“A dead thing goes down stream, only a living thing goes against it.”
I’ve fished for salmon in both Alaska and California. These fish are literally working their tails off to get upstream to their spawning grounds.
For some, like those pictured, this process is much harder than others. Some get eaten along the way by bears, eagles or humans. And yet, they must go through this arduous task to reproduce and keep the salmon life cycle going.
It’s the same for those who truly love and follow Jesus. We live in a world that wants to feed our flesh and its desires, rather than kill them. Living out the truths Jesus gives us, then, will be like swimming upstream.
We’ll need a tougher, stronger and deeper faith to live in a day when people, including some Christians, only want to float downstream in the river of “everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe,” except those going upstream.
Swimming upstream will take dying to ourselves – our feelings, our rationalizations, our justifications, etc. – to let the Spirit replace us with Jesus. This kind of upstream living will mean making tough contrary faith choices (going against our way of thinking and feeling) throughout our day.
Don’t be fooled. This is the reality for Jesus followers. BUT, be encouraged. Jesus went upstream and look what happened to Him. He’s alive and seated on the throne next to the Father.
He won and so can you as you continue to follow Him upstream.
“In the Netherlands, Christianity is dying and Islam is rising. The writing is on the wall.”
The article went on to quote the Archbishop of the Netherlands, “In 2028, when I will be 75 and will hand in my resignation, 8 or 10 churches will remain.” This means that in the next 10 years 270 Roman Catholic churches will be closed and either demolished or repurposed by their new owners.
Why? Secularization. The Dutch church going people allowed society to mold their thinking and character rather than Jesus. This led to an ineffective faith, which eventually led to a dead faith and to shuttered buildings that were once full of alive and vibrant Jesus followers.
A living faith comes from being connected to someone – Jesus, not something – a building or an institution (either Protestant or Roman Catholic). A living faith comes from listening to and following someone who is alive – Jesus, the Living Head of His Church.
A living faith comes from loving Jesus through Spirit empowered faith choices to exercise the truths Jesus gives you in His Word. A living faith understands you don’t go to church, but are the church everywhere you go as you walk with other Jesus followers.
You, yes you, can have a living and breathing faith in Jesus. You, yes you, can be changed by this faith, which keeps your faith alive and vibrant. You, yes you, can share what Jesus has and is doing in you with others. As you do, Christianity will never die where you live.
Jesus said that He is the resurrection and the life. In other words, Jesus has a habit of making dead things come alive. Will you allow Him to make your life, your career, your marriage and/or family, your friends, your congregation, your world alive?
“Come to Me” – Jesus.
One author summed up Jesus’ statement like this, “If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words, ‘Come unto Me.’” A Jesus lover is transparent (Come to) with Jesus about what’s going on inside their heart and head.
They come to Him with anything and everything – big or seemingly small, significant or the not apparently important. The true test of our love, then, is what we hold back, not what we actually share.
Think about it. By not coming to Jesus, who are we really trusting? Ourselves. And, isn’t this what causes our insecurities? “Can I handle it? Can I get through it?”
The psalmist, however, said, “Blessed is the one who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in His commands (like, “Come to Me”). They will have no fear of bad news; their heart will be steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”
Bad news – life not going as you planned and/or thoughts tearing you down – can lead to insecurity. And yet, this passage states that when you trust Jesus enough to come to Him (rather than keep it to yourself) you get a backbone (steadfast means to stand tall)!
You can stand tall in the midst of the so-called bad news. Jesus can turn your insecurity into security by coming to Him with what’s going on inside you. He died and rose again to show His love for you. You can show your love for Him by passing the transparency test.
“What is truth?” – Pilate
In a recent episode of a favorite TV show, the main law enforcement officer says, “Truth is truth. It doesn’t depend on circumstances. If not, then I can’t do my job. Either someone is guilty of breaking the law or they are not.”
The author, a retired administrator from a California university not known for allowing certain viewpoints a fair hearing, wrote that we are presuming people guilty before any facts come to the surface. Her point was that we all should feel uneasy with this kind of mentality. We could easily become its target.
Jesus, not me, said that He is the Truth. Only He could set people free from all the destructive side effects of their sinful choices. He also said that as you trust Him, rather than your feelings, you can experience life, not only for eternity, but in the here and now as well.
Jesus followers are going to have to make tough choices in the days ahead. If we want to have the life Jesus promised, we must not become like Pilate who couldn’t recognize the truth when He was literally staring Pilate in the face.
Keep practicing the Word of God with each choice you make today when it’s easy. As you do, you’ll be ready when it’s hard.
Common sense requires a common sense.
Our country’s current predicament started back in the 60’s when God was removed from our nation’s schools – a location where every American passes through.
I’m not talking about Jesus, but the general term for God. I’m not talking about prayer either. I’m talking about a higher power, an ultimate authority with a set of absolute values.
Once God was removed, a common set of shared values slowly eroded, leading to a fractured society where everyone is their own God making their own rules; thereby a common sense disappeared as well.
I lay the fault for this squarely at the feet of Christianity. Notice I didn’t say Jesus. The word Christian means to be a follower of Jesus, which takes listening to Him, not a church’s dogma, not a pastor’s beliefs, not a denomination’s distinctives, and certainly not a “Christian” culture.
Christianity has never been about adding Jesus to us or adding Christian behaviors to our current list of to-do’s. No, scripturally it’s about removing and replacing us with Jesus. As this happens, those around us will see Him in us. In fact, this is what glorifying God means – to reflect His character in us.
I failed the other day to the point I asked a bank teller’s forgiveness. Chris leaked out instead of Jesus. A friend of mine experienced just the opposite. He was walking downtown when a group of people he didn’t know, but knew of him, climbed all over his case because Jesus pours out of his life.
Jesus said to rejoice when the latter happens! Why? It shows that you truly belong to and are being a Christian – a follower of Jesus. This should remove all doubts as to whether or not Jesus knows you and will one day take you home.
People need Jesus, not “Christianity.” You follow Jesus and let Him transform their lives. You let His love pour out of you and hopefully they will see Jesus. I know next time they will at the bank.