ALL IN! OR ARE WE ALL IN?

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 

Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 4 through 7, from the New Living Translation

All means all, doesn’t it? At least that’s the way I think; and it’s very apparent that God feels the same way. In this season where the Orthodox faith has been thrown away like last week’s leftovers, this is even more true. Within many churches here in the good old U.S. of A., they are demoting their churches to a way that looks more like the culture, rather than the Kingdom of God. How can they expect to see God’s Kingdom here when they look, think, and act like the kingdoms of this world? They say it’s because they love God and love others. But then there’s this word ALL!

In the world of Poker there’s a phrase and an act called “All-In”! The player thinks and believes that their hand is better than all the other hands, so they put everything they have on the table; nothing is held back. Not one single chip is held back. Now that’s what you would call “high-risk” living! Without sounding blasphemous or irreligious, that’s what it means to love God and to live in His Kingdom. We don’t obey God in order to love Him. We love God and thus we obey Him. So we put everything on the line–with nothing held back.

Progressives think that we can love God and love our culture. And because they love God, that changes what is wrong and what is right. Love transforms the mess into perfection. By choosing to form their values around pop culture rather than The Bible, they cannot and have not loved God with their All! One of the places Moses reminds us to love God is with All of our “soul”. But one of the meanings of that Hebrew word translated “soul” is “appetite”! When one’s appetite is being fed by feelings and yes, even lies, then they are not loving God with their All!

And even many Orthodox folks who claim to love God with their All have another appetite. It’s for the property, buildings, and bank accounts. They are looking for a way out and at the same time wanting to keep those said assests. Now, I want to talk to my sister and brother Orthodox family. Is your church property and assests absolutely essential in order to break free of this hot-mess culture and get in on what God is doing? Are you afraid to leave the UMC because you are afraid of losing a building and checking account to your Annual Conference? If so, then you are NOT loving God with your ALL!

Does God really need our buildings in order to bring people into His Kingdom? Sure, many of us have an emotional attachment to that place. But if that emotional attachment is keeping us from stepping out of this hot-mess and stepping into what God is doing, then obviously our appetite isn’t All-In for God. What I am about to suggest that we need to do is indeed frightening and daunting. But it is also exhilerating, if you think about it. We are being led by the Holy Spirit to step out of the old and into something new; IF our appetite is All-In for God!

If we lose our assests of property and banks accounts, what’s left? I’ll tell you what’s left! What’s left is the God who delivered the Hebrews out of slavery. What’s left is the God who answered Elijah’s prayer with fire! What’s left is the words of the angel to the women: “Why are you seeking the living among the dead? He’s not here! He’s going ahead of you, waiting for you!” What’s left is Peter’s message at that Feast of Pentecost: “This is what the prophet Joel was talking about! The Holy Spirit is here! He’s giving dreams to young and old. He’s giving His message to men and women!” If we should lose everything we associate with our local church to an Annual Conference (meaning property and money), folks, we still have The Kingdom of God and the Presence of The Holy Spirit within us! And to be a part of another Great Awakening, isn’t that more than enough? Don’t allow your “love” for emotional attachments, get in the way of loving God with your All! If we love God with our All, then He is going to provide for us what we need! Trust Him because He’s proven that He is ALWAYS Trustworthy. Get rid of that anxiousness and embrace God with your All!

WALK LIKE THIS!

Footprints In Sand At Sunset, Shoreline Water B1452

If you do what the Lord wants,
He will make certain
each step you take is sure.

Psalm 37 verse 23 from the Contemporary English Version

This morning I will be taking my beautiful wife Debbie to a nearby hospital for surgery on her left foot. She has some issues that causes quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Dr. DePorter will cut a couple of bones to straighten those toes and remove a couple of joins to correct a couple of hammer toes. Sounds painful, doesn’t it! But to be able to walk without pain and to enjoy her walking, it’s necessary. Oh, one other thing, this won’t be her first rodeo. Dr. Deporter did the same thing to her right foot–and it worked. So, there’s a high confidence level that how he helped her right foot will also work on her left foot.

And here’s this morning’s Kingdom Lesson: It’s safe to follow the steps of Jesus. In thinking about all the ups and downs in his life, David learned an important lesson: He will make certain each step you take is sure. But there is a qualifing condition: If you do what the Lord wants. Dr. DePorter told Debbie that her right foot healed so good and accomplished what the surgery was designed to do was because she followed his post-op instructions. And her left foot will do the same–simply by following his post-op instructions.

And though our lives may have hectic and chaotic situations, it doesn’t mean that we have to walk with a painful limp. We can rest assured and be confident that if we simply do what HE says that will make our steps sure. Dr. DePorter’s surgery worked on the right foot, so there’s high confidence that it will do the same on the left foot. And God has proved Himself to know what He is doing time after time. So, just follow in His Footsteps. The Bible let’s you know where He is going and what He is doing. After all, if He can make a stay in a tomb just temporary, there’s nothing He can’t do for you!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

DON’T BE RED! AND DON’T BE BLUE!

It is so sad, so very sad! And when I think about it I am a mixture of angry, snarky, frustrated, and just want to sit down and cry! What could make me feel like this? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Red and Blue! That’s what makes me want to slap some people–make that–MANY people on the back of the head. This once great nation is now divided along the lines of color. Not the color of their skin–but the color of their politics. I’m beginning to see the movie The Matrix more as a prophetic statement on our current times than just a movie.

This once mighty nation where people of all sorts lived together, worked together, and rallied together–this nation where people once knew we could disagree with each other but not be enemies–has deteriorated into maps that are colored by either Red or Blue. Then sections of each state are by means of an idiopathic process, are determined to be either Red or Blue. And it seems that right and wrong are determined by which pill, Red or Blue, that one chooses to swallow!

And what infuriates and saddens me the most is when those who “claim” to be Christians join in the cry to choose either Red or Blue. But then this morning I read The Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway. And my focus and perspective changed–for the better. And today, God moved whoever determines the Verse of the Day to make this the passage:

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

Philippians chapter 3, verse 20 NLT emphasis mine

See, we aren’t neither Red or Blue–our citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. Listen to me, followers of Jesus: you don’t have to act like a Red or Blue Pill! In fact, you better not act like a Red or Blue pill. There’s a better way to change our culture and lead our nation forward. It’s remembering where our citizenship and loyalty lies: with Jesus and The Kingdom. Here’s what the root word from the Greek translated here as “citizens” means:

And notice that last entry under Outline of Biblical Usage: to conduct one’s self as pledged to some law of life. This law of life isn’t in the Red or Blue pill. It’s found in our relationship with Jesus. Politics leads and ends in frustration and ultimately devastation. But as citizens of God’s Kingdom, following Jesus through thick and thin leads us to goodness, peace, and joy now (Romans chapter 14 verse 17) and ultimately it will lead us to the very throne of God! Now, don’t you think that’s better than swallowing a Red or Blue Pill?

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

It’s Like The Weather!

One day you go to the closet and get a jacket. The next day you leave the jacket in the closet. The following day you’re looking for your flip-flops. We call this “The Weather” in an Alabama typical fall week. This is one of the unique “pleasures” of living in Alabama–to experience all 4 seasons in one week. Sometimes we get to experience at least 3 seasons in one day!

The above screenshot is today’s forecast for us here in scenic Fayette County. Here, allow me to show you the rest of today’s temperatures:

Yep, 62 degrees right now. And this time tomorrow it will be 33 degrees. Some of us Alabamians keep a change of clothes in our vehicle for such a time as this. If you see a car with Alabama license plates and there are extra clothes in the backseat–we’re not homeless; we’re just prepared for today’s weather. And as I was thinking about our weather here, The Spirit put another thought in my head:

Even though our culture changes more than our weather, inside we are to be the same people–Followers Of Jesus!

Too many who bear the name of Christ, are looking for an environment that makes it easy to share their faith. Well, guess what Buttercup! Sometimes it IS easy to share our faith. But most times . . . it’s not so easy. Sure, who wouldn’t want to share their faith when it’s 78 degrees with a relative humidity of 10 percent. I find those kinds of weather days in Alabama extremely rare–even rarer are those kinds of days in real life with real people and real situations. So, what do you do?

You dress appropriately. Not just for the weather, but for life. Though the outside circumstances each day change like the weather in Alabama, we are to remain the same inside. It’s hard around here to decide how to dress for the weather many times. But it’s simple, not easy–but simple–to know how the dress for our culture and environment. Here is the ageless “fashion wear” of God:

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Colossians 3:12-17 (The Message)

If you are a serious follower of Jesus, then you know you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. The Spirit is God’s Fashion Consultant for you, and He will always provide you the perfect attire, whatever the “weather” is like outside. The Fashion Attire God provides for serious Followers of Jesus is always perfect–even if the weather changes like it does here in Sweet Home Alabama!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!