the Spirit in order to grow in grace and walk in the Spirit.

So many scholars have already studied Scripture. There are tons of commentaries and volumes of church history. I'm sure the pastors, priests, reverends already read through them, carefully picked the significant ones, and is summarizing them or making applications for me.

Can't we just learn from them? Can't we just find the ones we like and trust them to speak well? If the church is big and the preacher popular, he must be good. Right? Or maybe we think if the church is small and sermons not popular they must be teaching the painful truth, not simply what's comfortable. Some of these religious church leaders, elders, and teachers seem like really nice people. I wouldn't mind learning from them. Besides, they're good at telling engaging and heart-felt stories.

The Spirit Compromised Is Man-Made Religion. 

Jesus was angered by the religious leaders of His day, calling them hypocrites (Matt 23), and for good reason. They were about making themselves look good and ignoring what God has done in the process, and was still trying to do through the Holy Spirit.

At the very least, even someone nice, kind and gentle could be focused more on being nice, kind and gentle rather than assisting in the Holy Spirit's mission. The love of God and the word of God, His thoughts and His ways, are about so much more than just being nice, kind and gentle.

At worst, or most blatant, in Acts 7:51, Stephen rightly said of the Jews who opposed Christ, God's salvation, "You stiff-necked (stubborn), uncircumcised in the heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit just as your forefathers did." In fact, after Stephen gave his testimony, they were stirred to such outrageous anger, they stopped (tightly covered) their ears and rushed at him, cast him out of the city and stoned him to death.

Why? Because instead of being cut to the heart and repenting (changing their minds) towards God, they resisted the Holy Spirit, thus denying God, and dug their heels in, retracting into their own self-righteous sin nature, arrogance, anger, and violence. This response was not love, humility, nor the fruit of the Spirit. It was deep-seated, man-made religion.

When this happens, the Holy Spirit is deeply grieved. He carries a profound message of love, grace and truth. Yet, He is outright rejected. He is hindered from doing His job, which is, in common grace, to convict the world of disbelief in Christ, God's solution for reconciliation, and then guiding the saved into all truth.

If we dilute the truth so we can appear to agree, we are covering up the truth as if parts of it were shameful. While we parade around in fancy clothes of moral righteousness. We try to be proud and humble at the same time.

Take the word 'grace' for example. 

Perhaps, we could all agree that grace is a significant part of Christian theology. Grace comes from God. Grace is undeserved merit. Grace is kindness expressed.

But, join the word 'grace' to 'salvation' or to 'the law', and the lines of its boundaries sharpen enough to split convictions. How can the house be divided with both sides calling themselves Christian?

Most would agree we are saved by grace. "For by grace you have been saved through faith." (Eph 2:8a). In the immediate context:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Not all of those who agree with the verse above would agree that we are saved once and always saved thereafter. But, if I had something, anything, to do with my salvation, I could boast of that. Right?

Some of them would say, yes, you are saved by grace, but if you go on sinning you won't be saved in the end. Take the example of the pastor I gave above who said, "Worry could keep you out of heaven." You didn't endure or persevere. Your faith probably wasn't even genuine to begin with. 

You are like the seed on the rock, quickly springing up but having no root and just as quickly falling away. You are the branch that did not bear fruit and are cut off and cast into the fire.

Others may be on the opposite side of the 'once saved, always saved' thought and say we can sin all we want once we're saved. It doesn't matter. Salvation is done, out of our hands. Therefore, live it up!

You won't lose your salvation no matter what you do. We are under grace, not the law. No one and nothing can snatch us out of the Father's hand, not even ourselves. In fact, if we sin, grace will abound all the more.

So, which is it? Is salvation secure, or does it hang in the balance? Or is it something else? I challenge you to study the thought behind 1 John 2:2. Did Jesus really die for the sins of the whole world? Yet, that is clearly what the verse says. Would you be tempted to qualify the verse and say it doesn't really mean the "whole world"? 

Where do people get these ideas? Are they all from Scripture? No, absolutely not. There is no compromising all truth. There is no "agreeing to disagree" with the Spirit of truth. Truly understanding 1 John 2:2 is truly understanding grace. No, not everyone is going to heaven. But, John 3:18 clearly says who remains condemned and why. Pay attention to the word "because" and realize the original Greek often translated "do not believe" actually means to "resist believing."

Is that splitting good? Is it right to divide? Is it even okay to agree to disagree? Well, I didn't think so. I bounced back and forth between seeking and not seeking, going to different churches. Every time I sought God, man and his religion obscured my view of what God intended. But, as I kept seeking, sincerely, diligently, God opened doors to understanding His thoughts and His ways I didn't know existed.

Contend for the faith, not for denominations or branches of theology. The Word of God is alive and powerful. All Scripture is God-breathed. Yes, these are phrases within Scripture verses. But, I can no longer hear them out of context. Context is king! Seek Him in the Scriptures. It's not a rule book.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)

complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:5)

... and so much more! (See other series in this blog, such as 'Scripture Q&A' or 'Why Scripture?')

Thank you for reading my post. Please feel free to leave a signed or anonymous comment. May these words be a blessing to you.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Revelations For Life: An Introduction

There are two ways to get lessons about life. 
You either look for them, or they will find you.

Either way, they want to be learned. If you don't learn the precious lessons related to your life, they'll keep coming back until you do. In my experience, this is not often at the most opportune time.

Here are a few lessons I've learned in my lifetime.
  • Seek them out first, and keep seeking them, before they seek you.
  • Give them time to work in your heart and find expression in your life.
  • Life lessons are meant to be for your own personal journey.
  • Be willing to change according what these life lessons teach.
  • Sharing your personal journey helps others have the courage to grow.
  • Not everyone is seeking to learn lessons in life; don't force their choice.
  • As joyful as it can feel, don't be deceived into thinking you've arrived.
  • Instead, start over again. This time with more experience and wisdom.

It hurts to let go of what we hoped for, dreamed of, or expected in life when the life lesson throws in the unexpected or tells us to take a different path. It hurts when our family and friends don't want us to take a different path we feel called to take. It hurts because we cannot imagine that a 'different path' would be so important for us, yet so offensive to those who want things to stay the same, or return to how it used to be. We are torn and life feels bitter.

But, life must move forward; like time, it has no choice. You and I, however, do have a choice. I hope to encourage and inspire you to seek out life's lessons, take time to assimilate them, and warmly embrace them.

I can assure you, the bitterness dissipates and joy returns with even greater, more genuine strength.

Life is not a game of hide and seek; it's a journey of blindness and discovery. On this journey, we can truly understand why David said in Psalm 23, "my cup overflows." When we ask, seek, and knock it will given to us, we will find, and doors will appear and fly open for to enter a new life.

The rewards of absorbing life's lessons are sweet as honey. Lessons that are profound, life-changing, even spiritual are revelations. I invite you to witness milestones in my journey which I affectionately call, 'Revelations For Life'.

May these revelations warm your soul and touch your heart.

Feel free to jump in anywhere and read randomly, such as in Write to Heal, or follow the few series that I've put together by label, such as Why Scripture?

I am motivated by love to share my journey. 
I pray it is with love you receive it.

Wishing You an Abundance of Blessings,