Standing Together

You’re now part of the collective.
There is a sacrifice that covered a leader’s, an individual’s and a community’s sin. When someone violated God’s word unknowingly and when it was made known, they needed to take care of it through a sacrifice called the sin offering.
I find it interesting that a community can sin, not just an individual. Each person must make their own choice to believe in, love and then follow Jesus. Yet, at that point of belief, we’re placed into a group that is expected and needs to walk with Jesus as a group. Doubt it? Look up all the one-another clauses in the New Testament! You can’t do a one another on your own. No, we do them as a church – a group of people called by Jesus toward Jesus.
In America, we hold to a principle of “rugged individualism” that teaches it’s up to each individual to solve their problems and make it on their own, without outside help. This cultural idea has infected the American church. We’ve made our walks with Jesus all about us – our needs, our wants, our dreams and then make our choices.
And yet, we fail to realize that we’re part of a group where individual choices do indeed affect others – positively or negatively. Let’s stop letting the culture infect us. Rather let’s start infecting the culture with Jesus. My friends, there will be a time when you’re really going to need another believer walking with you. Start walking with them now.

Standing with Jesus

Life is not about being right, but about becoming like Jesus.
Is your faith strong enough to take a stand for loving Jesus, even if it might cost your job? In over 2/3’s of the world’s countries, Christians are the number one group on the persecution hit list. This wave has hit US shores and could come to a location near you sooner than you realize.
The only way we can take a stand for Jesus when life is tough is to practice taking a stand when it’s easier. It’s our daily choices today that build our faith muscles for tomorrow. It’s our small decisions to listen and follow Jesus that not only brings peace right now, but it will keep us in peace, though not necessarily safety, later as well.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12 that a blessing, a sense of peace and joy comes from being persecuted for Him. It’s a persecution not based on being right, but for being like Jesus. And what should we expect for ourselves if Jesus was persecuted for being Jesus?
Keep practicing the FREEdom process. Yes, you might fall; but don’t give up! Do what Jesus recently told me, “Keep following Me and getting up.” (see Psalm 107) As you become like Jesus, you will take a stand with Jesus because He’s already standing.

Daily Practicing the Fundamentals

Slow down when you move too fast.
My favorite baseball team is currently setting historic winning records. Yet despite all this winning, the team’s manager threw out what seemed to be a classic cliché as to why they were winning, “It all comes down to fundamentals.”
For this team, though, it wasn’t a cliché, but a daily action step. A player who was interviewed said, “Other teams I’ve played for have like nine-tenths of everything covered. There’s just so much more emphasis on this team on that last little piece.” After the interview, he went off to practice drills that most teams stop doing once they leave spring training.
This team learned what believers must learn. It’s the little “no big deal” compromises of today that bite you tomorrow. You stop doing what you got you free from and experiencing victory over your drug of choice, a repeated sinful habit; and, you will eventually lose or start doing it again.
The information you feed your brain leads to your choices. If you’re telling your brain it’s no biggie today, it will eventually believe it’s no biggie tomorrow when faced with an even bigger choice – the choice to lose or go backward.
When life seems like a blur, slow down. Examine your thinking over the past few weeks and months. Ask, “Do my thoughts line up with the truth of God’s Word?” If not, you’ve probably stopped practicing the biblical life-change fundamentals – the FREEdom process.
Keep making the little choices Jesus’ way through the FREEdom process and you’ll keep going forward and experiencing victory/freedom in Christ.

Peace Reigns with Truth

We had plenty of potential peace robbing situations on our recent vacation to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
To start off, we had to arrive a day late due to scheduling conflicts with our cabin. Peace reigned as we focused on the truth that God knew how many days we needed to relax and to hear from Him.
Next up, due to the heavy snow the Eastern Sierra’s got this year, the creek running at the entrance to our cabin was a river! We tested it out and thought we could cross. Wrong. We got stuck. We laughed about it, though, and asked God to get us out of it. After trying a few things, He sent an “angel” in a Jeep with a tow rope to pull us out! Peace wins.
This, however, meant that we had to leave our van on the opposite side of this river, where God saw fit to guard it with a head of cattle! Pretty cool, huh? Yet, this raised another potential peace robber. We now had to walk across this ice cold river every time we wanted to do things we had planned. Victory came as we simply focused on Jesus, put on our water shoes (had them for kayaking – who knew we’d need them to cross a river!) and walked with our God, literally.
I’ll finish with one last story, though I literally could go on. We had three straight days of rain; so, we got the weather report before kayaking on Gull Lake. There was a 40% chance of afternoon rain, which meant a 60% chance of sunshine, right? So we got out early and hit the lake. It was a beautiful day. We kayaked around Gull and were about to take another spin, when both my wife and daughter said we should call it day. It sounded and felt to them like rain was coming. If you know me, you know what I wanted to do. The truth is, however, God is changing my life in this area. I don’t have to conquer anymore, which is a definite peace robbing feeling. It was okay to have only kayaked a couple of hours. It was okay to head back, which is exactly what we did.
Praise God He’s changing me. The moment we got our kayaks out of the water, the afternoon showers showed up early! And it rained hard. So we hung out in the van and waited patiently on God to let up on the rain so we could load the kayaks to travel home. He did. We did. And not one minute later did it hail…hard!!
There’s a saying in the Sierras, “Give the weather ten minutes and it’ll change.” Yes it does, but your peace doesn’t. This vacation constantly changed from what we had expected to the crazy unexpected, which could have led to great internal stress and a bummer vacation. Yet, we focused on the truths Jesus gave us and let Him keep us in perfect peace just as He said He would.
Life changes come from all directions. Your peace doesn’t, however, as it comes from knowing and being in relationship with the Truth, Jesus, throughout those crazy unexpected changes.

Jesus Peace

Peace and safety are not the same.
I’m talking about the kind of peace that can be experienced no matter how unsafe or stressful the situation you might be encountering.
Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34ff). He wasn’t talking about religious wars as some have interpreted this verse. He was referring to the kind of conflict that occurs between people when one chooses to follow Jesus and others don’t like it.
Jesus also said blessed are those who are persecuted for following Him (Matt. 5:10). This at times can mean physical harm where the believer can still experience peace despite being put in an unsafe situation.
If you want a healthy Jesus faith, don’t seek safety and comfort. Instead, seek peace with God through what Jesus did on the cross. If we choose to listen to and follow Jesus, not Christianity or traditions, others may not like it and become the very “haters” they claim Christians to be.
Safety and comfort may feel good in the short term, but never over time. Compromises here and there ultimately bring peace robbing guilt. The internal peace, the kind that says, “It is well with my soul” only comes from making the hard choices that can land you in unsafe places.
Loving Jesus isn’t always easy, but it sure is the best way to live.