Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Revolution In World Missions

America… the land of the free and the home of the most wealthiest people on the planet. Even amongst the Christian population, there is more wealth here than in the entire under developed countries in the rest of the world combined. What feeds a family of four for one dinner in the typical American household is more food than an impoverished village family sees in more than a week.

And when it comes to the knowledge of Jesus and the Gospel, we are filled to the brim. We have access to Jesus 24/7 via the internet, podcasts, church services, and Christian radio… But is it making a difference?

I am currently reading the book “Revolution In World Missions” written by K.P. Yohannan. Today I want to share just a snippet from this amazing perspective of world evangelism from a man who understands poverty and the transforming power of the Gospel.

He writes,

If the affluence of America impressed me, the affluence of
Christians impressed me even more. The United States has
about 5,000 Christian book and gift stores, carrying varieties
of products beyond my ability to imagine—and many secular
stores also carry religious books. All this while 4,845 of the
world’s 6,912 languages are still without a single portion of the
Bible published in their own language! In his book My Billion
Bible Dream, Rochunga Pudaite says, “Eighty-five percent of all
Bibles printed today are in English for the nine percent of the
world who read English. Eighty percent of the world’s people
have never owned a Bible while Americans have an average of
four in every household.”


Besides books, 8,000 Christian magazines and newspapers
flourish. More than 1,600 Christian radio stations broadcast
the Gospel full-time,5 while many countries don’t even have
their first Christian radio station. A tiny 0.1 percent of all
Christian radio and television programming is directed toward
the unevangelized world.

TD10-06962_2


The saddest observation I can make about most of the religious
communication activity of the Western world is this: Little,
if any, of this media is designed to reach unbelievers. Almost all
is entertainment for the saints.
The United States, with its 600,000 congregations or groups,
is blessed with 1.5 million full-time Christian workers, or one
full-time religious leader for every 182 people in the nation.

What a difference this is from the rest of the world, where more
than 2 billion people are still unreached with the Gospel. The
unreached or “hidden peoples” have only one missionary working
for every 78,000 people, and there are still 1,240 distinct
cultural groups in the world without a single church among
them to preach the Gospel. These are the masses for whom
Christ wept and died.

I encourage you read this book. Audio (MP3) and print (pdf) versions of this book are available for free @ http://www.gfa.org/resource/books/revolution/

I believe that when we come to the realization that our wealth in the western world could and should be used for proclaiming the Gospel message to the world, then and only then will we experience true and lasting change. Not only in our own lives but in the lives of every person that walks this planet.

May you be blessed today as you proclaim His name.
Keith

Monday, September 19, 2011

Village2Village Project - Sam and Ester

Back just a couple short years ago I shared a story of three young children in a post on my personal photo blog. It was the story of a young girl caring for her two starving siblings in Uganda. The compassion little Jane had towards her brother and sister was beyond anything I have ever seen from such a young person.

Recently their story has been on my mind and I decided to follow up and see how little Sam and Esther were doing. Before I discuss the most recent update, I would like to share the two videos that touched not only my life, but the tens of thousands around the globe who have been able to experience such a thing due to the advances in technology.

For those of you who missed the original video that I first encountered 2 1/2 years ago, I would encourage you to watch it.





And the follow up video a year later is quite encouraging as well.




So now the update:
Here is a quote from the Village2Village Project website:

Sam and Esther continue to be well cared for and receive physical therapy twice a week and a specialized diet. Recently, Sam was thrilled to try standing! They remain very weak, though, and require tender care in the House of Love in Kampala where they live with two loving staff, their sister Jane and two other children.

Children like Sam, Esther, and Jane are just a small glimpse into the lives of millions of children and adults around the globe who go every day without clean water and adequate food supplies. I know that the problem seems insurmountable at times, but there is always hope when you put your faith in the Creator of the universe.

What can you do to help today? Is God calling you to sell all you have and give to the poor? Is he calling you to give up a cup of Starbucks each day and send a little bit of money each month to help someone who can't even get a cup of clean water? Or maybe he is calling you to mentor a child in your own community or walk through your neighborhood and tell about the transforming power of Jesus. Maybe he is even calling you to leave the comforts of the States and travel half way around the world and serve... Only you know what He is calling you to do.

Whatever it is, are you willing to trust and obey? Give whatever it takes to follow Him?

I pray today that the story of Sam and Esther penetrate your soul so deeply it moves you to action. I pray that you, me, and the million of Americans who have so much can begin to sell all that we own and be willing vessels to help those who need not only their physical needs cared for such as food, medical care, and water, but to show them their need to know Jesus as well.

Blessings,
Keith

Friday, September 9, 2011

Check Out The Verse Of The Day...

Have you checked out our Verse Of The Day yet?

You can have each day's Bible verse, daily thought, and prayer sent right to your email...

http://www.dailyinchrist.net/dailybible/

Come on by and check it out!

Blessings,
Keith

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WWJD...

WWJD - What Would Jesus Do?

If you have been a Christian for awhile you will instantly know what this acronym stands for. These four words became such a part of the Christian culture that I believe they have almost lost their punch. But as simple as this question is, it packs a plethora of truth.

1Cor 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

What would Jesus do? Do you still ask yourself that question every moment of every day? If we are called to imitate Jesus then we surely must know what He would do in any given situation shouldn't we?

Thankfully we were given a helper to guide us. Jesus left us the Holy Spirit to tickle our minds in situations where it is imperative to know how to respond like the Savior. Now listening to Him is another story altogether.

So today I ask... WWJD?

I hope you will ask the same...

Blessings,
Keith

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Whoever Practices Righteousness is Righteous

1John 3:6-7 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

The word of God is full of wisdom. In this verse I think it is pretty simple to understand the first part from verse 6. If I keep walking in a lifestyle of sin and satisfying the flesh then I probably don't know God. But what does it look like to "practice righteousness?" Matt 6 tells us not to practice righteousness before men, so it appears that it is something we do in private. Isaiah 64 tells us our righteousness is as filthy rags. Therefore, it looks as though we ourselves can not produce our own righteousness.

Righteousness starts at the cross of Jesus Christ. 1Cor 1:30 tells us that Jesus Christ is our righteousness. In Him we receive our righteousness. We can not earn it, buy it, or borrow it from someone else.

The practice of righteousness begins and ends with me making a decision to live in Christ. To walk by faith in Jesus with the understanding that He is my everything. Spending time in the Word and in prayer, falling in love with the Maker of the universe. Practicing righteousness means accepting, walking in, and loving the Savior Jesus Christ. It also means that we put away the practice of sinning and repent from our ways of the flesh.

Are you practicing righteousness today?

Blessings,
Keith

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Verse Of The Day...

Daily In Christ Devotionals has created a great new part of the site:


I would love for you to join me every day as I select a verse God has laid on my heart and share a daily thought as well.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Come To Me All Who Labor...

Mat 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

When it comes to verses in the Bible that bring comfort, for me, this one has to be near the top of the list. As I read again through the Gospels, I am encouraged by the love, instruction, gentleness, and comfort we receive from our Savior.

In the next series of posts, my desire is to look closely at these three verses in the book of Matthew. I am looking to discover what the Lord would have for you and me. As I read these verses, I often just scratch the surface. But this time, I want to swim a little lower. I want to dive into deeper water and see if there is more to these verses than meets the eye.

Blessings,
Keith

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What If... I Didn't Blame Anybody Else?

Alright, we all have done it. The boss shows up to work and questions why you did a certain thing. Your first response is, "well, because so-and-so did this or that!" You are at school and your teacher questions why your homework isn't turned in... well, the dog ate it of course. Or worse yet, your husband questions you about a text you received on your phone from another guy and you're scrambling for an excuse.

One of the things I have noticed being around and discussing life issues with teens and young adults is the increase of the phrase, "It's not my fault."

What if I decided today was the day I started taking responsibility for my actions? What if today I decided to delight in God first and seek Him for all that I am so I don't have to be defensive and make excuses? What if I was faithful to do the right thing so I never had to cover my tracks.

What if...

Blessings,
Keith

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do Not Neglect To Show Hospitality...

Heb 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Confession time...

In the course of life we often encounter opportunities to serve others and blow past them due to our busy schedules, blindness to the situation, or just plain old selfishness. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I had been riding on a passenger train for about 4 hours. While I was on the train I was enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The Olympic Mountain range with its snow capped peaks and the calm water of the Puget Sound set the stage for a great trip. The train was packed full of passengers. My seat assignment was next to, let's just say, a rather large man. Across the table from us was his wife and small child. I was planning on doing some computer work while on the train and due to my cramped quarters I was unable to move, let alone whip out my laptop and write.

Being a railroad employee helps tremendously in these types of circumstances. I walked up to the train conductor and told her my plight. She was more than accommodating and gave me a seat with my own table in a car that was virtually empty... Kudos to the conductor for that one.

I spent my almost 4 hour trip reading God's Word and working on building a website I have been developing for some time. I prayed, ate a snack or two, and caught up on some loose ends. It was a great trip home.

As I approached the busy train station I called ahead to have my ride ready and waiting for me as I disembarked. Sure as clockwork, the ride was there. Oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the other passengers as they greeted loved ones with hugs and kisses, I was in full speed heading to my ride. I had somewhere to go and if you stopped in front of me you would probably get ran over.

Just as I approached the curb I was greeted by a disheveled city resident. He had probably not been showered in quite some time and was missing several teeth. He held out his hand toward me and explained that he was a veteran. In his hand was a tattered veterans card with his picture on it. He asked me for a dollar. Now here is the confession...

I would love to say that I was Jesus at that moment. That I looked him in the eyes and felt his aching heart. That I understood his struggles as he lived as a beggar on the streets. And then offered to pray for him and give him the dollar he was asking for. But that didn't happen.

I did look him in the eye however. Not to understand his heart, but to express my inability to offer any hope. I answered his request with a quick, "Sorry man, can't help you" and ran off to my ride. As I sat in the van in my 10 minute ride to my final destination I began to think about what just happened. Did I just miss an opportunity to entertain an angel? Did I do what Jesus would have done? What a selfish person I discovered I was.

As I discussed this situation later that night with my wife an image came to my mind. I visualized this disheveled homeless guy walking up to Jesus and asking for a dollar. And as Jesus was about to show him His love and compassion, I jumped in front of Jesus and basically said, "Sorry, can't help you. You will need to get it from someone else"

Oh how we can be so lost in our own selfishness. Would it have changed a thing if I had spent even one minute with this guy? It wouldn't have changed my getting home in time for dinner, but it may have changed his life for eternity.

Lord, forgive me for times like this when I am so caught up in my own thoughts and desires that I forget about those you place in my life that I can help. I am your hands extended and I pray Lord that you will give me another chance to show your love and grace to a stranger.

Blessings to you as you draw closer to him today.

Keith

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heal Me - Aaron Jeoffrey

A great video and message:

Heal Me - Aaron Jeoffrey



May you be blessed by this message today.

Keith

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Salvation Sunday: Is Today Your Day?

Today is a great day to give your life to Jesus! This is a testimony from Lecrae. It speaks to the heart of God and how He can transform a boy from the streets into a man of God.



If you are in need of a loving relationship with God, feel free to contact Daily In Christ for more information.

Bless you,
Keith

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What If... I Didn't Compare Myself To Others?

What if... I didn't compare myself to others?

Have you ever compared yourself with someones else? I am sure I can answer that one for you... of course you have! We all do it. What happens when we live a life of comparison rather than a life of satisfaction in who God made us to be?

Here are just a few reasons why we shouldn't compare ourselves to others:
  • Comparing to others causes a life of discontent and unhappiness.
  • Comparing ourselves to others makes us jealous and envious of their belongings or accomplishments.
  • Comparing ourselves to others can cause resentment and bitterness.
  • Comparing ourselves to others often causes stress and frustration.
So what if you were content in who God made you to be? What if you decided to forget about what was going on in others lives and thank Jesus for the things He has done for you? What if you found your pleasure simply knowing you are made in the image of God?

What if...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What If... Hell Is Real?

Have you ever just sat down on a bright sunny day and reflected on the things of life that matter but rarely get thought about? One of the subjects that rattles through my mind on occasion is this very question...

What if... hell is real?

There are a lot of emerging beliefs these days and many of them center around this very topic. So what if? What if hell is real? What if what the scriptures have to say about eternity apart from God is absolutely true. Sure, we take what is written in the Bible on a measure of faith, but isn't that how we form any of our world views?

So back to the question... What if hell is real? Would it change how you relate to God? Would it change how you interact with others? Would you even give it a second of consideration? What if...



Have you ever considered the alternative to life apart from God? Does the thought of eternal life in Heaven experiencing pure joy in the midst of the loving Savior excite your heart? Are you in need of spiritual strength and forgiveness? If so, I encourage you to visit
http://greatchristianstuff.com/salvation.html

For more on this topic feel free to visit CARM @ http://carm.org/hell

I pray that you will be blessed today as you look to Jesus for your salvation.

Blessings,
Keith

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part Four

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I have been discovering over the past several days what being crucified with Christ means for a born again believer. It isn’t a physical death and resurrection, but a spiritual death and rebirth. Being crucified with Christ is to die to the law. To die to sin. And to die to the desires of my flesh.

In the next part of the verse I am encouraged by knowing that Christ lives in me. I no longer live by my old standards and desires, but I live differently because of the indwelling of Christ. I am a renewed person in the likeness of God and I now pursue holiness and conformity with Jesus.

In my last post I saw what it means to live by faith in the Son of God. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. When we live by faith in Jesus we are putting our complete trust in Him and who He is. No longer living in the flesh. Making a choice to live by faith in the Son of God changes us. I seek a life that looks more like His.

Today I am considering the final part of this verse:

who loved me and gave himself for me.

This verse, Gal 2:20, was one I memorized early on in my Christian walk. I have probably said it over and over at least one thousand times. And as I would say it, I never grasped the true meaning of and magnitude of what is packed into it. Until recently…

As I meditate on this final portion of the verse I am overwhelmed by the Love of God for me. I know for myself, the love of God is something I have taken for granted often. I believe the reason for this is that I really don’t grasp the severity of my sin before Him. Because of the Grace of God, killing sin doesn’t always take shape the way it should. So in this last post on Gal 2:20 I want to spend a little time understanding why this last phrase, “who loved me and gave himself for me,” has so much significance.

Rom 5:10 tells us: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

While we were enemies… The first reason I find this last part of verse 20 in Galatians so significant is that Christ died for me as an enemy. Do you remember what Jesus says in Matt 5:44? He says to love your enemies. This verse shows me that Jesus doesn’t only teach the things of God, but actually fleshed them out for you and for me. While we were enemies of God He took the punishment on the cross for our disobedience. He paid the ultimate price so I could live free in Him. How amazing is that? He gave himself up for me. Not a group of people, not the whole world (which he did), but for me as an individual. I was on His mind while He was on the cross.

Secondly, I am in awe of the fact that the creator of the universe loved me. Not because of anything I have done or will do. Just because He loves me. Eph 1:4-5 says before the foundation of the world he chose me because of His love. When I try to wrap my mind around that one I can only be amazed.

In summary, God loved me before the foundation of the world. And in that great love for me, He sent Jesus to live a perfect life and die on the cross taking the punishment I deserve. John: 15:13 tells us that no greater love is this, than one would lay his life down for his friend. What about laying your life down for your enemies? That is what Jesus did for me… and you!

Blessings,
Keith

Part one

Part two

Part three

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part Three

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.

I have been crucified with Christ… I have been writing over the last several blog posts about what it means to be crucified with Christ. How we, as Christians, can begin to learn how to no longer live our own way of life, but to live knowing that Christ lives in us.

In this passage in Galatians I find it interesting that Paul states that he "no longer lives," and then in the next sentence says that "he now lives." This may appear as a paradox, but is clearly a true definition of what he means when he says in 2Cor 5:17; therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

When we give our lives to Christ we crucify our old life of sin. We actually die to sin and are no longer bound by the law (Gal 2:19) and our inability to keep it. We have been raised up with Christ and now live a new life in him. Jesus says in John 15:5, apart from me you can do nothing.

Paul wants us to know that Christ is the source for all we have. He has taken residence in us and we in Him. Certainly we still have to live in our flesh. We still possess a body, but in that body we no longer live by the way the flesh used to lead us. We now live our life by the faith that He produces in us. (Heb 12:2) Jesus is the founder and the perfecter of our faith.

Living by faith means moment by moment looking to Jesus for our strength, trusting Him for direction, and believing in His Grace. In addition to looking to Jesus in faith for wisdom and strength, we are living more like Him as well. In 2Cor 5:15, Paul says we no longer live to ourselves, but to Him who died for us.

Many of us claim to be followers of Christ. We go to church on Sunday and try hard to be good. That can be a good thing, but Paul is not talking about being good or going to church. Paul is talking about a completely transformed life. He is talking about us having the attributes of Christ and living accordingly.

So if my life is crucified in Him and I am no longer governed by my flesh, and I live in Him by faith, what should my life now look like? Here are some things I need to consider to see if I am really living by faith in Him.

  • Jesus is loving, even to the point of dying for those who were His enemies. Am I willing to die to my selfish desires in love for those I encounter?
  • Jesus is humble and patient. Do I express humility in everything I do?
  • Jesus is gentle, meek, and kind. How am I doing in this area? Am I filled with the Love and Kindness of Jesus?
  • Jesus is prayerful. Being like Jesus requires me to be in constant contact with the Father.
  • Jesus is sinless. As I live by faith in Him and experience His grace, I too will be less capable of sin. When my desires and thoughts are in constant alignment with His, sin is an abomination.
  • Jesus cares for others. Living like Jesus means that I no longer look out for myself only. I look to Him for guidance and use my resources to help those in need.

Being crucified with Christ isn’t about being saved from hell. It isn’t fulfilled by going to church once a week and living like a chameleon in the world the rest of the week. Being crucified with Christ and living our new life by faith in Him is about becoming Jesus to the world. It is about us loving, trusting, and depending on Him so greatly that we begin to look more and more like Him every day.

My prayer today is that we, as Christians, stop trying to be good. We stop trying to accumulate possessions. We stop looking to our own needs first. And we start looking like, acting like, and being like Jesus.

Blessings,
Keith

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part Two

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

In part one of I have been crucified with Christ I discussed what it means to be crucified with Christ. I was able to see that being crucified with Christ meant that I am to die to myself. That I am to die to the desires of my flesh and the bondage of sin. That Jesus paid for it on the cross and that in doing so I was there on his mind with him.
In this post I want to see what Paul means when he says “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, I too am resurrected and now live a new life. Paul tells us in this verse that it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. We were designed to be a dwelling-place of the spirit of God. God didn't create man to live on his own. We were created to be in fellowship with him. However, sin has broken that fellowship and caused man to live separate from God. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, our old life has passed away and our new life has come.
So what is this new life in Christ that Paul is telling us to live? I think if we look at Colossians chapter three we might see a little bit more clearly what he is saying. Col 3:1-2 says that if we have been raised with Christ, then we will seek the things above. He says we are to set our mind on things above.
The key for us to “set our mind on the things above” is to come to an understanding of who lives in us. Paul says it is no longer I who live. So what does that mean? I am sure we can understand that Paul is not talking about his natural being. Rather, he is speaking of our spiritual being, the life we live in faith in Jesus Christ.
Christ living in us can seem quite mysterious. When we have found our new life in Christ, and He dwells in our heart, we begin to live different than those who don't know Christ. The way we think, the way we believe, and the way we act, begins to look more and more like Him.
So, when Paul says it is no longer I who live, I believe he is saying that the life he lives conforms to the life of Christ because of who he has now become, a new creation.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. When we begin to grasp the magnitude of that statement we must change the way we live. 1John 1:6 says that if we have fellowship with God but go on living in darkness that we are liars and we do not practice the truth. We are liars... We claim to be something we are not. We pretend to be a Christian all the while living in darkness and living to satisfy our own desires. That is what John is saying if we do not practice the truth.
Who lives in you today? Have you been crucified with Christ? Do you claim to have fellowship with God but still live like the rest of the world? Are you seeking after the things that bring simple pleasure rather than seeking after the things that bring pleasure to Christ?
Eph 4:22-24 tell us to put off our old self which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
“It is no longer I who lives” means that I now live with Christ in me as a renewed person in the likeness of God, pursuing righteousness and holiness.
Does Christ live in you today? If he does, do your desires conform with his?
Lord Jesus, help me to understand what it means to have you living inside of me. Help me not to live my old ways but to live in such a way that brings Glory and honor and praise to you alone. Lord, I know you live in me and the life that I live now I want to live in you.
May the Lord bless you today as you live in Him.
Blessings,
Keith

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part One

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have taken on the joyful task of spending a few blog posts on Gal 2:20. I feel this will be a benefit to me (and you) for several reasons. First, it will give me a clear understanding of what Paul is speaking to the Galatians regarding their position in Christ and what it truly means to be "crucified." Second, I will begin to grasp in a deeper way what it means to live for Christ. Third, I believe this verse exhorts us to truly live by faith. And fourth, I see where it gives me a reason for my faith... because He loved me.
So, today I begin with the first part of the verse. "I have been crucified with Christ."
The way Paul begins this verse has significance. The word "I" seems fairly important. He states, "I have been crucified" rather than "we." This gives me the assurance that I am known by God personally. Not just collectively as in a large group of people, but as an individual. My mind tries often to comprehend what that means. Sometimes I visualize God as a King or an Emperor. I see Him looking out over a huge city filled with lots of people. Each one is unnamed. This perception is so not how God is. He is intimate with all of us. Visualize if you will the same King sitting on His throne looking out over the people, and at the same time, like a wind blowing amongst them, knowing each one by name.
Christ didn't die on the cross for a group of people. He died for individuals. You and me. He knows each one of us by name. He knows the color of our hair and how many we have. He designed our minds to operate in a certain way. He chose the color of our skin, who our parents would be, and why we may dislike lima beans. God knows each one of us intimately and He was crucified not for a group of unnamed people, but for individuals. For you and for me.
Having been crucified with Christ causes me to ask a few questions. What does it mean for me to be crucified? What did I put to death when I was crucified with Christ? And what is meant by "have been?"
Let me first ponder the "have been" part. I think of a couple of things pertaining to this. First, it could mean that when I made a decision to fully follow Christ I was crucified with Him. Or maybe it means that when He was on the cross taking the punishment for my sin, I was crucified there with Him.
I am inclined to go with the latter. Paul tells us in Ephesians that He knew us before the foundation of the world. God chose us before the foundation of the world, so I am thinking that "have been" means that I was crucified with Christ the day He gave His life for me on the tree. I was on His mind that day. He didn't die in hopes that maybe one day I would accept His free gift. He died knowing I was already His. What a comfort that is.
What does it mean for you and me to be crucified? We know that Paul didn't hang on the tree with Christ. The only two people on Biblical record who were crucified with Christ were the thieves on the cross. So what is Paul explaining to us when he says “I was crucified with Christ?” I think if we look at Romans chapter six we get a little bit more understanding of what the true meaning of us being crucified is. Rom 6:6 tells us that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Being crucified with Christ means that we're dead to sin and we're dead to the law. Our old man has died. Sin no longer has dominion over us. Just as Christ defeated the power of sin, we too no longer allow sin power over us.
So when I read the beginning of Gal 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ," I realize that Christ didn't die for a group of unnamed people, but he died for me as an individual. I was on his mind while he was on the cross. And that my victory over sin and the law occurred before I was ever born. Paul tells us in Gal 5:24 that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Therefore we are to work daily at destroying the power and influence of sin and our life. If we are to live by the spirit, let us also walk by the spirit.
So my prayer for you and me today is that we will become dead to the law and to sin, and begin walking in the grace that God has given us through Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us in Luke chapter nine that anyone who would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Are you willing to be crucified? Are you willing to be dead to the desires of your flesh? Are you willing to live for Christ and offer yourself a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God? Picking up your cross daily needs to be an intentional act of our will. It doesn't happen simply by accident. In order to make your life a living sacrifice, you need to desire the things of God and not the things of the world. One must fall in love with Jesus and desire Him more than anything else. To do that you must get to know Him by reading His word, praying, and spending time with Him. Are you willing to do that?
Lord Jesus I pray that you'll help me understand what it truly means to be crucified with you. To give up my fleshly desires. To live for you alone. You took my sin on the cross so that I didn't have to, and I know that I could never repay you. So, today I offer up my life to you.
May the Lord bless you today as you offer your life to him.
Blessings,
Keith

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Are You Willing To Trade?

I saw this video at church last week. I hope it speaks to where you are at today.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


I have been reading this verse often over the past couple of weeks. The more I contemplate my relationship with Christ the more I keep coming back to this verse. Over the next several blog posts I am going to break this verse down and write about what I believe God is speaking to me through it.

Often I read a verse in the Bible and trample over it so quickly I miss the weightiness of it. This is one of those verses. Please join me as we study this verse together.

I would love for you to share your thoughts with me as well. Leave me a comment and tell me what this verse means to you.

Blessings,
Keith

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Can Never Mess Up Too Bad For God...

I spent about an hour tonight talking to a young man about his addictions. He is a college student and his major is theology and Biblical studies. For almost five years he was addicted to numerous substances and late last year he achieved victory over his addiction. Since that time he has enjoyed great fellowship with Jesus and the love and grace of God like never before. Until tonight...

You see, my friend used again today. He walked back into a life that he thought he had control over but unfortunately, it still has control over him. Addiction is a funny thing. Not funny - ha, ha. Funny strange. One moment you feel like a victor, the next you become a slave. (2Pet 2:19)

One major result he discovered today from using again was the absence of peace. He truly felt that God had abandoned him and that he lost his faith. I prayed with my friend, encouraged him to make a plan, and tried to show him that God will never abandon us. Even when we mess up!

How are you doing today? Do you feel like you have messed up so bad that God has abandoned you? Have you lost your sense of peace? Do you need to be reminded that Jesus loves you even in your mess ups?

I know I feel this way sometimes and it is great to go to the Word and be reminded of who we are in Christ.
  • God chose me from the beginning. Even before the foundation I was secure in Him as an adopted child: Eph 1:4-6
  • Even in my sinful state He loved me: Eph 2:4-5; Rom 5:8
  • I am His sheep. I hear His voice and I will never perish. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. Not even my own sin: John 10:27-30; Rom 8:35-39
  • My justification comes by faith and not by works of the law. Even when I sin I am still saved and will not be lost: Eph 2:8-9; Rom 5:16-17
  • Even in my struggles God has intended it for my good and His glory. There is no scheme the devil can bring into my path that God has not meant for good: Gen 50:20; Rom 8:27-28
After much prayer, scripture reading, and asking of forgiveness my friend began to feel the peace and presence of God again. He was able to realize that God is the God of second chances. That this slip up was not going to keep him out of the Kingdom of Light and that he was able to feel the forgiveness of the Lord.

If you are struggling with sin in your life and have lost His peace I encourage you to read through the verses above and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for your mess ups and I assure you by His Word He will.

If you are feeling peace in your heart and are strong in the Lord then encourage a brother or sister in the Lord who is struggling. Pray and ask God to place on your heart someone close to you that you can call or visit and encourage them today.

God isn't surprised when we mess up. He loves us and will always be there to cleanse us from our sin and purify us in His righteousness.

Blessings,
Keith

Love You Neighbor... Lend A Hand

I was in a hurry. Like many days, I was limited on the amount of time I had available to me for the day and my tasks exceeded my hours. Make a list of to do's... check! Map out course...check! Start movin...check!

Well, I got running around in my truck going from place to place and I had about 15 minutes to get to an appointment. "Right on time," I thought to myself as I walked to my truck sipping on a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee. When I got in the vehicle and turned the key the dreaded sound occurred right before my eyes... click! Click - click - click!

Oh my goodness, a dead battery. This isn't supposed to happen. Today is supposed to go as planned. I have many items on my task list and being stranded in a parking lot was not one of them. I raised the hood and inspected the battery. July 2005... oh my, it is old. Thankfully I was next to a store that sells batteries so I walked over to the automotive section and dropped 134 big ones. OUCH!

Problem solved. I just need to go out, install the new battery and off I will go. A few minutes and one bloody knuckle is all it took. Presto. I put the key in the ignition and... you guessed it, click - click - click!

As I stood there perplexed I was greeted by a very kind 5 year old being pushed in a stroller.

"What is wrong?" he asked.
"My truck wont start," I answered.
Then came the proverbial question from every 5 year old. "Why not?"

I informed him that I didn't know why but I was going to figure it out. As the stroller continued to pass me by, the pusher, a man in his late 50's, made it quite clear that he was going to have nothing to do with me.

"If you can't get it fixed we can help you," said the child.
And out of the blue came the response from the stroller motor... "No we can't!"

Well, if we could all be like this 5 year old child. "If you can't make it, I will help you" was the message I took from this situation. How often do we reach out to others who are stranded and without Christ in their life? Do I take the time to encourage a struggling brother or sister or am I like the guy pushing the stroller? A dead battery may delay you for a few hours, but a dead soul will cause you to face eternity outside of the presence of the God of the universe. And eternity is a very long time.

I finally got the truck running after 2 1/2 hours and in that time two people offered me assistance. I decided that God was showing me something. He allowed me to discover at least three things in this event.
  1. God places people in our path at the right time to help us out.
  2. If the Lord wills it, today I will do this thing or that. (Jam 4:14-15)
  3. There is always time to help others in need.
I hope when you encounter a stranded soul you rise to the challenge. Whether it be a dead battery, a marriage crisis, or a lost soul. There is always time to lend a hand.

Blessings,
Keith

The Hope Of The World - Jesus!

Often I read the Old Testament and just skim over many of the pages. It feels like an arduous task to read who beget who and so and so is the son of this guy etc... The black words just seem to blend into their vanilla canvas and I become distracted as I read. However, in the book of Isaiah there is so much to try to understand it is difficult to just skim the pages.

This morning I read through my verses in chapters 52 and 53. As I was reading I was encouraged to stop and go through some of the notes and key themes of this awesome book.

Here is just one of the key themes from the book of Isaiah. It is well worth your reading of each verse and see how it points to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

The only hope of the world is bound up in one man—the promised Davidic king:
  • Isa 4:2
  • Isa 7:14
  • Isa 9:2-7
  • Isa 11:1-10
The servant of the Lord
  • Isa 42:1-9
  • Isa 49:1-13
  • Isa 50: 4-9
  • Isa 52:13-53:12
The anointed preacher of the gospel
  • Isa 61:1-3
And the lone victor over all evil
  • Isa 63:1-6

Isaiah 53 1-11

Isa 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isa 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isa 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (ESV)

* All notes and references come from the ESV Study Bible

To study the Bible online go to: http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/esv-study-bible/

Have a blessed day as you draw closer to Christ.
Keith

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Have Been Raised Up With Christ


Col 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (nasb)

Do you ever just read over a verse in the Bible and as you read it you have the desire to continue to pour more and more time into it? This occurred for me this evening. Spending a couple of hours with a group of men can have its challenges and blessings. Especially when the time spent is to expound on the scriptures. That is what we did tonight. Chewing on the conclusion of chapter two and the beginning of chapter three in this amazing writing of the apostle Paul.

Paul spends the first couple of chapters in Colossians speaking of the mystery of Christ. Reminding the people that ceremonial law does not put us into relationship with Christ, and defines His place of prominence in relationship to the Father. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus tells the pharisees in the book of John that if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

As Paul moves into the third chapter he tells us that if we have been raised up in Christ, we shall keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Paul could have said to simply seek after good things. He could have illustrated some of the things Christ did and said to do them likewise. But instead, he said to seek after the things where Christ is, seated at God Almighty's right hand.

The right hand of God is a place of honor and authority and Paul wants us to see that what we are seeking is no small thing. We are looking heavenward and seeking after the things that are solely from God. Before we can be raised with Christ, one must die to the things of the world. We all know that we can not serve two masters. So, if our eyes are gazed toward heaven, then they can not even glance at the objects of the world that vie for our affection.

So why did this verse capture my attention? I think what stands out in this verse is twofold. First, that we have been raised up with Christ. That is quite significant to me. Paul tells the church at Ephesus that God raised Christ up to His right hand and placed Him over all power, rulers, authority, dominions, and names to be named. He shows us that we are in Christ as well. We are in communion with the One who is over and above all. We are adopted children of God and we have obtained an eternal inheritance. We are made righteous by Him. And as God has raised up Christ, He will also raise us up as well.

Second, I am encouraged to seek after the things above. Paul lays out a practical list in the next few verses as to what those things look like. But for me, just knowing my position in Christ, understanding the significance of His position next to the Father, and being overwhelmed by His goodness makes me want to naturally look heavenward. When a person grasps the enormity of what it truly means to be in Christ, looking away from the things of the the world that cause sin becomes the norm. And I, by no means, have achieved perfection in this area.

Col 3:1 has spoken volumes to me today. It gives me hope that I have been raised up and am hidden in Him. It reminds me that I have died to the things of this world. And it spurs me on to continue earnestly seeking the things of Christ.

I pray that you will seek Jesus with all of your heart today. Therefore, the things of this world will become strangely dim.

Blessings,
Keith

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts On My Heart... Today's Young People

One of the things I enjoy about talking to young people about God is that they are generally eager to listen. They all seem to have one concept or another about God and it is a joy to see hearts transform. Once the Spirit of God cracks through the exterior shell that has been formed around their heart, the discussions go from "Why" to "How."

Why does God allow people to die in natural disasters? Why do I need to read my Bible, what difference is it going to make? Why should I stop sleeping with my girlfriend? Why does it even matter?

These are all legitimate questions and we could spend a lot of time discussing and debating them. Often when I get questions like these I find myself trying to figure out an answer. Then, after I stop trying to convince a person to live righteously and it fails, I pray. As the questions come I find myself less trying to answer and more trying to just show the Love of God.

As I see the Spirit of God working in their heart, I begin to discover the questions change. They go from "why" to "how." The person I am sharing with begins to not worry so much about the once coveted answers to the "why question" and changes gears. It is as if they realize the questions are really a sophisticated stall tactic to avoid the real question... How do I serve Him well?

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an amazing thing. I remember listening to a conference a few years back from D. A. Carson. In the message he made a statement that goes something like this. "Twenty years ago we were witnessing to college age students and sharing the Gospel. They would debate that Jesus was the only path to God. Now, today's college students have not the same concept of God. Today we are trying to share that there actually is a God."

Times change, but the Gospel stays the same. Though we see different generations all carrying around the most acceptable world view of their day, one thing remains the same. We all need Jesus. No matter how it is packaged, sin is sin and we are all guilty of it.

This week I am encouraged to stand firm in the faith. To reach out to young people and share the love of God with them. It is easy to go about our merry way and ignore the fact that today's youth are leaving the church in droves. Kids who have claimed to have a relationship with Jesus are now living as atheists and agnostics. Seeking their own path of independence away from their parents religion.

If you are involved with the lives of youth I encourage you to spend time learning about them. Ask questions that get to their heart and help them see that you really love them. We can teach the Bible all day long, but from my experience, what they truly need is relationships. If you are not involved with the youth in your community, I encourage you to pray for those who are. We are raising the next generation of God's people and it is our responsibility to do it well.

Today's young people are bombarded with so many distractions. Internet, activities, opposing world views, unhealthy relationships, drugs and alcohol, etc... The world is pulling them away from God and I encourage you today to ask the Lord if He would have you participate in one way or another in bringing them back.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Does God Really Love Me?

I was recently having a conversation with a young person and the question came up about the love of God. "How do I know that God really loves me?" she asked. "That is a very good question," I responded. It brought about some stimulating dialog. Unfortunately, I am not sure she went away from this conversation convinced.

Life's trouble can often get us distracted from the amazing Love of God. And, as a Christian, I can't understand how a person can not see God's love around us every day. I can't understand how anyone can go through life without the hope of eternity with Jesus. And I can't even conceive what life would look like if I had to go it alone... At least at this stage of my life I can't understand it.

There was a time when I was this girl. (Figuratively speaking of course) I had no hope in the afterlife. Streets paved with gold. Eternity with Jesus. No more pain and no more tears. This all seemed like a fairy tale to me at one time in my life. But then something changed. I would love to boast that the day I was converted some 20+ years ago was when I discovered all of His love. However, it wasn't until just a few years ago that all that God had taken me through began to sink into my thick skull.

"How can that be?" you ask. "If you were a Christian a very long time ago, how did you just discover the Love of God a few short years ago?"

I am glad you asked...

We assume as Christians that everyone who claims salvation is filled with God's Love. That's not to say He isn't there to fill us. On the contrary. We often just don't have the capacity to receive it. In my case, I was consumed with the pain and struggles of my past difficulties. The concept of true forgiveness, unconditional love, and peace were as foreign as learning a new language.

I had no doubts about my salvation, I just didn't understand the concept of God's Love and Grace.

So rather than writing about His Love here in this post, I decided to post some links to previous posts regarding the Love of God. If you are like this girl I spoke with recently, then I encourage you to take a couple of minutes and read each post. It helped me to solidify in my heart the Love of God as I read through them to re-post.
I pray that you can discover the love of God in your life today.

Blessings,
Keith

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Time For Worship - Creed

I shared this video with some of my Facebook friends this past weekend and I wanted to post it here as well. It is an amazing version of Creed by the late Rich Mullins.

I hope it speaks to your heart today as you spend time worshiping Him for who He is.

Blessings...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My First Encounter With God

When I was growing up I had several friends. One friend in particular comes to mind when I think about my relationship with God. I wasn't especially close to him, but we did do things together occasionally. We attended the same school from kindergarten through much of high school, but that entire time I don't think I ever stepped foot inside of his house.

One major event stands out in my mind that will always be a part of my life. In about the third grade he invited me to Sunday School at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church. It was early on a warm summer morning and I remember walking to Sunday School on my own and meeting him there. His mother was the teacher and I was so excited to be a part of something big. What I'm talking about here is my first time realizing that I am going to meet God, and at a Church that has been around for over 100 years. To an eight year old, this was good stuff. This was important. I was being called to bigger things... and I felt it.

The winding flight of stairs ended in a large hall. We entered the classroom and I remember seeing all the other kids. I didn't know any of them. I had lived in the neighborhood for most of my life, (all seven or eight years by this point) and I didn't recognize a single kid in my neighborhood church.

I don't recall much from that Sunday other that this. God met me there. I know now that He formed me in my mother's womb and created me before the beginning of time, but to me right then... He finally met me. I never went to Sunday School with my friend again. Or if I did I really don't recall it. But I knew God and He knew me. And that was enough for now.

Do you have a story of meeting God you would like to share. Feel free to leave it in a comment.

I would love to hear it.

Blessings,
Keith

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hidden Christian

mp3 audio file

Do you remember the "Where's Waldo" books that were a phenomenon several years back. I remember spending hours on the couch with my kids trying to find that elusive little striped fellow. The challenge often got too difficult and the kids or myself would give up and move onto other things.


As I was praying and spending time in the Word this week the image of "Where's Waldo?" came to my mind. Not because I was curious where the striped little man was, but because it related to what I was reading in the Word. I began to think about my life and how reflective of Jesus I am to the rest of the world. Am I a light set on a hill or, like Waldo, hidden in a crowd only to be seen by those who are really looking?

Mat 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Jesus calls us to let our light shine before men. So often we are hidden Christians and our light is more like a dim flicker of a candle on a windy night. We spend more time blending in with the crowd than we do standing out in the crowd.

What if you decided right now to quit being a hidden Christian and become bold in your faith? What if your life was a little less like Waldo's and a whole lot more like Jesus? What if you stopped allowing fear, anxiety, and lack of trust rule your heart? Would your life look different? Would your neighborhood look different? Would our nation look different?

Living a nice comfortable hidden Christian life is safe, but isn't Biblical.

Luk 9:24-26 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

What good is it for us to gain our own comfort and security and lose our soul in hell? Are you a hidden Christian? Do you relate more to Waldo than to Jesus?

What can you do today to allow your light to shine bright before those around you? When you get to the throne of God and stand before Jesus will He tell you He couldn't even see you mixed in the crowd, or will he say to you, "Well done good and faithful servant."

Where are you today?

For a direct link to save audio file right click here and "save as."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What if... I Stopped Grieving The Holy Spirit...

Last night I completed the first chapter of Francis Chan's book - Forgotten God. It is a book that focuses on the person of the Holy Spirit and how we, as Christians, should be transformed because of Him.

He posed a question in this first chapter... "How would your life look if the Holy Spirit left you?"

I really thought long and hard over that question. Unfortunately, after thinking about it, I embarrassingly admitted to myself, "probably not a whole lot different."

It did lead me to ask myself a similar question posed slightly different. "Does my life even look that different because I do have the Holy Spirit?"

Do I live like I have been transformed by the Spirit of God or do I live like everybody else? My wife and I had this talk a month ago. Her answer was that we need to be different as Christians. Our lives should look more loving and compassionate than the next guy. (Pretty much the Chan take on the subject) I had a little different take on it.

I figured since I am saved by grace, and for the most part, a pretty messed up guy, then I should measure my level of the Spirit in me not by whether I look different than the next guy but whether I look different than I would have I not been renewed by God. If I compare myself to the next guy I will always find someone, Christian or not, who appears to be more godly than I am. There will always be people who build hospitals for children, feed the hungry and the poor, care for widows, etc... and not know Jesus. So comparing was a difficulty for me.

So here's my "what if." What if the Spirit of God left me today? Right now! Would I act differently? Would I start living for myself at the expense of others? Would I forsake God? Would I start drinking, driving too fast, cussing, acting unbecomingly? Would I quit being nice to people? Would I divorce my wife? I often think that we assume that only Christians have the ability to keep it together and non Christians lives will just fall apart without God.

So, back to the original question... What would my life look like?

I think I can see where the next chapters in Forgotten God are going, and knowing the way Francis Chan communicates I would imagine he is going to head down the path of, "why does your life not look different since you possess the Spirit of God?"

And that is the question I ask myself today.
  • What if I lived obedient to the Spirit of God in all things?
  • What if I prayed in the Spirit each moment of the day?
  • What if asked the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf?
  • What if I trusted Jesus when He said it would be better for me to have the Holy Spirit?
  • What if I stopped quenching the Holy Spirit? (Eph 4:30)

Would my life look noticeably different?

What if...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dealing With An Oops!

From time to time everyone encounters an "oops!" You know what I mean. The car won't start, the refrigerator is left open and the food spoils. Some oops are bigger than others. There are also oops of gigantic proportion. These oops often occur to our health and our jobs.


How do you deal with the oops of cancer or of your house foreclosing? Or the oops of a sick child?

You have stories in your life that are similar to mine. You have stories that are unique as well. We all could sit down and share a story or two, or forty... of things that we could consider an oops.

Telling our story doesn't help us deal with the oops of life but it does give us opportunity to reveal the common thread in all of our lives. That thread is intertwined from person to person, generation to generation. It is seamlessly woven from the beginning of time until now. It has never had a time throughout history where the thread has ever been broken.

I would think that the story of oops began with the fall of Lucifer. Eventually leading to the sin of Adam and now, fast forward to today. It continues throughout the lives of all people who, apart from God are nothing.

So what is the correct response to oops? This may seem like such a ridiculous notion, but I see it to be rejoice. The idea of rejoicing during times that just don't seem to work out is not new. It is Biblical. Paul says in the book of Colossians that he rejoices in what had been suffered to them. In the book of Philippians he says he rejoices in all things.

There are more. However I think that all the verses in the Bible could be written on this page regarding this subject and unless one truly understands rejoicing in trials, they would just be that... words on a page.

The heart is a tricky thing sometimes. It brings us great joy and often turmoil. It helps us feel love and hatred. The heart, when desiring to please God, sees an oops as an opportunity to see His hand at work. If we believe Him, then we believe He is good and His ways are perfect.

Are you going through an oops right now. If not, just give it a few minutes. You will be. We all have circumstances that cause us to question God's goodness and if we allow it, every single oops will show us how he loves us and turns everything to good regardless of how it may appear at the time.
  • When you get the flat tire on the highway - Praise God
  • When you lose your job - Praise God
  • When you go to the hospital and are diagnosed with an illness - Praise God
  • When you neighbor brings you grief - Praise God
  • When you lose a child to a tragic death - Praise God
I am not talking about pretending that what happens in life is trivial and we shouldn't grieve. Absolutely we should. God loves to hear us cry out to him and acknowledge his goodness in times of trouble. He loves us so much that he will always comfort us and turn every oops from bad to good. From evil to righteous. From painful to healing.

How do we deal with an oops? By loving God, praising God, trusting God, and expectantly waiting to see His good and mighty hand work all things together for good for those who love him and area called according to his purpose...

That's how to deal with an oops.

Blessings,

Keith

Monday, April 11, 2011

What If... I Trusted God For My Happiness?

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself,
because it is not there. There is no such thing. ~ C. S. Lewis

How often have you tried to find pleasure in the things of the world only to be eventually let down? Simple pleasures do bring temporary comfort and short term happiness, but they cannot compare to real happiness that comes only from God.

I read this quote from C. S. Lewis recently and it caused me to really assess where my happiness came from. Do I rely on the pleasures of this world to fill the space that was designed for only the Creator to fill? When I pursue worldly happiness I am, in a way, actually seeking after my own unhappiness.

I may "feel" happy for awhile, but that feeling will eventually give way to dissatisfaction. Therefore I will ultimately be unhappy and attempt once again to travel away from the path of God seeking pleasures that I know will ultimately not satisfy.

What if I sought after God whole heartily and was happy in Him? What would that look like?

It might take the shape of giving up some of the things of this world for eternal things. It may look like putting the needs of my neighbor before my own. It could, and should look like sacrifice in one form or another.

If Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him then, why can't I? Can I find joy in giving and sacrifice? Does God want me to be happy by holding the hand of a child or giving a cup of water to one who thirsts? What if I sought after True happiness?

What if I sought after my happiness in following Jesus?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One Solitary Life

mp3 audio file

He was born in an obscure village, the son of a peasant woman.

He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he became a wandering preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of those things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was executed by the state. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

Dr James Allen Francis - 1926




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Saturday, March 12, 2011

What If... There Was Nothing In Second Place?

Exo 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

You have seen it on television or maybe even experienced it in real life. Someone says, "You need to dress nicely when you go before the judge." The reason I make this comment is to highlight a word in the verse from the book of Exodus. That word is - before.

I know that this verse might sound like it means ahead of, but the word -before- in this verse means in the presence of. "You shall not have any gods in the presence of the Almighty!" That is my paraphrase of it.

What if I did this? What if I placed God in the top spot? And not only did I lay everything else below him, but completely abstained from my earthly gods? What if God was number one and there was no number two? What if...


We, in our civilized American culture, generally don't dabble with statues and images of gods. However, I think this verse applies quite well since what is being spoke of here is simply "idolatry." Sometimes it is beneficial to go to our old trusted resource Webster to give us a clearer understanding of a word.

Idolatry: 1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God. Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals. 2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.

What this verse is saying to me is this... "Hey, nothing can come into the presence of God that will take away from my adoration of Him."
  • What if... I shut off the television and gave my time to Him?
  • What if... I found my pleasure in God rather than the praise of men?
  • What if... I decided to pursue God as hard as I pursue my business deals?
  • What if... I boasted over the things of God and not my accomplishments?
  • What if... I adored God rather than idolize my favorite sports figure?
  • What if... God took first place in my marriage and family?
  • What if... The things that consumed me were the things of God?
  • What if... I placed nothing else before serving God?
What would my life look like if I lived like this?

What If...

Friday, March 11, 2011

What If... I Loved My Neighbor?

Mar 12:31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Jesus tells us that next to Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to love our neighbor as ourselves. What a command. What if I did that? What would it look like in my life if I loved my neighbor as myself? And what does that mean really?



Is Jesus saying here that if my neighbor asks to borrow a lawn tool that I should give it to him because one day I may need to borrow one of his? Is he saying I am to treat him with respect because I desire that he too treat me with respect? But what happens if you can't get anything good from your neighbor? Let's say he or she is a jerk and you would rather not even see them let alone love them. Or maybe you live in the country and have no neighbors. Was Jesus talking about the guy who lives next door??? So many questions!

I think for me to understand this verse to its fullest I need to do two things. First, define neighbor. And second, what is meant by "love?" For me, I believe that Jesus is not just talking about a person in close proximity to you and your home. A neighbor is any man or woman in which we come into contact with regardless of place of origin, religion, or gender. A fine example of this would be the story out of Luke of the Good Samaritan.

If we are to count all people as our neighbor, that begins to change how we may relate to them. If the obnoxious guy in the grocery store now becomes our neighbor, I suppose this verse calls us to love him. If the homeless crack head woman on the corner becomes our neighbor then we need to love her. If the crazy Jr higher at church is our neighbor... well, you get the point.

Everyone we come into contact with, according to Jesus, is our neighbor. And if that is the case, what if we choose to love them as our self? What if...


So what is this love we are called to have for our neighbor? I can say I love someone, but often my actions are far from it. And how do I love someone I can't stand? That's a tricky one...

I think there are several aspects of love we are to have for our neighbor.
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by having compassion?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by sharing the Gospel?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by meeting needs?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by not condemning?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by not seeing race or gender?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by caring for children?
  • What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by forgiving?
What if I loved my neighbors like this?

What if...


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

What If... I Loved Her Well?

What if I loved my wife well?



I went to the website of Barnes & Noble and did a word search. I typed in the word "marriage" and the search results gave me 44,360 results. Then I typed in the word "husband" and 5412 results appeared from my search. As I browsed the available titles I began to realize that there is an enormous amount of resources available to me regarding my marriage and my role as a husband.

After wading through the overwhelming titles I decided to refine my search a bit. I typed in the words "Christian husband." My results were now limited to only 87 choices. There were books about being a role model, how to find the perfect husband, and the benefit of prayer as a husband. I found titles that will help me in the area of sex and romance, how to understand my wife's mind, and what wives wished I knew about them...

So, after perusing many titles I came to one thought. What about the Bible? In all the searches I did, whether Christian marriage, husbands, wives, etc... the one book I never saw as an option was God's Holy Word. Sure there are many excellent books on Christian marriage and my role as a husband. I even recommend some on this blog from time to time. But today I am encouraged by the Words that were transcribed two thousand years ago by a guy wearing rags in a filthy prison somewhere in Rome .

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Verse 28 also states: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

What does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. I am sure many of you have heard this next verse several times from the book of John.

Joh 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

What does this kind of love look like in the context of marriage. We all think it is noble to say, "Oh ya, I would lay my life down for my wife... if some guy came into our house in the middle of the night I would be the first one out of bed and I would lay my life down to protect my loved ones..."

And good for you. YOU SHOULD! You are the man...It's your job. If you are the kind of man that sits on the edge of the bed when the garbage can rattles in the middle of the night and you let your wife walk out back, then you may want to check yourself. It doesn't matter if she is a black belt in karate and you are a white belt. If it takes you getting your butt kicked before she takes down the intruder then that is the way it goes. At least you can say you tried to protect her...

How do we display this unselfish love in our everyday walk? Why should we love our wives like Christ loves the church?

Let me give you just a couple of thoughts:

First: Look at Eph 5:26-27. When you married your wife you set her apart from the rest of the world. In so doing you, as the head, made a covenant (which you may not have known...) to sanctify her. This means that you are going to help her to become all that God designed her to be. When we understand marriage in this way we are able to look differently at our spouse. Rather than expecting to get something from her, we are willing to give to her so that she can be all God created her to be. For Him. Not for us. Not to meet our needs and desires. (Though you just might find that to be the case when you love her like this)

Here are not some reasons why you are loving your wife... Did that make sense?

  • You aren't loving her so she can be happy, though she probably will be if you love her like Christ loves the church.
  • You aren't loving her so she will be nice to you, though she will be if you love her like Christ loves the church.
  • You aren't loving her so she will fulfill you sexual desires, though she probably will if you love her like Christ loves the church.
So why should we love her like Christ loves the church?

  • You are loving her like Christ loves the church so that you can present her blameless before the Lord. The goal behind this kind of love is to build her up and allow God's purposes to be fulfilled in her.
So how do we love our wives like this. Well, first of all we need to have the love of Christ in us. Spend time at the tree. The best resource I have found to being able to attempt to love my wife in this way is to be in Christ every day. It is hard to be impatient with her, unkind to her, unloving toward her, or angry at her when you are connected to the tree.

Also, when we discover that we will never have the feelings of excitement for our wife the way we did early on in our marriage we discover new things about love. Certainly love can cause us to have a rush of emotion... and that can be good. But it is really far more than that. It is a commitment that even when the emotions settle down and the thrill is gone you will always be there for your wife. No matter what.

C. S. Lewis puts it this way in his book "Mere Christianity." (A bit of a lengthy quote but worth the read)

The idea that "being in love" is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits one to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.

But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her. But there is also another reason of which I am very sure, though I find it a little hard to explain.

It is hard because so many people cannot be brought to realize that when B is better than C, A may be even better than B. They like thinking in terms of good and bad, not of good, better, and best, or bad, worse and worst. They want to know whether you think patriotism a good thing: if you reply that it is, of course, far better than individual selfishness, but that it is inferior to universal charity and should always give way to universal charity when the two conflict, they think you are being evasive.

They ask what you think of dueling. If you reply that it is far better to forgive a man than to fight a duel with him, but that even a duel might be better than a lifelong enmity which expresses itself in secret efforts to "do the man down," they go away complaining that you would not give them a straight answer. I hope no one will make this mistake about what I am now going to say.

What we call "being in love" is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust.

No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, "the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs." Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life.

It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called "being in love" usually does not last.

So men, I implore you to love your wives as Christ loved the church. Go to the source for your strength. Be in the Word. Treat her with tenderness and compassion. Build her up to become all God created her to be... What If I loved my wife like that?

What if...


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What If... I Seek Him

Psa 27:8 You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."

What if I spent my life seeking after the face of God? Not just settling in for the table scraps that fall from the King's table. The crumbs on the floor. But delighting in the feast. Eating the finest bread. Drinking the finest drink. Savoring the most tender morsels.

Settling for the paltry pleasures this life has to offer is an utter compromise. To dive into a kiddie pool rather than freely swim in the depths of the sea. Shall we not experience all the beauty and majesty the Kingdom offers us?

I have been carefully considering what it means to be wholly devoted to Jesus. Not just going to church once a week. Not just being a believer to my church friends and then a man of the world to others. But really being zealous to discover the ways of God.

What if I sought hard after God? What if my devotion was to him continually? What if God was as important to me as everything else?

What if...

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Screwtape Letters - Quite Curious...

I just finished reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. What an amazing piece of work. It took me a bit before I could wrap my mind around the writings, but after about the third or fourth letter I was in deep... If you haven't read these I highly recommend it to any reader. The way they are laid out in letter form makes it easy to pick up or stop at any time.

As I was reading through each letter my mind would travel down various paths. One letter is about Screwtape trying to convince his unworthy nephew Wormwood, an apprentice demon, to try to trip up his "patient" by lulling him into complacency. After he becomes complacent he will be of no use to the enemy (God).

It really got me to think about how easy it is to name the name of Christ and have absolutely no change in my heart. Going around feeling satisfied merely about my decision to follow God. Then doing very little following and a whole lot of leading. "Hey God, come this way with me or be with me in this area of my life." Telling rather than asking... all the while not considering that my heart is far from him and my motives are purely selfish. God desires us to not be complacent. We should be active in filling our heart with Him and becoming more like Christ every day. Complacency isn't just about not doing this or that and still being satisfied, it is also about not filling our heart with the things of God and being satisfied...

1Ki 11:4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Even a man like Solomon turned his heart to other gods. God doesn't just request that we devote our heart fully to him, he requires it. When we confess with our mouth that He is Lord there should be some evidence in our heart of a transformation.

1Ch 28:9 "And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

Today is a new day. I encourage you to not be satisfied with where you are currently in your walk with Christ, but to stretch yourself beyond your wildest imagination. Pray big, bless others richly, and look to Jesus to fill your heart more and more with himself.

Blessings today as you are satisfied only in Him.
Keith