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Showing posts from 2011

Being Like Anna

In Luke 2:22-40, the testimony of Christ's prophesied forthcoming shines through the duo of two elderly characters: Simeon and Anna. Both were prophetically gifted, full of the Holy Spirit (directly recognized with Simeon, indirectly implied with Anna), advanced in years yet unified in their steadfastness to proclaim salvation.

In verse 36, we are introduced to Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Immediately, we are given a glimpse of her family background; however, in light of brief context, one must question why these past details are important enough to mention. Maybe Luke is offering the reader a clue in his opening presentation. If we bite the bait, take a trip down history lane and scope out an Old Testament equivalent, we will stumble upon Huldah, daughter of the high priest, Hilkiah (2 Kings 22), and likely sister of the prophet Jeremiah. Like Solomon, God filled Huldah with extravagant wisdom, enough to the point Hilkiah, among others, would seek the Lord…

What Bliss Is This?

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!”’ (Isaiah 52:7, NIV)
WHAT BLISS IS THIS?
Every Christmas, seasonal charisma arouses that magical popery of jollity and goodwill. Amidst the hurrying and scurrying, many people tap into a higher ‘cheer gear’ once December dawns, knowing the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. Snowflakes emerge on coke cans, polar bears dance in dreams, sounds of silver bells fill the air, popular television channels kick off countdowns, and old friendships reconnect as the surrounding world decks itself with adornment. As days grow colder, the warmth of binding bonds contribute to what is often associated as good tidings. But what exactly is a good tiding? And how do we adequately answer this if we possess superficial bliss, plastic like our materialistic buys?
It’s easy to lose sight on what drives our…

The Real Thing

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You may want to put on your boots. Tonight not only features a shot of scattered clouds, but a chance of crushed phalanges as well. Not to imply I take any delight in stepping on them; I’m simply imparting a fair warning based on the content below.

So much jibber and jabber in America these days over the cross-generational increase in ignorance, indifference, and all that is killing innocence, passion and the pursuit of righteousness. Answers are in abundance, often in the form of an Average Joe’s two cents; others seemingly turn into dissertations without a trace of disciplined speech.

But hear me clearly, people. I’m not vouching for a concentrated series on my takes. Instead, deem my challenges as sporadic, with a light n’ easy, maybe “sunny-side-up” standpoint with respect to upcoming holiday bliss. Also, keep in my mind that when I preach to the choir, I consider myself to be a part of it. Freedom of bias is the succulent cherry atop the parfait of verbal art.
Chances are you crav…

Zeal

Imagine life as a crestfallen fugitive, perturbed past the point of pain and desperate for death. Not even Harrison Ford could fathom the intensity that Elijah must have felt during his escape to Beer-sheba from the clutches of Ahab and Jezebel. Conventional fugitives are often renegades seeking self-preservation and/or revenge; however, this was not the case with Elijah. On the heels of God’s intervention at Mount Carmel, Elijah had set off on another mission, initiated by the tucking of his mantle under his belt (18:46). As Elijah neared his approach to Ahab, the Bible says the power of God was upon him. Yet, not even this divine overlay could prevent a fear of man from overwhelming Elijah. Upon Jezebel’s threat on his life, he fled into the wilderness after leaving his servant in Beer-sheba, on route to Horeb. In the heart of rough country, God would trade refuge for refuge with Elijah.

The spiritual awakenings would commence with an angelic visitation at a broom tree (19:5) and a …

The Cloud & The Divine Darning

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Lately, life is but a passing peek outside a windowpane. Revealed is an autumnal vista in full bloom, attempting to cover my colorless mien with blushes of vibrancy. But on this dreary October afternoon, my heart is the cloud I wish I could fly to. And there’s no refreshing touch, trace or tone, apart from God, that can liven this soul, deadened under a blanket of despair, claustrophobic from pain and weary from “why’s”. Still there is something somehow offsetting the grief, like a ray of sun that is felt, but not seen, leading all emotional mush to the foot of the cross.
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We all know it’s uncomfortable to stay in the same place. Our whole lives are based on the premise of perpetual progress – the advancement of self to be more like Christ. In turn, our transformation is meant to influence that of another, through the grace and glory of God. What the ultimate journey accomplishes is nothing less than radical. And along the evolv…

The Joy Replacement Process

As I drove to work this morning, marveling at the arrival of autumn colors, a crazy realization came to mind. I am much healthier than I’ve been in a long time, booming on betterment surges the past six weeks. But though my cylinders are functioning cleaner and crisper, I’m not nearly as joyous – several posts short of jubilant status. I could be off my rocker in the execution of such phraseology; nonetheless, ensuing bemusement has left quite the throbbing head.

Let me cut to the chase, instead of verbally dancing about the mulberry bush. I desire to be all that I can be for Jesus. Throughout my blog history, my passion about conforming and transforming for his glory has been a consistent theme, along with an increasing dissatisfaction with complacency and its pertinent counterparts. In essence, I have grown alongside my writings. Dig through five years’ worth and one will discover that in the pursuit of God, I have gained a solid understanding about the fool I used to be, what an i…

Flash Weather: 2011-12 Winter Weather Forecast

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The Tucked Cloak

Imagine being Jehu.

King of Israel. Successor to Ahaziah’s nefarious reign. Charged and anointed by a prophet sent by Elisha. And prior to your commission, this messenger is given the most random instruction: “Tuck your cloak into your belt” (v. 1).

Wait, what? Is Elisha tipsy here? Did somebody bump his head after doing the chicken dance too many times?

Probably not. What is certain is the Bible does not directly clarify the significance of this action; however, you can bank on this representing something important.

Quick rabbit trail: I would argue that God crafted the Word so that its readers would have to dig in to find certain answers pertaining to inherent questions. Another message for another day though…

Back to the cloak…

A concordance check reveals that this isn’t the first time this instruction is mentioned. We find it earlier in 2 Kings 4 and Exodus 12, when God bestows Passover guidelines to Moses.

In both situations, haste is specifically addressed. Why? Perhaps t…

Perspective

When I think of subjective words that drive me crazy, perspective comes to mind. By itself, I savor the word; universally, however, the word has grown cliché, culturally costumed to fit the individual more so than any other entity. And though I don't seek to undermine personal relevancy, we must not let the 'self' take away from its ideal meaning: true understanding proportionate to importance. What's important may vary from person to person, but perspective always bridges the gap between perception and reality. If perspective acted as a device, it would stretch, connect, filter and process our daily perspicacity to produce a quality output, aligning to absolute truth.

Now that I have gotten the mumbo-jumbo out of the way, I can clarify the past five sentences with a testimony.

In recent weeks, my big-picture perspective has benefited from various experiences, some inspiring, and others discouraging. On the plus side, I’ve endured some major rejuvenation by means of st…

The Upbeat of Job

No doubt, Job dwellers have increased in the aftermath of two horrific tornado outbreaks, one that pounded Alabama on April 27, and a second that cut Joplin, Missouri in half on May 22. In wake of these tragedies, relief and response strategies have become spotlight topics again, and people across the country have begun investigating various calls to action: how to react, encourage, help victims emotionally process the ‘what nows’ and how to quench unbelief and apprehension, etc.

In times like these, numerous doors are opened to Good Samaritan hearts, which can reach in and reach out to an ailing community. With mobilization materials and deployment discipline, hope will ultimately win the war, even if preliminary battles are lost. But the greatest tool concerning the grief journey is a double-edged sword, known as the Word of God. Meditating on a book like Job can stir us to appreciating God’s master plan, even in light of great tragedies.

We often do not view Job and Psalms in the s…

Decreasing to Increase

Before church this morning, I asked the Lord to help me understand what it means to "decrease", while allowing him to "increase". Although the broad definitions haven't been difficult in recognizing (see Acts 17 and Mark 8), the current crux has come in applying the inherent details (i.e. What does the art of losing myself specifically look like today? Are the core AND surrounding mantles of each spiritual blockade in my relationship with Christ being identified?) Recent conviction has taught me within discipleship and freedom prayer arenas, Christians are perhaps overfocusing on the root of sin, and missing the bigger picture (a.k.a. the root-taproot-stem combination, to speak in plant anatomy terms). What this means is we're not thoroughly connecting the dots to the factors that strengthen the root of each sin. I believe many of us can determine the home base of our own personal iniquities, but there's that challenge of going taking the extra step (th…

Rob Bell - "Love Wins" Dialogue (Part 2)

This week, I’ve been pressing further into Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ and have been appalled with his distorted doctrine. The more I read his controversial best seller, the more I disagree with the message. Combined with his Monday night session at the Curb Center, I’ve started to wonder if Bell has crossed into the ‘false teacher’ category.

After digesting his heaven and hell ideologies, Bell appears to twist scriptural truths to satisfy an attempt to create a universally appetizing gospel. But this stance is a total 180° from Christ’s approach. Jesus never bowed down to gratify what the Pharisees, Sadducees, and all other religious owls wanted to hear. In each circumstance, he stood firm and stayed connected to the flow of God’s heart. Although Bell provides stirring questions and a solid analysis on God’s compassion, any positive output is overridden by his covert defiance concerning the cross’s significance.

In a world marred by indifference, partiality, stubbornness, rebellion, and …

The Sweetest Fragrance

Last Easter, I found great meaning in Paul’s teaching on the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5): the redeemed redeeming the lost in Jesus’ name by way of the cross. This year, I’ve backpedaled several chapters to 2 Corinthians 2 and have basked in Paul’s charge to live as ministers of the New Covenant.

First, what is the relationship between these two segments? Applying “passage unification”, we denote reconciliation as the pulse of the New Covenant minister. We are all Kingdom agents, whether we realize it or not, for the cross’ power cannot be denied; however, the choices we make influence our evangelical effectiveness. So the question is not whether we are Christ ambassadors, it’s how will we carry our respective crosses. What is our cross? It’s our callings, purposes, burdens and struggles between spirit and flesh.

Secondly, Paul offers a unique comparison between commission and fragrance that grips me. To be like Christ is to be like sweet perfume. Mary, in Mark 14, de…

The Gospel in Motion

Yesterday, at the 1 By Youth Outreach, Stacey Hildner and I took Legacy members to Burger King during lunch break. Sweaty and sweltered, we sauntered into the restaurant, needing a reprieve from the morning’s work. But what started as a respite would turn into something far greater.

Ten minutes into our stay, an elderly man limped to a seat right across from Stacey and I. Immediately our attention connected with his apparent pain. Without hesitation, Stacey and I begun a conversion with him. As we carried on the dialogue, we soon discovered the real brokenness came not in his body, but in his heart.

William had just lost his wife. He lacked a car, connections with eight children and a physical remedy. The one daughter who lived locally had a house on the other side of town. However, his multiple leg conditions were only worsening with time, so he simply did not have the strength to walk the miles to visit her.

William’s demeanor was sweet and sincere. The tears streaming down his fac…

Rob Bell - “Love Wins” Dialogue (Part 1)

I’ve always stood by the belief that God never predestined people to hell. To accept the converse is to condone fundamental flaws in a holy belief system. Does God stamp a ‘hell’ label on certain people at birth and ‘heaven’ on others? No! However, God does know every possible outcome of every possible decision we face. Of course, this is just my heart speaking on the matter. Like many others, I’ve also questioned the origin of free will. Did God create this? Or is it linked to his nature? I would submit God didn’t need to produce free will, but rather imparted it to humanity from his essence – the truth of His being.

Rob Bell opens his book with provocative questions concerning our eternal destiny. In doing so, we uncover a notable divide among the faith: what ultimately saves a person from everlasting separation from God? Though Rob captures this well with a parade of ponderous inquisitions, he doesn’t present enough biblical truth to support Christian unification.

I anticipat…

Aim and Flow

“ 13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it.” ~ Romans 4:13-15


For a young person, interpreting this passage can be downright difficult. For aspiring enlighteners of truth, the sight of students drubbing fingers over lips can be rather frustrating. So when handling nutrient-rich Scriptures, the best approach is often the bite-sized version. So in the spirit of activating mental light switches, I present to you an in-depth look into the epicenter of Romans 4. Let the illumination begin…

First off, let’s dissect v. 13:
Is Paul downgrading obedience to an optional act? Absolutely not. Contrarily, as we will further discuss in this note, he is declaring the sanctity betw…

Punching Through to Jesus

"Harass these hecklers, GOD, punch these bullies in the nose. Grab a weapon, anything at hand; stand up for me! Get ready to throw the spear, aim the javelin, at the people who are out to get me. Reassure me; let me hear you say, "I'll save you." ~ Psalm 35:1-3 (MSG)
I received an encouraging word in the shower this morning about ‘punching’ through to Jesus. Now I wouldn’t dub this the most enlightening analogy ever received. By all means, it’s a flippin’ sports analogy. How conventionally masculine, right? And for the record, I’ve never understood why the shower has been such a hot spot for divine insight and downloads. Perhaps it’s the cleansing metaphor in action. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m completely alone and that’s when my spiritual antennas reach a sensitivity peak. I could go on… (But I won’t because so much talking about shower time borderlines the awkward. And I firmly believe in the word ‘quota’…)

So I have this five minute pity episode, reminiscing about …