Four Dimensions

Four Dimensions

What is our mission or goal in life? We hear all the time that we are to run the race to win it! That isn’t wrong. We hear that we are to strive to be the very best version of ourselves! That isn’t wrong either. We hear that we are to put others first, above ourselves, to be second. That isn’t wrong either. Yet, when we consider all of these things together, we get a pretty mixed impression of our mission or goal in life. So what is it, and how do we achieve it? Well, let us consider together for a moment the puzzle of these three statements.

Run the race to win it . . . based on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” ESV

Pretty clearly, one could understand, how, one might perceive, the need to be a cut-throat Christian.  However, this is only one perspective of the same cube.

Striving to be the very best version of ourselves . . . based on Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ESV

By this, one could easily conclude that we strive to be the best we can. Doing everything in our power to strain for that perfect version of ourselves.

Putting others first . . . based on Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” ESV

Here, one could easily conclude that a Christian is best described as a doormat. Always and forever, second place. Each of these obviously is true. But there is more! A fourth dimension, if you will.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 ESV

Alright, then here we have the four corners if you will. We as imitators of Christ are to run the race as to win! Train hard every single day, and beat our bodies, to mean our fleshly desires, into submission. To have self-control. We will make mistakes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going, striving for that heavenly crown.

Meanwhile, when you see your brother stumble, stop and help them up! Our goal, although it is to run to win! It is also to cross the finish line with as many people as we can! And to do so without giving offense, you will not be able to do this 100% of the time. However, we are to sill try! We are to love all equally, yet declare the truth of God boldly.

So run to win. Do all that you can to better yourself, start by listening to the Holy Spirit. Put others before yourself, considering their needs above your own. And finally, do everything in love as to be imitators of Christ.

You are loved,

cj

Visiting Memory Lane

Visiting Memory Lane

**This blog was originally posted on December 6, 2011, at 3:15 pm Alaska Time as part of my “Coffee? Yes, Please!” Blog. Since i can’t sit in a coffee shop at the moment with the nation’s response to the covid19 virus, i thought i would get all retro and nostalgic, with this blast from the past, memory lane, post! i hope you enjoy a look at my coffee shop life.**

i think it’s funny how anytime i want to go someplace downtown i will say, “Hi Galaxy” (that’s my phone). She reply’s, “At your service cj,” i laugh every time. i will then say, “Navigate to ____________” and she will proceed to give me directions and they usually always go like this, “continue down dewberry and turn right onto 88th, stay on 88th and continue onto Northwood, turn right onto Raspberry and take the Minnesota North on-ramp. Turn right onto Todor, turn left onto C st. It’s at this point in the trip that it changes, today i turned right onto Benson.  i like to think about our “navigation” to heaven. There are a few steps that are for everyone, and it never changes; however, there is a point in the journey that it becomes very individual as each person’s personal relationship is different. Of course, the destination is the same, but for some our journey may cross other bridges and go down other roads as we each struggle with different issues and God works in us in His timing and as long as we continue to listen to the GPS (God’s Providing Spirit).

If i make a wrong turn on my journey, my phone says, “recalculating,” and then from that point gets me back on track, if i follow its instruction. Sometimes i have made such a wrong turn that it simply says, “Turn around when possible.” God is that way too, sometimes i mess up, and from that point, He simply recalculates (in away), taking my errors into account and redirects me redeeming the error for His glory. Other times He simply says, “Turn around,” which is code for “repent,” which means to turn from sin, literally to turn around from the error of my ways.

i walked into Cafe Felix this afternoon and was greeted at the door by statues, Hindu, Buddhist, and others, each one staring at me.  i caught myself staring back, and then from behind the counter, the clerk said, “Can i help you?” i wondered if he could, was I in the wrong place? i thought. Catching my thoughts, i saw from the corner the cafe part of this establishment. i said, “Nope, i see it now, thank you, though,” and with a smile, i turned into Cafe Felix.

i walked up to the counter, the barista greeting me with a warm smile asked if she could help me (i must really have looked lost).  i asked for a menu, ordered an americano and a grilled cheese, the sandwich came with feta, cheddar, tomato, and bacon, and was super yummy! Served with tortilla chips and salsa…tortilla chips seem to be the chip of choice for Cafes in Anchorage. The coffee was exceptional, an organic Brazilian blend, smooth and not bitter in the least bit with an earthy flavor.  The room is arranged like a thrift store exploded with different tables and chairs and table cloths. In the center of the room, four chairs around a gas wood stove and in the corner a small stage for open mic night or like events.

The internet was down, so i tried yet another feature of my galaxy phone, wifi hotspot. Excellent! As i sat and watched people come and go, there is a large verity of clientele, but i had a feeling that they each shared a common understanding of where they were as opposed to me. Still a bit confused, was it the eclectic blend of music playing? Literally from Bluegrass, Country, Frank Sinatra, Top 40, and Christmas music…what? My ears didn’t know what to think. Or was my confusion the result of the potpourri explosion that occurred? Or incense or maybe the scented candles? Either way, the smells mixed with coffee and grilled cheese confused me, i am sure. As the place cleared out and i really began to think i was reminded of my GPS.

God’s Providing Spirit. This place, as i thought about it, would be an excellent location for a coffee with Jesus meeting. As i prepare to launch several options during the week, this place has won (at least for the moment) a spot on the circuit. I don’t think it was an accident that i found this place but rather on purpose. When Paul saw the many altars in Athens, he didn’t run away, he went into the heart of it and proclaimed the Truth. Everyone’s journey must start with, believing Jesus died for them, ask for forgiveness, accepting the gift of salvation, repenting of their sin and begin to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Jesus said,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you. And surely i am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So why not take the message into the heart of a place that has many altars to other gods? Yes, i think i will.

**For those wondering, Cafe Felix in Anchorage AK, received 4 out of 5 coffee mugs. ☕️☕️☕️☕️**

You are loved,

cj

me and my bike

me and my bike

When i was eight years old, i remember for my birthday that year getting the greatest ever gift! A bike! It was a beautiful chrome Mongoose BMX bike! i absolutely loved that thing, and together we went on many an adventure. That same year for my birthday my sister and brother also received bikes . . . the now-classic beach cruisers. i didn’t care that we all received bikes on my birthday i was just happy to have the greatest ever gift in the entire world!

The three of us rode those bikes to Glendale Galleria, at the time it seemed like the biggest shopping mall on the planet! i was eight. We rode those bikes to Los Angeles Zoo and the old Los Angeles Zoo, where many a film was made. We would watch the production crews and the such from a distance but as close as we could get! We rode those bikes to Griffith Park and then would take a ride on the miniature trains. A few years later, when my parents trusted me to go on adventures with my friends, we would ride our bikes to Universal Studios and the back lot of Burbank Studios. That bike helped me deliver thousands of newspapers as a “newsie” on my paper-routes.

Oh, the adventures i remember taking on that bike! i even got hit by a car on my bike. Neither of us suffered anything more than a bruise or two. i could go on and on about my adventures, those were the days! Simple days, no cares or worries, of course, i was only eight. But the world was so much bigger then, and i lived in just a small part of it. The bubble of my universe was my three best friends, the girl i had my eyes on, and my bike. Now, the world is so small, and if i allowed myself, it would be full of worry.

Yet, we are told not to worry. For we serve a God who is able! Even if we are to suffer in the moment . . . joy comes in the morning. Be encouraged friends that no matter what may come our way, our God is BIGGER!

Fear NOT, for I AM with you; be NOT dismayed, for I AM your God; I WILL strengthen you, I WILL help you, I WILL uphold you with MY righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV (emphasis added)

It’s Time.

It’s Time.

It is time to grow up. Move on from the elementary lessons and on to the meat of the matter. We don’t want that, though, because it requires something of us. Yet, we must begin a new, and greater process of letting go of our selves. A journey in which we die to our selves daily, that we might take up our cross to follow the only one who knows the way, The Way. Paul writes this to the Corinthians:

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

This isn’t the only passage that calls us to maturity. There are countless others. Each one rings true to the fact that we must grow-up! To remain toddlers or babies in Christ is to live a meaningless life that will be rift with crisis after crisis, swaying you and blowing you about in an endless torrent of catastrophe. The writer to the Hebrews writes:

“About this, we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14

How does one begin to move from the elementary to the secondary, from the milk to the meat? It is done daily. It is done intentionally. It is done moment by moment and decision by decision. It requires death. Death to your old self and a putting on of the new self in Christ Jesus. It requires prayer, and meditation, meditate on the Word, day and night. It requires us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. It is a choice, and only you can make it. Be encouraged by Paul’s words to the Philippians:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

The final verse of the song by Chris Renzema is, for me, the most powerful. (If you haven’t yet you can find a link to the song at the bottom of Part 1) Here is the lyric:

Like Jesus in the garden
Will you take this cup from me
Like Jesus in the garden
You don’t call where you won’t lead
I wanna love like you love
I wanna bleed like you bleed

The struggle is real, my friends. i love how Chris writes this first part, “Like Jesus in the garden, Will you take this cup from me.” It is based on Jesus’ request recorded this way in the Gospel of Luke 22:

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

The anguish in those words is unmistakable. Yet Jesus’ resolve is in the very next part of verse 42, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.” It isn’t about our will; it is, however, completely about the Will of the Father. And like Jesus in the garden, the Father won’t lead us where He doesn’t’ first call us. His love for us is genuine, and therefore, our love must mirror His.

“I wanna love like you love,  I wanna bleed like you bleed.” What breaks the heart of the Lord should also break our hearts. What stirs the Lord to move must also stir us to action! Are you living a life that loves like that and bleeds like that? i desire to live in this way, i hope that you do too!

Seek the Lord, and boldly declare, “i don’t wanna go if you’re not going with me!” And “i wanna go where You go and stay where You stay!” i want to be where You are Lord, lead me, and i will follow.

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 4 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 4 of 5)

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 ESV)

The Transfiguration was a sight to behold i am sure! Just by the reaction of Peter, James, and John we can see that it was spectacular. Can you imagine being there? Seeing what they saw surely would invoke many questions. Peter’s response to build tents or altars in that place certainly wasn’t said in jest but in sincerity. An honest desire to mark the occasion.

As we continue our look at Chris Renzema’s song, “I Don’t Wanna Go” we see him touch on this event.

Like Peter on the hill
I wanna make this my place
Like Peter on the hill
For your transfigured face
I will go where you go
I will stay where you stay

i have many a memory of which i have built an altar of remembrance to the goodness of Jesus. i believe that is what Peter desired to do, given the many altars of stone that were built in the Old Testament as reminders of God’s faithfulness. i also feel that is what Chris is trying to say here as well. Like Peter, in awe of God’s glory, desires to live in that place. To dwell with the Most High and to build an altar . . . yet, to also say, “I will go where you go, I will stay where you stay,” must remain our heart’s desire.

We cannot live on the mountain peaks of our relationship with God, but, we can mark them, remember them, even build an altar to look back upon later. As a remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. The past is a foundation, the present is our time, the future is the one we strive to share. It is easy to get locked into the present and desire to dwell there and for good reason. We cannot live in the past, we cannot go blindly into the future, we must live fully in the present, however, we do so with the words of obedience, “I will go where you go, I will stay where you stay!” (a link to the song by Chris Renzema can be found at the end of Part 1 of this series).

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (part 3 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (part 3 of 5)

This week we are looking at the 3rd chorus of the song by Chris Renzema (see part one for a link to the song). In this stanza, the focus is on Moses. We can look at the parts of Moses’ life and calling and see it was full of peaks and valleys. Here we are reminded that Moses didn’t get to lead the people into the promised land. Sadly, and as a humbling reminder that there are consequences for our actions and in the eyes of God no one is exempt from them . . . yet, still, His mercy and grace abound, and Heaven still remains a reward for those who remain faithful even after the storm.  Let’s look at the lyric:

Like Moses in the desert
I wanna see the land
Like Moses in the desert
I can’t fully see your plan
Still your love doesn’t stop
When I see the land from a mountain top

So many great things to be said of Moses; i don’t want to get lost on this one occasion. However, it is essential to note that even the godliest of people have moments of weakness.  Moses was instructed to speak to the rock in Numbers 20 and water would come from it for the nation of Israel. This is the same rock that we read about in Exodus 17. In the Exodus passage, Moses is told to strike the rock with his staff, and in Numbers, he is only instructed to speak to it . . . there is another interesting point, just before he strikes the rock Moses says, “. . . shall we bring water for you…?” Although, Moses is the mouth piece, it was God who was going to bring the water.

Now the people of Israel were a grumbling sort. We read that they were often grumbling against Moses and Aaron and God, for that matter. At this point, i am sure Moses was fed up with the 40 years of whining and complaining. He let his emotions get the best of him. i do that sometimes, i think we all do. Yet, even still, God, although carried out the consequence, allowed Moses to see the promised land, Numbers 27. Here is the main lesson that i take away from this, God is faithful, even when we are not.

But there is more! i have learned and am learning still to walk humbly, and completely with the Lord. my responsibility isn’t to please people but the Lord only. For when i focus on being obedient to the Lord, no matter how bad the grumbling might become i know that God, through His faithfulness, will bring everyone around to see His faithfulness. i needn’t try to make way for Him, no need to strike the rock, no need to take on the anointed of the Lord, no need to fight against the air . . . only listen to the Lord and obey Him.  i am again reminded of my life verse:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

You are loved,

cj

 

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

Ever feel like the Lord led you into a dead-end or just making you wander around in a desert? i remember when i was half-heartedly in ministry. i was 20 something, married, one kid, at the time. i was working retail, and taking each step, i felt the Lord directing, to advance my career. We attended a little church where we were active with the ministry. i worked with the teens and worked full time in retail. i said yes Lord! i will serve You! However, i was only half-way in the pool.

When i was eight years old, ok probably more like 12, but i don’t actually remember, i had a paper route. i so loved being a paperboy. At the end of my route was a sweet lady who invited me and my friends to use her pool at the beginning of summer. Well, on the first hot day we didn’t hesitate! We headed over and into the backyard, then into the pool. That was a huge mistake! The pool was so cold we could barely move! i am convinced that had we stayed in the water any longer, we would all have died of hypothermia. None of us went in more than waste deep. We were too cold. Even though after getting out, the lady jumped in and did a few laps. We were just too chicken and afraid. We didn’t trust the lady and we didn’t trust the thermometer.

As we continue our look at the song by Chris Renzema (see part one for a link to the song) i want us to ponder the second verse.

Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           All I see is crashing waves,                                                                                                   Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           Through the wild you make a way,                                                                                            I will go where You go,                                                                                                                 I will stay where you stay

i love this lyric. When the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt it is easy to see why the people worried when they reached the edge of the Red Sea. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 so we, of course, know the whole story, and we even think, “after all, God did they were still afraid.” (See Exodus 14) However, i imagine our response might actually be similar to that of the Israelites, unfortunately. After the Lord parts the sea and they begin their desert journey we see the Lord never left them. They were instructed to “stay” where the Lord’s presence rested and “go” when the Lord’s presence lifted. They were told to follow the Lord as He presented Himself in their midst as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Even still it was a struggle for them, a constant struggle.

Why then do we think it will be any different for us? There will come times of struggle when we don’t fully understand the Lords leading. If you find yourself wandering in a desert or at what seems to be a dead-end, i can assure you it isn’t because the Lord has failed you or somehow given up on you. The question in those moments becomes, “are we still trusting in Him?” And as this verse ends, we must be willing to declare and follow-through, “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.” i had to make a decision as a young servant of the Lord, husband, and father, to step all in and immerse myself into ministry. The road has led to many places. Some appeared as dead-ends, others as a desert, yet all served a purpose as i have grown in faith and wisdom. my prayer for you is this, if you find yourself at a dead-end, or in an endless desert, that you will declare; “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.”

You are loved,

cj

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

Sometimes we have the best of intentions. Our desires are not against the Word, in fact, it might even be that our hearts long to worship and obey in ways we see as beneficial and glorifying to God as a whole. i remember once as a youth pastor that i desperately wanted to start up a youth worship band. i wanted it not for anything other than to build the ministry and to have the teens lead in ways that would, in my opinion, help them to grow in the Lord. Without much prayer, i just set out to do, because, hey it’s for God! Sadly, it wasn’t long and it was nothing but a sore spot, a thorn in the flesh if you will.

i learned a lot from that in that just because i wanted it doesn’t mean it is within God’s desire or timing. There is a song by Chris Renzema, that depicts this thought so very well! i will link to it’s YouTube video at the end. It is called, “I Don’t Wanna Go,” hence the title of this blog entry. In its opening lines, you get the heart of this idea of the desire to honor God as he brings to light King David’s heart of wanting to build God a Temple, a permanent structure. David’s heart was in the right place, he declared, why should the king live in a palace, while God is dwelling in a tent? David made this declaration to Nathan the Prophet, and Nathan seemed in the moment to agree, it does sound good! “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (See 2 Samuel 7; & 1 Chronicles 17)

However, that night the Lord speaks to Nathan and says, “Nope, not today.” (Ok i paraphrased that a little) In this whole thing God reveals His desire, Nathan shares it with king David, and David prays to the Lord in gratitude. Sometimes, we won’t fully understand God’s plan. That is OK, but we still have to accept God’s plan. Back to my days as a youth pastor, although it wasn’t time in that season to have a youth band, God did eventually bless me with one. i am completely humbled by His faithfulness. Here is the verse of the song by Chris Renzema:

Like David and the temple
I wanna bring You praise
But like David and his temple plans
Your ways are not my ways
You don’t need me to build a temple                                                                                     to know that You love me still, oh

You are loved,

cj

Here is a link to the song by Chris Renzema, I Don’t Wanna Go: https://youtu.be/nZ_LUCVdh-o

If Not Today . . .

If Not Today . . .

i had a great routine of going to the gym three days a week faithfully. It was awesome. It was California, and they had a heated pool so, i was able to swim every day. That is my favorite workout, swimming. In fact, when i lived in Wasilla Alaska, i swam four to five days a week, sometimes even six or seven, depending. It is a great workout. Now i am no swimmer mind you, i definitely don’t have a swimmer’s body, and my swimming technique probably looks more like flailing about rather than swimming, but i can keep a steady pace for about a mile. i am a member of a gym now, and they have a pool, but it isn’t a lap pool it is more like a giant bathtub for water-aerobics or small children learning to swim. Needless to say, i lack a strong motivation to go to the gym anymore.

i tell myself, if only they had a lap-pool i would be at the gym every day! i say things like, “Monday, Monday! i will start back at the gym. Only to have Monday come and go without a trip to the gym. i think we can all relate in some way to this, whether it be the gym or some other “thing” that you keep putting off for “Monday,” only to have Monday come and go without a “thing” to show for it.

This same principle can be applied to our walk with Jesus. “Oh, I will go to church next Sunday.” “I will start reading my Bible daily on Monday.” “I will begin that daily devotional or attend that Wednesday Night Bible Study this week.” Many have good intentions only to have those Sunday’s, Monday’s, Wednesday’s, those start days, come and go with only regret for not doing what you said you would do.

i think the best way to begin to form good habits and break bad habits is to just start! Don’t wait for Sunday or Monday or Wednesday or “this or that day” to begin. And then when you start, don’t do it for yourself, although you will benefit. Don’t do it for your spouse, although they will benefit. Don’t do it for anyone but do it for the Lord. He ultimately is the one we should be living for! And this idea doesn’t just apply to Church or studying the Bible or going to a study or group, it applies to any and everything you do.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

You don’t wait until you are in shape to go to the gym, you don’t wait until you are skinny or healthy to start a diet or change your eating habits, and you shouldn’t wait to begin to live your life wholly for Jesus in everything that you do.

You are loved,

cj