Whatever You Do

www.bible.com/72/col.3.17.hcsb

“Whatever you do or say” covers a lot of territory. The term “representative” is literally “name” so that whatever we do or say, we do in the name of Jesus. The Name is an important part of this conversation. I’m surprised HCSB made this choice. For we are called by the Name, baptized into the Name, and believe in the Name. What we are called and called to are extremely important. We are more than representatives. We hear His Name.

When a woman marries, traditionally she bears his name as part of of her marriage agreement. That means when she leaves the house and goes out into the community, she bears the name of her husband’s family (for good or ill). If her husband’s family has a good reputation, she will likely be treated accordingly. If not, even if she is a good person herself, she will be judged because of her married name.

The Lord’s Name precedes us. People we meet will already have made a judgment of who we are based on what they know of the Name. We have the opportunity to change minds if we live up to the Name. If we don’t, we may do more harm than good. I’ve met many who don’t like Christianity based on a few people they’ve met. Don’t be a bad witness to the Name.

Whatever we do affects how people view the Name. Is it a saving Name, a Holy Name, and a Name that causes real change in us, for the better? Are you living up to the Name today? I encourage you to do so. People are watching.

God bless!

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Bread and Water

www.bible.com/72/jhn.6.35.hcsb

We live in an age where food is king. In our culture, food exists on every corner. Our question isn’t “can we eat today?” But “where do you want to eat today?” Our options are almost limitless. Even the poor have “food stamps” to make sure they don’t go hungry. We emphasize how and where we eat. We also put priority on the kinds of food we eat. Are we getting enough fiber? Are there enough greens? What about protein? Are there too many carbs or sugars? Is it gluten-free?

When Jesus speaks to the crowds in rural Galilee, the people He speaks to don’t have any of those options. They can’t just “go out” to get something to eat. Their food was earned by the sweat of their brow and the tool of heir hands. As Paul says later, “a man who does not work does not eat.” We have surely disconnected the two. For Jesus to offer Himself as bread and water to this crowd was saying to them, “I offer you the essentials of your daily life. I want you to receive me as such.” He is bread and water they do not have to labor to receive. He is as basic and essential to life as these, and He offers Himself freely to them, so that they could really live. He offers them life beyond the borders of daily struggle to life abundant, life everlasting.

Something we overlook in our daily regimen is vitamin J. Maybe it’s time we included Him.

God bless you today!

Stop It!

www.bible.com/72/psa.46.10.hcsb

Almost always rendered “be still and know that I am God” I think HCSB nails the original context here. “Be still” can be understood so many ways, and even applied to situation to which it was not intended, like Christian Meditation (which isn’t Christian if you were wondering).

“Stop fighting” drags this verse right back into context. The passage is about the peace God gives when He puts an end to fighting by His mighty power and protection. While God is a man of war (Exodus 15:3) He also puts an end to war. God’s demand here is cease this pointless rebellion against His and His people. He will win. There is no point in your struggle against Him.

We talked this week in Small Group about rebellion. We have this rebellion we acquire through our teen years (or even when we are 2) of resisting what anyone tells us to do. I have two teenage girls in the house. We have our moments. We hate being told by others, want to be captain of our own ship and so on. We only rarely acknowledge our need for a parent until we are out of our depth. At the same time, we deeply desire the approval of our parents, showing that we can do it on our own. It is hard to manage this conflict.

God appeals to our deep need for a parent, a father’s love. It goes much deeper than we are willing to admit and is satisfied only in worship. I challenge you this morning to “stop fighting” and surrender to the One who made you.

Love you all. God bless.

The Kingdom of Heaven

www.bible.com/72/mat.18.3-5.hcsb

Recently I have been plagued with this concept of the Kingdom of Heaven, what it is, what it means and it’s relationship to the Church and so on. I have always thought that the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church, at least in its ideal sense. There is only one Church, just as there is one Kingdom, for there is only one King.

When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven, He was the ideal herald, as He is the King. Thus He decides who is allowed to be a part of His Kingdom. As the above text illustrates, Jesus accepts faith as a little child as entry into His Kingdom. Now this includes the fine print, as the text says above, whoever converts and becomes like children. Conversion is a messy and complicated business, putting aside old beliefs and adopting new ones, disengaging old gods and encountering the new One. But this is the port of entry into the Kingdom. Jesus died and rise again so that others could enter His Kingdom, by faith, and this become His disciples, His ambassadors to the world.

We preach a coming Kingdom, but in part it is already present. We are it’s outward visible manifestation. If we are not doing our job and promoting it as a desirable alternative to the world’s lusts and trouble, then what are we doing?

Please consider your role today in the Kingdom. God bless you on this Monday.

Answer to Climate Change

www.bible.com/72/psa.24.1.hcsb

Found one! Talk to the Owner. Worried about changing climate and weather problems? Worried about the world getting too hot or too cold? Talk to the Owner. In other words, though there are many things we can do to be good stewards of the environment, only God has the power to effect real change.

One to chew on today. God bless you on this glorious Lord’s Day!

How Would You Answer?

www.bible.com/72/pro.15.1.hcsb

in light of my blog yesterday, it seems Youversion is concerned about the words I speak and my reaction to stress. Interesting. It makes me wonder if they have an actual theme going here or if they are listening through the microphone and giving verses of the day that may be appropriate to my needs. Or, maybe I am just being paranoid.

It’s like when you go to church and the pastor seems to be speaking directly to you. This happened to me Thursday, where the pastor seemed to look directly at me and asked “What’s holding you back?” And then he starting talking about getting exercise and losing weight. Hmmm.

I am not a thin man. I really have never been considered skinny. There are times when I have been lighter, but not thin. Serves me right for attending s church where the pastor is thinner than me. As such I hear this periodically. On the other hand, I’ve never had a situation where being fat has been an issue. It’s not prevented me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do.

All the same, it came down to me as a conviction. As usual.

Truth is I love good food. I like buffets. It has always been a comfort for me. I don’t enjoy being hungry, and I live in a culture where going hungry is a cardinal sin. I also like cheap food, which is usually bad food. (Applying moral qualities to food is one of my pet peeves.) unhealthy food. But when I hear that phrase, I think, “poison is unhealthy food.” Poison kills immediately. Transfats take their time. Sugar kills slowly through its addictive power. We are the most well-nourished people on earth. Also the most depressed, and the most addicted.

I know my food. I usually don’t think about it. Also Thursday, I ate bugs for the first time. That was different. I didn’t think about eating them. I was onstage at church and it was all in good fun. But it didn’t bother me. That’s troubling. It should have at least been a warning. But I chomped away at these things, and I didn’t think about what I was putting into my mouth. Sometimes you have to do that. I ate them because it was all part of the show.

I know none of this has anything to do with the verse above. Because that verse is all about how to respond to prevent violence, which should be how we respond to others in love. It made me think about how sometimes Bible verses strike the heart unintentionally. See you tomorrow.

God bless you today.

Be Brave, But Wait

www.bible.com/72/psa.27.14.hcsb

Twice repeated is the phrase “Wait for the Lord” . Sandwiched between them is “Be strong and courageous!” We are certainly to be bold and strong in our faith, as long as the Lord goes before us. I think the Lord needed to remind us twice to wait on Him because we often don’t, and then bleat like sheep when we find ourselves in danger. He told Joshua to be strong and courageous to arm him for the promised land. Now He calls to us, “Be strong and of good courage” but also to wait for His timing.

So today, be strong, but wait for the Lord’s signal to move. God bless!