Sunday, January 27, 2013

On Being Born a Second Time.5

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though they die on this earth, will live again. They will be given eternal life and not perish! I have told you, already many times: If you believe you will see the glory of God.


How many times and ways does Jesus need to tell us something before we believe Him?

Do we not, as humans, have a fascination with the possibility of the afterlife?  Millions of people spend millions of dollars to read the reports of other humans who testify to going "where no man has gone before..."

Proof of Heaven

Heaven Is For Real

90 Minutes In Heaven

 To Heaven And Back

Is the testimony of a neurosurgeon, medical doctor, child or pastor more or less convincing than the Lord of Life himself?  These kinds of "testimonies"always remind me of listening to programs like "Unshackled" or sitting in missionary conferences at church and longing for a great testimony that I was sure would make me a powerful witness for Jesus.

But is the real measure of our walk with the Lord Jesus how many books we sell, making the NY Times best seller list, a feature segment on a radio program or speaking engagements?

The ostracized Samaritan woman Jesus engaged at the well of Jacob testified to her townsfolk about the man who "...told me all that I ever did" and resurrected a new heart in a life beaten down by bad choices and insufferable cruelty. 

The response to her report?  "Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony..."

The true measure of our testimony to things eternal is that it brings people face to face with The Truth.  
  • the truth of our individual existence
  • the truth of the consequences of the choices of the will
  • the truth of our ever growing obedience--or disobedience-- to the revelation we've received
  • the truth of how the camera of our own life has revealed more or less of Truth to a dying and corrupt world
  • the truth of whether or not we overcame the very struggles of faith Jesus the Man overcame in his sojourn on earth
  • the truth of our need for a Savior!
For if Life could be given simply by thrilling-out-of-body-experiences would not the Lord of Life allow every human being that kind of faith-altering moment?

Is it not faith that moves me to offer a child a cup of water in the Name or tenderly telling the hope of forgiveness and newness of Life greater value than weeks on the best seller list?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Being Born a Second Time.4

God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through his son might be redeemed.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned; 
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already,
 because they have not believed in the name of God's only son.



  1. Express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure.
  2. Sentence (someone) to a particular punishment, esp. death: "the rebels had been condemned to death".
convict - denounce - censure - sentence - decry - doom

redeemed  past participle, past tense of re·deem (Verb)

  1. Compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something): "a disappointing debate redeemed by an outstanding speech".
  2. Do something that compensates for poor past performance or behavior.

It comes to this, as it always has, what does it mean to "believe in Him?"

Each of us individually can only provide the answer, but this may help, from our dear friend George [emphasis added]:

Do you ask, 'What is faith in him?' I answer, 
The leaving of your way, 
your objects, your self,
 and the taking of his and him; 
the leaving of your trust 
   in men, 
   in money, 
   in opinion, 
   in character, 
   in atonement itself, 
and doing as he tells you

I can find no words strong enough to serve for the weight of this necessity—this obedience.
 It is the one terrible heresy of the church, that it has always been presenting something else than obedience as faith in Christ. 

The work of Christ is not the Working Christ, any more than the clothing of Christ is the body of Christ. If the woman who touched the hem of his garment had trusted in the garment and not in him who wore it, would she have been healed? And the reason that so many who believe about Christ rather than in him, get the comfort they do, is that, touching thus the mere hem of his garment, they cannot help believing a little in the live man inside the garment. 

It is not wonderful that such believers should so often be miserable; they lay themselves down to sleep with nothing but the skirt of his robe in their hand—a robe too, I say, that never was his, only by them is supposed his—when they might sleep in peace with the living Lord in their hearts. Instead of so knowing Christ that they have him in them saving them, they lie wasting themselves in soul-sickening self-examination as to whether they are believers, whether they are really trusting in the atonement, whether they are truly sorry for their sins—the way to madness of the brain, and despair of the heart. 

Some even ponder the imponderable— whether they are of the elect, whether they have an interest in the blood shed for sin, whether theirs is a saving faith—when all the time the man who died for them is waiting to begin to save them from every evil—and first from this self which is consuming them with trouble about its salvation; he will set them free, and take them home to the bosom of the Father—if only they will mind what he says to them—which is the beginning, middle, and end of faith. 

If, instead of searching into the mysteries of corruption in their own charnel-houses, they would but awake and arise from the dead, and come out into the light which Christ is waiting to give them, he would begin at once to fill them with the fulness of God.

'But I do not know how to awake and arise!'

I will tell you:—Get up, and do something the master tells you; so make yourself his disciple at once. Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because he said, Do it, or once abstained because he said, Do not do it.

It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in him, if you do not anything he tells you. If you can think of nothing he ever said as having had an atom of influence on your doing or not doing, you have too good ground to consider yourself no disciple of his.

Do not, I pray you, worse than waste your time in trying to convince yourself that you are his disciple notwithstanding—that for this reason or that you still have cause to think you believe in him. What though you should succeed in persuading yourself to absolute certainty that you are his disciple, if, after all, he say to you, 'Why did you not do the things I told you? Depart from me; I do not know you!'

Instead of trying to persuade yourself, if the thing be true you can make it truer; if it be not true, you can begin at once to make it true, to
be a disciple of the Living One—by obeying him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying him.

We must learn to obey him in everything, and so must begin
somewhere: let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience!"

from The Truth In Jesus, Unspoken Sermons II, 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

On Being Born a Second Time.5

"How is it that, that even after so much learning, you are not familiar with the most basic truths? If I have taught you such things, using earthly examples, and still you fail to comprehend, how will you understand if I speak to you of heavenly things?"


A Horse Theology

Failing to understand what Jesus means is, sadly, the plight of humanity.  That alone accounts for the vileness and corruption we suffer with from generation to generation, individual to individual, race to race, nation to nation.  Thinking we know what He means may, however, be a worse condition than the first!  How many people of the religious persuasion content themselves in their "bible studies" to knowing syntax, context, history and hermenuetics, while failing miserably in obedience, i.e., transformation from the core of their beings living out what He means?

An epiphany of sorts occurred to me one day while standing next to my mare.  I realized that of all the domesticated animals, a horse may most closely resemble the relationship man has with God.  For a horse, if left to roam for food and water, does not need, nor even seek, a relationship with humans.  They are, in fact, quite lazy, self-willed and fearful, and would for the most part rather be left alone.  But without a relationship with a Master, they cannot reach their inherent potential!

In order to have a relationship with a horse a trust must be formed by helping them overcome their natural inclination to fear and self-will.  Mutual respect is achieved by patience, diligence and communication.  For even though a horse does not understand human language, nor our will for them, they are created with the ability to figure out what we want. By giving a "cue" for the desired action, my mare can learn, one step at a time, that I want her to, say, drop her head when I pull down on her lead rope.   At first tug, there is resistance until she figures out what I want.  It may take hundreds of gentle tugs to get her to a point where that action becomes a part of her instantaneous response to me.  With diligence, building lesson upon lesson, we are able to do wonderful things together!

Jesus, our Master, told us that we have One Teacher, who, with Perfect Will communicates in language beyond words on a page.  The very Breath of God who enlivens our spirit, heart and mind to try to do what He directs us until, with patience and diligence, the things he means for us become a very part of our response to the challenges of this life.

Every human being born into this world has but one purpose: to become a disciple of Jesus. How else will they reach their potential for Love if not learning from the Master?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On Being Born A Second Time. 2

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the breath of God is spirit. The wind blows where it wishes, and we hear the sound that it makes; still we do not know from where it comes, or where it will go. So it is for those who are born anew by the breath of God.
Consider these examples: No one weaves a piece of new cloth into a ruined garment, for the new piece which is stronger will merely pull the old cloth apart, and the tear will be made worse. Neither do you put new wine into old wine flasks, less the old flasks burst, and the new wine spill out, and the investment be lost. Instead you store new wine in flasks that are new, and both are preserved.

I have a friend, a wonderful lady and faithful follower of Jesus, Deb O. She has patiently, lovingly cared for her son Gary who has been "handicapped" for many years. Although I don't know the details and can only guess at the weight of the burden she's borne,  I am convinced of this: As wonder-filled as it would be to see Gary healed and returned to a semblance of "normal" life here on planet earth, how great will that moment be in the presence of the Great King when Gary's voice is free to release the pent up flood of grateful love & thanksgiving for his mother's tender care. 

There is a reason we must wait for moments like these: we don't have the capacity in these mortal bodies to contain that kind of glory!

New garments; New wineskins; New Life!