Friday, June 28, 2013

THE MAN AT THE WELL

The right relationship is important.  The Samaritan woman of John 4 knows this all too "well". This woman had gone through five husbands and was working on number six when she met Jesus.  No, Jesus did not marry her or anybody else.  However, by the time Jesus patiently worked through all that had to be worked through to reach her, she and and a whole town believed Jesus to be "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). 

The woman's first falter was allowing cultural stereotypes and traditions (the non-association of Jews and Samaritans, especially Jewish male with Samaritan female) to get in the way of helping a fellow human being with a simple need (receiving some water for being tired).  John 4:9 says, 

  • "'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?'"

In the next instance I am sure I would have behaved and said the same kind of things she did that day.  Not counting the Lord's words - "Will you give me a drink?" - I would have associated Jesus' words -

  • "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10) 
- with the Psalmist, learned, noble, or those that speak the symbolic.  The "Jesus Speak" was not common speech.  He talked a lot about Himself in the third person and used descriptions of people, places, and things that made you raise an eyebrow or two.  Place yourself in her shoes.  However, to ponder the implication(s) of her simply giving Jesus the water when He asked is staggering.  Scripture says, "he would have given you living water."

As I read this encounter I noticed how the Samaritan woman kept submitting different kinds of "hurdles" or obstacles for herself or for Jesus to overcome.  In the first transaction the woman brings up cultural stigmas as a barrier.  In the second communication she brings up physical limitations, past history and authority issues all in one swoop.  Sounds like a tactic I am familiar with - "but what about...".  Here are her questions - 

  • " 'Sir, the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.  Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?' " (John 4:11-12)

This is not only doubt, but it is not understanding with spiritual eyes/ears.  I would have been operating in the natural too, if I was there in that moment.  She had not acquired those spiritual eyes and ears yet.  Christ had not yet taken her sins upon Himself and paid the price for them.  Then Jesus speaks more of His spiritual speech to the Samaritan woman and of course it goes flying over her head as it would have mine if I were there.

  • "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again [I can see Jesus pointing at the well], but whoever drinks the water I give him [now Jesus points at Himself] will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)

The woman still interprets the water that Jesus has for her as H2O.  Read her reply.

  • "The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.' " (John 4:15)

Jesus proceeds to not only speak spiritually but perform a spiritual act by reading her mail (telling her about her past and present). This spiritual act by Jesus seemed to put worship on the brain of the Samaritan woman.  Immediately she noticed Jesus as a Prophet and inquired about worship - in particular the place of worship (John 4:19-20).

  • "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." (John 4:19-20) 
Jesus responded by saying,

  • "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. ....... Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:21-24)

Jesus explained where and when worship is accepted by God - anywhere and anytime.  The hill on which they were standing and Jerusalem to which both referred to were now out of the exclusive "worship picture" according to Jesus.  Now, whenever the Spirit leads and wherever He pricks your heart to worship - Just Do It (sound familiar).  Then I got the sense that Jesus' explanation impressed the woman and a messianic questionable thought (could he be the Messiah?) became a comment that was enough to bring the conversation to it's climax.  The Samaritan woman said,

     " 'I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.' "

     "Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am he.' " (John 4:25-26)

What amazing patience it took on the Lord's part to reveal these truths.  My "eyes" and "ears" would have been just as much, if not more, spiritually blind and deft.  Thank God, I believe the Lord would have been that gracious too.

It is all about relationship!  The Lord's salvation is more than enough to prompt me ("bubble up or well-up my waters") to share my testimony or salvation story with anyone.  But God did not and doesn't stop there, He has kept on blessing me.  This gives me the desire to thank and praise my Lord wherever I am and at any time.  It should do the same for all Christians too.

The thing is, as we keep abiding in Him, His resources are available to us and our "fruit" should display the "living water" within us and the kind of connectivity we have with The Vine (John 15:7-8).

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

As Christians allow those "streams of living water" to "flow from within" to those that need it, maybe whole towns like the Samaritan woman's town can become followers of The Man at the Well.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

STATUS UPDATE

Many social media sites have a window called - "Status Update" - where you insert your latest thoughts, feelings, or life-events that you wish to share with close friends or the world.  The following Status Update I would love to share with the world and will do my part while I still draw breath.

First I must inform the world of the original status or condition that influences everyone.  Because of the disobedience of one man, humanity fell out of love with God and in love with themselves.  In addition, all of humanity's tendencies since this mistake have been self-centered.  We have a nature that wants what we want, when we want it, and how we want it.  Therefore, because of this rebellion a colossal chasm resulted in the relationship between humanity and God.  

The leader of this rebellion is a spirit that was named Lucifer.  Many call him Satan, Devil, or Adversary now.  I call him stupid.  His future is the eternal Lake of Fire.  Desiring to hurt God as much as possible, this fallen angel deceived, lied, and tempted the first humans into a sick, cancerous, spiritual nature that would permeate everything.  The Scripture calls in Sin.

Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:9-10)

Even Jesus speaks to the sinful condition everyone is born into when He said about Himself as the answer, 

"...whoever does not believe stands condemned already." (John 3:18)
and
"...whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

Paul did an excellent job of describing humanity's condition and humanity's answer when he wrote to the believers in Rome.  So, allow me to step back and have you read his Holy Spirit-inspired words.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.  But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! - Romans 5:12-15

What leaps out from Paul's explanation, to me, is "death reigned...even over those who did not sin by breaking a command".  Here it is again.  This theme you will not be able to get away from in Scripture.  Our sinful nature haunts us no matter how good you think you have lived your life.  Once again, Paul says it best in his letter to Rome.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  (Romans 3:23-24)

The first part of this verse wastes no time in describing humanity's damned condition as we begin life.  The second part of the verse supplies us with The Answer we can choose, which is The Good News or Gospel.  

Much of this world is walking around damned with the answer.  Until we each genuinely accept what Christ did for us on a personal level our Spiritual Status Field is "Damned".  However, as those of us who have this "Damned" Status walk around, Christ has provided an Update - "Redeemed!"  Now that is a Status Update to share with the whole world!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Not JUST Words

There are many words that Biblical teachers emphasize to Believers in Christ which help in the growth or maturation process.  The following are Not Just Words, they are important, foundational concepts that I feel must be understood in order to progress nicely in one's walk with the Lord Jesus Christ (getting off the baby food and onto solid food - 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-13; 1 Peter 2:2).  
  1. Law - Is the perfect God-set standards for humanity to keep in order to redeem their relationship with God.  One failing of the law equals total failure.
  2. Works - Attempt at salvation by self.
  3. Grace - Is the unmerited favor of God.
  4. Faith - "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1; "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Hebrews 11:6
  5. Deeds - Actions, not out of obligation, that may display your faith in hopes of recruiting others. James 2:14-26
  6. Fruit - Is the result of sowing into someone's life.  Matthew 12:33; John 15:4-5, 8, 16; Luke 3:9 ~ Luke 6:43 (What is fruit? Or seed?  Galatians 5:22)
The Plan for humanity was and is to look at the perfect God-set standards, The Law, and realize that violation of just one of hundreds of laws, rules, and regulations given to live a perfect, holy life will result in failure of the entire Law and consequently one's eternal separation from God.  One mistake at attempting to be perfect and you have failed at being perfect - with The Law as your teacher and mirror.  All attempts are called Works.  Trying to strive for or work for one's perfect life, enlightenment, oneness with God, or Salvation is Not attainable through our own means or self.

The answer to any and all violations of The Law is Faith in the unmerited, undeserved favor of God or Grace.  This favor was personified in Jesus Christ as He fulfilled all the law that was required to live a Holy life and did not make a mistake (Hebrews 4:15).  His life and complete work on the Cross and Resurrection is enough for the salvation of those who desire to be at peace with God and live with Him forever.

Actions that Christians display after they believe in His Grace are called Deeds.  Scripture acknowledges there will be bad along with good Deeds within the Christian walk and one day it will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10).  However, because He first loved us, these Deeds should not be out of obligation, but come from a heart of joy and desire to offer into service our capabilities and talents.  

The result(s) of these actions or service for The King is called Fruit.  "The Fruit of Your Labor" is an applicable phrase here, except you have a co-laborer - Christ Jesus through His Holy Spirit.  Christians do not have to be Superman, they have Him dwelling on the inside (John 14:17) ready to work with them to create more lasting Fruit, the kind that endures (John 15:16).  What is even more amazing is Jesus saying, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  (John 14:12)

So, if you have not realized these words and the meanings to them, I challenge you to....

Realize and accept you are not perfect, attaining perfection by your own merits is impossible, and your relationship with God needs redeeming.  
Realize and accept Jesus is the answer.  "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
Realize and accept His Grace by Faith!
Realize and accept His Love for you and others enough to spur you to action and get involved in serving God.
Realize and observe the Fruit in your life to see, according to Scripture, if God would be pleased.  At this stage in one's walk It should be All About Jesus and Not Just Words!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

FROM MY HEART

I like the song "His Grace Is Enough" and sing it every now-and-then, in and out of church.  I am currently scraping the tip of the iceberg of Grace and Grace being enough.  Anytime Grace has been announced in song, sermon, or conversation, I automatically receive the ultimate image of unmerited favor in my mind - Christ's sacrifice for me on The Cross.  However, what I am learning is - what my Lord did for me at Calvary was Grace shown and poured out for me above-and-beyond just my salvation!

I am learning that His Grace, my undeserved favor, reaches into every aspect of my life.  There is a verse that ministers to me in this vein and is one of my favorites.  Consider Hebrews 4:15-16 -
  • "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
It is so comforting to know - God Himself has been there, done that, and owns the t-shirt printing shop.  He wouldn't be much of a god if He didn't know our troubles and trials personally.  But I am learning this - that He is much more than just my Savior.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere.  And no-matter how my personal life may look or the world affairs at the time, I have got to believe God is Sovereign.  If God is not in control then there is no God.  Here is where two other verses come to mind.  
  • "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." - Mathew 10:30
  • "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." - Matthew 10:29
It is me not entrusting the rest of my life to His plan that is holding even more of His favor back.  If I can whole-heartedly believe that Jesus has got my salvation covered, why is that I struggle to remind myself His Grace is enough for so much more in my life?  God has got to get bigger in my spiritual vision because He is always going to be bigger than I can ever imagine.  I guess that comes with traveling the journey and experiencing His Grace.  And I thank God that I am on that journey of knowing and experiencing His Grace!   

There are so many people out there that have rejected this Amazing Grace.  I know I should not give-up on those individuals because Christ did not give-up on me. I challenge you, if you are in the fold of the Great Shepherd, also not to give-up on those who have rejected His Grace!  However, there are those out there that have not even heard about Grace personified - His Majesty, His Grace - Jesus Christ.  And I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me opportunities to not only share my salvation story with them, but also brag on the awesome things God is doing in my life!

Just as God promised Abraham descendants more numerous than the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky, so I personally believe that analogy could be applied to the Grace God desires to shower me with because I am His kid and He is my Father - Full of Grace.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

HOW MANY WAYS.....(HAMBURGER)

I do not have to look hard or far for a hamburger joint near me.

  1. Tribeca Tavern  
  2. Red Robin  
  3. Backyard Burgers
  4. Chargrill Burgers
  5. Fat Daddy's
  6. Two Guys Grille
  7. Five Guys Grille
  8. McDonalds 
  9. Wendy's
  10. Burger King
  11. Hardee's
What is the difference with all these locations?  To me, the last four could be classified as just fast food.  Backyard, Chargrill, Two Guys, and Five Guys tend to be going for the out-back-at-home burger.  Fat Daddy's cooks it up nice and allows you to add your toppings at a topping center.  Tirbeca Tavern and Red Robin offer gourmet burgers on their menus.

How these locations prepare their meat is one difference and how they present themselves is another.  Tribeca Tavern has nice wood tables, carpet, and t.v. monitors everywhere for sporting events to be seen.  Red Robin caters to the youth or young at heart with a mini game room, t.v.'s on a cartoon network, and decorations that are colorful.  Two Guys Grille have a surfing theme going because they originated from the Wilmington, N.C. area.

Then there is a place that throws a monkey-wrench into the mix - The Cowfish.  A restaurant on Six Forks Rd. in Raleigh, in the North Hills area that serves both burgers and sushi.  Yes, they serve these two popular items separate, But they also deliver them to you Combined!  Different, eh?  Tanya and I have tried the separate route for now and it was scrumptulescent (new word meaning  - so delicious, if my stomach had endless capacity I would still be sitting there massaging my taste buds with the food now!)

This place is loud when it is full.  It has got a big ole fish tank in the form of a drinking glass in the center of the restaurant that is neat to view.  Big time warning here - get there before 6 p.m. if possible for dinner on any night of the week, otherwise you are looking at an hour wait.  We were told weekends are crazy - try at your own risk.

So, there you have it, my first food blog - Preparation and Presentation are key for one-food joints, especially when concerning an ole standby like the hamburger.  In addition, you now have a new place to try out.  I see food, let's eat!  

Friday, June 7, 2013

SOMETHING ROTTEN IN "DENMARK"

Everything changed when the NCAA launched an investigation into improper benefits in the football program in 2010. That soon expanded to academic misconduct involving a university tutor, then got worse with findings of fraud and no-show classes in an academic department with significant athlete enrollments.

"We don't have a commission that tells us not to trust the dean of medicine to run the hospital, but we do have a commission that tells us not to trust the ADs to run athletics," he said. "It doesn't make any sense." – Holden Thorp

Murray Sperber, a critic of commercialization in college sports, wonders why presidents don't stumble more often when it comes to overseeing a realm that is often foreign to them. Most come from the academic side and make their way through the administrative ranks that exist as separate worlds from athletics on a college campus, he said.

The idea of presidential control in athletics took hold with the recommendations of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in the early 1990s.

The commission was created by the Knight Foundation in 1989, after a string of college sports scandals created a sense that athletic departments had gotten out of control and threatened schools' academic integrity. The commission noted in one report that 57 of the 106 schools then competing at the highest level of sports had been penalized by the NCAA in the 1980s, along with reports of athletes taking courses like "recreational leisure."

Putting the school president at the center of reform efforts was a key part of what the commission advocated.

Thorp certainly understands the difficulty finding that balance.

"Either we put the ADs back in charge and hold them accountable if things don't work," Thorp said in April during a campus forum, "... or let's be honest and tell everyone when we select (presidents) to run institutions that run big-time sports, that athletics is the most important part of their job."

Thorp will resign from his alma mater at the end of June to work as provost at Washington University in St. Louis.

Source: http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/9348194/holden-thorp-leaving-north-carolina-tar-heels-chancellor

Thursday, June 6, 2013

KNOWING THE MEANING, MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

Whenever you hear or read Ephesians 6:17 - which says - "...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - know the meaning because it will make the difference for you and others.

Let us talk swords.  The Roman soldier had five kinds of swords available for use.  The gladius or two-handed, long, heavy broadsword was a sword you might see in the movie Highlander or Braveheart.  Next, a shorter version of the gladius (17 in. long, 2.5 in. wide) was a lighter option.  Thirdly, a dagger-like sword was in the line-up for consideration.  Fourth, there was the long, slender cavalry sword, which was not good for hand-to-hand combat.  However, it was the machaira, that Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described as "the sword of the Spirit".

According to the original Greek (machaira), the Roman equivalent of the "sword of the Spirit" is a double-edged weapon with the tip of the blade pointed upward for more tearing and ripping damage of a potential victim.  Many knives and swords have a flat, dull side so that when the knife is flipped open or out it does not hurt the hand.  In the case of carrying it on the belt without a scabbard the dull side would not harm the leg.  However, in this picture each side of the sword has an edge.  

"The phrase 'two-edged' is taken from the Greek word distomos, and it is unquestionably one of the oddest words in the entire New Testament.

Why is the phrase 'two-edged' so odd?  Because it is a compound of the word di, meaning two, and the word stomos, which is the Greek word for one's mouth.  Thus, when these two words are compounded into the word distomos, the new word describes something that is two-mouthed.  
(Dressed To Kill, Renner, p.416) 

The spiritual application of the blades (researched by Rick Renner) is that one edge of the blade to the "sword of the Spirit" is God speaking to you and the other is you speaking that same word out-loud into your situation or to others.  

Remember the temptation of Christ in the wilderness?  Matthew 4:1-11 describes the interaction between Jesus and Satan.  Do you recall Christ's replies to Satan's temptations?  Jesus said, "It is written...""It is also written...", and "It is written...".  For every scenario Satan presented to Jesus, the Messiah received a download from Heaven via the Holy Spirit.  Remember, it was just moments ago in Scripture that Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, empowering Jesus to begin His ministry.  In addition, it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.  

So, I encourage Christians to verbally say out loud to their situations, "It is written...".  Pray or quote the Word of God over that situation in faith, especially after receiving a Rhema word of God, and your faith will soar.  This hearing ability and speaking ability calls for an understanding of the second phrase mentioned above - "word of God". 

The "word of God" is NOT translated as the written word or Bible in this instance.  This "word of God" that does so much damage to the kingdom of darkness, translated from the original Greek, is the Rhema Word of God.  Go look it up and research it. You will find - "It describes something that is spoken clearly; spoken vividly; spoken in undeniable language; or spoken in unmistakable, unquestionable, certain, and definite terms.  In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word,...a 'word from the Lord'...special power or direction to that believer.  The Holy Spirit might drop a rhema word into our hearts, supernaturally remind us of a scripture, or put us in remembrance of a Bible promise." (Dressed To Kill, Renner, p.407) 

The key is that the "sword of the Spirit" or revealed Word of God hangs or is supported by The Belt of Truth which is the Logos, written Word of God, or The Bible (Epehsians 6:14: Matthew 4:4).  If the Christian has his/her Belt of Truth (written Word of God) tightly fitted around their mind and life, then a Rhema word will be near at hand.  "Jesus referred to this quickening work of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 when He said, 'But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.' "  (Renner, p.407) 

"If you are in the Word - if you are walking with the loinbelt of truth affixed to your life - you are in position to hear from God.  

One reason people don't experience results when they confess God's Word is that they speak before the Word has personally done its life-transforming work inside of them.  They hastily begin to mimic what someone else confessed or what someone else did before the Word has had time to take root in their hearts and to renew their minds.  But because the Word of God hasn't yet become personal revelation to them, it produces no lasting results.


...the Word of God had better be in you - living, active, and powerful!  Moreover, it had better be more than mere head knowledge.  If all you have is head knowledge of God's Word, the devil will be able to confuse you and ultimately pull you down into defeat.


A believer's ability to walk in this kind of supernatural direction and revelation is completely determined by how much Word he has inside of him.  People who receive frequent rhema words from the Lord are people who have made the logos, the written Word, a central part of their lives."  (Renner, pages 423, 420-421, 427, and 425)


Notice "Spirit" is capitalized.  It is the Holy Spirit's "sword" with us that begins to make the difference.  The first step is knowing the meaning between Logos and Rhema.  

Logos is The Written Word of God, better known as The Belt of Truth in the armor of God located in Ephesians 6.  This written Word (Logos/Belt of Truth) holds all things together and supports the use of the rest of the armor and weapons.

Rhema is inspiration drawn from God's Logos, Mind or Spirit that was not necessarily observed before and is applicable to a situation or something God wants the Christian to know at this time. 


The second step is to make the difference for your life and the lives of others.  You do this by reading the written Word of God (The Bible) and being sensitive to any special revelation God may desire to uncover.  This is a great start on wielding "the sword of the Spirit", the Rhema Word of God appropriately in our lives.  Within your spiritual armor, your Belt is the written Word, your Sword of the Spirit is a personal, quickened Word.  Knowing the meaning makes the difference.