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April 2010

Living Life

DSCF1214_2 "Fear not that your life will come to an end, but that it will never have a beginning."--John Henry Newman

Fear and worry are serious issues.  They can really mess up your life, if they even allow you, and those around you, to live life.  It could be said that there is a wise kind of fear--a reverent fear--that keep us on the straight and narrow, and there is a form of worry that is really just a healthy dose of responsible and prudent care and concern...I guess. 

But I am not talking about those kinds of fear and worry.

I am talking about the kind of fear and worry that rob you of life and leave you with regret.  The kind that keep you up at night and keep you from getting out of bed in the morning.  The kind of fear and worry that we all wrestle with, especially in the face of risk.

John Maxwell says this of risk and fear:

"What's ironic is that those who don't have the courage to take risks and those who do experience the same amount of fear in life.  The only difference is that those who don't take chances worry about trivial things.  If you're going to have to overcome your fear and doubts anyway, you might as well make it count."

The element of risk in our lives is experienced in a myriad of ways, but the real weight of engaging in risk is realized in the decisions and actions that affect those things that are most precious in life--our own hearts and lives and more importantly, the hearts and lives of those that we love.

For us to truly "live" there has to be something bigger in our lives than the fears and worries that accompany the risks of life.  We need courage.  I like the quote from the father in the movie, "The Princess Diaries,"

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

Is there something "more important than fear" in your life?  Is fear and worry keeping your life from having a beginning?  If so, I recommend that you look to Jesus.  He is the visible image of the invisible God.  He knows what risk is all about and he has a lot to say about fear ("fear not"), worry ("don't worry") and living life ("I am the way, the truth and the life").


The last half of Ephesians chapter 4 is chock full of a whole bunch of "don'ts."

  • don't be rebellious
  • don't lie
  • don't pretend to be something you're not
  • don't seek revenge
  • don't stay angry
  • don't drive angry (sorry, that's not from Eph. 4, it's from the movie, Groundhog Day)
  • don't steal
  • don't use foul language
  • don't talk bad about people
  • don't hold a grudge

All of these "don'ts" are good advice--even the "don't drive angry."  But I think they pale in comparison to the "don'ts" of verse 30 in Ephesians 4.

"Don't grieve God.  Don't break his heart.  His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself.  Don't take such a gift for granted." (MSG)

Maybe you should read that again...

Do you realize the immensity of that verse?  What a gift.  You were made to have the Spirit of God living within your heart and throughout your life.  Anything less simply breaks the heart of God.  You were made for so much more. 

You know as well as I do that there are many more "don'ts" that we could add to the list above.  Even the most harmless of them become grievous if they grieve God.  Take Paul's advice--if you are even thinking about dabbling in something that will be detrimental to the most intimate part of your life...Don't.


3429687447_4160f6a392_b Easter Sunday was over ten days ago.  The remembrance of the cross and the death of Jesus are well over a week behind you.  Where have you gone from there?


"The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind."  (Proverbs 15:24, NLT)

Remember . . . He Is Risen!

Style and Power

I like this quote by Calvin Miller:

"Style--the inimitable trait is composed of chromosomes, DNA, and the ricochet of an honest soul off the environment around it.  It all adds up to the most admirable of all preaching traits.  Envy Swindoll, Spurgeon, and Peter Marshall if you will, but even they cannot exposit the Word as only you can.  Do not envy them for their style.  Their popularity is but a little edge that declares their style but does nothing to detract from your own.  Being who you are is much easier than trying to be who they are, and it is so much more authentic and useful to your listeners.  But more than authentic, it is properly persuasive.  We never have more power to influence an audience than when we are busy about being ourselves and telling the world how we feel about God and his expectations for the church and the human race."

I think that these comments on style go beyond the act of preaching.  I think that they apply to living.  God became flesh for a reason. Christ dwells within believers for a reason.  I think it is because there is nothing more powerful than "the ricochet of an honest soul off the environment around it."

The Day After Easter

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine that lives in China.  She is a teacher and said that she was looking forward to a four day Easter weekend.  She had Friday off for Good Friday and Monday off for Tomb Sweeping Day. 

Tomb Sweeping Day?  Of course I Googled it.  Here is what I found:

“Tomb Sweeping Day or Ching Ming Festival  ("Pure Brightness Festival") is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the 106th day after the winter solstice, which occurs on April 4 or April 5 of the Gregorian calendar.  It marks the middle of spring and is a sacred day of the dead.  For the Chinese, Tomb Sweeping Day is primarily a festival for remembering, honoring and worshiping ones' ancestors.”

This year, due to the calendar, Tomb Sweeping Day falls on the Monday following Easter Sunday.  That is today for me.  This morning I didn’t wake up to a day off.  I am headed to work--hopeful.  I don’t plan on spending the day in the graveyard offering food and worship to my ancestors.  Rather, I plan on living for and worshiping Jesus. 

Because, as the angel at the tomb said, “He is not here.  He is risen!”

What God Wants

3266479256_139820f3d9_b History is filled with the accounts of people offering sacrifices to God.  The blood, sweat and tears of sacrifices offered up to God, and the gods, flow down through the ages.  Yet, this costly stream of offerings has had no lasting value--it has evaporated into nothing.

Jesus Christ gave his life upon the cross as the supreme sacrifice for the sins of all humankind.  Sacrifice is costly and God paid the ultimate price to take away the sins of the world.  The debt of sin was paid with the blood, sweat, tears and life of God's only son.  The God who had it all, gave it all upon the cross.  The sacrifice has been given.  God doesn't need our meager offerings.  Take a look at Psalm 50:9-13.

God says,

But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you for all the world is mine and everything in it.

Do I eat the meat of bulls?  Do I drink the blood of goats?

So what, if anything, does God want?

Keep on reading in Psalm 50:14-15. 

God says,

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,

    and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Then call on me when you are in trouble, 

    and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.

I could try to expound upon these verses, but for now I think that the scribblings that I have put next to these verses in my bible say it best.  The scribblings are in parentheses.

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, (thanksgiving and gratitude)

and keep the vows you made to the Most High. (obedience and discipline)

Then call on me when you are in trouble, (reliance and trust)

and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. (praise and worship)

God wants: thanksgiving, gratitude, obedience, discipline, reliance, trust, praise and worship.  As you can see, the things that God desires are those things that reside in and resonate out of the very heart and life of who we are. 

The blood and water that flowed from Christ's body so long ago still flows.  It has not evaporated.  God no longer wants a sacrifice of blood that results in death.  Rather, God wants the sacrifice of a life lived fully for Him.  As you consider the cross and the empty tomb this Easter, remember what God has given to you and give him what He wants in return.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)