Monuments to Man or Life to His Glory?
The Chaplain to the White House, America’s Pastor, Confidant of World Leaders, the Christian Evangelist, God’s Machine Gun (for his rapid fire sermons), Gallup’s List of Most Admired People, are just some of the epithets said about Billy Graham, who died today at the age of 99.
Yet it was one statement he made after the dedication of his library in 2007 that caught my eye the most. Mr. Graham felt the 40,000 square foot building glorified him beyond his desire.
“My whole life has been to please the Lord and honor Jesus,” he said, “not see me and think of me.” His life was driven by one verse, Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” And that is exactly what he did in 185 countries.
Mr. Graham wanted his life to be a monument where people would see Jesus in him, not the other way around. What about you? Hopefully the Lord challenged you with this as He has me. More of you Jesus in and through me!
Love chooses to surrender.
I received the following from a friend. “Absolute surrender is not about me getting closer to God, but allowing God to get closer to me.” I jokingly threw the card back at the person who gave it to me. Jesus was talking, but I really didn’t want to listen at the moment.
The statement begged the question, “Do I want Him closer to me?” As Jesus believers, we have God the Father, the Son and the Spirit living inside us. Can’t get any closer than that, right? Yet, we all know we can stand right next to someone and be a hundred miles away.
We think various thoughts, say certain words and make all kinds of choices that keep Him at arm’s length. Why?
We don’t believe our lives will be better by having Him closer. We love Jesus, but only so far. Can’t be too religious, right? Wrong. Keeping Him at a distance only hurts us!
If we love Jesus, we will want the length of our arms to shrink. This means giving up control of those choices that drown out His voice from being heard and presence from being felt. Let Him grow your love for Him; and, you will experience the benefits of a closer walk with Jesus.
I had to smile when I heard someone say, “I’m not worth much, but I sure think about myself a lot.”
We are the source of many of our challenges; and yet, we think about how we will solve those challenges or about how life would be so much better if people just did what we wanted them to do.
We need to follow the advice Eli gave Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. When challenges come, we should be saying, “Speak Lord.” He can see around the corner, we can’t. He can see tomorrow, we can’t. And most of all, He is Savior, we are not.
Daily living requires daily decisions by broken people. Increase your listening capacity. And your Savior will not only save you from death (separation from the good stuff now and forever), but will also turn your brokenness into wholeness.
Biblical, not traditional, thinking saves today.
Who’s your savior and what are you saved from? The answer to this question is often misconstrued by Christians, which leads to an inaccurate portrayal of the Savior.
First, most Christians claim that Jesus is their Savior. This is only partially correct, however. God the Father is also called the Savior (Lk. 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3). We have a heavenly Father who actually wants to save and not destroy us!
This is in stark contrast to the lie that the God of the OT is hateful and ticked off while the God of the NT is loving and peaceful. No, both God the Father and the Son come with arms open wide, not clenched fists, to lovingly make our lives better right now.
This leads to a second misconception that Christians often hold. The New Testament never once puts saved and hell in the same verse! Instead, it states that we are saved from sin (Matt. 1:21), God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9-10) and death (2 Cor. 2:15-16).
Our choices not to live by faith in Jesus (sin) today brings death or separation right now from the source of all that we desire in life – peace, love, joy, security, significance, etc. All of these are only found by living in God’s presence.
Our choices also bring future punishment or eternal separation from God brought on by a choice not to believe in what Jesus did as the Savior. Keep in mind, however, that Scripture teaches that hell/hades are not the final separation local. No, both it and death are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14-15).
Here’s the point. Focus on your Saviors, who are saving you from choices that hurt you today, right now, this very moment! Stop thinking about escaping hell tomorrow. And, start loving Jesus and the Father, your Saviors, through faith-based Spirit-empowered choices today. Do this and you will truly be saved, both today and tomorrow.
Saved individually. Love Jesus as a group.
My wife and I were watching a TV show where the major character was having a meltdown. During which, he went out into the pouring rain to build a wall…all by himself. He worked hours upon hours on that wall.
His classmates watched and wanted to help him, but were told by the headmaster not to lift a finger until the young man asked for help. All of a sudden, the young man stood before them in their warm and dry dining hall. Totally broken, he said, “I need help.”
His fellow classmates left their hot meals behind and ran out into the cold pouring rain to help him finish that wall. All he had to do was admit that he needed help.
How often do believers act like this young man? Yes, our initial decision to follow Jesus was made individually, but loving Him through each choice is done with others.
There is a reason why the Spirit put us into the body of Christ the moment we placed our faith in Jesus (1 Cor. 12:13). There is also a reason why He had the following words penned, “Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Transparency with at least one Jesus believer is a prerequisite to making the kind of choices needed to experience the life we came to Jesus for in the first place. We can hit the wall on our own or we can build the wall with others.