If It Befits, I Sits!

Befits… such a strange word! It is a word that sounds like it is from a time, long, long ago. Because it is from long, long ago.

This word has its origins in the middle of the 15 century and is used to express that something belongs or is appropriate, something makes sense together. Look at this example below;

It was a gown befitting a princess.

What should a princess be wearing? A gown.

What kind of gown should a princess wear? Something that says, “I’m a princess”

Can a princess wear other things? Yes

But if she is to wear a gown, it should befit a princess. The gown should make sense.

Formalwear doesn’t befit a pauper and ragged clothing do not befit a millionaire. But Christians often put on words and attitudes which do not befit a follower of Jesus. So what does “befit” a follower of Jesus like that gown befits a princess?

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Psalm 33:1 ESV

Praise, in the mouths of God’s children, makes sense, it’s appropriate, it belongs!  In this passage we learn what type of praise befits a child of God,

SHOUTING FOR JOY!

What’s strange to me, is that people will excuse verses like that and say, “I don’t really do that” or “That’s just not my style”. But praise BEFITS the upright, it makes sense, it’s totally appropriate, and it belongs together! Like peanut butter and jelly, like Oreo’s and milk, salty and sweet, shouting for joy makes sense when combined with believers.

Truly, no one else has reason to shout for joy the way we do! We, who believe in Jesus and have repented of our sins, have been redeemed, every sin washed away, and we’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit!! It absolutely befits us to shout for joy!

Another verse reads, “Praise the LORD! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting!” Psalm 147:1 NLT

Whether you are a singer or not, it’s good to sing to Him. The verse reads that it is, “delightful” and “fitting”; don’t get me wrong, it’s not that your voice is necessarily delightful, but the fact that you are singing to Him is delightful! AND FITTING!

You singing to Him just makes plain sense! You shouting for joy if i fits

makes perfect sense. These are the things that fit within the Christian lifestyle.

If you’re a believer in Jesus, perhaps it might be a good idea to consider if the actions or thoughts you’re engaged in are befitting a child of God. Also, it’s worth considering if your actions and thoughts are NOT befitting a child of God, to whom do those thoughts and actions belong?

 

 

 

 

Watch Your Mouth

Today I was reading from Proverbs 18:21 NLT

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”

When this scripture talks about the tongue bringing death it is referring to the ways in which we gossip, rumor, complain, lie, or backbite one another, even the way we speak negative, untrue things about ourselves. When we are busy bad mouthing each other, or ourselves, we are effectively speaking death but into ourselves!

I often forget, in my day to day life, that the way I speak can be sinful; I forgot the impact my words have on me! In Romans we read that the wages of sin is death, in other words when I sin, I’m doing work that earns me death. Even though I’m eternally saved and redeemed, my actions have temporal implications. Just as if I robbed a bank, I believe God’s forgiveness extends towards me but I would go to jail, our words can bring judgment upon us here on earth.

Obviously the exact opposite is true as well; the more encouragement, truth, and life I speak, the more I walk in step with the Spirit of God and can expect to see the fruits of the Spirit in operation in my life.

What are you speaking? This verse reminds us that we reap the consequences of those words. Will it be death or life?

Sleeping and Waking

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I’ve never really struggled with sleep; sleep comes easily and quickly. There are times that my wife will have started speaking to me shortly after we’ve gone to bed only to discover that within moments of my head hitting the pillow, I’m already very asleep.

Neither have I struggled with waking, at least not terribly often do I struggle with getting myself to wake up. After I hear the alarm, I’m awake, with few exceptions.

The truth is that I’ve never given it much more thought than to joke with those who can’t sleep well. I suppose that I joke about it because I just don’t understand why others struggle with a task I find as easy as breathing.

As stumped as I am over how others struggle so awfully with finding sleep, they are typically either angry or confused (or both) over how I can possibly sleep so easily. I figure it’s an honest to goodness gift from God.

Recently I ran across a scripture that made me think a bit more deeply about what is going on behind the scenes while both some struggle with sleep and us weirdos pass out quickly.

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Psalm 3:5 ESV

Did you notice that? Regardless of our involvement, the only reason we wake up again (groggy or not) is because HE sustained us through the night. While that sounds ominous and a bit dark, it’s an absolutely beautiful thing to consider every single morning.

That word “sustain” in the original Hebrew, סָמַךְ, carries the idea of creating a covering. We often see it as the word “lay”.

In Exodus 29:10 “Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull.”

Then in Numbers 27:18 we read, “So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.”

Sustaining, laying on, reminds me of how in Genesis chapter 1 Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters and makes me consider that just as we don’t know what Holy Spirit was doing at that time, we may not fully understand what Holy Spirit is doing while He is covering or sustaining us as we sleep.

Think of your comfy blanket, how it makes you feel safe and warm, that’s what is happening spiritually while you rest. We are being sustained in our sleep, causing, or allowing, us to be capable of waking again because He has sustained us once again.

It makes you wonder, why has He sustained me again for this new day? What does He have in store for me today? Of what use can I be for the Lord today?

He allowed you some sleep,

but more importantly

He sustained you through the night

and…

He woke you up!

A Very Uninnocuous Verse

Innocuous: 3. not interesting, stimulating, or significant; pallid; insipid: an innocuous novel.

Perhaps I’m the only strange person who, when reading the gospels, thinks “where’s the chapters and verses that tell of Jesus and the disciples doing really mundane daily activities? Where’s the accounts of Peter sweeping the floors or Matthew grocery shopping?” Certainly there were moments of humdrum and typical day to day activities that they left out for sake of pointing out the truly important matters.

But then in the 11th chapter of Mark’s gospel we find this rather gloriously unimaginative moment in the life of Jesus! Upon first read I released a victorious “AHAH!”

Sadly, after reading it over and in the greater context of the surrounding scriptures I found this wasn’t innocuous at all, instead it was incredibly uninnocuous.

So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples. Mark 11:11 NLT

Jesus looking around

You may be wondering, “why in the world does this matter?” but I challenge you to consider what was happening when Jesus went into the temple that day. Jesus went into the temple and He found the money changers doing their thing, the animal cartel doing their business, and He found the corruption which broke His Father’s heart.

He found exactly what we remember from the scene in scripture where Jesus went into the temple turning over tables, chasing people out with a whip, but here – on this day – Jesus looks around and “he left”.

Certainly, the emotions were hot that day, we must believe that His righteous indignation was incensed but instead of seizing the opportunity and the moment, He waited.

rope whip

We know, from John 2:15, that Jesus made a whip; He took the time and the energy to carefully handcraft a whip. (If you’re interested in what goes into making a rope whip, check out this Youtube instructional video)

 

We can imagine Him carefully listening to the Father while He prayed, receiving instructions. Then, in Mark 11:12-16 we read how Jesus went back the next day and drove them out with that VERY whip He had spent time working to create.

John’s gospel isn’t 100% clear on when the whip was made, it could be interpreted that “making a whip” or “made a whip” was something that happened in the past (it is imperfect third person); I like to think that after visiting the temple on the previous day, He went back to Bethany and started work on the whip, as this process isn’t a quick or simple task that can be completed in a rage.

Jesus flips tables

Which brings me to the main point of this very uninnocuous verse; Jesus didn’t act rashly in Mark 11:11 when He encountered the money changers, nor was He acting in a rage in Mark 11:15. That isn’t to say that He wasn’t angry, nor does it suggest that He didn’t turn over tables or bring a whip! Rather, He was behaving as the righteous judge cleansing the temple and in acting in the fullness of His faculties, totally in control of His emotions and actions, fully engaged in the Father’s work, and hearing from God.

I believe that this may be the big “take-away”; we should avoid at all costs reacting (if Jesus didn’t react and He’s our Master – perhaps we should take that as an example for us to follow) but instead only respond to what God speaks to us about how we should respond.

Are there some areas of your life which you have allowed yourself to react to situations thus considering yourself more privileged than Jesus? How are you doing with making God’s instruction your priority?

Imagine the church filled with people who refuse to react and insist on only responding to God’s instruction, unmoved by situations and circumstances!

Calm Down and Believe In Me

hearing-bad-news-beautiful-young-women-covering-her-mouth-men-touching-her-shoulder-87984750When someone gives you news that you don’t want to hear such as their serious medical diagnosis, the passing of someone you love, news of a close friend or family member moving far away, or of a marriage ending, it’s difficult to process the initial thoughts and feelings.

An audible gasp, followed by murmuring and furrowed brows swept across the room where the disciples were finishing the Passover meal after Jesus told them that He will be going away soon.

I remember when Kim and I told my family and friends that our family was moving 1,500 miles away, to Maine in order to plant a church; their reactions were understandable. The proverbial shoe had long ago been “put on the other foot” when at least three of my siblings had left to live in different parts of the United States. I totally understood what I felt in those moments when I found out, (one of them only left me a note to tell me they were leaving); I had no difficulty empathizing as they expressed their  feelings.

The gravity of the situation around the Passover Meal in John 13 and 14 is intensified by Jesus’ command for the disciples to love each other in the same way (or capacity) which He has loved them.

parents-talking-with-tweens

It reminds me of how we would beg our kids “love each other, treat each other like you love each other, be good to each other” just before we would go on a date.

He tells them that if they love each other people will know that they are His disciples. Certainly, the disciples must have thought “yes, but… if you’re around, they will know that we’re your disciples… wait…what’s going on here?!”

These men had abandoned everything, they were part of a movement which stood in direct opposition to the established religion, left their families and their occupations, stood beside Jesus as He made some pretty incredible claims (most of which they didn’t understand at first); even if they wanted to, they would never be accepted back into society again.

The panic and anxiety in the room was reaching a fervor as the loving Master offered these words to His friends,

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1 ESV

First, Jesus addresses their feelings of panic and their anxiety by telling them to calm down calm downand choose to not LET their hearts be troubled or stressed out. In our moments of anxiety we need to recognize that ultimately, we have a choice.

 

 

Then, Jesus points back to the Father and commands them as if saying, “No matter what, always believe in God – trust in God, don’t let anything sway your faith in God.” This isn’t a suggestion on how to get through this, it’s a command. Believe in God – this is absolute foundational truth for us to get to the next step. If you can believe in God then you can believe in Jesus, whom God sent.

Finally, He follows up by telling them to take that same unshakeable faith and apply it to Him. He’s not asking them to believe in some ethereal concept or ideology – He’s asking them to believe IN Him.

My precious wife and children have had some pretty big favors asked of them by me; many times I’ve required them to “believe in me” as we made some major life decisions over the years.

kenny rogers

 

One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received has been my wife telling me that she believes in me.  I know that she believes in my ability to make decisions, trusts that I have her’s and my family’s best interests in mind, and she believes that I know how to hear from God.

It’s important that we understand that Jesus isn’t asking us to simply acknowledge some new information or to assent  to some new philosophy; He is asking us to believe IN Him. Jewish people understood what it meant to believe in God (they had that under control) but believing in Jesus in the same way was a new thing.

I would argue that it’s a new thing for some Christians.

Jesus isn’t asking us to simply acknowledge some new information or to assent  to some new philosophy; He is asking us to believe IN Him.

Do you believe in Him? Do you trust Him to be capable of handling your life? Do you trust Him to cause “everything to work together for the good”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Secret Revenge

Most people aren’t the type to allow themselves to engage into malicious hateful revenge liar vengeance(or at least most people wouldn’t admit to it); although I think most of us have endured some situations where it may have felt warranted. Most of us are much more acquainted with a lesser form of revenge that  psychologists have called “Passive-Aggressive” behavior.

 

This kind of behavior is typical in office work where decorum prohibits you from openly discussing issues which would easily be resolved if you could openly speak about them, also online forums and social media are breeding grounds for this softened version of revenge.

But there is no end to the possibilities where we might encounter passive-aggressive behavior! You might find it in the home, at church, in the market, or in even in rest-room stalls 😉  There are some really nasty spirited people out there who have some aggression issues that need to be dealt with, just look at this!

HOTDOG ICE?!?! This is proof there is evil among us!

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.”
    Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.  Proverbs 20:22 NLT

Even if someone has legitimately hurt or offended you, and they honestly meant to do so, revenge and vengeance isn’t an activity with which a citizen of the Kingdom of God engages. The behavior of someone who has been transformed by the love of Jesus is to allow God to deal with punishment of others; it it not the activity of the chosen to punish other people. Discipline, correct, or rebuke, but not punish (the former three all are activities which should be done in love according to scripture).

In reality, when we try to understand other people we find most people aren’t bent on hurting or offending others, instead we discover that we simply don’t understand what their personal struggles are and how those struggles are affecting them.

A lack of understanding another person’s viewpoint can easily bring us to the point of frustration and aggravation and if left unchecked can quickly transform into revenge (in all its nasty forms).

The very least we can do is the RIGHT THING – love people and love God enough to trust

right thing

that even if their motives were malicious, God will handle them; all we are supposed to do is love God and love people in the process.

 

Are You Ready?

If I told you that I scheduled my first home invasion through Jim Bob’s Home Invasion…JBHIyou would tell me that I’ve lost my mind! Literally no one schedules their own home invasion! The truth is that no one knows when it’s going to happen! Jesus addresses this in Luke 12:39-40

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

The point is that we are to be ready because just like a home invasion, you don’t know when He is coming!

 are you ready

There’s no need to panic – as far as I can tell there are really three critical things every believer needs to be doing… (without oversimplification)

LOVE GOD PEOPLE DRAW

Ultimately we are given three directives; love God, love people and draw people to Jesus. Certainly there are other disciplines which grow our relationship with God like daily Bible reading, worship, and prayer but when you boil it all down if you love really God you’re going to do those things anyway. If you love people, you’re going to have to address the sinful attitudes and habits in your life to better love them, and if you love people you are going to be drawing them into a relationship with Jesus.

So, if you are doing the above three things… more than likely you’re ready! If you’re not, now’s the time! Since we don’t know when Jesus will return, there’s no time to waste – begin today by loving God, loving people, and drawing them into a loving relationship with God.

How do we love God? Think of how you express love to people – spend time with Him (prayer, reading, and worship), spend time with His people (go to church), learn to hear His voice, invest into His church (give tithes and offerings)

How do we love people? This is basic. Put other people before you, serve and don’t command or demand, spend time and build relationships, ask questions, meet needs as you’re able, don’t think yourself better than them, and most of all pray for them.

How do we draw people to Jesus? Pretty much doing the above makes you the most attractive thing in the world to thirsty souls. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar, so love God and love people. The bottom line is somewhere in your relationship, you will need to tell them about how Jesus has changed your life. You don’t have to have a doctoral degree to manage this – just tell them what happened in YOUR life. Tell them how it happened, what you prayed, and how you have lived since. Boom. Done.

There are probably a hundred different approaches like the “Roman’s Road”,  the “ABC’s”, etc. but if you are honestly listening to God He will give you what needs to be said.

Get out there – love God, love people, and draw them to Christ! Be ready for Him!

Pastor Kevin

Roll the Dice, Move Your Mice

We may throw the dice,
    but the Lord determines how they fall. Proverbs 16:33 NLT

Perhaps you’ve seen these phrases before;

I-AM-THE-MASTER-OF-MY-FATE-AND-THE-CAPTAIN-OF-MY-DESTINY.-Nelson-Mandela      or maybe this one…     ceo

I’m fully aware that there are a great number of people who not only subscribe to this philosophy but live their lives with these statements as “life-declarations”.

How frustrating it must be when you self-declare that you are in charge only to find that life doesn’t work that way.

In the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament portion of the Bible we find the verse at the beginning of this blog. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Clearly, some may find this verse absolutely infuriating; I’ve found that people are ultimately divided into two camps. 

In camp one we find people who read a verse like that and feel like a child upset with a parent not giving them the control or authority they feel they deserve.

tantrum

This is part of the original lie Satan gave Adam and Eve in the garden – you need to be just like God – you need to know what He knows, and God is holding something back from us. If we haven’t learned what we needed from that lesson I will explain it briefly; No, we don’t need to know what God knows, nor do we need to be just like God, and NO, God isn’t holding anything good from us.

loving father

And in camp two we find people who understand that God isn’t trying to control us so that He can lord over us with nefarious and malicious intentions;  instead these people in camp two understand that a loving Father is guiding our steps through this life. As we learn to trust Him more and more we recognize His love and grace through the most difficult times in life.

So the challenge for you today is this – which camp do you find yourself? Are you ever vying for control and authority, ever frustrated that no matter what you can’t seem to find control or authority?

Are you settled with God guiding your steps? Isn’t it sweet of God to let us roll the dice?

 

Love More Than Your Friends

If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.                                                                                          Matthew 5:47 NLT

Love should be this incredible easy thing, something you just experience and give so freely, a feeling that flows uncontrollably from others and from us with absolutely zero effort.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Unfortunately that is not the case, people can be decidedly unlovely, making it difficult to choose to love them when love hasn’t been shown. But that seems to be the problem doesn’t it? We tend to treat love like there’s a prerequisite of love shown in order to show love, or at least like it needs to be reciprocated in order for us to continue to show love.

Christians aren’t supposed to allow circumstances to dictate whether or not we show love to other people because while were still sinners we were shown the most intense love imaginable (actually beyond our imagination). It is an act most ungrateful to behave unlovely towards other people, regardless of their actions.

When we refrain or withhold love from people we have effectively stopped loving them. We make light of this when we excuse our actions based on other people, when there is no excuse for us.

“Even pagans do that” isn’t meant to be a slight against pagans as we know them today, rather an observation, made by Jesus, of people who had not been transformed by God’s love who had shown love to their friends.  The point isn’t about pagans, it’s a reference to how we (who’ve experienced the power of God) should behave differently than those who haven’t.

Jesus’ question is, of course, timely for us, “how are you different”? I invite you and I to ask ourselves that very important question today.

How are you different? 

In what ways are you showing love to unlovely? In what ways are you expressing the power of Christ in you?