Monday, April 30, 2012

Biblical Healthy Change.


               Biblical Healthy Change



All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. Ellen Glasgow
We all realize that we need to change certain areas of our lives, but many of us are stuck and we don't know how to bring about good healthy change in our lives. 

Let me set the tone for today's post: You must understand that there is a vast difference between behavior modification change that is brought about by self will and human effort, and biblical Holy Spirit wrought change, and mind you, it is no small difference.

We as humans can change certain behaviors in our lives, we can go move from bad habits to good habits, and we can replace destructive behaviors with healthy behaviors. However, when we look at change in the Bible two thoughts appear evident, one, God gives us a new nature and new hearts (11 Cor.5:17; Ezek. 36:26). And the second thought flows from the first; all change in the life of the believer is not to make us better people, or better citizens, or better co-workers, or better neighbors, but all change for the Christian is for the "glory of God" (1Cor.10:31; Col.3: 17, 23).


Without being made a new creation (11 Cor. 5:17), without having a new heart (Ezek.36:26) we are left in our depraved sinful natures that are under the wrath of God (Eph.2:3).

The most important change that we need as a person is the change that is "from above"---this is the change that is accomplished by God in our lives through His word and by the work of the Holy Spirit. Then, as we move toward change, putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature, we can change, but not by sheer human will or behavior modification, no, but, by the active work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

Let me share a change that the Bible calls all married men to---it is to love their wives AS "Christ loved the Church (Eph.5:25). You notice that the word "as" is capitalized and in red, this should shout out to you that it is an extremely important two letter word in the Ephesians 5:25 passage. This passage calls for men to love their wives just as Christ loved His Church, and how much did Christ love the Church? --- that love took Him to Calvary to become a sacrifice, His love was a sacrificial love, a giving love, a selfless love, a pure love, yes, this is the kind of love that all men are being called to show towards their own wives. 

This kind of love (change) can not be produced by self-will, or human effort. This love can only be a reality when one is given a new heart.

So, to get back to the question, how do I change? Change must start by coming to Christ; acknowledging Him as LORD and following Him. When we are given new hearts we can bring about change in our lives; change that will happen with the aim to bring glory to our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. The follower of Jesus realizes that he must die daily and allow Christ to live through him. So all change is a cooperative work between the disciple and the master, but all the fruit of change is to God's glory and honor.

Friday, April 27, 2012

God requires that we walk in submission to Him.


Lets start this post with a summation of yesterdays thoughts on a rebellious attitude, remember we are all natural-born rebels against God, and we all have a natural tendency to resist God's will in our lives; this is the nature that we inherited from our father Adam (it is called the sin nature or original sin).

The attitude that we need to replace our rebellious attitude with is the attitude of submission. This is the put off - put on principle at work, this principle is one of the most necessary concepts to understand in the process of the sanctification of the believer.

It is important that I remind you that in order to submit to God you need to be a "new creation" ( 11 Cor. 5:17). We can not have a submissive attitude toward God that will be pleasing to Him unless we have been give new hearts (Ezekiel 31:26).

What does God require of us, well Micah 6:8 gives us the answer..."that you walk humbly with your God," this is the attitude that pleases God, he desires a heart that takes its place before Him in humble adoration. This is the whole of the christian journey, it is a constant struggle with the old Adam nature (sinful and rebellious) and submitting ourselves before our King.

Christian friend, be encouraged that God will work His will in your life; just be willing to allow that work to bear the fruit of a humble and submissive attitude that will bring glory and honor to His name.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We All Have a Rebellious Heart Towards God!


Our last and final attitude that we will deal with is the attitude of rebelliousness. So, lets list the negative attitudes that we have covered so far: a complaining attitude, a critical attitude, a covetous attitude, and a doubting attitude.

By now we all should be saying that we need an attitude adjustment!

 Now what is a rebellious attitude?

SAY IT IN A SENTENCE:
I was born with a rebellious heart that doesn't want to submit to the authority of God in my life, I want to be free and independent of God, free to do what I want to do when and how I want to do it.

A rebellious attitude exists in every human heart, in fact, you inherited your rebellious heart from Adam. Now my topic does not allow me to get into Pelagianism (a fifth century teaching that taught that each soul was directly created by God and thus man was born without a sinful nature), but Romans, 5:12-21, emphatically states that because of Adam’s sin, all of his descendants have been made sinners (rebels against God). 

 We all see that we have a rebellious attitude when we are confronted with the Bible's declaration that "all have sinned and come short of God's glory" (Rom. 3:23). If there was anything that ever shed light on our rebellious hearts, it is the teaching of the Bible that says we are sinners who are separated from God ( Rom. 5:12; Eph.2:3; 1john 1:8).

We need to see ourselves clearly; that is we need to see our true condition through the pages of Scripture, and I must admit it is not a good picture. We are in rebellion against the King of the universe, and it took the King to give us a new nature that is pleasing to Him, and that is what the Bible means for the call to be "born again."

In our next post we will examine the attitude of submission, it is the attitude that we need to "put on" to replace our rebellious attitude.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Only true biblical faith can replace a doubting attitude


Let's get back to the put on---put off principle---we need to replace our doubting attitude with an attitude of faith.

SAY IT IN A SENTENCE:
 Only when faith replaces doubt in the life of a believer can the joy of knowing God become a reality.


Remember faith is an attitude, and attitudes are patterns of thinking that form over a long period of time. We are faced each day with hundreds of decisions that will form the pattern of thinking that will eventually become our attitude.

James MacDonald gives a list of what faith is not in his book, Lord Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late, here are some of the thoughts by MacDonald:

  • Faith is not an ostrich, head-in-the-sand and denying the obvious or the inevitable. It's not pretending that something is real when deep down you really don't believe it.
  • Faith is not anti-intellectual, either. Faith is not a warm feeling that requires you to check your intellect at the door.
  • Faith is not a stained-glass and dreamy sort of Little-house-on- the-prairie escapism.
  • Faith is not some motivational seminar, with some high-powered guru calling for breathing exercises or self-confidence, telling you to picture a better future.
  • Faith is not having a positive mental attitude, a you-have-to-keep-believing thing. It's not ignoring the pain and embracing optimism regardless of the evidence in from of you.

What is real, solid, biblical faith? Real, solid, biblical faith is rooted in a God who is real. Let' take the time to look at Hebrews 11:1. This passage gives us an excellent definition of faith:


"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."


Faith is substance: Faith is reality, substance, existence, faith imparts reality in the view of the mind to those things which are not seen.

Faith is evidence:  Faith gives us the eyes to see  the existence of God; of heaven; of angels; of the glories of the world suited for the redeemed.

This kind of faith is not self-manufactured, no, it is given by the Holy Spirit, it is from above---we need to humble ourselves before the sovereign God of the universe and ask that He would grant to us a real, solid, heavenly faith.

Listen to the Apostle John in 1 John 5:4, "This is the victory that overcomes the world ----," what is it? "our faith."


Brother and Sister in Christ, it is only true biblical faith that pleases God---do a check and see how your faith compares to Hebrews 11:1 faith.







Monday, April 23, 2012

What about a doubting attitude? Do you have one?


Wow, does the weekend fly by!
In our last post we discussed how we need to "put on" an attitude of love and "put off" a critical attitude.

 In today's blog we'll be looking at the dangers of carrying around an attitude of doubt.

SAY IT IN A SENTENCE:
Those who make doubting their lifestyle will spend their lifetimes in the wilderness.

Some may say that doubt is not an attitude, but oh yes, it is. James MacDonald in his book Lord Change My Attitude (BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE) describes doubt as " a lack of confidence or assurance that God will keep His promises."

We choose to trust what God says in the Bible, so both faith and trust are attitudes, and remember that attitudes are patterns of thinking that are formed over long periods of time. We want to develop attitudes of trust and confidence in the promises that God has given to us in His Word.

Go back to your Sunday School days and call to mind all of those who walked in faith, in addition recall all those who walked in doubt (remember Peter).

Be known as a man or woman of faith---allow God to remove those areas of doubt in your life---be with people who walk in faith---it does rub off, that is why the Bible tells us not to be with "bad company" for bad company can corrupt good character" ( 1 Cor. 15:33).

I must confess my own lack of trust and my own doubting attitude from time to time. Instead of praying about a circumstance or person my first natural inclination is to "fix it". This is certainly an area of my life that God has put his finger on more than once.

Child of God, believe all that God has said in His Word---those promise are for your comfort and edification; if a guest invites you over for a surf and turf dinner you would surely partake, so it is with all the riches in God's Word, come and partake in His faithful promises to you and to His Church.




Friday, April 20, 2012

An Attitude Of Love


Our last blog examined how a critical attitude can make us barren and separate us from people and from God. Today, we will look at the attitude that we need to "put on" to replace a critical attitude.

SAY IT IN A SENTENCE:
The only attitude big enough to replace a critical attitude is an attitude of love.


Think about most of your struggles in life and how you can connect those struggles to difficult people! Think about how you respond to those difficult irritating people! We respond with being critical, faultfinding, and we develop a negative attitude. 





It is this negative, critical, faultfinding attitude that needs to be replaced with an attitude of love. Now, keep in mind that this effort (putting on-putting off) requires the cooperative work of the Holy Spirit and you. This cooperative effort is found in Paul's letter to the Philippians, where he says,

 "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2: 12-13).

Most of us only hear the "love chapter" 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings, but this is the heart of God for how we are to love people, let me post this love chapter for you:

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now 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.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Here is an excerpt from the book "Lord Change My Attitude Before It's To Late, by James MacDonald:

"What we often mean when we say "I love you" is not, "I've made a commitment to place your needs above my own." Instead, we often mean, "I love what you do for me. You make me feel good. What you are doing right now is working for the person that I truly love the most, which is me." What we're really saying is, "I feel something." Aren't we saying, "You're making me feel something that I really enjoy feeling"? 

Christian friend, let me encourage you to go to God in prayer and ask that your heart be changed. We need to allow the truth from the "love chapter" to grip us and transform us. We need to understand love from God's perspective. The one thing that I've learned through my christian journey is that love is not an emotion---no, it is much stronger than emotion---it is active (sacrificial) and defined for us in the scriptures.

Just for clarification on emotion---emotion is a part of love, but it is not the essence of love. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Criticism


Today's blog deals with replacing a critical attitude. Remember, we dealt with a complaining attitude a few blogs ago, do you remember the important difference between being critical and complaining? Well, let me give a quick refresher, complaining always deals with being negative toward circumstances, while being critical always deals with being negative toward people.


Here we go say this in a sentence: 
A continuously critical attitude toward those around me will consume all that is healthy and joy-producing in my life.


A farmer stood by the road one day and observed a large wagon filled with household goods moving toward him. Dust flew as the wagon pulled to a stop and the driver shouted, "We're  moving from Brownsville to Jonestown. How much farther is it?"
"About thirty miles, said the farmer.
"And what kind of people shall we expect to find there?" asked the traveler. 
"Well, what kind of people did you leave behind in Brownsville?"
"Oh, they were so negative and so cheerless, so deceptive and so ungrateful, just a godless bunch, all of them. That's the main reason we are moving. What kind of people will we find in Brownsville? 
" The very same kind, I'm sorry to say, said the farmer.

This story shows that if we carry a critical attitude in our hearts it won't matter where we go, all people will be the same---because a critical attitude perceives how we experience reality.

As James MacDonald puts it, "The way we look at a matter, the attitude that we choose, has a direct bearing on how we experience reality."

MacDonald asks if the reader is familiar with the words of Jesus that deals with a critical attitude? He points to Matthew 7:3, where Jesus says, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice that log that is in your own eye.?

Wow, we may be walking around with a log in our own eye (being critical of others), while at the same time we are  looking at the speck in someone else's eye.

MacDonald's definition of criticism really helps us to understand this ugly (sinful) attitude: Criticism is dwelling upon the perceived faults of another with no view to their good.

Christian, if you find yourself having harsh and negative opinions of others, if you find yourself quick to find fault with others, if you find yourself falling into criticism, there is hope! Go to God in prayer, confess to God your attitude of criticism. Then be aware of those times in your life when you are being critical---I always counsel others that we need to be "aware" of our blindsides before we can get into cooperation with God to make a change.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CONTENTMENT


Last blog we talked about how God feels about a covetous attitude. We saw that covetousness is really an idol---it is putting something or someone in the place of God---whenever we do this the red light should come on and we should hear, "danger Will Robinson, danger.

Today's blog deals with what we need to replace a covetous attitude with---it is called CONTENTMENT.

Now say it in a sentence:
A consistent attitude of contentment can bring lasting joy and lead you out of the wilderness of covetousness


Let me share a very powerful passage from the Scriptures that talks about contentment:

1 Timothy 6:6-10

King James Version (KJV)
 6But godliness with contentment is great gain.
 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.



Notice something very important in verse 6 of our passage? contentment has a partner---it is godliness. Let me put this thought together for you---godliness is as  Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible notes:

"By "godliness" is not meant any particular grace, but all the graces of the Spirit of God; as faith, hope, love, fear, &c. the whole of internal religion, as it shows itself in outward worship, and in all acts of holiness of life and conversation; and which the doctrine that is according to godliness teaches and engages to; and this is gain, very great gain indeed." http://bible.cc/1_timothy/6-6.htm
 

 Take the above definition of godliness and couple it with this definition of contentment: 





James MacDonald tells us in his book Lord Change My Attitude Before It's To Late:

 "contentment is a satisfaction with God's sufficient provision."


So, as we realize all that God has graciously given us, faith, hope, eternal life, etc, we couple that with a life that is satisfied with our lot in this life, we will truly have a calm, and satisfied feeling . a freedom from wandering away from God to fill our lives with idols. Without this biblical principle at work in our inner-landscape we will always by wandering  about in the wilderness of life trying to satisfy our longings, but as only a cold cup of water can satisfy a thirsty man, only God can satisfy the thirsty soul.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Covetousness


I've been going through the book LORD CHANGE MY ATTITUDE by James MacDonald. The last two blogs dealt with a complaining attitude and how to replace a complaining attitude with an attitude of thankfulness.

The next attitude that is examined in the book is the attitude of covetous, now here we go lets say it in a sentence:

"Covetousness, rampant in the Western world and in the evangelical church, blocks the flow of God's fullness in our lives" 


It is always helpful to fully understand what God calls sins of disobedience in our lives, so here are a few definitions for covetousness:



A strong desire after the possession of worldly things (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Matt. 6:20). It assumes sometimes the more aggravated form of avarice, which is the mark of cold-hearted worldliness. http://bible-library.com/covetousness

 Our English word covet means to intensely or obsessively desire. It frequently refers to lusting after something (or someone) that belongs to someone else.http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/covetousness-idolatry/

  Being excessively desirous of the possessions of another; an extreme desire to acquire or possess. Possessiveness, which is quite similar, is an attitude toward ownership or possession which is overprotective, selfish or hoarding. http://deeptruths.com/bible-topics/covetousness.html

I think that the emphasis of the definition of the word covet is to DESIRE. Now we know that desire (or to covet) in-and-of itself is neutral, so it is WHAT we desire of covet.

 If I can tie this all up and help you see what is at the heart of the Bible's teachings about desire: I love the Westminster Catechism question and answer number one:

 Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength ( Mark 12:30).

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death ( Philippians 3:10).

Now to get right to the heart of our discussion; the supreme desire for the follower of Christ is to love God, glorify God, find all your pleasure and joy in your God, and desire more than anything in life to know Him better.

Take the time to make application of these thoughts, you may ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you find yourself thinking more about things than people or God?
2. Do you find yourself saying, "when I finally get this ______________ (fill in the blank , then I will be truly happy)?
3. Do you make your relationship with God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit the most important relationship in your life?
Do you find yourself pursuing God the same way that you went after other pursuits in you life?



These are questions that only you can answer. You must allow these questions to penetrate and go deep into your inner landscape, it will  require time alone with God, it will require you to allow God to put His finger on certain areas of your life, yes, it can be painful, but it is the only sure way to grow spiritually.









Friday, April 13, 2012

Be Thankful


Yesterday, I talked about how attitude is a choice. We saw that attitude can be either good of bad (NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE). We also saw how our attitude defines what kind of person we are--- we can be defined by our "stinking thinking," or we can be defined by a positive attitude.

The first step in changing our attitudes is self-awareness, we must be able to see ourselves as "others see us." We must be aware of our attitudes---by being aware of how we react and respond to our circumstances helps us to put attitude change front and center in our lives.

I need to put this all important note in the middle of this blog---this is not self-improvement, this is not to make us a better person, no, for the child of God, whatever we do, we do it for the glory of God:

 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This is no small philosophical matter, no, it is the heart and soul of being a follower of Christ. We don't live our lives for ourselves, we a are to deny ourselves daily, take our crosses and be crucified with Christ (Matt. 16:24). 

Now, we want to replace that complaining attitude with an attitude of thankfulness, so here we go, this is the sentence that James MacDonald gives in his book, LORD, CHANGE MY ATTITUDE  (Before It's Too Late):

SAY IT IN A SENTENCE:
Thankfulness is the attitude that perfectly displaces my sinful tendency to complain and thereby release joy and blessing into my life. 


 So, thankfulness is the attitude that replaces a complaining attitude. This is the biblical principle that is used in counseling---it is called the "put on put off" principle, it is found all through the Apostle Paul's epistles---here is just a short list of "put on put off " principles from the Biblical Counseling and Training Center:

Put Off                                    Put On
Adultery Marital fidelity
Anger Self-control
Argumentative/Quarrelsome Gentle Answer/Peace & Accord
Astrology Worship of God
Bad Companions Godly Associations
Bitterness Tender hearted, forgiving
Blameshifting Responsibility
Bodily harm Glorify God in body
Burying talents Developing abilities
Boasting (conceit) Esteeming others
Careless Talk Edifying Words
Carnal Entertainment Please God
Cheating Honesty
Covetousness Contentment


 This week practice or (choose) to be thankful, moment by moment. Remember, thankfulness is an attitude of the heart---we must go to the Lord in prayer and ask that the Holy Spirit CHANGE us from the inside out.

Have a great day! and be thankful.










 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Attitude:Our Choice



ATTITUDE:

Dictionary.com defines attitude as: manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.

Here are a few citations from the field of psychology explaining attitude:

 North (1932) has defined attitude as "the totality of those states that lead to or point toward some particular activity of the organism. The attitude is, therefore, the dynamic element in human behavior, the motive for activity."w t


 Lumley (1928) an attitude is "a susceptibility to certain kinds of stimuli and readiness to respond repeatedly in a given way—which are possible toward our world and the parts of it which impinge upon us."


 I've been reading LORD CHANGE MY ATTITUDE (Before It's To Late) by James MacDonald. Chapter one deals with a complaining attitude---(something that we all know a little about). The chapter starts out with MacDonald having his readers say this statement in a sentence:

Complaining is an attitude choice that if left unchecked will wither my capacity to experience joy and genuine thankfulness.


So, go ahead and give it a try, say it a few times to yourself and then out loud---you may find yourself complaining now, saying, I don't have to do anything I don't wont to do, I'm going to another blog!  No please stay with me, I know  this is painful, but it is so honoring to the Lord to have the right kind of attitude.

I think the key word in the statement is the fact that complaining is a choice, and we choose everyday to define ourselves by our attitudes---how we respond to outside stimuli. 

Just a FYI, later in the book MacDonald lets his readers know that there is a difference between complaining and being critical. Go ahead see if you can figure out the difference---McDonald tells us that complaining is always towards our circumstances while criticism is always directed towards people.

One of the best explanations on attitude comes from Chuck Swindoll:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.


I' ll end with Paul's admonition to the Philippians:
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:5).

Oh, by the way Chapter two of the book deals with replacing a complaining attitude with an attitude of thankfulness---more to come.


Father, help us to be aware of out attitude---for your glory and honor. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to change us, so that we may be more like you.














Tuesday, April 10, 2012

a Cross-Shaped Gospel---book review






I was recently asked by Moody Publishers to do a book review on "a Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth" by Bryan Loritts. Bryan is the lead pastor of Fellowship Memphis-a multiethnic church that minsters in urban Memphis, Tennessee.



Bryan Loritts’s book a Cross Shaped Gospel presents for the church a vision for a big Gospel. A Cross-shaped Gospel has ten chapters that maintain momentum and keep your interest with unique and different ways the Gospel can be applied on the horizontal plane.

A Cross-Shaped Gospel explains how the Gospel should transform our lives in both our relationship to God and our relationships with people. In the introduction of the book Loritts points out that “Life is at its richest when we are living in close communion with God and loving our neighbors at the same time (p.10).

There is one example in the book of how we can be out of balance in our application of the Gospel’s horizontal and vertical dimensions. The sub-heading is titled, George Whitefield and the Gospel---here Whitefield’s bio is given as one of the greatest preachers of the Gospel in church history. It was said when Whitfield preached, the churches could not hold the people; so they would take to the fields. 

As the story goes; Loritts points out that Whitefield was a slave owner, but not only a slave owner he also fought to have slavery legalized in the state of Georgia. There are other examples in the book of how the Gospel’s horizontal transformative power has not always been realized throughout the history of the church.

On the positive side, Loritts gives us an example of how the Gospel’s horizontal powers worked in the life of the famous evangelist Billy Graham---Loritts gives us this great example on Page (19) “On March 15, 1953, just a few days into his crusade meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he [Billy Graham] personally removed the ropes that separated the black and white sections of the audience.”

Loritts goes to the New Testament to show how the Gospel transforms relationships by using the example of how the Jews and the Gentiles were united by the cross of Christ. We are also given the example of Jesus passing through Samaria and taking the time to talk to the non-Jewish Samaritan woman. We are also given insight into the relationship between Matthew (the tax collector) and Simon (the revolutionary). Matthew was the traitor, while Simon fought against those who Matthew aligned himself with (the Roman Government), but it was the power of the Gospel that brought these two totally opposite people together.

On page (30), Loritts notes that, “you can’t reach out without first reaching up,” we are then told that Loving God must be first and that loving our neighbor must be seen through the lens of our Love for God. In this light, Loritts makes a critique of our liberal churches today by noting, “The liberal church today might well be described a elevating the command to love our neighbor over the command to love God with the totality of our being” (p.34).

With all that being said---the most glaring weakness of the book is the lack of theological explanation on the vertical dimension of the cross. If one is looking to find any real solid teaching on Soteriology, justification by faith, sanctification of the believer, or any major doctrine, I would note that this book would not fill that need.

The reason I brought that topic into the review is because of the books title, a Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth. While Loritts does note that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a matter of life and death importance to him, and he is careful and cognizant that many churches make an idol out of diversity, still the majority of the book by far concentrates on the horizontal dimensions of the Gospel, leaving the reader with a sense of vertigo.

Under the sub-heading The Gospel and Race on Page (72), Loritts uses Numbers 12:1-4 to show that God judged Aaron and Miriam for the sin of racism. I feel that Bryan Loritts took some interpretative liberty with this passage. While the passage (v.1) does say that Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite women---any solid interpretation would show at best that, that was if any, a pretext to the real reason for their attack on Moses.

We see the real reason for the attack in (v.2) “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses,” and then they said “He has also spoken through us.” Then we see God saying that there is only one mouth piece that I’ve been using and that is my servant Moses (vs. 6-8). The judgment of God came upon Miriam and Aaron because they questioned the authority of Moses, not because of any racism on Miriam or Aaron’s part.

I would recommend this book to all who need to feel the full weight of the Gospel. This book would make a great small group study tool; for it has the potential to act as a spring board into many fruitful discussions, but I would look for a seasoned small-group leader to guide the discussions.

Thank your Bryan Loritts for your front-line work in declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a culture that is heading the wrong way real fast.

Monday, April 9, 2012

God knows you


The other day I decided to take a personality test, and one of the better ones is The Jung Typology Test and  it  can be found on line and it's free---here is the link http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp.

The test consists of 72 yes or no questions and at the end of the test you are scored---the test really does a good job at assessing your strengths and weaknesses. You'll find yourself saying, wow that is me, wow how did they know that about me? Honestly and I'm not getting paid for the plug.

My formula type was the INFJ which stands for introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging. When you get your formula type there will be a percent with each letter, for instance for introverted I had a 44%.

The test will then give you a full description of your personality, even giving you your ideal career choices---great to let you junior and senior high kids take.

However, after taking the test a marvelous truth from the Scriptures came to me---in Psalm 139 David speaks about the fact that God knows everything about him, he says,  "You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away" (v.2).

David goes in in this Psalm and shows his appreciation to God when he says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it" (v.14).

So, for the child of God we can rest in the knowledge that we are known by our God. Our Father knows us better than any personality test ever could, our God knows us better than we know ourselves. Trust in His understanding of you; trust in His Word (Bible) to give you the direction in your life that is best for you and that will bring glory to His Name.

Father, thank you for knowing us intimately. Thank you for caring for us. Thank you for calling us to be Your children, help us to live lives that bring glory and honor to Your holy name, Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

RISEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen (Matthew 28:6).

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Romans 4:5 "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness."

This is what our savior did for us---he gave us HIS righteousness. As the book of Jonah declares "salvation is of the LORD."

 Halleluiah ! What a Savior.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day with Caleb



Yesterday I had my day with Caleb (my five year old grandson), it was a great time as we put together a raised vegetable garden with a fence to keep the critters away. We filled the raised garden with a lot of good rich top soil, and even added some mushroom soil.

He was so excited as we put the fence up, he wanted to participate in every detail of the project. We then went to Lowe's to purchase some cold weather veggies: broccoli, romaine lettuce, red lettuce, and what they call butter crunch lettuce.

I was blessed to be able to spend the day with Caleb.

 Let me share one thought that was floating around in my mind the whole day that we were together---I was praying throughout the day, how can I introduce Christ to my lovely grandson? how can I introduce Godly principles? how can I during the natural flow and rhythm of the day interject Kingdom living?

As I look at this beautiful little boy, I know that he is a sinner ( Rom.3:23; Isaiah 53:6), I know that he needs to come into a "right relationship to God," I know that Caleb's heart is in a natural state of rebellion against God.

So my prayer is---just as we planted our veggies... with the care that we will provide for our veggies---we will water, cultivate the soil, feed them plant food, and then eventually see fruit---it is my desire that God will use me to do all I can to point Caleb to the One who can produce the fruit of salvation in his life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

God's love--He gave!





Lets make it simple today---I'll be watching my five year old grandson all day, so I have to plan a fishing adventure and we are going to make a raised garden. It seems that his motor goes from the time his feet hit the floor in the morning until he is forced to go to bed, but he keeps his pop-pop feeling young.









I would like to look at one of the most popular Bible verses in the Bible---you know the one that you always see in the end zone at football games and at various sporting events.

That verse is John 3:16, I would like to give you three things to think about during your busy day that will keep your mind focused on God.

1. God's great and all surpassing love for humanity---God is calling out His people from among all nations, peoples, and places.

2. Love is a verb---God's love moved in such a way that He gave us His Son, wow.

3. All may come to the Son---belief in the Son is the only way to inherit eternal life.

Let's sum up those three thoughts:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Out of step with God?


Have you ever felt out of step, out of rythm, or just not on the same page with God, and others?

We went to a friend's fiftieth birthday over the weekend and the theme was a hoedown, you know that  dosey doe stuff, well I'm truly a white boy, with absolutely no rhythm or moves. However, I did give it an honest chance, but I just could not "get it," so I meandered over to a corner of the barn where there was a heater and soaked up some heat.

Not being able to find "the rhythm" made me think how sometimes in our lives we get out of sync with God, which inevitably gets us out of sync with others. When God transforms our lives and brings us into proper relationship with Himself, we begin to experience right relationships with others.

The Gospel has both a vertical and a horizontal dimension to it; the gospel both transforms our relationship with God and man.

Take the time to read through  Psalm 119, and take note how many times we are to align our ways to God's ways. I'll do the first one for you---Happy are those people whose WAY is blameless---that is lining up our lifestyles to God's standard.

Here is Psalm 119---take the time to read, pray, and meditate on this beautiful Psalm.

Psalm 119

1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.  2Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
 3They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
 4Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
 5O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 6Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 7I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
 8I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
 9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
 10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
 11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
 12Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
 13With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
 14I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
 15I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
 16I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
 17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
 19I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
 20My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
 21Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
 22Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
 23Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
 24Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
 25My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
 26I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
 27Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
 28My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
 29Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
 30I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
 31I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
 32I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
 33Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
 34Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
 35Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
 36Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
 37Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
 38Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
 39Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
 40Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
 41Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
 42So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
 43And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
 44So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
 45And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
 46I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
 47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
 48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
 49Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
 50This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
 51The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
 52I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
 53Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
 54Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
 55I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
 56This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
 57Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
 58I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
 59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
 60I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
 61The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
 62At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
 63I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
 64The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
 65Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
 66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
 67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
 68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
 69The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
 70Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
 71It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
 72The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
 73Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
 74They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
 75I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
 76Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
 77Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
 78Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
 79Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
 80Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
 81My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
 82Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
 83For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
 84How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
 85The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
 86All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
 87They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
 88Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
 89For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
 90Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
 91They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
 92Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
 93I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
 94I am thine, save me: for I have sought thy precepts.
 95The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
 96I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
 97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
 98Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
 99I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
 100I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
 101I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
 102I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
 103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
 104Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
 105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
 106I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
 107I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
 108Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
 109My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
 110The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
 111Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
 112I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
 113I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
 114Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
 115Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
 116Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
 117Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
 118Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
 119Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
 120My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
 121I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
 122Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
 123Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
 124Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
 125I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
 126It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
 127Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
 128Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
 129Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
 130The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
 131I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
 132Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
 133Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
 134Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
 135Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
 136Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
 137Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
 138Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
 139My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
 140Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
 141I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
 142Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
 143Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
 144The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
 145I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
 146I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
 147I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
 148Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
 149Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
 150They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
 151Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
 152Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
 153Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
 154Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
 155Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
 156Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
 157Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
 158I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
 159Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
 160Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
 161Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
 162I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
 163I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
 164Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
 165Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
 166LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
 167My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
 168I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
 169Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
 170Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
 171My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
 172My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
 173Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
 174I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
 175Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
 176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

Our Mind's Matter

Thinking, thinking, thinking, always thinking. The life of the mind is the heart of the Christian life. As I think through the Scriptur...