Language of 2021

Could you imagine just 12 months ago that some of the words so commonplace today would commandeer so much of our daily conversation?

As a child of the 80’s when someone made the comment, “they tested positive”, it held an entirely different meaning. You may have a preconceived idea, HIV, Ebola, Bird Flu, but inevitably you’d ask, “positive for what?” However, in January of 2021 you wouldn’t have to ask that question because the answer is so well known.

Terms like, testing positive, shelter in place, virtual classroom, socially distanced, lockdown, quarantine, and vaccine, all bring to mind very similar meaning and images. We don’t really need to ask what anyone means when these words are mentioned because the entire planet is embroiled in a global pandemic. We’re all facing similar challenges, though in varying degrees. Can you imagine any time in world history where the entire human population had so much in common? Unfortunately, it seems, in this unprecedented time of commonality we are more divided than ever.

I’ve struggled this year with the disconnection between what we are capable of doing when we work together and what we are capable of doing when we’re driven by our differences. On the one hand we show extravagant generosity by reaching out and supporting one another in unprecedented ways and numbers. Demonstrating our ability to love, support, uplift, and help one another. On the other hand, we continue to demean, divide, and devise ways to debase, and destroy those who think differently than we do. People we don’t even know become our enemies because of something we read, or heard, or saw on the internet or TV. How can we be at once so capable of love and at the same time capable of such hatred?

We read in scripture that when we build our lives on the truth of Jesus, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

When we choose to build our lives, live our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ, our hearts full of love can change the world. When we choose to build our lives and live our lives on a foundation created by this world, created by our own hearts and hands, it will come crashing down around our ears. We’ve all witnessed it this year.

Right now, our commonality is based on a common enemy. That enemy is not other people, it’s an infection. Our common enemy is not a politician, political party, or policy, it’s an infection. Instead of fighting over who is right or wrong and creating greater division amongst people who are equally affected, lets decide that we are not each other’s enemy and allow God to work in our lives through these trying times.

Let’s decide to make our common language with words and actions guided by the Holy Spirit, not by words derived from this world.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:19-26

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, if these were to become the words that we all have in common and all understand, without question or confusion, what would our world be like? What could we accomplish, what would our conversations be? Even during a global pandemic our world be a better place than it is now because we’d work together as a united family to overcome and grow through the trials placed before us. No longer as enemies, but as friends and beloved family.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:31-35

Let God surprise and bless you in this new year as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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Easy and hard, we have it backwards

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who was facing a dilemma. She knows the right decision to make, she knows the wrong decision to make. She knows the wrong decision is going to cause long term pain and suffering while providing immediate satisfaction. This is not an uncommon conversation, someone comes to you, wanting your support for a decision they know they shouldn’t make, but they give 101 reasons why it will make them happier…in the short term.

What struck me was the comment she made, it’s one we’ve all heard, and I’m sure agreed with, for the most part. She said, “Why is choosing the right path always so hard?” The right decision is always the hard decision, the decision that is going to require sacrifice or cause pain. The wrong decision is the easy decision, the one that brings the most immediate satisfaction.

As I thought about this on my way home after the conversation, I think we have this concept of right being hard and painful and wrong being easy and satisfactory, backwards. We believe that to do right we have to suffer and to do wrong we are indulging our fleshly passions. First when I state right and wrong, I’m talking about sin; specifically, when we are faced with choices to love God first, and then others as ourselves, or the choice to place our fleshly wants and needs above loving God first and others as ourselves. When you think about it, those are the only choices that really matter.

We have a mindset, and we share it with others, that to love God first and others as ourselves (that is a very important statement found in Matthew 22:36-40) means we must suffer, it will be a grueling decision that will cause short term pain and maybe long-term gain. I want you to listen to Jesus own words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus tells us that he is humble, we’ll find rest in him and that his burden is light. The reason that we struggle with the right decision (love God first and then others as ourselves) is that we are constantly battling with the world. We are constantly at war with what our sinful nature wants, not what the Holy Spirit in us wants. The battle is self-inflicted. When we chose God, when we chose love then as long as we stand with those choices and don’t stray from that path the choice to love is easy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

“Feet trample it down— the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.  The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:6-8

When we follow the path that Jesus has laid out for us; Love God first and others as ourselves, our life, our choices will be dictated by love. The only pain or loss we’ll feel is that of the world, and the more we chose life over death the less we’ll feel that sting.

Doing what is right means we are giving up on the things of this world that lead us to death. Choosing right, then, should be the easy decision. Living for immediate gratification from things of this world that are temporary and will disappear, only leads to wanting more things of this world for immediate gratification from things of this world that are temporary and will fade away. This choice is a vicious cycle of insatiable want that will never end and leads to death. The pain in that cycle is eternal dissatisfaction with who we are, what we have, and how to get more, because it will never be enough.

The simplest way I can state this; love is the easy decision. Loving God first and others as ourselves is the only thing that can satisfy our souls. Truly satisfy, as in we will not want anything else. The hard decision, the one that brings unending pain and suffering is the one that seems to bring immediate satisfaction, but it soon fades and leads to greater and greater need for more to fill the never-ending gaping hole in our lives.

The choice, then, is easy; eternal life by loving God first then others as ourselves. When we are truly satisfied by Christ and that abundant blessing is overflowing from us to others, even when the storms of live are brewing around us, and circumstances are trying to make us forget that we have everything, we can stand firm knowing that the storm will pass, and we will be with Christ victorious. Storms subside, always. Trials cease, always. Christ’s love, forgiveness, peace, patience, kindness, and grace are boundless, unceasing, and eternal.

The hard choice is the one we make that keeps us in bondage to the world of suffering, pain, loss, and confusion, that always leads to death. The easy choice is Christ, that always leads to life.

Pease help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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Mission Monday – What’s your Motivation?

“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:23-24

My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. This is my motivation, what is yours? What keeps you moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, serving the Lord, expanding the Kingdom of God, sharing the good news?

It’s no small task committing your entire life to God, it takes daily recommitment of your life and time. Even Jesus acknowledged that we need to take time to spend with God, time set apart and intentionally reserved for him. I think of the times I’ve worked to schedule lunches with friends or time to watch TV shows or the proverbial, ‘me’, time…why don’t we have the same fervor to make time to spend with God?

Did you know, depending on the translation, in the book of Mark alone there are between 15-18 different times that Jesus went off by himself to spend time with God. Jesus set aside time to spend with God. If our goal in life is to glorify God and be transformed into the likeness of Christ, shouldn’t we follow his example?

Right now, millions of students around the world are doing their studies at home. They are learning math, science, literature, grammar, and history. They spend several hours each day on computers, at dining room tables, in spaces modified to serve as classrooms. We, as parents, tell them the importance of studying, spending time with their notes, text books, teachers and classmates. Why don’t we, with the same exuberance and expectation, impress upon them the importance of getting to know Jesus? Why isn’t spending time learning from The Rabbi, studying The Scriptures, and in fellowship with other believers just as important…or more so? Why is our faith and our relationship with God relegated to one or two days of the week? I saw a post on social media recently that stated, “with children learning from home, is now the time to put Christ back in our schools?” I would ask with all of us spending more time at home, is now the time for us to spend more time with God?

It seems like, with the increased amount of time we have from not going out as much, that the demands from the world for our time have increased. From our streaming movie services, television programming, and internet advertising, we are inundated with distractions vying for our attention with claims of instant gratification, overnight delivery, and at home convenience, no effort required.

What is our motivation to spend time with God, studying His word, praying for His people, and lifting up His Church? “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” My salvation is secure in Christ, I want everyone to enjoy the same salvation, the same joy, and peace, that Christ provides out of the abundance of His love for us!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11

God’s love is abundant, Christ’s sacrifice is enough for all, the power of the Holy Spirit will transform the heart of every believer. What is your motivation to grow your relationship with God?

I would love to hear from you! Please let me know how I can pray for you, any questions or comments. and like.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries