Our God is Good

God is goodI woke up this morning with the song “Good to Me” playing in my head.
“I cry out, / For Your hand of mercy to heal me. / I am weak, / I need Your love to free me. / Oh, Lord, my Rock, / My strength in weakness, / Come rescue me, oh Lord.
You are my hope, / Your promise never fails me. / And my desire is to follow You forever.
For You are good, / For You are good, / For You are good to me
For You are good, / For You are good, / For You are good to me”
Retraining our brains takes faith. Faith takes knowing that our God is good (Heb. 11:6). If we thought He was bad and would hurt us, we’d never exercise the truths that can change our lives. Our God is indeed good and worthy of our trust to live by faith in His truths each day. Sometimes it takes a good song to help us to remember this fact.
S“E”t Free Nowww

Trust God’s Process

grape pressolive pressWhat you’re looking at are two ancient presses – one for grapes and one for olives. They both crush the fruit to retrieve their valuable substance. One is grape juice and the other is olive oil. How they are pressed is entirely different though. Grapes were crushed by human feet so as to not crush the grape seed. If this happened it could make the juice bitter. Olives were crushed – seeds and all – using a large stone. Afterwards the paste was put into fiber bags and pressed to remove the oil. Two different methods were used to produce the same result – a useful product.
Jesus didn’t come to add new behaviors or Himself to us. He came to exchange us with Him. One of His methods to accomplish this goal is to allow challenges into our lives in order to press out our worn and useless character (Heb. 12:1-11). He uses these challenges, these life situations, to separate the unusable part of our lives and leave only the valuable substance behind – Himself. The beauty is that He knows just how hard to press and with what instrument to get the job done.
This is why living with a biblical worldview is so important. We must learn to listen to and then do what He says in every situation we face. He uses those daily life situations to do the pressing. Rather than focus on and complain about our challenges He is asking us to trust in and focus on Him during those tough situations. They are simply the instrument He uses to make us more like Him.
Jesus loves us. He went through a horrible pressing in order to make us valuable children of God. We can trust His process to bring sweetness, not bitterness, into our lives.
“S”et Free Nowww

Bitter is Easy Not Better

Olive treeOn our last day in Israel we stopped at Gat Shemanim or Gethsemane – the place of the olive press – where Jesus spent His final night before the cross. One in our group was tossed and then asked to eat an olive straight from a tree (we later discovered this was a no-no). He didn’t need any words to describe how it tasted. His face said it all, “Bitter!”
What makes olives bitter is “oleuropein,” which must be drawn out either through soaking them in water or lye, which is the quicker process of the two. After this process is completed, the olives are seasoned with special ingredients to get the taste the producer desires.
Jesus has come to shake your tree just as an olive tree is shaken to remove its olives. He first has to get your attention – bitterness only hurts you. Once He’s done that He’ll remove the bitterness from your life, a major reason we take our drugs of choice. He does this by asking you to trust Him enough to forgive those who’ve hurt you. After that is done, He’ll add His special seasonings, Himself, to your life to make you tasty to those around you.
Bitterness drives people away, forgiveness and Jesus draws them closer – another special ingredient to a satisfying life. Holding onto your bitterness is easy to do, but certainly is not the way to live a better life. Freedom comes through doing the hard thing – trusting Jesus to listen to and then do what He says.
Set Free N“O”ww“W”

What’s Normal?

imageThis is a picture of a Holocaust survivor named Rena Quint. She told us her story while we were at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum.
At one point she tells of when the British liberated her camp. People were rejoicing. Everyone was shouting that they were free. She was completely confused about why everyone was so happy. She had no clue what freedom was.
She had entered the Polish Ghetto at the age of three-and-a-half years old and left the concentration camp at the age of nine-and-a-half. Her world consisted of sickness, lice, sores and death. Her entire life was spent behind walls and/barbed wire. Her norm was bondage. Thus, she had no concept of freedom when she was liberated from the camp.
It wasn’t until she was adopted by an American Jewish family, who raised her through adulthood, that she began to understand the meaning of the word “freedom.”
We are like Quint. Our norm is the sum total of our experiences up to this point. We only know what we know when we know it. And we will not know anything different until we are exposed to something different.
It wasn’t until Jesus modeled for us the concept of freedom and real living that we could even begin to realize that something better could exist for us. Just like Quint, we need an outside source of truth to show us what freedom is and can be. This is why we need a source of truth that can be trusted – the Word of God. How can we ever discover that our norm is abnormal unless we let Jesus lovingly show us?
Keep listening to Jesus in His Word. He’s the only One who can show what God’s healthy normal is. Keep learning to hear Him so you can experience freedom in your daily life.
S“E”t Free Nowww.

You Have to Want to Change

imageWe spent a great day in Jerusalem today. We only visited places where we know with great certainty that Jesus would have been; and, He most certainly would have been in this location – a mikvah. This ritual place of immersing in water was just outside the Temple Mount containing the Temple. It was a place every Jewish person would go before heading to the Temple.
The person (male and female – though in segregated mikvahs) lined up on the right side of the divider running down the middle of the stairs that led into the running/living water below. They would take off their clothes before they entered the water as there was to be nothing between them and God. Once they immersed themselves in the water they would come out of the mikvah on the opposite side of the divider making sure not to touch anyone on their way out. After drying off they would put on clean clothes. If they touched anyone who hadn’t already been immersed, they would have to get back in line and do it again. They went into the water impure and came out and were to stay pure. They were finally ready to head up to the Temple to make their sacrifice.
This is a great picture of the believer who wants to see their life changed. Before they are ready to be a living sacrifice and see their lives changed by the renewing of their mind (Rom. 12:1-2), they must first want to change!
They must strip themselves of what comes between them and their God – their way of thinking and living (taking off one’s old/dirty clothes). They must recognize that their way of living simply doesn’t work as it only leads to impurity. You can’t play games with your drug of choice. It must be killed (aka going under the water). No half measures will do the job. Only a commitment to stay pure will.
Are you really ready to change or are you still playing with the area that is coming between you and your Jesus? The Spirit is waiting and willing when you are.
Se“T” Free Nowww