Go Deeper

Go Deeper

Tomorrow i have the privilege of speaking at family camp at the morning teen service.  i am so excited to be able to speak into the lives of the teens on our district.  The theme this year is “Go Deeper” which fits really well with where i am on my own personal journey with Jesus.  i was preparing for Sunday Edition a few weeks back and stumbled upon this quote from Wesley, “Have you availed yourself to the means of grace this week?”

In thinking about this it really does draw one to a deeper thought, making one “go deeper” into who Jesus is…which is where we are with Coffee with Jesus; “Who do you say Jesus is?” Based on Jesus’ own question to His disciples in Mark 8:29.  The idea of understanding who Jesus is to us, how He is revealing Himself to us or stirring in our hearts helps us to draw nearer to Him.  Of course in turn Jesus draws nearer to us, which brings us to the camp verse, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:8a

Although i must say that i am not one for partial verse extractions like this…so here it is in its contexts; James 4:7-10 (NLT).

“7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

In its context we read there is a lot involved in drawing near to God…but it really does boil down to Wesley’s question, “Have you availed (made yourself available) to the means of grace (God’s grace, freely given) this week?” Have you drawn near to God? Well, have you?

You are loved,

cj

For We Are All One

For We Are All One

Today, as i sat in the building in which a small portion of the Church gathers, i listened to our pastor’s impassioned plea for unity.  It hit me, as i heard his words and saw a glimpse of his heart that this is the same conversation i have been having with Rachel our Axiom manager. Just a regular woman, who just happens to be dark complected, a person of color, black, to be PC, African~American.  i can’t pretend to know how it feels to be a person of color, any color other than white, in America.

We could spend lots of time arguing i am sure, all points and sides, from “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter”.  Simultaneously arguing the same points but blind because neither side can truly understand the other completely.

So, as i sat in the building with the Church i was reminded of this passage in Galatians Chapter 3…beginning with verse 26;

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 

The CHURCH must rise up above the racial tension in America. It must begin to show unity in tangible ways to those around us. This isn’t a political issue, although it has been made into one…it is rather a social one.  The Church for all of its flaws, has an opportunity to show Christ. To live out this principle in Galatians. To live out the mandate of Scripture to love, show mercy, have compassion, and live in a place of grace and forgiveness…it is for us, the Church, to walk humbly.

i am thankful that we took 30 teens to camp last week and we were the most diverse group there. i am proud of that fact and felt even better when one of the counselors was talking to me and pointed out the fact.  To be honest, i hadn’t thought about it.  i like to think that i don’t see color, that i live out Galatians everyday.  Not that i am already perfected, but forgetting what is behind, i press on toward the goal of Christ Jesus.

Rejoicing always, i attempt to let my gentleness be an outward expression of who lives within me.  i try not to be anxious but in everything though prayer i am thankfully hopeful. i am paraphrasing parts of Philippians, but let me close with this quote from the same 4:8,9

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

You are loved,

cj

A Man’s Best Friend

A Man’s Best Friend

my best friend is a Miniature Australian Shepherd or mini aussie for short named Shiloh.  He is the coolest dog i have ever had the privilege of calling friend. You know what they say about dogs, “a dog is a man’s best friend”. Shiloh is that dog.  He goes with me most places. Has his own profile on my MinHub Youth Ministry App, he has his own Facebook and Instagram…he might even Tweet.  He is the happiest to see me on any given day and twice as much when i have been gone all day.  However, as stated before he goes most places with me.

One day when i was trying to understand Shiloh a bit more i googled searched his breed and read that Mini Aussie’s suffer from separation anxiety. This causes them to chew things up and or act out.  Since reading that i have made it a point to bring him along with me more often. In fact as i write this he is sitting at my feet under my desk.  He knows some tricks, enjoys playing fetch, walks beside me without a leash, comes when i call, has his door that he likes to use when getting in the van and sits on my lap. He is pretty much my snoopy and i am his Charlie Brown.

When i think of my relationship with Shiloh i can’t help but think of how God desires us; Not to do tricks but to use our talents to bring Him joy. To bring others to Him. To walk beside Him freely. To come when He calls. To use our prayer closet regularly. To sit with Him.

i know a dog isn’t the best analogy since we are not dogs and Jesus does not consider us pets…but the response, the bareness of the relationship i think reflects the heart of the Father well.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

You are Loved,

cj

More Mercy, Peace, and Love

More Mercy, Peace, and Love

We have been studying Jude at Coffee with Jesus in the mornings.  i love when we can read an introduction and spend the morning talking about it. Jude is one of those introductions.

“…I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

Much like the whole of Scripture the letter is being written to those who have already accepted Jesus as Lord, they are already born again. The words to follow, are for those that already follow. We often want, and in varying degrees it is assumed, that these are for the non-believer first…well at least it is how we talk and act, it appears this is our thought process.

As we read here in Jude, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Verse 2 is spectacular, “May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.” What do we take away from this? That He, Jesus, has already given us some, if Jude is implying there is more. The reason most of us believe is because we experienced the Mercy, Peace and Love of Christ first.

If we came because Christ first loved us…and we are called to be like Christ, doesn’t it stand to reason that we first love others? That we extend mercy, peace and love so that others too can experience the MORE?

You are Loved,

cj

The Lords Prayer #2

The Lords Prayer #2

May Your Name be kept Holy

Continuing with, “Our Father in Heaven…Matt 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Let me remind us of another passage we find in scripture 1 Peter 1:16   “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Now this passage in reality is impossible apart from Christ. We can not on our own ever achieve holiness. So how can we be holy? Well, we know that God is Holy, and if God dwells in us and is changing us into His likeness then we are made holy through Jesus. It is His righteousness, His grace, His mercy…not our own works that we can boast.

Jesus, in teaching us to pray reveals the very nature of God. Holy, yes, but also love. Yes, love. As we hear Jesus say, God is Holy…we also see the Love of Jesus displayed in every action. God’s love at work in and through the person of Jesus reveals His Holy Love. To make us Holy as He is Holy so that we might dwell in His presence. Christ’s holiness in us…may we keep His name Holy and wholly before us.

you are loved,

cj