Monthly Archives: October 2014

Jesus’ Counsel For A Healthy Life

Our society has gotten so far away from what Jesus said when he was here on earth. Where in Scripture does it say, “You’ve got to take care of yourself,” or “If you want to be healthy you have to come first”? These are lies straight from Satan’s lips. That’s the lie that got him thrown out of heaven.

Mental illness is a rampant plague, and I believe one reason is that even some Christians, have fallen for the infectious disease of “self”. People try so hard to feel good about themselves, to pull themselves up, to convince themselves they are worthy, when Scripture tells us we need to let go of “self”, admit we are filthy, helpless, needy people. Dear ones, admitting that is so freeing! The reality is we can’t be good in and of ourselves. And trying to be is making people crazy.

Jesus tells us not to exalt ourselves, not to think more highly of ourselves than we should, to come to him like a child, give up everything to follow him.

The Pharisee loudly prayed, “Boy, God. I’m glad I’m not like that guy over there. I tithe, I pray, I go to church, I don’t cheat on my wife, and people think I’m pretty awesome.”

Jesus said, “One day you’ll wish you were like that guy over there. He recognizes his sin. He’s bowed before me and repented. He’s wearing my righteousness, and what you are wearing is nothing but filthy rags.”

Don’t try to find those quotes in the Bible. Those words are mine. But if you read Luke 18, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Here’s the truth. I am a sinner, and so are you. I am incapable of being anything other than a sinner, and so are you. I fail. I make mistakes. And when I measure myself up against a holy God, I can’t come close.

But Jesus tells me I don’t have to. He wants to be that for me. And all I need to do is admit my helpless position, recognize my sin, and ask him to forgive me. He’s already got that robe of righteousness waiting for me because he bought it with his blood. I don’t have to try to be good. He puts his own goodness on me. I don’t have to convince myself I am worthy, he makes me worthy because he is worthy.

I pray Christians will recognize Satan’s lies in counseling sessions, on TV, in the books they read, the sermons they hear, and the conversations they have with friends. I would challenge you to do a study on the word, “humble” in the Bible. Use a concordance and look up the verses that speak about humility, about humbling ourselves, and find out what God promises when we do.

“… and HE will lift you up.” (I Peter 5:6)

The Devil Is In The Details

The devil is in the details. I know I might be taking some liberties here, but isn’t that kind of what Jesus told Martha? (Luke 10) She was busy preparing dinner – not a bad thing because she had guests in her home. But she was so intent on serving the perfect meal, she neglected her guest: Jesus Himself!

I don’t think this Scripture is teaching us to not plan, not pay attention to details. I know I certainly get frustrated if I’m in a class where the teacher has not spent time preparing, or at a meeting that hasn’t been organized, and wouldn’t it be silly for a football team to run onto the field without someone planning strategies and teaching the plays before they meet their opponent?

I think this passage teaches us about priorities. Jesus HAS to come first. Sure there are demands of the day, obligations we must meet, things to do that require careful planning. But none of that should have precedence over our time with Jesus.

Someone once said, “if you’re too busy to read the Bible, you’re too busy”. Choices, my friend. Choices.

Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, “Too Busy Not To Pray”. Google Grace L. Naessens, and read her poem: “I Didn’t Have Time.” I think that’s the attitude Scripture would have us have.

So get busy doing work for the kingdom. But not before you spend time with the King.

Nothing is more important.

What Frustrates Jesus

I have to say Jesus’ reaction to his disciples when they couldn’t cast out a demon in a little boy bothers me. It seems like he was so mad at them. “You faithless and corrupt people! How long do I have to put up with you?” (Mark 9, Matthew 17, Luke 9) Was he really that frustrated with them?

Lately, God has impressed on my heart the urgency God feels concerning the salvation of souls. He is not playing around. He’s not hiding and hoping someone finds him. He’s in our face every day, trying to get our attention. And for those of us who know him as our Savior, he is passionately trying to get us to be that vessel through which he can reach unsaved souls.

I don’t like Jesus’ reaction to his disciples because I don’t like to think he is frustrated with me, too. I don’t want to think he says, “For crying out loud, Connie, can’t you do one simple thing like talking to your neighbor about me? Can’t you get out of that recliner for two seconds to call that friend I’ve laid on your heart?”

Jesus was frustrated with his disciples, not because he didn’t love them. But because Jesus had tunnel vision. He had a job to do.

He still does. People still need to hear about him, and he is intent on making that happen. May God find his people as intent as he is, as eager to reach the unsaved, with the same tunnel vision as Jesus has.

The Show Must Go On

I remember, when Mom was dying of cancer, I would drive to work with a heavy heart. Most mornings I would cry as I talked to God about Mom. But when I got to the stop light a mile from school, I would dry my tears and take a few deep breaths. And before walking into the office, I’d put my hand on the doorknob, breathe again, put a smile on my face, and pray, “God, let’s do this. I need you to go in there with me today.” I didn’t want to be there. I wanted time with Mom. I wanted to be alone in my grief. But I was a middle school counselor, and I had a job to do.

It was hard. And listening to the familiar complaints of 11-year-olds tested my patience like never before. Suzie took my pencil. Billy made fun of me. Nobody likes me. The teacher yelled at me. Even the: Mom grounded me or worse, didn’t separate me from my own pain.

But I loved my job, loved those children, and it wasn’t their fault my mother was dying.

I realized today Jesus knows exactly how I felt. His cousin, John, was murdered. His heart must have hurt like mine did. And he needed to be alone. He needed time to grieve. So he went off to a remote place to be by himself.

But the crowds followed him. They had needs only Jesus could meet. So Jesus put a smile on his face, and preached, and healed their sick.

Did you know the feeding of the 5,000 from five loaves and 2 fish happened in the midst of Jesus’ grief? (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9) He had compassion on those needy, demanding, insensitive people, even when his own heart was broken.

I know some of you are going through hardships of your own. Sickness, finances, relationships can cause us to live with the burden of grief on our shoulders. Yet that doesn’t stop the “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”, or “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” demands from your children, or the deadlines your boss gives you at work, or the electric from being turned off for lack of payment. Life goes on even when we want it to just stop for one minute.

Jesus knows what that feels like. Jesus shows us by example that sometimes the show must go on. Sometimes we have to choose to let God pick us up and help us meet our responsibilities even if we don’t feel like it.

But here’s something else Jesus teaches by example. He made time to get alone and pray. (Matthew 14:23) He didn’t go off to “find himself”. He spent time talking to God.

That’s where our society might be wrong. It says we’ve got to be happy before we can make someone else happy. Put yourself first and things will get better.

But doesn’t Jesus teach us something different? Didn’t he take “self” out of the picture? Didn’t he place God first, others second, and himself after that? I’m thinking if it worked for him, it probably will work for us, too.

Pray, dear one. Pour yourself out before God, give him yourself and your circumstances. Ask him to empower you to be who he wants you to be in the midst of your pain. Bathe yourself in prayer, then trust God to be exactly what you need him to be. Yes, the show must go on. But you don’t have to go on solo. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have someone who has been there, to guide you, to strengthen you, and to love you like no one else can.

If we take the world’s advise and concentrate on ourselves, we are concentrating on the wrong person. Concentrate on God. Notice the opportunities he gives you to minister to someone else. Take him up on his offer to never leave or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5-8)

Is that a recipe for a trouble-free life? What do you think?

It is, however, a recipe proven by Jesus himself, to be exactly what we need to face the worse life hands us. And to be victors. And to let others see Jesus in us.

God, I pray for grieving people today. Some have burdens that are breaking them. Father, I pray they will come to you and lay that burden down. Give them strength. Give them purpose. Help them to look to you instead of looking within themselves. And may they find peace from allowing you to be exactly what they need to get through today. May they feel your love right this minute. And may Jesus be seen in and through them as they walk through this storm.

The Great Physician

I am thankful for doctors. When my sister had cancer, I was and am thankful for the doctor who caught it, the surgeon who removed it, the plastic surgeon who did the reconstruction, and the care she’s received since then. They are worth every penny! Even though they did not heal her.

I remember the morning of her surgery, I was standing in front of the mirror drying my hair when a thought came to me I can only attribute to God: Peggy has cancer. But today we’ll be able to say, Peggy HAD cancer.

And that’s exactly what happened.

I won’t go into detail about all the miracles we witnessed that day but I will tell you the surgeon was able to remove all of the cancer, and see that her lymph nodes were clear. Eight years later, my sister is still cancer-free. And we know who healed her.

Like the woman we read about in Mark 5, Matthew 9, and Luke 8 who knew that if she just touched the hem of Jesus’ robe she’d be healed. She did. And she was.

I don’t know why God healed Peggy of cancer, yet Mom died of the same disease. No one had more faith in her Savior than my mom. So “faith” is not the magic button we push when we want healing.

This New Testament story isn’t about healing. It’s not even about faith. It’s about Jesus. The woman healed of her ailment still died. Peggy will still die. But God revealed himself through both of those women, just like he revealed himself when he took Mom home.

I am reminded that everything that happens in this life happens because God is intent on saving souls. Some are saved through good times, some are saved through hardships. Some need to witness a miracle in order to believe in the Son of God.

So I will continue to go to the Great Physician for physical healing for myself and my loved ones. I will go to my doctor for regular checkups and do what he prescribes. But I will also say with Paul, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Read Philippians 4:10-13)

And may people see Jesus in me.

Who Is This Man?

Who is this man, that even the wind and the waves obey him? (Matthew 8:27, Mark 4:41, Luke 8:25) Who is he indeed.

This is the same Jesus who just got done telling us how precious we are to him:

Like a treasure buried in a field. The finder sells everything he owns to buy the land to have the treasure. (Matthew 13:44)

Like a merchant who finds choice pearls and sells everything he has to buy them. (Matthew 13:45-46)

This same Jesus didn’t need to speak to the storm in order to calm it. He said the words for the benefit of his disciples… for me. He wanted us to know he is who he claims to be – God in the flesh.

And this same Jesus, seeing me as a precious treasure, a priceless pearl, gave up everything to come to earth to die. (Philippians 2:5-8) That was the price he was willing to pay for me.

Who is this man? He is my Savior, my Lord, my Advocate, my Friend, my High Priest, my God. I don’t know why he loves me so. But I am very glad he does.

I stand before him amazed and humbled, adoring him. He can calm a storm. He can even save the likes of me.

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me, for dying for me, for buying my forgiveness with your blood. You. God. Did that for me. I’m sorry for sin in my life. I accept your grace, your cleansing. May this precious pearl live a life that shows you how much I love you, how much I appreciate what you sacrificed to make me one of your own.

Another “How To Read The Bible” Post

The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead. These men knew the Old Testament Scriptures like no one else, and here right before their eyes was the very One the Old Testament writers talked about. They knew how many prophecies were being realized in Jesus. But Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. And for that, the Pharisees wanted to kill him. (Matthew 12, Mark 3, Luke 6)

Sounds a might drastic to me.

But the Pharisees had convictions, they believed they knew the mind of God and they would not consider the possibility they were wrong.

If we read the Bible in an attempt to find verses to support our beliefs, we are like the Pharisees. We try to make God’s Word conform to our idea of right and wrong. We need to read God’s Word with an open heart and mind and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through these precious pages.

Someone I love asked me if I didn’t think that opens up the possibility of misinterpretation and heresy. Don’t we need to supplement our study of God’s Word with the wisdom of those who have published books on the subject to keep us in check?

How incompetent do we think the Holy Spirit is?

Sure, if I need to read the Bible so that it lines up with the theology of my church or denomination then, yes, I guess I need those commentaries. But if I read the Bible in its entirety, depending on God to reveal himself, I’m pretty sure he can.

I have many commentaries and Bible studies in my library. But none of those are the final authority. And, yes, I believe that the Bible is all we need to know God, and understand what he wants us to know about this life and eternity.

We just need to read it, study it, think on it, love it, memorize it, and talk about it. We need to approach our time in the Word bathed in prayer, with an open heart and mind, and allow God to teach us exactly what it is we need to know for today. We need to put aside our preconceived notions and ask God to show us the Truth according to His Word. And we need to be willing to let the Holy Spirit break down some walls if they need destroyed, to convict us when conviction is necessary, and to build us up to be the people he needs us to be in a world that is lost without him according to Scripture.