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Kingdom Politics

When will the Messiah come? Did God really say? Can God be trusted? God seems so distant. I can just imagine the thoughts of the Jewish people as they endured years of long suffering in waiting for their promised Messiah to come.

Then close to 2,000 years ago a young girl pledged to be married receives Word, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” God didn’t break open the heavens and come down in glory. God came in the hidden place from the eye. God came in the womb of a woman. Jesus shared in every part of our humanity in each stage of our life from embryo to fetus to infant to toddler to child to adolescent to adult. We read in Hebrews 2 that Jesus had to be made like Abraham’s descendants “fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Read that last part again…He did this so that He might make atonement for the sins of his people.

Wait but what about this promised King prophesied about in Isaiah who was going to rule with righteousness and justice and give peace? Wouldn’t the Messiah set up his Kingdom now? Wouldn’t He punish the wicked? The crowds gathered as their King rode on a donkey’s colt that had never been ridden, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel.”

People missed it then and I believe many are missing it now too. The crowds praised Jesus as their king had come! He had healed the sick, he had calmed the storms, he had raised the dead, and he had cast out the demonic. This must be the King who was going to make everything better for them right now! Hosanna, the King has come! You can imagine the thoughts of the people of God, our long suffering is finished. Hosanna, He is finally here. However, right after Jesus rode into Jerusalem as king he talked about his death. Crowds spoke up and asked ,”We have learned from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man.”

Oh How much higher are the thoughts of God than of man! His ways are not our ways!

The people were looking for a King to make all their circumstances better! However when Jesus given over to Pilate he told him something different, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But my kingdom is not from this world.” (John 18:36) Jesus came to first set up His Kingdom not on what is visible on the outside as people thought. He came to set up His Kingdom first in the hidden places. Jesus came to set up his Kingdom first in the heart of people.

Hang with me here and let’s take a look back in Genesis.

God gave the first man and woman he created a choice to submit to him as Lord trusting him in his rule and reign. The woman and the man doubted God’s authority and his goodness and broke the one law God had given them. God gave them this restriction in love in the garden not to harm them but to invite them into a deep trusting relationship. When the man and woman broke the law they rejected God’s rule and reign. Outside of God there can be no life and the man and woman chose to go their own way as we all have. The wages of sin is death. We can not earn our way back into God’s Kingdom. We are all born shut out with no way to get back in.

BUT God…. 2,000 years ago the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. When Jesus started his public ministry he proclaimed, “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” He was able to say this because Jesus , himself is the promised king. The king himself had come down from heaven however it wasn’t to establish his rule and reign in the earth like all had thought he had come to do at first. Jesus did not come to show people the way to live. Jesus proclaimed, “I have come that them may have life and have it to the full.” How did he do this though? The week after Jesus was praised riding into Jerusalem he willingly hung on a cross giving his life as a ransom for many all for the glory of God. Jesus paid the price for the sinner drinking the just wrath we each deserve with his blood freeing all who will seek refuge in him from the sting of death raising again on the third day. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus stands at the door of the heart and knocks. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

Jesus Christ first sets up his kingdom(his rule and reign) in the hearts of broken sinners who will repent trusting in him receiving His righteousness. It is then out of an overflow of the heart one then walks daily this side of eternity telling others about King Jesus and the life he gives!

Jesus promises trouble for the follower of him in this world but to take heart that he has overcome the world. Christ will come again to this earth and establish his kingdom in full. Next time he comes his coming will be very visible! He is coming soon and “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever! ” (Isaiah 9:7) Outside of his Kingdom Jesus warns, “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Let all who has ears hear.

I leave you with a song that has been such a gift to me in good times and in hard over these last 5 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6_BLuhr0HQ I invite you to listen to it and really meditate on the words.

May Jesus be the King of your heart and then out of the overflow of your heart may you spread the aroma of him wherever you go for his glory and renown in all the earth.

You are loved.

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Hope

It’s 2:16 a.m. as I sit down to write. I shared a post on facebook tonight and I cannot sleep as I ask the Lord to examine my heart and here is what is burning in my soul.

Derick Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd is nothing but evil. Countless black lives murdered over the centuries due to racism is nothing but evil. Police officers getting shot  is pure evil. As I look to the Lord asking him to examine my heart this is what I see. Against the Lord alone have I sinned and done evil in His sight. Before the Lord I am just as evil. When I look at the Lord I feel like the apostle Paul who called himself the worst of sinners. My selfishness, my pride, my bitterness, my control all of these things are pure evil in the Lords sight. I am nothing but a wretch of a sinner. However, God in the depths of his love has poured out his mercy on me and his new everyday.

You see 9 years ago Jesus came to me when for the first time I saw the wickedness of my sin before God who alone is holy.  I had an Isaiah 6 moment. I saw I deserved God’s full wrath for all eternity for the evil I had done in his sight. All of my sin had been against the Lord and He was good to give me his just wrath for all eternity for the evil I had committed in his sight. BUT then like I said at the start of this paragraph Jesus had come to me. Jesus opened my eyes to see a glimpse of his radiant glory and He was telling me to come to him. His heart was full of compassion as well as the heart of the Father who had sent his only Son to make a way for me to be cleansed from all my unrighteousness in the sight of the Lord. It was Gods mercy and kindness that led me to repentance and I trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior for the first time. Jesus offered and gave me his righteousness for the justification of my sin.

Galations 2:20 has become my life verse. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I fall short daily but God’s grace is greater still. I grieve my sin I still commit. I grieve the loss of so many black people over the centuries due to racism. I grieve my ignorance for so long. I grieve friends and family divided and attacking each other. I grieve for wives of police officers now. I grieve for our nation. I grieve for the billions of loved ones who have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. I grieve.

Even though I grieve I have hope. My hope is nothing this world can offer. My hope is in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is my treasure. I have this treasure in a jar of clay and I pray I can share this hope that is from God and not myself(2 Corinthians 4:7 paraphrased). I pray His people can bring glory to His name in proclaiming the mysteries of the gospel in all the earth acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Lane

 

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Breath

Words. Are there any adequate right now? There’s really not.

The only word adequate is the Word of God himself who is Christ the Lord. It’s him alone I hope you see if you chose to read further.

Take a good deep breath before you continue to read further.

Did you enjoy your breath?

Breath. This was something that George Floyd cried out for as a knee was held to his neck. “I can’t breathe” he cried as the demonic roots of racism had him by the neck.

Breath. David Dorn, a retired police captain, took his last breath as he was shot to his death by people looting in St. Louis as many fill the streets with sin.

Breath. 376,000 people world wide no longer have breath in their lungs and blood pumping through their heart due to COVID-19.

Breath. 28 people lost their breath to the smoke and flames of the fires that swept the continent of Australia earlier this year.

Breath. The world stood still in silent shock as news spread that Kobe Bryant, America’s basketball star, along with his daughter and seven other people took their last breath as a helicopter crashed on a foggy California day.

What is becoming clearer and clearer in this year of perfect vision, 2020,  is our days are limited and our breath can stop suddenly.  Although we have breath in our lungs the heaviness of the breath of this broken, cursed world is overwhelming.

BUT There is good news Loved one and I pray Jesus gives you breath.

Let’s take a look back at the very first breath given.

In Genesis 2 we read “The Lord formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” Man became a living being when God filled him with his breath. This is good news. God did not make a robot. In love God made a living being that has a soul that can taste, see and choose. God made man to live!

 However, we don’t have to read very much further to find in Genesis 3 the reality of the curse of death we are in today all around us. Oh how heavy is the breath of the curse! We are breathing the effects of it all around us. The breaths of the living cry out for justice, righteousness and peace. It is overwhelming but read on there is hope.

When God spoke to the first man He gave him one restriction, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Any parent reading this knows that we give our children restrictions of love and protection. God gave this to protect the man! However, the moment the first man and woman turned away from God in wickedness their bodies became broken along with everything in the world and the curse would now follow them for all generations to us now. “For dust you are and dust you will return.”

Let’s  look back again at Genesis 2. It was only when God touched the dust with his breath that man became a living being and in Genesis 3 we see the curse promises that man will return to dust. Man would no longer have breath. All people will now return lifeless to the dust. For man to have life again God would have to breathe life somehow into man again.

In John 3 we read a conversation Jesus had with a man named Nicodemus about this very thing. Jesus says “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Nicodemus questions Jesus in how this could be, “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answers him,  “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirt gives birth to spirt. You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again.”

Still how could this even happen?

The only answer would be for God to breathe life again having mercy and that is just what we read God offers. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” The Son breathes life to those who will take refuge in him. “Kiss his Son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm:12). Can you hear the good news? Can you see Jesus? We are all conceived dead in sin here. We are born gasping for life. We are all born gasping for Jesus.  Oh how man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God! Jesus is the Word that gives us life! Jesus once said to a woman named Martha who was grieving the death of her brother, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”(John 11:25-26).

Oh friends. The mysteries of the gospel of Jesus Christ are too great to fathom!

The very one who breathed into the first mans nostrils came down to his cursed creation and took the curse upon himself. However, his blood couldn’t be held by the curse as He never sinned as the first Adam did.  Jesus stands at the door of the heart of the dead and offers his righteousness. He offers life and he will not turn any away who come to him. It is with our mouth we confess and with our heart we believe Jesus is Lord. We breathe out me and receive Christ. Jesus becomes your very life.

I’ll end with this scripture from Ezekiel (emphasis mine). Let God breathe into your soul.

“The hand of the Lord was on me and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’ The he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them ‘Dry bones , hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones. I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

Let Jesus give you breath. Let Jesus give you life. Then go breathe life into the hurting, broken image bearers of God all around you that they may get a taste of the only One who can give them life and hope and turn to Him.

 

 

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Talking with a child about the Coronavirus

Our children are watching and by now the coronavirus is in most of their vocabularies.

My three year old and three year old niece were having their not so typical conversation the other day. At first they were fighting over sharing Pringles which was typical.  Then my son told my niece she had to share because we couldn’t go to the store to get him more because they would catch the coronavirus. Even at three this virus has entered his world.

My six year old was excited like I’ve never seen him before about playing his first soccer game of the season last weekend which of course ended up being cancelled.  Later conversations were about our church gathering being cancelled, his Bible study and his school. He’s been asking me some good, thought provoking questions. Today we sat down and just talked about how he was doing with all this.

I’m sure anyone reading this that has a child of school age has faced similar things.

So what can we tell our children?  Now my 3 year old is on a whole different level of thinking than my almost 7 year old but what they both needed to hear was the Gospel.

Mama reading its what you need to hear too.

We can tell our children:

  1. God is good.
  2. We live in a broken world where diseases like this coronavirus happen and other sad things.
  3. There was a time when this wasn’t the case because the first two people God created lived in a beautiful garden and enjoyed Gods creation and spending time with God.
  4. BUT this didn’t last. The people looked for goodness and joy in other places outside of God and turned away from him. This we know is called sin and sin separates us from God. This is why we see hard, sad things in our world. We all like the first two people have run away from God looking for joy in other things. On our own we could never run back to God because our sin.
  5. However, God ran to us!!!! God came down to the earth not because we are good but because he is. Jesus came to seek and save the lost!!! We are all lost and Jesus came to save us! Jesus died on a cross taking the punishment that we all deserve but because he never sinned He rose from the dead.
  6. Jesus is alive today and he is coming back to earth one day and is making all the bad things go away. There will be no more sad things or people getting sick. All the people who love Jesus will be with Him forever. People from every nation who love Jesus will be filled with Joy forever!

Friends its not a script we tell our children and each other. It’s the truth and truth is a person. Jesus says He is the way, the truth and the life! It’s ok when you can’t answer all your children’s questions. I can’t answer some of the ones that come out of my boys mouths but we can always point them to the TRUTH, who is Christ the Lord. You can lean hard on him during this time.

Since many are home looking for things to do with your little ones here are some amazing Easter resources and activities that you may enjoy doing together. https://www.risenmotherhood.com/easter

Grace and Peace in Christ,

Lane

 

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Jesus and the Coronavirus Part 2

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing you can make me clean. Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing he said, “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”~Mark 1:40

A couple of days ago I wrote a post you can read here regarding the coronavirus. I would first read that post before you continue.

The last post looked at verse 41 and with this one let’s take a deeper look at verse 40. “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” I love how beautiful and active God’s Word is. A couple of days ago I was so amazed at verse 41 that I read right over verse 40.

I think about this man who was suffering with leprosy. Unlike many diseases leprosy is one you can’t really hide because of the lumps and spots all over the skin and so his physical sickness was visible for all to see.  I’m amazed by this mans boldness in coming to Jesus. “He came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” This man was desperate for help. He knew he couldn’t make himself clean that he went so far as to get on his knees and beg Jesus.

I was just in this scripture with friends in my neighborhood and one friend pointed out the statement he said to Jesus, “If you are willing YOU CAN make me clean.” I think about the bold faith of this man who was an outcast. He came to Jesus in his sickness acknowledging he wasn’t clean knowing Jesus was the one he needed. The man probably was not expecting what Jesus did next in actually reaching out in compassion and physically touching him, a man with leprosy who no one would be near.

The picture of the man with the leprosy is really a picture of all of our hearts. Isaiah 64:6 reads, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Read that again. We are all unclean. There is nothing the government can do to help. There is no doctor who can help or vaccine around the corner that will help. There is no good deed we can do for all our righteous acts are like filthy rags as we are all stained with sin. Sin works its ugly way way into every thing we do as we are stained by it.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS.

There is one who is willing. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has come. Though our sins are like scarlet he washes the one who turns to him as white as snow.  Just like this man with leprosy we have to see that we ourselves are on the outside and our souls are sick. Isaiah 59:2 reads “Your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden his face from you.”  We see Jesus did not turn the man away in his sickness he did the unthinkable he reached out and touched him with compassion. That is the same that he does for the sinner that repents and comes to him. Jesus provides purification for all sins. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. It’s this kindess of God that leads us to repentance.

So what is to be our response? In Luke 17 we read an account of where Jesus healed 10 people with leprosy. However, only one of them returned to him praising him with thanksgiving. We see here this is the only right response. It’s a response of thanksgiving and praise for all of our days for all eternity to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings who with his blood reconciled a people from every tribe and language and people and nation.

May God use CVOID-19 to open the hearts of many nations that hope can not be found in wealth, health, government, our works etc. Hope is available though. Hope is not a thing you do but a person you come too. He has a name, Jesus Christ and He is willing to cleanse the soul of the one who calls upon his name.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands , you sinners and purify your hearts, you double minded.” James 4:8

 

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Jesus and the Coronavirus

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be Clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-42

Along with many of you, Matt and I  keep watching news updates on the coronavirus. Currently if people have even been near where the coronavirus is they are asked to self quarantine. Healthcare workers have to dress head to toe in infectious disease gear. People are fearful about this disease. People are hurting. People are dying.

As I see videos and images of healthcare workers with their isolation gear on and patients being isolated I keep thinking about the above scripture where Jesus had an encounter with a man with leprosy. In particular I keep thinking about verse 41. “Jesus was indignant. He reached out and touched the man.” Jesus being full of compassion for this man did the UNTHINKABLE. He reached out and touched the man. The man was in isolation and sick.

Here we see a glimpse at so much about Jesus. Jesus has authority over every cell in our body. Jesus has compassion for the sick. Jesus meets the heart needs. Imagine a man who society outcasts and isolates and Jesus reaches out and touches him. Imagine the greater heart need of loneliness that Jesus met here!

Let me flip this now. Imagine someone willingly reaching out and touching someone with the coronavirus and doing so while not wearing protective medical gear and then not running and washing their hands afterwards. No, one would do such a thing willingly. We know that we may indeed catch the virus ourself and spread it to others if we were to do that.  I am all about the hand sanitizer and elbow bumps right now! People wash your hands!

Stay with me. Let’s take this further. Imagine someone not just touching someone with the coronavirus, imagine someone actually stepping in and touching death for someone else in their place. This someone has a name and His name is Jesus. Jesus, the eternal Son of God who has always existed with the Father in glory, came down to His creation and put on skin becoming fully man so he could touch death for all. He walked in skin going through everything that you and I do. His body was subject to weakness just like our bodies are in every way. He was tempted by the enemy in every way that you and I are but Jesus was without any sin. Let these words from Hebrews chapter 2 sink in.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

Here we see Jesus had to touch our human nature so he could die to make atonement for sin for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus did the unthinkable.

Currently the death rate they are saying for those with the coronavirus is somewhere around 3%. There are many unknowns about this disease still so they aren’t sure yet what it really is and it has us all in a panic! However, there is a death rate that we do know the percentage rate of and that is the death rate of being a human being. It is at 100% right now. We all know that there is nothing that we can do to outrun death. We can try but  at some point death takes us all.

BUT. THERE IS HOPE. HIS NAME IS JESUS. Jesus put on a body sharing in our humanity so he could touch death and He defeated it. Death has been swallowed up in victory and has no sting. This Easter season and everyday look to Jesus Christ the Risen Lord and King.  Jesus came for the sick sinner and has made the way for all to be healed from every tribe, nation, and tongue.  For one to be healed though they have to hear about the cure to death and turn to Him for help!

I’ll end with the words of Jesus:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 

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Legacy

Kobe Bryant’s death is stopping many in their tracks. As an old gym rat who grew up watching Kobe play against my beloved Utah Jazz my first response like many was one of disbelief. My husband and I have watched with tears countless testimonies from many of the impact Kobe had on their life. NBA teams started games this past week by taking 24 second clock violations to honor number 24, moments of silence in so many gatherings, crowds gathered chanting Kobe outside the arena where he played for 20 years, and LAX and Madison Square Garden  lit up the sky with purple and gold.

The University of Alabama has a slogan that says, “Where legends never die.” However, it struck me the title of one of the specials that aired the night of Kobe’s death titled,”The death of a legend.” You see legends do die and this past week we were all reminded of this. Kobe made an impact for the ages on the game of basketball and was just in the start it seemed of pouring into the lives of many young athletes. It hurts for many that a man so full of life is gone. In this world we walk through grief as ones we love die. We see in our grief that we long to live for eternity and to live for eternity with all those we love. In our grief you see how broken things are. We see the curse and sting of death that  was promised by God in Genesis for the price of disobedience.

Kobe lived the picture of a successful life winning the hearts of so many. However, in 2000 years will it matter? In 2000 years will anyone remember? Probably not. It all seems so meaningless if we are to just live well and love well and then all die. We see Solomon write about this in Ecclesiastes. Solomon had all the worldly wealth and was so wise that kings from across the lands came to see about him. However, he writes that truly all the worldly success is all meaningless in the end! What is the point if we are all just going to die? If that’s the case alone we might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

Often we hear people say something along the lines of they are seeking to find their true selves. My answer is I hope you do, because when you really find why you exist you see it’s not about you at all. Human beings are not just some random bunch of cells that came together out of nothing. Our mind, will, and emotions prove this.  We were made with purpose. Our very DNA when looked at under a microscope is in the shape of the cross pointing to the one our souls long for. We were made by the One true Living God in whom we live and move and find our being.  “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:5-10

After getting over the initial news that Kobe had died in a helicopter crash my next question was did Kobe follow Jesus? I rushed to the internet trying to find this out. Truly this is all that matters. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their souls,” Mark 8:26.

Dreams and legacies end but Christ remains. We can live to make a name for ourselves and our own kin or live to make known the name above all names, Jesus Christ whom every person in each tribe, nation and tongue will give an account and bow down too. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven give to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

In love,

Lane

 

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Ask the Right Questions

I believe good question asking is a gift. I have several friends that model this so beautifully to me. A good question does not bring ones own bias to the table but really seeks to understand. A good question doesn’t bring the answer to the table but in humility listens. However, so often we can have a tendency to bring our own answers to questions. We ask not really seeking to know the true answer but wanting to hear an answer that we think is best.

I tell people often that asking questions about God is a very good thing. My story of coming to Christ actually started with a simple question about God. For the very first time I read my Bible seeking to know truth not bringing my own understanding or answer to God but asking Him to show me and in His mercy the Lord let me see the answer I was looking for…Jesus. We must not bring our own answers to the table when we are seeking to know the Lord. His ways are not our ways. Oh how much greater are his thoughts than ours! There is no one like the Lord.

An example of a question I hear people ask about God often is “How could a loving God send people to hell?” It’s a very common question and one you may have yourself. Often this question can be asked with people bringing their own biased thinking to the table that it is not right and good for God to send people to an eternity of hell. Asked in this way this is not a good question because one is bringing their own answer to the table thinking it can’t be right and good for God to do this.  Do you see how one can bring their own opinion here?

I would suggest change the “How” to a “Who” in this question to really asking who is this loving God that must punish sin. Once you see the WHO in this question the question about the how becomes perfectly clear.

In Isaiah 6 we see Isaiah saw a glimpse at the holiness of the Lord and his response was “Woe to me!! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips.” Isaiah did not have to ask God why would you send sinners to hell. He understood!!! He realized this is all he was worthy of, all that he deserved. You see when you see the WHO in the question it all makes sense that God is perfect in justice to pour out his wrath.

But praise the Lord he does not give us what we deserve!! Instead of condemnation he gives life for all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus. In Christ, God gives us the invitation to come into his very presence and dwell in his house for all eternity. When you see the WHO in the question you see that you deserve the very fire of God’s wrath for all eternity. BUT you also see His mercy that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”   (2 Corinthians 2:21). Our own righteousness is like filthy rags before a Holy God but all who turn to Christ are dressed in His righteousness! The sinner can now come before a holy God as they’ve been washed white as snow in the blood of Jesus.

Wherever you are today and whatever questions you have turn to the Lord and ask him and you will hear Him on the pages of your Bible. BUT ask him a good question not bringing your own bias and understanding. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Seek the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and you will find him(Deuteronomy 4:29). Ask, seek, and knock. “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthews 7:8)

In Christ,

Lane

 

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Favorite Books

If you know me well you know it is no secret that I LOVE to read, but I haven’t always been this way.  I remember attending a large Bible Study while in graduate school and hearing the teaching leader talk about how a perfect Friday night for him was spent in God’s Word. This was so foreign to me at the time. I couldn’t understand yet for I hadn’t tasted and seen the beauty of God’s Word. It was because I didn’t yet know the Word himself, who came down from Heaven full of grace and truth and tabernacled among us.

When God in his mercy opened by blind, broken eyes so I could see him it was the written Word of God I couldn’t get out of. It was through the written Word of God the Holy Spirit watered my soul exalting the Living Word, Christ himself. The Bible became alive to me because it is the very word of the Living God who does not change like shifting shadows. You see Jesus is not just a red-lettered Christian, He is the very Word of God who all the scriptures are about and point too. He fulfilled each prophecy foretold and all the promises of God that will be fulfilled find their yes and amen in Christ. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”(Hebrews 1:3). The Word himself has dwelt among us and we have seen his glory!

So I understand now why a Friday night in the scriptures is the perfect night because its time spent with the Lord himself as the Spirt of God teaches you and waters your Soul as you look upon the One whom you were predestined to know and enjoy.

So my number one favorite book is the Bible. I encourage you draw near to God being honest with Him seeking Him in His Word. Read the scriptures as a child leaving your own understanding behind and let the Holy Spirt pierce your heart. You must come reading as a child, not blindly with the baggage of your own understanding but fully trusting and let the Lord wash over you with his goodness piercing your heart with the double edge sword of His Word. A recent testimony of a friend coming to Christ was that she finally started reading the Bible for what it is not bringing to the table what she thought she knew about God. She simply let God himself teach her through the scriptures but she had to lay aside her false previous understanding of Him.

If you are a skeptic about the full authority of the scriptures I just encourage you to start reading it. I mean really read it. Camp in it and just see for yourself. You may just be surprised what you discover. If you are a local woman wanting to study with a group of women this summer I’m going to be walking through 1 Peter with a group if you want to join in please reach out.

Below are also some of the top books the Lord has used in sharpening me and by that I mean pointing me to the scripture in peeling away idols and wrong teachings I had believed growing up about God. You won’t find many of these in bookstores…the real good stuff almost never is:)

  1.  The Heavenly Man
  2. The Pleasures of God by John Piper
  3. The Crucified Life by AW Tozer
  4. The Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer
  5. Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
  6. Jesus the King by Tim Keller
  7. The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot
  8. I believe this is an important one for the believer to read in this time Counter Culture by David Platt
  9. Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson
  10. Future Grace by John Piper

Ok I’ll stop at ten. Wait no… just because these are three really great ones that are easy but convicting reads that will help you grow as a disciple: Radical by David Platt, Follow Me by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

I’m tempted now to name authors to stay away from but I won’t here…but if you are curious just ask:)) The scriptures speak of the number of false teachers that are to come and how many women will be gullible to their teachings always learning but never really seeing. Oh friend, test every book and article in scripture. Ask the Lord to give you discernment to recognize the lies of the enemy. Satan often tries to disguise himself in light but the way for his lies to be exposed are always on the pages of your Bible. You will not recognize his lies if you aren’t in the scriptures yourself consistently.

Now “I keep asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” ~Ephesians 1:17-22

Happy Reading! May you grow in your love for Jesus more and more and handle His Word faithfully with obedient care.

~Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christ changes everything

A woman in my small group last night asked me for advice in how to approach a friend that was going to false doctrines that many are going to today. These doctrines are infiltrating the minds of the masses and have a whole lot of self and a little bit of Jesus. These are the doctrines that are so caught up in the love of God that they never look at the holiness of God. Really though these attributes of God cannot be divided for God cannot divide himself.  Jackie Hill Perry says it perfectly in a recent tweet, “The World “loves” the love of God and I do too. But what the World doesn’t want to sing, the angels will. “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” It’s the Holiness of God that makes His love, love.” We cannot separate the love of God from the holiness of God.

Oh friends it is a dangerous down hill slope to the gates of Hell when man makes up a God of his own understanding using parts of scripture. We find ourselves in an American culture of people calling themselves Christian asking, “How could a loving God send people to hell?” or saying “Love is love” or “You do you.” I find the answer to the problem behind these statements is there is a lack of people being stunned by the holiness of God. A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The holiness and glory of God us mortals cannot even begin to grasp. God dwells in inapproachable light…. God is that glorious. Think about that. For there is no one like the Lord God Almighty. By his Word He made the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. Our very DNA the shape of a cross points to the work of His hands.

Isaiah got a glimpse of God in his splendored glory and his response was “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5).  Isaiah understood what many are blind too. He understood that God is perfect in glory making each of us deserving of his full wrath for turning away from him and seeking our own glory(sin). Isaiah also understood God is good and just to pour out his full wrath not giving any excuse before him. All he could say is Woe to me!!  For we have all fallen short of the glory of God. There is no one good not one. The only way to draw near to God is in his glory alone.  Glory came down from heaven and wrapped himself in flesh. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus bore in His body the just judgment for the sins of man against a Holy God and has made the way for the enemies of God to approach Gods throne in confidence wrapping us in His righteousness that is received through faith.

So what is faith then? If we receive Christ’s righteousness through faith I think it’s important to understand what is this faith that one must have in order to be saved? Let’s look at the scriptures to see what God says this faith is. First this faith is not earned it’s a gift from God; it is not by works so no one will boast(Ephesians 2). Saving faith is evidenced by repentance and fruit bearing, a turning from sin and turning to and abiding in Christ. James was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action is dead.” He goes on to write, “You believe in one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” Faith is evidenced by surrender to Christ and His way. Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”(Mark 8:34). This faith is the proof in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the FULL assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

So in closing here is a brief response to the question and false statements I started this post with…

How can a loving God send people to Hell?  Ahhh because it’s his holiness that makes his love, love. He is set apart and perfect in glory and cannot be approached in anyway except in his glory alone, Christ the Son. We have all chosen to go astray turning away in sin not worshipping him in perfect glory and the only way to draw near is through faith in Christ who is the glory of God who drank the judgment we each deserve.

Love is love…. Love is defined by God and personified in the face of Christ, who gave up all rights, submitting himself to death even on a cross. Jesus cried out before he went to the cross to his Father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Love does not look to fulfill its own desires but to magnify God.

You be you….”As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-15). This side of eternity God is continually sanctifying the believer into the likeness of Christ and renewing our minds day by day through the power of His Word. He calls us to live holy lives as he is holy.

 

All for Christ,

Lane