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Love is greater than moral conscience

This post may seem out of character for me.  There are items in the news which I see differently from some of my conservative and Christian counterparts.  Usually I abstain from sharing my feelings on social or public media because, honestly, doing so rarely changes anything.  And that might be the case now, too, but I cannot keep silent this time.

In increasing numbers, Christian behaviour is at the forefront in the media, and to put it mildly, it is not perceived as loving. I am deeply grieved by how the “moral conscience” of some are driving people away from Christ, rather than drawing them near.

Christians—your actions are speaking louder than Jesus’ words.  How can those outside of Christ know his love if we refuse to serve them, stubbornly judge, or by our deeds, reject them?

Jesus called us to LOVE, His message was LOVE, and His ministry was and ever is LOVE.  I’m not going all new-age on you here. It’s just what Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:45-47

Christians are called to live above the law, not be excused by it Jesus said the answer to the law is fulfilled in this:

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

The apostle Paul called love, “the more excellent way.”

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He went on to say,

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  1 Cor. 13:1-2

In a similar vein, the apostle James said we can talk about our faith until we’re blue in the face (well, not in those words), but if we don’t display loving actions, our faith will be empty, and our message, void:

“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 3:15-17

Dear Christians, our faith is not expressed through anchoring our behaviours onto our “moral conscience”; rather, it is to be set into motion through loving deeds, untiring grace, relentless mercy, kindness, compassion, and, above all, humility!  Remember:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

This leaves no room for pride, arrogance, or judgement. We need to humbly learn from our Lord who said that true greatness in God’s kingdom, is being a servant to all.

In the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, two pious men walked past a man beat up by robbers.  A third man stopped and helped him in his need, a helper from a rejected culture, and someone that, under normal conditions, would never be regarded as a friend.  How does the story go??

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Through love and mercy, we reflect God’s character, the very light and life of Christ:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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.” Matthew 5:14-16

That’s something legalism, rejection, and judgement can never do.

Believers, humbly live above the law, by going out of your way to show EVERYONE the same mercy, grace, and love that you have received.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  I John 4:9-11

Check out these two articles with similar sentiments, only better expressed:

Don’t Be Defined by What You’re Against

Bake for them Two

Retweeting Easter’s Message

If the church would put the same intensity, prayer, outreach & vision they do into Easter Sunday every week, what a force it would be.

~ Jon Tyson  Pastor, Trinity Grace Church, NY

Facebook, Twitter, and the internet was saturated with the Gospel message yesterday!!   God’s Word was being proclaimed across every conceivable pathway or route.  Shouts of

HE IS RISEN!

were rolling out non-stop, crossing boundaries and perhaps, firewalls, bringing the good news of the resurrection and redemption into dark nations and hearts.

Below reflects a two-hour window from “friends” and “followers”, covering everything from personal Easter greeetings and wishes, to Scriptures, hymns, and weighty quotes:

Tweets and Stats:

So thankful that He is Risen!

Easter Sunday the day that Jesus rose from the dead, looked Satan in the eyes and said, “Game over!”

Beyond the shadow of a doubt..

My king, has risen!

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen indeed!

“Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!” – St. Chrysostom

Death swallowed Christ and Christ destroyed it from the inside out.

There is NOTHING foolish about The Cross, or what happened on The Cross

Oh the depth of His love – that He would send His only Son to pay the penalty for the sins of you and me!

Lives again our glorious King, Where O death is now thy sting? Dying once He all doth save, Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Creator. Healer. Beginning and End. Prince of Peace. Living Water. Lamb of God. Wonderful. Counselor. Rock and Salvation. Redeemer. Friend. Holy One. Comforter. Defender. Word of Life. Faithful and True.

Jesus. He is Risen.

Empty Tomb! He is risen…happy Easter everyone.

Let no one caught in sin remain inside the lie of inward shame! Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death! Come awake! Come awake! Come and rise up from the grave!

Forgiveness was provided because of the cross by a loving God who never had to compromise spiritually, go corrupt, blind, or lower His stand.

Easter is not the “happy ending” after Jesus’ death. It is the happy beginning of God’s new creation!

Christ the Lord is Risen — today and eternally. May Christ’s church resound with this message this Lord’s Day,

Christ is risen! “He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide. He’s alive!” – Don Francisco

Ok kids, brace yourself…There’s NO such thing as an Easter bunny (same thing goes for Santa)…I just thought you should know…:) – HAPPY EASTER ALL…HE IS RISEN…

He is Risen! Living he loves us, dying he saved us, rising he justified our salvation! Happy Easter! Give glory to GOD……..not the bunny! The bunny does nothing except poop in my yard!

Scriptures and Quotes:

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.” – G.K. Chesterton

But sometime before dawn on a Sunday morning, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened. The breath of God came blowing into that cave, and a new creation flashed into reality…. Russel D. Moore, author.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:14-19 NKJV

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. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:10 ESV

Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back. -1 Corinthians 15:23

They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. -Hebrews 11:35

Jesus was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness. Rom 1:4

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!” Mark 16:4-6

Tunes and Lyrics:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future
… And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again
Woke up singing:
Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah’s sole defender
Has won the victory

“Lord You know just how far the east is from the west
I don’t have to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other”

Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me

Living He loved me! Dying He saved me! Buried He carried my sins far away! Rising He justified freely forever! One day He’s coming! Oh Glorious Day! Oh Glorious Day!

~~And YouTube vids of Natalie Grant, Matt Maher, Hillsong, and Casting Crowns!

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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. 

Matthew 5:16

~~~

Let your light shine Believers! Not just on Easter, but Everyday!  Keep your lamps lit, watch and pray,

and let your very

LIFE,

not just your internet status,

share the Light and Aroma of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Home is a Person

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Cor. 15:9

Home is a confusing word for me.

I grew up in Denver, Colorado, but moved away when I was 20.  My husband and I both served in the US Navy a total of 30 years, living in at least 18 different homes, on and off base, around the world, and back again.  The only house we ever owned, and that, only recently, is on a little plot in the Appalachian Mountains.  Our three daughters and their families live in as many places on the East Coast. My mom’s in Arizona, and my husband’s family is scattered here and there, including the town where we live.  And, our hearts are deeply knit with friends and fellowship in Ottawa, Ontario.

Each place was/is like home to me!?

Yes.  Upbringing, family, work, life, property, and fellowship; each set the stage for all that home means and feels. 

And no.  Each place leaves me with a sense of wanting.  Isn’t there something more? I feel like that little bird in the Dr. Seuss book who goes around to every living creature asking, “Are you my mother?” Is this my home? Where do I belong? 

Through this search, I’m discovering that home is not so much a place, as it is a Person.  God is my Home.  He is my refuge and shelter, upheld by His arms, carried on His shoulders, healed by His stripes.  He is the only lasting home I have.

I refer to Spurgeon’s devotional quite often in my posts, but that’s because he speaks to me in so many areas of my life.  And to this need for home, belonging and attachment, he speaks clearly:

“You have made the Lord your dwelling place, the Most High, who is my refuge.”  Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change.  Wherever the pillar of cloud stopped, the tents were pitched; but the next day the morning sun arose, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow mountain passes, up the hillsides, or along the arid wastes of the wilderness. [Sound familiar?]

They never stayed for long in one place.  Even wells and palm trees could not detain them.  They had an abiding home in their God; His cloudy pillar was their roof, and its flame by night their fireplace.  They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle or to say, “now we are secure; we will stay in this place.” [I’ve said that!]

Instead, Moses says, “Though we are always changing, Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.”  Psalm 90:1

The Christian know no change with regard to God.  He may be rich today and poor tomorrow; he may be sick today and well tomorrow; he may be happy today and sad tomorrow–but there’s no change regarding his relationship to God.  If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today.  My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.  Even when prospects are few and hopes are squashed and joy is waning, I have lost nothing of what I have in God.

He is my refuge to which I continually return.  I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God.  In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet dwelling place.”

 

Teach me Lord, to find my rest in you, to be at home anywhere, and everywhere, because You are there.

You are my Home…now, and forever!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Once upon a time, two missionary brothers, John and Charles Wesley, were introduced to worship by a few German Moravian Christians while crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  The Wesley brothers were impressed with the hymn singing of the Moravians, even while sailing through fierce Atlantic storms.  They realized that hymn singing could be an uplifting, spiritual experience.

Fast forward a few years…Charles Wesley’s hymns was first published in 1739, and brother John followed suit with his own hymnal, which he prefaced with this directive:

Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

 Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. [1]

Today’s Christmas carol shares the gospel of grace and calls for hearty singing with good courage!  Let us focus today on Jesus, the newborn King, Prince of Peace, our everlasting Lord, and Son of Righteousness, bringing Light, Life, and healing to us all!! And we will live happily ever after!

 

Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing!
          
 by Charles Wesley

 Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
 
 Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
 
 
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
 

 

I uploaded two versions of this song in the music box.  Chris Tomlin’s rendition is from his Christmas CD,  Glory in the Highest.  And I had to include a personal favourite, sung by Johnny Cash.

[1]  from John Wesley’s Select Hymns, 1761

a few honest questions

But avoid foolish questions, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.”  Titus 3:9

“What do you think about Calvinism? Don’t you think the Bible is confusing on the issue of election and calling?”  The young man asking me those questions had just been released from jail and was close to being sent back due to allegations of domestic abuse.  Though he sincerely loved studying God’s Word, his questions were a bit off-the-mark considering his tenuous circumstances.  I thought more appropriate ones might be, “What can I learn from this situation?” or, perhaps, “How can I repair the damage I’ve done?”

His questions weren’t wrong,  just not honest.  Often we ask contentious or frivolous questions as a tactic to avoid being honest, either with others, or ourselves.  Charles Spurgeon suggests a few questions that will help us be honest with ourselves:

Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind?

Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit?

Am I growing in grace?

Does my conversation (attitudes/lifestyle) reflect the love of God my Saviour?

Am I looking for the coming of the Lord and watching as a servant who expects his master should?

What more can I do for Jesus?

And here’s a few of my own:

“How can I glorify the Lord in my life/situation?

“How can I bear another’s burden? 

“How can I love my neighbor and be a reflection of Jesus to them?”

What questions are you asking?

Let’s pray together, that we may set aside obscure, frivolous, contentious, or ‘foolish’ questions, and seek to ask the honest ones–ones that will lead us deeper into God’s Word, draw us closer to Christ, foster peace with others, and bring glory to Him.

Story of a Song

“For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods!” Psalm 97:9

I EXALT THEE!

Every song has a story, even thousands of stories.  The obvious story is what’s being said through the lyrics.  Then there’s what the writer felt but, perhaps, never verbalized through the words of the song.  And then, there’s a story for each and every listener of the song–the pain or joy they equate with it, or where they first heard it, what they were doing, who they were with, etc. 

We have a story for “I Exalt Thee” which, as Spurgeon says, ‘shows that the goodness of God has been the same to us as the saints of old.”

Flashback:  1977.  Okinawa, Japan.  I was pregnant with our first daughter (Joy).  In the decades before  Amazon.com, UPS, FedEx and other express-mailing days, it was so exciting to get packages overseas.  Every month we ordered a record album through an old-school Columbia House membership.  When Pete Sanchez’s album arrived, it didn’t take long to realize what a treasure we had received!!  All the songs were so worshipful!  John loved them so much that he made a cassette copy for us to use at a home Bible Study that we attended.   Sitting in the small living room of our friends’ military apartment, our feeble voices joined with Sanchez’s to exalt the Lord above all other gods!

Flash a bit forward:  1989-1994.  A time when we were far away from the Lord.  During that time, we’d occasionally find ourselves in church with family, or *accidentally* listening to Christian radio, and “I Exalt Thee” would be sung or played.  I would weep, realizing how far away we were from that humble worship time in Okinawa–how far our hearts were from exalting our Lord above all gods.  How far we had fallen. 

Present:  The video above—singing” I Exalt Thee” with His church and precious believers in Ottawa.   After sixteen long years of God’s wounding and healing, tearing down and building up, rescuing, restoring, and reconciliation, we sang as if we were back in Okinawa.  That could only be the Lord’s doing.

And that is our story of “I Exalt Thee.”  That God is faithful.  He sees beginning to end.  In 1977, when we poured our hearts to Him in worship, He knew there’d be days ahead when we would fall away for a time, just as He knew Peter would deny Him three times.  And what did Jesus say?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus didn’t let go.  Jesus didn’t quit on us when we quit on Him.  That’s our story–His faithfulness!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

 

PS.  You can read more about our church service on Saturday nites at  SaulGood  and Andy’s blog, HERE.

God of this City – The Church

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14

God is God of the Church.  I’ve written earlier, here, about how much the Lord love His bride, His church, His city on this earth.   But the Lord’s love is not blind.  He sees our humanity, arrogance, love of the world and lack of brotherly love.  And then…He sees Jesus.  He sees His church washed in the blood of the Lamb, clothed in white garments..redeemed.  He cherishes the church and like a happy, anxious groom, is breathless with anticipation to see His bride walk down the aisle towards Him.

Is this the church we see?  Or, like the world, are our eyes so clouded by all the faults and glaring flaws, that our relationship with Jesus is hindered?  

God is still God of this City, the Church.  With all her present problems, the Lord still knows what He is doing.  He is completing a work which began before time, a work of great diligence, requiring perfect patience and grace. 

When you look at your own local church, ask the Lord for new eyes, to see as He sees. To see through eyes of patient grace.  And love.  Ask to see what Jesus saw, when He became sin for us, so that we, the Church, might become the righteousness of God.

He is still God of this City.

“For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City.”

Below are a few links of things the Lord is doing in our local church/city.  Let us pray for our local churches, that they will be cities on a hill, and His light in the surrounding darkness.  And, now and then, may the Lord grant us a glimpse of that glorious wedding day to come as we worship Him!   I can’t wait!!

http://andyfalleur.typepad.com/go_for_a_coffee/2010/09/satur.html

http://jonjuane.blogspot.com/2010/09/my-church-is-growing.html 

http://saulgood.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/jericho-road/