Attraction, Intimacy and Commitment

God is the one who created all things. He created us and understands the way we work. God also created to a certain extent the chemical reaction in us that determines fight or flight. This response may not be logical reaction to our situation, it comes from our perception. When we feel threatened by something we run away even if it is just a dark room with irregular shapes. When something scares us, we may run or we may fight just as a unplanned response. God also gave us attraction. Attraction may not be logical, and we find ourselves attracted to some people when we don’t know why. This attraction makes life very confusing at times.
 
God’s way of making sense of this attraction is to say we can have what we want the most. We can decide what we love with all the emotion and conviction and we can make a commitment to the person of our dreams. We can form a God blessed relationship that will allow deep personal intimacy. We call it marriage. We take on the role of being husband or wife in this committed relationship that allows our greatest love and personal desires to be fulfilled. Since this has such great personal intimacy it is a once in a life experience. We make one commitment in our life and promise to honor that commitment. Only when we make such a commitment and promise in a covenant of marriage can we feel safe enough to share so much. This is God’s design for balancing the intense attraction and desire he created in us with the vulnerability of intimacy that allows such depth.
 
When we violate that covenant and trust we have developed with each other, we violate what God created. God allowed us to be responsible enough to make the choice and keep it. It is the one time in our life that we can make that choice. Some choices are made for the rest of our life because of what they allow as blessing or what they destroy. To be given the responsibility to make one great choice that fulfills all our desires shows how much God trusts us. To look at the number of divorces and problems in marriage shows that maybe he shouldn’t trust us. But God stands behind his promise because he wants us to realize the great relationship we can have with him. That is why he says love him first. If we can realize such a great love on earth, maybe we can realize the great relationship we are able to have with God. We have trouble connecting with an invisible God. Love is invisible also and God is love. It is when we can make such commitments and promises that we can realize the greatest relationships of heaven and earth.
 
Terry
Friday, February 8, 2019

Read more...

Killers Among Us

There are several ways to destroy people. We hear about the gunmen in the news that take lives in a huge way. They kill multiple people knowing they will be ending their own life also. The loss affects many more people than the ones who were shot. The families and friends are also affected by the loss. There is also what has happened to the gunman who has such anger and hatred because of what has happened to him that he lashes out. It may be because he thought he deserved more privilege. There must also have been tremendous damage done for him to act that way. With all of the entitlement felt and abuse done to people are we producing our own killers?

When the woman comes into Simon’s house to see Jesus, she comes knowing what people think of her. Simon knows who she is and her reputation around the city. She still comes to Jesus and shows her repentance in front of everyone with her tears and wipes his feet with her hair. How horrible she must have felt about herself. She didn’t kill anyone in retaliation, but others had destroyed her. Simon’s only response is to think that any physical contact with her is repulsive and could result in transferring some of her sin to Jesus. Her spirit had been killed long ago, but she sees hope in the grace Jesus brings.
 
The Bible talks about treating others the way we want to be treated. We should not be angry with our brother or call him names. (Matt 5:22) We should treat people with respect, and honor many of the people who are made fun of today. People were thought sinful who had some form of disease. Those with leprosy were outcasts and not allowed to be around anyone. They had to warn people approaching them that they were, “unclean”.  There was no sense of entitlement because of their condition.
 
Paul talks about putting on compassionate hearts of kindness. (Col. 3:12-17) He talks about bearing with one another and forgiving each other as we have been forgiven. We must put on love that binds us together and let peace rule our hearts. The great sins of the past are no longer the problem of our life because we have found redemption. We have been treated with love that is as deep as death. The hatred that killed Jesus and his conquering death makes him able to heal us. Jesus does not come for sinners’ rights. He comes to make sinful people holy and give them all the privilege of a child of God.
 
Terry
Friday, February 8, 2019

Read more...

Sign Your Name

The assurance of our name when we wanted to do banking or any legal transaction was our signature. Print your name but your signature was unique and considered secure. Now we go online and put in our email but rather than a signature, we have a password. Our password makes our identity secure. We can use that to sign in to many different accounts such as email or creating documents. We sign in or log on to our life. Where we used to work and live was all on paper and in the mail. Now it is all digital. It is basically the same thing with a different system.
 
Who are we? We can create an identity in several different ways. It used to by the people that know us but now we can do that digitally also. With Facebook, Instagram, and other hashtag formats we can create what we want the world to know about us. Of course, we only show the good pictures we want people to see. We are safe behind our screen and we can make comments about anyone or anything. If we want our feelings to be known, we can even leave and emoji. It is all a superficial picture of someone who isn’t real.
 
Jesus gave something better than a signature or a password. He lived what he believed. He let his actions and words show who he was. He lived on the initiative of God and did the things pleasing to God. He showed what faith was like even in the hard times. He showed faith when people are constantly coming and life is way to busy. He did not live by his culture or the urgent, but by the principles of God.
 
When we live on purpose, we know who we are and what we believe. We live those things out in daily life as we encounter different situations. When Jesus spoke, he would always do what he said. He did not exaggerate or over-promise. When he told others what to do it was something he was already doing. He shared what worked for him as followed God. Our signature or password to identity is an authentic life. We do what we teach. We live what we think. Put up or shut up. We are the illustration of what it means to be people of faith. That gives the greatest witness to God. Sign your name to what you believe.
 
Terry
Thursday, January 18, 2019

Read more...

Don’t Accept the Knockoff

When we can’t afford the real thing, we can sometimes buy a cheaper version called a knockoff. It looks like the real thing, but it isn’t the same quality as the original. It was made to keep the price down but give the appearance that it is expensive. The problem is, it is not as good as the original. Why would anyone buy something that doesn’t work as well? We don’t want to invest that much in it.
 
God is perfectly good and will not tolerate wickedness among his people. Sometimes people are looking for a god that doesn’t require as much. They want a god who will let them do what they want. That god isn’t as good about loving and caring for them. He doesn’t heal or comfort, but he lets them get away with things. His commands become suggestions that they can keep or ignore as the situation allows. They don’t have to invest that much time or commitment and they can still fill that basic need of worship if they want.
 
Why would anyone want a god that is powerless and ineffective? We feel the need to answer the question of meaning and existence, but we are satisfied with a substitute god who has no plan. He allows us to do what we want until we get ourselves in trouble and call on him. Kind of like a neighborhood watch instead of the police. They can’t arrest anyone, but we feel safer if someone is watching. We feel his presence in a distant way so he is not in our business.  We can still feel good about a higher power but most of the power we recognize is about technology.
 
We make God too small. We settle for a god barely able to help in this life because we have a hard time imagining a God so far beyond us. Creator of all things. A god who conquers death. A God who loves even enemies. A God who plans over thousands of years with billions of people and he gives the possibility for every one of them to be save regardless of how good or bad they are. It is all about how good he is. He could tell everyone of us how to live a better life if we would listen. From creation to eternity he knows and is in every thing, event and shapes the future so that every last person alive today has the chance to be in heaven with him. If our God isn’t even big enough to tell us what to do, then how is he big enough to handle the plan for eternity, space, time, love, grace, justice and relationship?
 
Terry
Thursday, January 11, 2019

Read more...

Plans and Accidents

We had made reservations to go camping back in May and now it was December. It turned cold but we still spent a few days out camping, hiking and enjoying nature. We still had a day to go on our camping reservation but it was going to rain so we packed up the camp early that morning. We were out for a last hike when my toe caught a rock and I went head first into the ground. It was an easy trail. I’m still not sure what happened. Suddenly the plans for the day fell apart. The gash on my head was deep and was still bleeding. We continued down the trail and ran into an EMT who looked at the wound and said it would need stitches. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting stitches at the trauma center.
 
The main point of the story is not the accident or how it makes us feel stupid when we stumble. Plans don’t always work out like we expect. Even if they don’t work perfectly at least plans are adjustable. Without making reservations we would not have been able to go camping. Some things we just don’t get to do without a plan. God had plan from the beginning for his creation. His plan was to make us pure so we could be with him. We are born without sin or separation from God because of any fault of our own. God also knew that we would not stay sinless and so his plan also included a way for us to be forgiven of sin because of Jesus.
 
If we had not adjusted our plan and packed up early, we would have had a problem. It didn’t prevent the accident or the trip to the emergency room. It did make it better because it rained all afternoon and we had everything put away. It was easier to just drive in with all the camping stuff because it had been packed. That little bit of work earlier made a huge difference in what would need to be done later. When we do what we should or follow God’s commands it makes a huge difference in what comes later. It doesn’t prevent tragedy from happening, but it does make it easier when tragedy comes. We see so many around us who have ignored God’s plan until it is almost impossible to help then when tragedy strikes.
 
If we had never gone camping or hiking the accident would never have happened. That is not true. We cannot avoid accidents by not participating in things. It just means the bad things will happen wherever we are. More accidents happen at home than anywhere else. We cannot avoid tragedy by not being involved in living. Living for God and being engaged in life is part of God’s plan. We are to tell others about Jesus and how God heals from tragedy and grief. God’s plan is not safety but salvation. The Bible is full of tragedy surrounding the gospel because people of faith followed God’s plan. The plan brings salvation to a life worth living regardless of any tragedy. If bad things are going to happen they might as well be while living life to the fullest.  
 
Terry
 
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Read more...

Point of View

Point of view is very important when we are trying to make sense of our life. We don’t see things the same way as we did when we were a child. Relationships and activity we thought were easy back then are much more difficult. Some things that were difficult then are easy now. If we are used to driving in a large city, we don’t like the traffic, but it doesn’t bother us. If we have never driven in a big city are completely overwhelmed by the cars, lights, exit ramps and one-way streets. Simply by living in a small town we become unable to drive in the big city. We can learn, but that will take some practice. From where we are now, we get nervous just thinking about it.
 
Sometimes we find ourselves in places that are difficult to overcome. We may have never intended to be where we are but because of an accident, a disease, a failure, or just not paying attention, we understand life in a different way. Some may find it difficult to walk but they still have the basic needs of living. They find a way to cope with the situation they are in. They will have limitations on what they are able to do but they can still live a good life. Those are just basic things about travel that make us see life in a different way. There are also spiritual things that change the way we see Jesus.
 
If we did not grow up in a Christian household, going to church may be completely unfamiliar. Things like prayer, communion and even the songs may all seem foreign. If we did grow up in a church it could go two directions. We may love worship and being with Christian people. We also might have had a bad experience with some other Christians and now we don’t trust many of them. The way we perceive our treatment in the past has a lot to do with the way we see Jesus. Even in Jesus time people had difficulty with God because of the way the Pharisees and scribes acted. They flocked to Jesus, but the Pharisees did not lead the people to be close to God.
 
We must overcome our past and the place where we are now. Life has a way of leaving marks that influence the way we think. The one talent man in Jesus parable was afraid of God. The man who was able able to walk in Acts 3 was so overjoyed that he couldn’t contain all his praise for God. So do we praise God or are we afraid? Do we think God will help or do we fall into anger or despair because he is not fast enough? The more we trust and worship God, the more we know him and understand him. Sometimes our world is so dark we aren’t sure he can still hear us. That usually comes from someone who hasn’t worshiped or connected with God in a long time. If we worship, pray, realize blessings, talk with other Christians openly about Jesus then we will keep a good relationship with him.
 
Terry
Friday, December 7, 2018

Read more...

In a Worship Relationship

We know sees everything we go though and there isn’t anywhere we can go that he doesn’t know. Even with God knowing everything there is a difference being aware of the facts and being in someone’s presence. The person on their cell phone knows what is happening in the room and most of what was said. However, they are distracted and not really engaged with the people in the room. It is much different than sitting down across the table from someone and them looking us in the eye while we talk. They not only know every word that was said, but the body language and expression on our face. Over half the people who get married will end in divorce.
 
Over half the young people who came to church will divorce God. That means married people who have spent time together, shared finances, lived together, and found some great attraction to each other are no longer willing to stay together. With that kind of example how could there not be a problem with keeping a connection with God? We should be surprised there is any worship at all that keeps people interested. If we can’t live together in the deepest most intimate relationships with each other, why would God be an exception? Are we really surprised if over half the people who begin with church leave church? It is an insight into us and our failure in intimate relationships. The usual cause they give is church isn’t relevant or keeping up with trends. That is like saying the divorce rate is high because the couple didn’t have enough channels on their TV. At the bottom of all these broken relationships is something wrong with us. We were not able to understand and stay in the conversation with enough intensity to work it out. We quit paying attention and we lose the relationship.
 
When we talk to God, what preparation do we take? If we can’t text while we are driving can we pray while we drive? Does most of our praying take place while we are doing something else? Maybe that is why when Jesus prays it is at times when he stopped to pay attention. He prayed before means when he had to wait to eat until he could give thanks to God. He prayed in the garden specifically. He went up several mountains to pray and spent much of the night praying instead of sleeping. Sometimes we stay up late talking to friends. Those are the best conversations.
 
Jesus gives the example of what happens. When he was praying in the garden, he took three disciples with him and told them of his distress. He asked them to pray. While the son of God was praying in agony a few steps away they were asleep. Completely unaware of the crisis he was going through. The did it three times. Why did the early church grow? Because those disciples never did take for granted God’s presence and the crisis around them. The answer isn’t more entertaining worship; it is staying in the conversation of worship with almighty God.
 
Terry
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Read more...

Could Be Worse

When my children were younger, they had a book with the title, “Could be Worse”. Every day something bad would happen and the grandpa would say, “Could be worse”. And the next day sure enough something would happen that would be worse. Life today goes on and the best advice we can give is, “Could be worse”. It is what keeps us looking toward the future and not take this present moment so seriously. No matter how bad it is it always could be worse. When we see people who have it worse than we do we can be grateful that it isn’t us. There are some days when we are the example to someone else of how it is worse. Even on those days we know we have not reached the bottom of how bad it can possibly be.
 
Our relationships could be worse. No matter how strained they are now, they can always get worse. Be thankful for what they are now and work so that they are better. The kind word of encouragement goes a long way. We sometimes feel like we are the worst and it is good to hear that other people see good in us and value us. When we value them, it gives opportunity for things to be better.
 
Our church could be worse. We do have Jesus as our savior and he is building his church through us. The reason it could be worse is us or angry people in the world. With Jesus as the guide and shepherd we know he leads to glory and majesty even if suffering happens. He forgives sinners and changes relationships from hatred to love. It is who Jesus is. When we act and worship in a way that brings glory to him, we can handle the worst.
 
Our family could be worse. There are ways that we can respond to the situation right now that make it better. Our marriage could be better. Our kids could be worse. We can be thankful that today we can do something to make a difference. Difficult times can always come but they will not come because of neglect or a lack of effort. So we work and plan so that our family has a good example to follow. We speak and act in a way that God can bless because of us. When we seek his kingdom and his righteousness all other blessings can come to us. (Matt 6:33)
 
Terry Friday,
November 16, 2018

Read more...

Sharing Jesus

Watching the advertising on TV we can see an actor telling us what a great product they have and the sale that currently gives us a great deal. There are two reasons why this is effective. The first is we seem to like to have products that famous people are using. The second is that the actor appears to really get a lot out of using his favorite product that has changed his life. The truth may be that the actor doesn’t use the product and doesn’t like it at all, but because he is a good actor, sales are high. We tend to buy and believe what other people believe.
 
People will follow what someone else believes. Because Jesus’ disciples believe Jesus is the Son of God many people followed them. They were not acting or selling Jesus. They were explaining their faith. Jesus had an impact on their lives from the very first time they were called. They left everything to follow him and every day after proved that was the right decision. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, it was up to them to share Jesus with the world. In each generation after that we struggle with the way to share Jesus. What works best is when we share what we believe regardless of the method we use to share it. The fact that we speak from what we believe and from personal experience allows other people to see what it looks like when Jesus is part of their life.
 
The first part of sharing Jesus is to check our own faith. We speak from what we believe, and we don’t want to convince people of our doubts. When we truly believe something, it is easy to talk about. It changes our life and we can talk about what God has done for us as experience, rather than a theory. Jesus redemption by his death on the cross is not just a theory or unrelated doctrine. It is what we believe and live as redeemed people. Our life is different because of Jesus.
 
We are sharing a person not a theory. Christianity is a way of life, but it is based on a person. His teaching becomes our learning. His passion becomes our goal. His humble attitude of service becomes our example. His way of looking at the world and helping people becomes our attitude. The more we share Jesus the more we realize who he is and what he has done. The more we learn of him the more we become Jesus to the world.
 
Terry
Friday, November 9, 2018

Read more...

From the Bottom Up

We hear in the news allegations of the misconduct of religious leaders. We are not surprised when these allegations are made. We may even assume they are guilty. The respect for religious leaders has gone because of this. If one is guilty we are suspicious of them all. The same corruption existed in the days of Jesus. With all the public opinion of corruption and mistrust, how was Jesus able to make such an impact on the world?
 
When we look back at the Old Testament we find the same things. Many of the kings did not follow God and led his people into idolatry. The country became bad simply because the leader was bad. Punishment was given by God until the people would cry out for relief. A new leader was appointed who would bring them back to God. The people followed exactly what the leader did. Some leaders did change from the influence of their father, but for the most part things became worse rather than better.
 
It is such a contrast in the New Testament when Jesus came.  His message was that all people could follow God regardless of what their leaders did. He did not reach first to the leaders but to the poor and outcasts who had been rejected. He called for the outcasts to follow him as much as the people in power. He was not trying to overthrow the religious leaders of his time as much as he was going around them. They were unimportant. He held everyone to be responsible to God for their faith rather than seeing them as a nation under a leader. He did not try to reform the Pharisees and Sadducees, he bypassed them.
 
When we think about how to change a nation and a culture that is far from God, we should consider the methods of Jesus. He started with the people. He did not go to the leaders or those with influence. He called himself the son of man. He called for faith among the regular people. He changed a nation from the ground up. He trained leaders from among the regular people who would follow what he taught. They were just people who believed God could do something in their life. They believed they could have a relationship with God directly. They didn’t need to follow corrupt leaders; they could follow the man who appeared to be God on earth. What if we all just followed God regardless of our position or influence? God would change the world through us.   Terry Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Read more...
^