Christian (part four)

Christian (part four)

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:12-13

Regardless of what you are facing in life, there is always and i mean always, a reason to rejoice in hope. Hope is the sustaining force. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 it is one of the abiding principles, faith, hope, and love. Hope in tomorrow, hope in knowing that God is faithful. Hope will get you through tribulations in your life, it does require though, that you be constant in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing” the word here is “adialeiptos” which actually means, constantly recurring. This is fascinating because of the legal definition of constantly recurring includes, “connected,” we are to be connected in prayer.

The one thing people facing depression, who are considering suicide, say about their outlook on life is, they feel hopeless. Hope is a powerful thing. The super successful, who fail time and time again before achieving that thing that made them successful, all say, “never give up hope.” Hope is a powerful thing. Paul writes to Titus, “. . . waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . .” This is the hope we long for it is the sustaining hope of every generation of the Way. We are a generation of the Way, therefore, our hope must be in the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. We can rejoice that our hope has overcome the world.

Tribulations of every sort come at us daily. Temptations, persecution, deaths, sickness, hate, and the list continues. Some tribulations on a scale may appear harsher than others given everyone’s pain threshold whether that pain is figurative or actual physical pain. We are all wired differently, however, the one thing that ties us together in dealing with tribulation is the same. We need each other, we are connected, those of us of the Way. In each of these instances, we are called to be patient. Some very dear to me teens lost their dad recently, incredibly sad. It was unexpected, one minute he’s home with them and the next he isn’t. Their struggle in tribulation right now is so very real. It will be their patience during these very dark days that will help them wade through the emotional rollercoaster of grief. They will need to stay connected to those of the Way and continue steadfastly in their hope.

Prayer connects us. It connects us of the Way with each other and connects us with Jesus our Lord. The translation to pray without ceasing isn’t wrong, we are to pray continually in thought, in heart, in spirit, in word. It is that conduit that connects us to the Father and it is the tie that binds us together one with another as we seek the Father together. It is for all things, every situation, every circumstance, every every, Jesus taught us to pray this way . . . Matthew 6:9-13

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

As we join together those of us of the Way our bond becomes stronger. It then allows us to tend to the needs of the saints as well as the ability to be hospitable. “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” This is our duty as members of the Way.

you are loved,

cj

Christian (part three)

Christian (part three)

The topic of Christianianity is a BIG one. There is no way around it actually in our society, as it is in nearly every facet of life. Today, we will focus on the politics of being a Christian. It is pushed by both major political parties, some would say, “exploited” for political gain, touching on the surface, our need to be compassionate. It’s a double-edged sword if you will because politics are ugly and yet i do believe we have a civic duty to participate in it. But we can not separate the two. i know the constitution makes a distinction of separation between Church and State. However, that separation is intended to protect the Church from the government not the government from the Church.

If you are a politically active Christian you must do so from a perspective of the values found in the passages of Scripture in which we hold so dear. To separate your beliefs in some attempt to appease a group of people is not within the guidelines of being Christian. Nor can we separate it out from our lives in any aspect. To do so would be a denial of our values, our faith, our Christ. So far in our previous two weeks of looking at this topic, we covered Romans 12:9-10 which state:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Our next verse, 11, states:

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Think of those in past times who basically risked everything in order to remain faithful to God. Namely, in this case, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, these guys put God above politics in everything they did that’s why they were hated by the others and set up. Even to the point of not denying their God for any reason even their very lives. We should be so bold! “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!”

So, what are we to do when the climate is so split, compassion over what? When sizing up candidates does one issue rule over another? Where is grace or mercy when it comes to pass indiscretions? How about moral failings? Or the candidates stated belief versus their present actions? There is so much to consider how does one possibly vote at all? i for a very long time was registered, independent. i didn’t want the label of a political party, in fact, i still don’t but when we moved i somehow selected an affiliation and just haven’t gone to fix it. In my heart of hearts, i remain an objective independent voter. Who Votes his beliefs over politics, over issues, over a person. As a Christian, i take into consideration my own grace, mercy, love and the charge to love others, in making my decisions on casting a vote for someone or some issue.

May we take into account such things always and in everything that we do, not just politics, but also, work, friendships, relationships, even when we are alone.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

You are loved,

cj

Love, my conclusion (Part 1)

Love, my conclusion (Part 1)

Instead of going on about the difference between the different forms of love used in Scripture, Agapa, Eros, Philia, and the less common but still relevant Storge. Which perhaps is a future post, i rather here just cut to the chase a bit. Let’s not get lost in rabbit trails of debate or even friendly conversation, which simply is the mascarade of confusion, doubt, and deflection. We fight being loved, so we don’t get hurt. We fight loving others because we don’t want to be disappointed, and we fight others loving others because we are jealous, cynical, and doubtful of genuine love. We wrap ourselves up in fairytale love stories and fantasies that actually warp any form of love and give false expectations of any sort of reality.

It almost sounds as if i have a cynical heart towards love. Perhaps i do. Perhaps that is why it intrigues me so. Even to the point of haunting my dreams, and peaking it’s head out through the pages of these words. You may remember a song by Tina Turner, called,
“What’s love got to do with it?” Here is the chorus to that song . . .

What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second-hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

You want to talk cynical? There it is written in 1984 and i bet the sentiment goes centuries beyond that too. For my point, each verse talks about something different, the first verse about lust, the second verse, confusion, the third, protection. This is just one iconic song, there are countless others, i just happen to like the tune, and i can hear it playing in my head. So, with such a worldly view of love abounding around us, choking out our very hearts, what are we to do?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:7-12

If we claim to have love but we do not back it up with action then we are only fooling ourselves, no one else. We become the very thing everyone claims we as Christians are, hypocrites. Let us consider these verses from 1 John 3:11,12

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 

Jealousy is a killer of love. Jealousy hides inside your heart, your mind, your anger, your fear, and it waits for an opportunity to reveal his hideousness in humanity by way of our fallen nature, surprisingly enough. It is why we ought to pursue the love of God with every fiber of our being! No rock left unturned, no shadow left cast, no door left unopened in our pursuit of love. For we are only capable of true, honest, sincere love when we are abiding in God and He in us for “His love is perfected in us” through abiding. i am not done. To be continued . . .

You are LOVED,

cj

Today is my birthday.

Today is my birthday.

It’s 1979, i am turning 6 years old. Dinner is, by my choice, my mom’s lasagna. i will eat two pieces. The cake is simple, two-layer, round, chocolate with chocolate frosting. My gift that year, i can’t believe i remember, cap-guns with a holster and five hot-wheels cars. No friends, just family, my sister who is six years older, my brother who is four years older, and my parents who are just older. We are living in Sylmar, California which is in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. It’s July, it’s hot, it’s lighter later, it’s later, dusk has set in. Sirens fill the air, they stop short, they are close by, close enough that we see the flashing red lights.

Cameron and David are brothers. They live down the alley, i don’t remember what side of the street if they were on our side or the other block, we always just went down the alley to get there. They are both six years old. They are not twins, separated by 11 months this is the short part of the year they share a number. i remember playing in their chicken coop, they didn’t have chickens, just a coop. i don’t know if they never had chickens, maybe it came with the house, i only know they didn’t have any chickens while i knew them and so we made it into a fort of sorts. Cameron was the leader of our little club, he made all the rules. Our motto, “We aren’t chicken!” Sadly none too bright either.

Cameron earlier that day would hear of a game called chicken. He didn’t tell what the game was. He said it would be fun. It was to be a club game. i would miss the first time playing because of my birthday celebration. i wish i had known, i would like to think i would have told him to not do it . . . but i did not know.

We walked to the end of the block to see what the fuss was. When we arrived there were two small sheets draped over two small bodies. One car in the middle of the road the driver sitting in the passenger seat with their legs outside the car. My mom, working as a nurse at the time was talking to the fire department. She returned, D.O.A. that’s all i heard before she told my sister to take me home, she did. We didn’t find out until later who it was and what they were doing.

Today is my birthday. It is 2018. As i look back on my years i have story after story, memory after memory of moments where an event or a decision give rise to thoughts in which i wonder, “what if i did this or that?” “what if” i could what if this story too. “What if i was there with them?” Or “what if i had thought to invite them to my birthday?” i could allow these thoughts to consume me or i can put them behind me, learn from them and press on making the most of every moment, every day, every year.

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

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…” Matthew 6:25-34

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:4-6

i like to reflect on my birthday’s. Have i made the most of my year? Have done all that i can? Am i content with it? What changes do i need to make? How can i love more? Do more? Live better?

Today is my birthday.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 2)

Jude (Part 2)

Once again we will be looking into Jude. This is, as the title states, part 2, there is also an introduction. If you have not yet read those i would suggest going back and reading those before continuing here.

Jude is writing about those who have crept into the church unnoticed. The warning is for us to be alert. So that we do not fall prey to them. To continue to search the Scriptures daily so that we remain knowledgeable and able to spot the imposter.  These folks have come in the side door, they slipped in the back. Yet, their resume and their teachings are not the same. In as much as they have subtly shifted meaning, context, and even grace, ultimately denying the very person of Jesus, while claiming His name.

Verse 8 reads, Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. These men, by dreaming, let me say this, that dreaming isn’t bad, it is good, and we should have lofty dreams. However, these men were not dreaming lofty God-sized dreams, they were dreaming as men. It was for power, prestige, influence that these men dreamed. We know this because they defiled the flesh, this is the same as “strange flesh” that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a perverted sense of grace and self-assumed authority in matters best left to God’s Word and not man’s opinion. You see they reject all authority to include Church authority and all the way down the line to government authority. They have taken it upon themselves to pronounce judgment rather than hang onto the authority of Scripture. Thumbing their noses at Jesus Himself as they curse the very Word.

These men are like hidden reefs that would shipwreck your faith. Pual writes to Timothy in 1:18-20 says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” These men are hollow, waterless clouds, pushed my any which wind that blows, in other words, their moral compass is broken and they are persuaded by the mood of the people rather than the Word of God. Trees without fruit. We are told that we will know them by their fruit, Jude isn’t saying anything new and yet we need to be reminded.

Yet in the same way, these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted;13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:8-13)

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this, are you seeking the approval of man or of God? Let us together walk the road less traveled and seek the will of God, dream God-sized dreams and live out our lives flowing from the grace that we have been shown. Not by running from God’s Word, or watering it down, but by living it out — that we might save some.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

13 Years and Counting

13 Years and Counting

i have been writing a book for 13 years, that’s right you heard me, 13 years. i guess you can say that i am persistent or lazy. i would say, i am self-conscience of ability. However, one day that book will be completed, and it will be read by at least two people, my mom, and my dad. Now imagine this, the Bible which many refer to as the “Good Book” is actually a collection of works, both books, and letters. There are 66 of them written by 40 different authors over a period of…well…thousands of years.

The influence that the Bible has had over the years is unfathomable. It has had both good and bad impacts on the world depending on who was doing the interpreting. It is an adventure story, love story, comedy, history, and wisdom. It is if read correctly, the answer to all of life’s questions…and by life’s questions i mean any and every question you might have ever in your life.

In 2 Timothy 3 we read in verses 16 and 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And again in 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There are a few other places that talk about this idea of the impactfulness and importance of Scripture, google it some time.

The book that i have been writing will not take thousands of years…at best i only have about 50ish years left to live. It will not even come close to impacting the world as the Bible has either. There have been countless books written, but none have claimed so much, promised so much, explained so much and been right so much ever! There is no book that has outsold or been stolen more than the Bible either…how’s that for distribution?

You must be stupid or something!

You must be stupid or something!

“It seems as if we have come to a point of disagreement.” “It doesn’t appear as though we will ever see eye to eye on this issue.” “Can we just agree to disagree?” “It may seem arbitrary to you but to me it is a huge concern!” “Why can’t you see what I see? Why are you so ignorant!?” “You must be stupid or something!” “You have no clue how the world works do you?”

Through life, both cultural life and individual life, we have and continue to evolve, learn, grow; some would say the opposite is true however, that we are actually unraveling socially and culturally. One thing is certain, our ability to have differing opinions and our further ability to discuss those differences considerately and compassionately have eroded to epic lows. Where at one time one might say, “It seems as if we have come to a point of disagreement.” We now say, “You must be stupid or something!”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you thought to yourself, “Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.” i know i have thought, maybe even said that often. Here’s the problem, by me thinking or saying that i have put the assumption on the other person that i am superior to them or more intelligent than they…i have devalued their opinion and along with it any knowledge they may have on the subject. i have now limited my ability to learn from them or even for them to learn from me.

We live in a culture gone made with a lack of humility. Everyone has become a know-it-all in every subject. Regardless of the facts. As since everyone knows everything or we know someone who knows everything we don’t research, we don’t ask questions, we don’t seek for truth because we don’t know what we don’t know unless we first seek.

This is why i love the interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well. (READ FULL PASSAGE HERE) Here is Jesus, who surely did know everything, have a conversation with a woman in a manner that inspired and did not condemn. In the end the woman heads back into town to tell others about Jesus. We are called to be like that. To live and love as Jesus. To inspire others with the truth of the Gospel in hopes that they too will react as this woman did, going and telling others.

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10)

you are LOVED,
cj

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

We are wrapping up the awesome book of Philippians during Coffee with Jesus. It is such a good book, full of great things. This morning as we met we had a great discussion about life, and forgiveness. The difficulties of forgiving others and the parallel that we can draw from the life of Jesus. The discussion happened prior to our reading of the text. Which in and of itself did not reference forgiveness directly however we definitely were able to draw from it.

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” 

It is said, that we forgive not for the other person but for ourselves. There is Scripture to back that up but let me say this, scientifically it has been proven beneficial as well. The stress release that comes when we let go of bitterness, anger, hate, malice, strife, jealousy etc. is unmeasurably hhuuuugge. When we pray to forgive someone, or maybe the first step, for the strength or the resolve to do so…we can rest assured that that prayer will be answered.

When we begin to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for all God has done as the passage declares, peace comes. Additionally, that peace will surpass anything we could ever understand. It will also guard our hearts and minds. It is finding the essence of the heart of God. It will set our minds at ease and prepare our hearts for praise. Let me conclude with this from Philippians 4:8-9. NLT

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirableThink aboutthings that are excellent and worthy of praiseKeep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” 

You are Loved,

cj