Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Cross

I wonder how many of us understand the cross. I'm not claiming perfect knowledge of the cross, merely my perspective based on prayer and study of the Bible. It seems to me that nowadays people cheapen the cross. We put it on shirts, bumper stickers, tattoos, and wear it as a pendant on a necklace. We make it a status symbol. We wear it "proudly" only to disgrace it by our speech or actions.

Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23 all state that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. This verse does not tell us to wear or display the cross as an adorning ornament, especially if our lives do not reflect Jesus'. It also doesn't tell us that the cross is something to be taken flippantly.

As a Christian, our cross is meant as death to self, just as it meant death to our Savior. His death is not to be taken lightly and that is just what not understanding the significance of the cross does. Jesus suffered and died on a cross. We are going to suffer and some Christians do die for their following of Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that taking up one's cross and following Jesus will be fun and games and not require denial of certain pleasures in order to obey God. So Jesus says that to follow him means walking in the path of the cross. Whether that path involves "taking up the cross," or "losing one's life" we as Christians need to understand that life in the world will not involve an easy, stress-less trip into Heaven. Bearing the cross and following Jesus is what we are called to do as disciples of Christ.

Reflect on what the cross means to you and how you display your cross. Is it an ornament or something you wear for show? Or is it something you bear daily and die to yourself so that you may follow Him obediently?

I will leave you an old hymn that quite adequately reminds us of the meaning of the cross:

"Take up thy cross and follow Me"
I heard my Master say
"I gave My life to ransom thee
surrender your all today"

Wherever He leads I'll go
Wherever He leads I'll go
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I'll go

He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I'll go

It may be through the shadows dim
Or o'er the stormy sea
I take my cross and follow Him
Wherever He leadeth me

My heart my life my all I bring
To Christ who loves me so
He is my Master Lord and King
Wherever He leads I'll go

written by B.B. McKinney in 1936

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What God has been showing me lately

Everywhere I look lately I see an overabundance of "stuff." It seems like in everything that I do I observe excess which becomes waste, or God reveals to me how good we all really do have it. For instance, I wash dishes and see how much water is used and how just a portion of that water could supply sustenance for so many. For Easter dinner I see the many sets of china and "special" dishes, silverware, etc. and think of how many people don't have a plate to eat from or utensils to eat with. We spend so many resources on how our house looks, how we look, how our careers look, and most of the world would be happy with just a roof over their heads, some torn and tattered clothing, or the opportunity to work. Why is it that we have so much and offer so little? God has been dealing with me for the past few years about such things and the past few weeks has revealed to me many examples and illustrations of the comforts with which we are all blessed.

I listen to podcasts on the way to work, especially Cornerstone Church (Francis Chan). He has been so right on in his teachings lately about it being time to love like people are dying, because they are! Our time on this earth is so minuscule compared to eternity. We are ALL dying and need to live like there is no tomorrow. I listened to a student speak who was going to die any day from a disease. He said he feared not for himself, but for those who did not have relationship with Jesus. He added that it was easy for him to live like he was dying because he knew factually and literally that he was. Our problem is that we are too, we just don't grasp the fact because nothing is "wrong" with us. This is so much easier said than done. Believe me, I try and try but still don't. The point is that we try and that we live like we are the only Jesus some people may ever know. Every single person on this planet was created by and for God and though some are easier to love than others, we are shown clearly in the Bible that love is what we are to do (1 John 3:11-24, Matthew 22:34-40). I am honestly tired of having all that extra "stuff." If we spent our time molding our lives after Christ (something we are supposed to do as Christians) then what would the world look like? Our country? Our state? Our city? Our neighborhood?

DO NOT take this next paragraph wrong. I am not blowing my own horn (Matt 6:1-4), merely giving a personal example of how God can work if we allow Him. I have been collecting dry and canned goods and keep bags in my truck. I also have some extra Bibles. Today, on my way to work, I prayed for God to place someone in my life to witness and provide food to. On my way to the gym, I passed a homeless man sitting under a tree in the rain. I drove by and God loudly reminded me that He just answered my prayer. Not wanting to "chicken out" or disobey an obvious answer to prayer, I turned around and went back to the man. I got out of my truck, approached him, and asked if he was hungry. He said that he was so I went to the back of my truck and gave him a bag of food. He lit up like a child on Christmas and asked, "You're giving me all this?" He then stated that most people he came in contact with treated him badly and almost inhumane. I responded that that was the problem with the world today; people do not see everyone as people. I asked him his name and again he lit up. He was so proud to say, "K. W." I asked him his story and he said a string of bad luck but that he was not going to be like other people and beg. He said he found a person who was paying him to do odd jobs and that he would not resort to other things as he once had. He then explained that he thought he rode his bicycle too far and was lost. I opened my map book and showed him how to get where he was headed. I then handed him a new Bible. He opened his wallet and said he only had a few dollars. I was shocked. Here was a homeless person with NOTHING offering to pay for a Bible. I told K.W. that I was not with him for money or any reason other than the Bible taught me to love and take care of those in need. I explained that Jesus loved him and that if he wanted to "pay me" it would be awesome if he read the Bible I provided him. K.W. mentioned that he only drank a few beers once in a while and I said that was ok, but that if he wanted to get back on his feet, to spend the beer money on something productive. Before I left, I asked K.W. for his name. He said, "Kenneth Welk, like Lawrence." Kenneth thanked me for making the effort to get to know who he was and I thanked him for talking to me. I then told Kenneth I would be praying for him and we exchanged a firm handshake, a smile, and parted ways. GOD IS SOOOOOO AMAZING IF WE LET HIM.

I don't want to be one of those people who receive my rewards here on earth (Matt 6:1-4). I don't want to be a person more concerned with stuff than lives. I don't want to be a person who wastes time and money on things that won't last instead of talking to others about eternity, which won't cease.

If you have taken the time to read this, please keep K.W. in your prayers and also pray that God will place you in situations to strengthen your faith and provide opportunity for obedience. Remember that you are only on this earth briefly and never complain about what you have because there are millions who don

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is God in Hell?

A friend posed this question to me the other day. It caught me off guard and I was unsure of how to explain what I truly believed. I decided to research and pray for insight about what I believed. Having said all that, here's my stab at explaining what I believe . . .

God is omnipresent. Even though no form of the word omnipresent or omnipresence is found in the Bible, the biblical writer's provide many suggestions and shed much light on God being omnipresent. (Dt 4:39; Jer 23:23-24; Am 9:2; 2 Ch 2:6)

Additionally, God is not limited to or by time or space. Because God is everywhere present, He is aware of Hell and the people in Hell. It is for this reason God has broken fellowship with the occupants of Hell. In something that we cannot understand or fathom, God lets the people in Hell live [even though the condition is horrific] instead of snuffing them out; because God values everyone, even when they have turned from Him. It is amazing that God's mercy continues even after death. God values us so much that He would rather we have something than nothing because having a life, no matter the condition, is better than having no life (Landstrom, 2006). In my opinion, God's presence in Hell both sustains the occupants and punishes.

If I were to answer the question that God is not present in Hell then I cannot argue that God is omnipresent. Because even though we have portraits of what Hell will be like, it is hard for our finite minds to grasp God ever being present in a place like Hell. Psalm 139:8 reveals clearly an answer to this question. David states, "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. (AMP)" We also need to look at Matthew 25:41. People often translate this as meaning that the person is leaving God for good and going to a place where God is not. The actual Greek word for depart is πορεύομαι—Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary poreuomai. The translation means a journey or to travel. And in this particular instance it is a traveling away from God in Heaven not a total departing from God. A final look at Scripture turns us to Isaiah 59:2 and Proverbs 15:29. Both tell us that there is separation from God by sin. However, if we look at the verses in the context of God's omnipresence, then it does not tell us that God is not present at all, merely that His presence is not made known because we have lost the gift of His blessings. Just as God is present with you at this moment, you might not “feel” his presence manifest in the same way as it is in a worship service or while praying. I think it is safe to say that God is just as present in Hell as he is in Heaven, but in Heaven his glory is much more visible and clear than it is in Hell, where that presence will be at a minimum. Just because God doesn't make His presence known, doesn't mean that He is not there.

God is present in every part of His creation.......and this includes Hell.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I was walking my dogs the other day when it hit me. I know more animal's names in my neighborhood than peoples'. Don't get me wrong, I recognize people and have the casual conversation, but I don't really know them. I know of them and remember some things I have been told, but that's about it. Surface issues that will never matter. Now, I can pass almost every house with a dog or see a dog in a yard and pretty much know its name. Not the owner's name, the dogs. How messed up is that? Honestly? "Hey Duke, how you doing? and by the way, how are you OWNER?"

God created us all equal in His eyes. How can I possibly give more credence to the life of an animal than that of my brother or sister? Sure, animals are defenseless, etc. and it all makes a great cushy story. But the reality is that if I don't reveal Jesus to my neighbors (our Jerusalem) then who will? If I don't get to know the hearts of my neighbors and acquaintances or if I know more about their pets than them, THAT IS A PROBLEM!!! Sure, I am like most of you. I get all nervous or feel weird or am scared of talking to someone I don't really know about Jesus, but it is like anything else in your life; once you do it a few times it becomes easier. Heck, God's Word tells us that God will provide the aid of the Holy Spirit: Luke 12:12; John 14:26; John 15:26-27; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Acts 1:8.

I hope this brings to light just how much we (myself included) devalue people we see everyday. There lives matter to God and they should matter to us. God placed us in the neighborhood, school, job, etc. that we currently live. Maybe we (1 : I and the rest of a group that includes me : you and I : you and I and another or others Merriam-Webster) need to stop worrying about our comfort and start doing His work.