Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reflections for May 27, 2009

In his book, Half Time, Changing your Game Plan from Success to Significance, Bob Buford shared an encounter he had with Mike Kami, a strategic planning consultant. In the course of their discussions, Bob was presented with the question, "What's in your box?" The point was that we can never fully develop the thing we hold most precious until we identify what it is. When faced with making a choice, Bob chose to place Christ in his box. He wrote, "No one had ever put such a significant question to me so directly. After a few minutes (which seemed like hours), I said, ‘Well, if it has to be one or the other, I'll put Jesus Christ in the box.

"It was an act of faith, and it was a daunting challenge to me to be open to change and adventure. Even more that that, it was a commitment to do something about the faith I already had. By acknowledging Christ as my guiding light, I had invoked the promise that he would direct my paths. Not matter where they took, me."

You would think this would be an easy question for a Christian to answer. The scripture is clear on the subject. When the disciples asked Jesus, what is the greatest commandment in the Law, He replied, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment" (Matthew 22:36, 37 NASB). The love this commandment demands shows itself in a life of obedience. In fact, Jesus clearly said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15 NASB).

Despite such clear directions, most Christians fail to experience the fullness of God's love in their lives. They are happy to settle for the hope of heaven some day. They seem to think that being in church on Sunday is sufficient to demonstrate their love. During the week, they let the things of this world push God down their list of priorities. God becomes like a spare tire. They only call upon Him when there is an emergency.

The tragedy in all this is so many miss the blessings of having a daily intimate walk with their God. Listen to the promises Jesus made for those who faithfully follow Him: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 19:10 NASB). "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" John 14:27 NASB). "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full" (John 15"11 NASB). Christ offers abundance, peace and joy. All He asks is that we follow Him.

If you find you rarely experience these promised gifts, you may want to ask yourself the question, "What is in my box?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reflections for May 20, 2009 - "Reciprocal Living"

The central theme of Scripture is God’s love for His creation. The enormity of His love is found in John 3:16 (NASB): “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Because God’s love is good news for a fallen world, this verse has become one of the best known verses in the Bible.

There is another verse that flows out of this one that we tend to neglect. It is John 15:12 (NASB): “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” We do not like to talk much about this verse. It would not be so bad if the last part of it was deleted. If we could just love as the world loves, we could live with it, because the world’s love is always conditional. The world’s version gives us the choice of withholding our love if the conditions are not met. Unlike the world, God’s love is unconditional. It can not be bought or earned. It can only be accepted or rejected. Our choice does not diminish His love, but it does determine whether we will reap the full benefits of it.

It is important to notice how emphatic Jesus was with this statement. It was not a suggestion; it was a command. It was not just any command but it was His command. This leaves us with two options, obey or
disobey. We can not withhold our love from those around us and be obedient to Him at the same time.

God recognized the difficulty we would have in fulfilling this command. Therefore, He gave us directions in His word to assist us in loving one another as He has commanded. Some call these directions Reciprocal Commands. The following may not be a complete list, but it is enough to assure us we would be in compliance to God’s command to love one another, if we followed them closely. (Different translations use different wording but the essence of the commands below can be found in the verses indicated.)

Keys to Reciprocal Living
  • “Love one another.”(John 13:34)
  • “Accept one another.”(Romans 15:7)
  • “Have the same care for one another.”(I Corinthians 12: 25b)
  • "Be subject to one another.”(Ephesians: 5: 21)
  • “Bear with one another”(Colossians 3:13a)
  • “Forgive one another.”(Ephesians 4:31, 32)
  • “Build up one another.”(Romans 14:19)
  • “Teach one another.”(Colossians 3:16)
  • “Be kind to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  • “Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 3::13)
  • “Admonish one another.”(Colossians 3:16)
  • “Do not judge one another.”(Romans 14:13)
  • “Do not speak evil of one another.”(James 4:11)
  • “Do not murmur against one another.”(James 5:9)
  • “Do not bite and devour one another.”(Galatians 5:14, 15)

Let me suggest that you make a copy of these keys and place it in a prominent place in your home or place of employment. If your employer does not allow scripture verses to be posted, leave off the reference and post the command. It is hard to see why anyone would object to the people around them living these commands. If your home and workplace abide by these rules it will increase harmony and production. Most of all, you will be fulfilling a part of God’s call on your life.

-- Dennis Lynn

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reflections for May 13, 2009 - "The Awesomeness of God"

On June 10, 2008, Fox News Website carried a piece about a new supercomputer that had been built by IBM for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. It was called Roadrunner. The article explained the speed of this new computer this way: “To put the computer's speed in perspective, it has roughly the computing power of 100,000 of today's most powerful laptops stacked 1.5 miles high, according to IBM. Or, if each of the world's 6 billion people worked on hand-held computers for 24 hours a day, it would take 46 years to do what the Roadrunner computer can do in a single day.

As I read about this new supercomputer, I was amazed at the ingenuity of man. Then I thought about how tiny man is in comparison to God. The words of the Psalmist came to my mind. He wrote, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:4-6 NASB) If man can build a machine like Roadrunner, God should have no trouble knowing everything about His creation. He should have no problem knowing our every thought.

When I think of the awesomeness of God, I am troubled by the way modern society has attempted to reduce Him down to an entity that we can interact with on an even plane. In so doing, we have lost our sense of reverence. We have ceased to fear Him. When reverence and fear are gone, we find it easy to thumb our nose at Him, when His teachings interfere with our desires. While this lax attitude might be expected in the world at large, it should never be seen within the body of Christ. It shouldn’t be but it is.

In many ways the Church, which is the Body of Christ, finds itself in the same shape as Israel thousands of years ago. The Prophet Isaiah admonished them with these words, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 1:20, 21 NASB) Isaiah had much more to say but this is enough to demonstrate that they had lost their awe for God.

The answer to this dilemma is for the people of God to recognize their failures and to turn from the image of God that they have created in their own minds to the image of God that is clearly spelled out in Scripture. We need to recapture the awe the Psalmist had when he wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4 NASB)

Dennis Lynn

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reflections for May 6, 2009 "Reflections on Mothers"

One could fill books writing about the work of a mother. Many times they fulfill the role of doctor, nurse, counselor, teacher, maid, cook, taxi driver, tutor, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, they are often taken for granted and do not receive the praise and encouragement that they deserve. Even worse, there are some who make it sound as if they are not contributing to society if they should decide to stay at home. I heard of one lady, who held a doctorate degree. Rather than pursuing a career in her field, she chose to stay home. She grew tired of the expressions on people’s faces when she told them she was a homemaker. Now, when she is asked, “What do you do?” she responds, ““I’m socializing two homo-sapiens in Judeo-Christian virtues so they will appropriate the eschatological values of utopia. What do you do?”

While this statement may sound sarcastic, it does reflect one of the most important tasks that a mother has. It emphasizes the importance that a mother has in teaching a child right and wrong and in passing on the truths of her faith. Lois and Eunice were two such women in the Bible. Lois was the grandmother and Eunice was the mother of Paul’s young protégé, Timothy. In Paul’s second letter to this young pastor Paul wrote, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice ,and I am sure that it is in you as well” (II Timothy 1:5 NASB) Later in the same letter, Paul wrote, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of , knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3:14, 15 NASB)

Little did Lois and Eunice know that the things that they were teaching would help Timothy grow into a young man who would be remembered for centuries in God’s book, the Holy Bible. Other passages help us have a better picture of the kind of man he was. He was greatly respected (Acts 16:2), compassionate (Phil. 2:20), unselfish (Phil. 2:21, 22) and an encourager (I Thess. 3:2). Lois and Eunice were not the only people who had an influence on him but Paul certainly understood the important part they played in his life.

The message for mothers of our day is to never underestimate the importance of your influence over your sons and daughters and to not underestimate the importance of demonstrating and teaching a strong faith. You can never know what your teachings might accomplish, because a mother’s faith can have immeasurable impact on the world in which we live. Mothers, never let anyone convince you that your job is not important. There is no work more important than the work you do. You deserve our praise, appreciation and respect. You have mine.

My prayer is for you to have a joyful and fulfilling Mother’s Day.

God bless,