Restored

One of my wife’s favorite TV programs is HGTV. She loves watching how a team of workers can take a run-down house and restore it to a beautiful home. I admire people that possess that skill because I can’t even drive a nail straight.

Restoration. That word suggests a positive change has taken place. Something has been taken from a place of disrepair and dishonor to a place of beauty and pride.

At creation, Man was created in the image of God. He was perfect in every way but by an act of disobedience (sin) that image was so “damaged” so “marred” that God had to remove him from the Garden of Eden. If you watch the news you will see just how far Man has “disfigured” that original image.  Theologians call it man’s “depraved” nature or “fallen” man. 

When a man ‘restores’ a house or an old car; he often has to remove and discard certain parts that cannot be salvaged. But when God restores a person, no matter how “fallen” they are; He does not discard any part of us. He does not refurbish. He does not remodel. He does not paint over imperfections. He makes us NEW! I cannot explain it but it is true.

  • This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person…. 2 Cor.5:17
  • Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again [made new] John 3:3

Jesus Himself said He came  to find lost people and save them.” [Luke 19:10] Jesus was saying He came to restore all that Mankind lost when he was drive out of the Garden. He restored fellowship with God. Eternal life was restored! [He restores my soul…] Ps.23:3 

Though God has made the restoration process available to all, it can only take place when people confess their sins to Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Savior. 

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.   1John 5:11

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When I Grow Up…

As a parent, we look at our children as they are growing up and wonder what profession, calling or job is in their future. Michael Jr., the Christian comedian, tells of a time when one of his children came to him and declared when he grew up he was going to be a doctor! Michael Jr. said to himself “My son is going to be a doctor!” As his chest began to puff out, his son added, “or a dinosaur.” Kids!

An elementary teacher was having her students come to the front of the class and tell them what they going to be when they grew up. The students said they wanted to be a policeman, a pilot, a nurse, a doctor, a cowboy, or some profession you would expect a child to say. Just as almost everyone had shared, the door at the back of the class opened and in walked the District School Superident. He had the habit of making unnoticed visits to classrooms to observe the teachers. He sat down quietly and motioned for the teacher to continue. It was then that the teacher realized everyone had spoken that is except Billy.

Now every class has a “Billy.” You know that student that always causes trouble and does not the meaning of being quiet. When asked a question; his answer would usually embarrass the teacher and the rest of the class would roar with laughter. She was hesitant to ask Billy to go up front and share some crazy notion he wanted to be. She did not want to be embarrassed in front of the School Superintendent. 

But in all fairness, she had to let Billy participate. As Billy shuffled his way to the front, the children started to snicker in anticipation of another of Billy’s dumb answers. As Billy stood in front, ringing his hands, he said, “When I grow up, I want to lead a blind man.” No one was laughing as Billy made his way to his seat. You could hear a pin drop.

But isn’t that what Jesus is calling all Christ-followers to become? 

The greatest one among you must be your servant. Matthew 23:11

blind

Question Jesus Asked

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? John 6:61                                                                                                                

What a powerful question.

There are whole parts of Jesus’ teaching that are offensive to us in our natural sensibilities. He was not hung on a cross because He walked around telling everyone to be nice to one another. People were offended by Him back then and the same is true today.

“Jesus, I don’t like what You have to say about picking up my cross. I don’t like that You say I am blessed when people mock me, persecute me and lie about me because I am Your follower. That offends me. I don’t feel blessed when that happens.”

“Jesus, I don’t like Your teachings on marriage or sexual ethics. They offend me. Jesus, I get the idea that we should not murder someone, but then You go and say don’t be angry? That’s offensive. And by the way, “eat Your flesh and drink Your blood”? That’s offensive too.”
Sometimes we want Jesus to be an “unoffending Jesus”—a version of Jesus who agrees with everything we already think likes what we already like, and wants us to do what we already wanted to do before we came to Him. But that Jesus is not the Jesus of reality. If you reduce Jesus to a cartoon who is not allowed to offend you, then be prepared that such a made-up version of Jesus won’t be able to save you either.

The sad reality is, not all who start out as followers of Jesus will stay followers of Jesus. But the Twelve stay with him, not because they are not offended but because they know that He alone has the words that give eternal life. Will you stay with Jesus when you are offended?

Questions Jesus Asked

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?  John 1:37-38

Jesus often led people by asking them a thought-provoking question. His very first question to His first followers was “What are you looking for?” What astounds me is that Jesus’ first question to those who would follow Him is not about God, sin, politics, or family history. It is a question that gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. It is also a question that gives us a glimpse into ourselves.

Jesus’ question gives us a glimpse into ourselves because it forces us to examine what genuinely matters most to us. We are all looking for something. There may be no greater tragedy than a life spent looking for the wrong thing. Most of us are looking for good things—security, meaning, success, love, hope—but we’re not always certain where and how to find it. Jesus is aware that we can be distracted by the cares of the world, looking for even the right things in the wrong places and in the wrong ways. His question stops us long enough to take measure of whether the activity of our lives matches what genuinely matters. 

The good news is that Jesus’ question also gives us a glimpse into His heart. In John 1:35–39 He offers these two men conversation and relationship. They answer by asking where he is staying. “Come,” Jesus replied, “and you will see.” He could have just given them the address of the house. But Jesus’ invitation shows them that He actually wants to be with them. In one short interaction, Jesus moves from a question that invites us to explore our lives and hearts, to an invitation to come and see if what we are looking for is ultimately met in Him.

Who Cares?

As I get more chronologically challenged [PC for getting older] I am discovering that life is a lot about balance. Hobbies are great but they must be balanced with work and family responsibilities. My doctor once told me it isn’t so much what you eat but rather how much you eat. One slice of pizza [may be two] is fine but not four or five = balance. 

Sometimes a person will say that the Bible is full of contradictions. They quote one verse and then quote another which seems to contradict the first. Allow me to give you an example. 

We should not care what others think of us. Proverbs 29:25 “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.”  From an early age we work to get approval, whether it was proving to our parents that we could ride a bike without training wheels, or taking our first step—caring what other people think seems evitable. We need to get to the point where we don’t care what the media says, how colleagues feel about us, or live in a state of constant fear or agony of what others think. Do not allow others opinion of you dictate how you live.

We need to care what others think.  On the other hand, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold. If we’re not careful, our effort to not care about what others think can subtly turn into not caring about anyone. John Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” When people know that you care about them, you will have a platform to share the Gospel. We must go out of our way to present ourselves in the best light possible, not because we are people pleasers but because we are God pleasers.

The bottom line is balance.

  • Don’t allow people’s opinion of you put you in an emotional, spiritual straight jacket.
  • Live in such a manner that people know that a genuinely care about them. 

Who Moved?

I remember hearing a story about an elderly couple that was out for a Sunday drive. Things were quiet when the wife suddenly broke the silence, “Sam, do you remember years ago when we were dating we would go out for a drive in the country?” Sam smiled and said, “Of course I do.” “And do you remember how we would sit close to each other? (This was before seatbelts were required.) Why don’t we sit close anymore?” Sam’s response was, “I didn’t move.”

The reality of that story is that every relationship requires maintenance. This may be the reason many couples divorce after 30, 40, or even 50 years of marriage. The kids grow up and go off to college; the husband and wife look at each other and realize they are married to a stranger. A relationship will not survive if you do not make the effort to keep it alive.  Often neither husband or wife will admit they “moved” in the relationship; they just drifted apart.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ also needs to be maintained. But we are the ones who need to keep that relationship alive and we do that by staying close to Him.  As with any relationship, you choose how close you want to be with someone. It is a choice only you can make. The wonderful thing about a relationship with Christ is He is always constant.

  • He never changes. Hebrews 13:8.  
  • His love for you never changes. Psalm 136 
  • His commitment to you never changes. “…The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” Hebrews 13:5

If your relationship with Jesus Christ has lost its fervor if it seems He is so distant; ask yourself, who moved? If you turn around you will find Him where you left Him!

Three Pounds Of God, Please

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I came across this poem recently –  and wanted to share it with you.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
— Wilbur Rees

My first thought when I read this was, “EXACTLY!” Isn’t that exactly how Christians act? We want all the benefits of the title “Christian” but want nothing to do with any of the sacrifices that would come with more than just a small portion on our plate. Study after study shows that there is little difference between the Christian and the non-believer in the way we act when it comes to divorce, pornography, domestic violence, charity, volunteerism, or basically any other category you want to pick. The reason? For the most part, we’re $3 Christians. The key line in the poem is this: I want ecstasy, not transformation. People want to be happy, not Christ-like.

I am thoroughly convinced that the majority of people who profess to know Jesus Christ as their Savior do not. Allow me to explain. I believe that they (and most ‘Christians’) have conformed to a lifestyle without being transformed by the Holy Spirit! They know that being a believer means you do certain things [read your Bible, attend church, give money to the church, etc] but they have not been transformed; there has been no change internally. 

When you talk to them about a real, dynamic relationship with Christ; they stare at you like you are speaking a foreign language and you are. ” But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” They cannot understand because there has been no change in their spirit. 2 Cor. 5:17 

For many $3 is all they’re willing to pay. But for them I ask this simple question: When you die and stand before Jesus (and you will) what are you going to tell him? When Jesus asks you why you didn’t go all in knowing what he expected of you and instead you chose to be a $3 Christian what are you going to say?

Don’t be a $3 Christian. Stop conforming to the pattern of this world! Make God and His ways your priority! Allow God to transform your life – go all in.