Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Real Resurrection Rest

I had some operator error yesterday.  I was going to put my R word up yesterday, even though we're supposed to take Sunday's off and I guess I should have stuck to the Challenge guidelines and stick to the program.  If you're on Blogger or google plus you have seen my error, if not, this is a redo of what I originally posted, then deleted by accident (?).

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the story being celebrated around the world today.  It's the tie that binds Christians across denomination and divisions.  I couldn't write my R words on Easter Monday.  They had to be written and shared (oops) on Resurrection Sunday.  So here they are, two for the price of one:   rest and real.  Both of them can only make sense in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let's start with real first.  Can I get real with you?

Real:  not fake, false, artificial, fraudulent, or illusory; genuine.

One of the amazing things...

And that's all that posted.  Everything I wrote after that is gone.   Lost in cyberspace.

Then I had another post for R, one that I wrote a few days ago, when I was really frustrated with some things I was seeing.  It's not a real nice post.  It would offend probably a lot of people.  And as I struggle right now with what I should post - something entirely new or bring out the sassy one, or as a third option use a combo of both - my heart is beating faster, I have some anxiety running through my nervous system and I think to myself, I am being just the exact thing being real is not.

One of the many amazing things about the human body is that it doesn't lie.  No matter how much   we can tell ourselves we're fine, we don't hurt physically or emotionally, we don't suffer from the past, we are doing ok, the body tells the real story.

Our hips and stomachs tell the story when we eat emotionally and not for fuel.

Our hearts tell the story when the doctor tells us our blood pressure is too high, so is our cholesterol and we need to quit working round the clock.

Our liver tells the story when we drink too much.

Our stomachs tell the story when we have digestive issues and either poop all the time or can't poop at all or we can't eat this because of that ingredient.

We can give ourselves a false sense of comfort about the sicknesses and illnesses we have - it's genes, it's what my mother had and her mother before her, it's because I live in this part of the country, it's because I was abused when I was young, it's because I was vaccinated, no it's because I wasn't vaccinated -  but the bottom line is, our bodies won't lie for us.  Sin is in us and has tainted us.  Sometimes we are sick because it's simply sin living in us.  Sometimes we are sick because of choices we make and the sin genes living in our bodies latch on and manifest as bulimia or allergies or headaches or high blood pressure or cancer.  

The body is a tangible piece of evidence that tells the truth about us and our condition.  Our minds won't let us be real.  Our minds like to believe lies about our body too.  So, let's start being real like our bodies are trying to teach us.

We struggle with being real don't we?  We church folk do.  We believers do.  We supposed followers of Christ do.  We're worried that if the truth got out about who we really are and what we've really done we'd hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We would hinder the good news of what He did to make us His own children, to walk with us, to live life with us, on top of the wonderful, wonderful news that we are forgiven.  Everything we've done is paid for in his one sacrifice.

But somehow our nature just wants to hide and pretend and be fake.

But the Resurrection really doesn't allow for fake-ness.  Sure we're good at calling our temptations and sins of lust and greed and pornography and addictions and gluttony and pride and arrogance as "sin," never using the real words that describe us.

If we call ourselves "sinners" instead of drunks and addicts and the gluttons and pharisees we are, it's a nicer word, it's the religiously correct word.

But the Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the freedom really to call our spades spades.

When we dress up and hide and rename the things we are - the ones that are struggling and dying and trying to be good, do good, not be bad - they see us and call us that great word.  You know it.  HYPOCRITE!

They know who we are, they see us trying to hide who we are and pretend we're better, or not as bad or simply fake - and the gospel, the good news, the Resurrection story is simply just a story.  It's not real in our life.  It's just something we do because the calendar says its time and then we put it away, tuck it back in the closet until next year when we bring out the Passion story of Christ.

Instead of living the passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ every single day.

It's wonderful to have the day where Christians can boldly post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram - "He's Risen" - and we get the pass from our unbelieving friends to do so, but then Easter Monday comes and the masks come back on.

When we're real, when we're not fake, not artificial, not fraudulent, not illusory, we can find real rest.

Real Resurrection rest.

The rest that Jesus gives and bids us to come and receive from Him.

When we're fake, when God's own children feel the need to be fake and hide and pretend, so does the world.

It takes a lot of energy to be fake, doesn't it.  Lots of money too.  Dressing up the outside, losing sleep over the inside.

But when God's children are honest with themselves and with God about who they are, not just "sinners" but children who have done____________(you fill in the sins that dog you), then those who call us hypocrites may, just may, find it a little less hindering to consider who Jesus really is.  And what He really did for them.

I don't know.  Maybe it is "their" problem.  But maybe it's "our" problem.

I'm ready to be real.  Maybe I'm just getting old but I'm tired of phony baloney.  I'm sassy(ier) the older I get.  Or the thug in me is really starting to come out.  I don't know.

I'm just tired of trying to give a defense to behaviors of the saved that the world sees.  I'm tired of hearing the unbelieving world accuse the believing world of being hypocrites and having no true defense to give to stand up for the hypocrisy and fraud that surrounds the American church.

The thing is though, it's tiring to be us.  It's tiring to be fake.  It zaps of energy and joy and peace and freedom.  It costs money to be fake.  Blood pressure pills, insulin shots, knee surgery, heart surgery - they all cost money.  It costs money when we're not honest about ourselves deep down under the surface of sinners saved by grace.

The unsaved are not worried about being fake.  They're not worried about being a poser.  They accept who they really are.

We blame their attitudes and behaviors on their sinfulness, their parents, the schools these days, the government, the justice system, the Supreme Court, false teaching, when all the while the Light in the established churches remains dim at best.

We blame our attitudes and behaviors on our sinful nature, our "little" sins, said with a wink and a chuckle - "ooo, I shouldn't have eaten that last piece of pie" when really we got snubbed by someone we really admire or we're trying to drown out the pain of memories that torture, so the pie tries to fill the hole in our hearts only God can fill.

We blame our heart condition on genetics and big fancy words for murmurs when in fact we drink  and smoke because we don't know how else to silence the thoughts that taunt our minds when it's quiet.

We blame our stomach problems on food, on vaccines, on ingredients, when in fact we just simply use food to fill the voids only God can fill.  We control our food because we can't control anything else around us.

We're a mess, you know that right?  The church is a mess.  The statistics for the world's ills run neck and neck with the church's ills.  Take a look sometime.  Google porn addiction in the church.  Google abortions in the church.  Google divorce in the church.  Google gays in the church.  We're a mess.  The statistics aren't pretty.  We're not fooling anyone, least of all God.

It's us who have the problem.  It's us who think we have to hide our struggles from them for fear that the gospel will be hindered.  I've got news for you:  The gospel is hindered when we hide our struggles.

No ones says you have to agree with their lifestyle or buy them their drugs or feed their addictions by looking the other way. I'm certainly not saying that.

What I am saying is this:  Be real about who you are first.  Not just the blanket word "sinner" either.  Call yourself the spade you are. Put a name to the sins you are trying to hide from.   You're only hurting yourself by pretending you're something you're really not.  If you have to pretend and hide and deny you're an addict or gay or a wife beater, you're really hindering the gospel.  If you're denying you have heart problems because you're simply eating too much, you're hindering the gospel.

Read that part again.  You're hindering the gospel.

You are.  I am.  Not them.  Not the lost.  Not the unsaved.  Not false teachers, not false churches.  You are.  I am. Every time we are fake and not real, the gospel is squashed.

Every time we deny and comfort our "little" sin, we hinder the gospel.

Every time we call ourselves a sinner and continue to live in sin without repentance, without turning away from it, we are hindering the gospel.

Every time.

Does this mean we blab our sins to everyone all the time?  Most certainly not!  But if we can't even blab them to ourselves and most importantly God, then really, what's the point of even calling ourselves a follower of Christ?  We're not following him.  We're  only a stumbling block for someone else wanting to reach out to him.

They - those watching us - they are looking for evidence that the gospel is real.

What personal evidence can you bring to the table to show and proclaim to a lost and dying world that Jesus is real?

I don't know what this will look like if we all started being real.  Maybe new groups will form.  Like PA - pharisee anonymous.  Or GA - gluttons anonymous or gossips anonymous.  (Smiles)  It's probably going to get messy.  It's probably going to turn the tables on normal and make some really uncomfortable.  But so what?

Is normal really working?  Really?

Let's be real.  Let's live a Real Resurrected life!  That's where the real rest comes from.  The ceasing of labor.

Ahhhhhhhhh.

R is for Real Resurrection Rest.

Peace,
Ronda

Things to chew on:
1.  Do you agree the church needs to be real?  Do you think the church is ok where it's at?
2.  What dangers do you see in being real?
3.  What dangers do you see in keeping things the same?



1 Corinthians 3:10-15
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.  If what he builds survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.







Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Qualified

hikanoo` - to make sufficient

Colossians 1:9-14  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Yesterday was Good Friday for Christians and those who aren't, some of you anyway, benefitted with a day off maybe.  It was Good Friday and tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday.  Those two days and the day in-between brought you, yes you, a gift.  You are now qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  You have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and you have been brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Whether you believes this or not, you have been qualified.

See, without the original Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday you and I were unqualified and stood insufficient  to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Without that Good Friday 2000 plus years ago, we were only allowed to share in the inheritance of the lost in the kingdom of darkness.

Now we are qualified - we have the necessary skill, experience, or knowledge to do a particular job or activity; we have the qualifications to do something - we are qualified.

The Resurrection has made us qualified to live as children of Light, not of darkness.  Before Good Friday we weren't qualified.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live in the kingdom of the Son God the Father loves.  Before Good Friday we were only qualified to live in the kingdom of the one who hates God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live a life worthy of the Lord.  Before Good Friday our only qualifications were to live a life in opposition of the Lord and His goodness.

The Resurrection has qualified us to bear fruit in our good works.  Before Good Friday our good works did nothing to please God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to grow in the knowledge of God.  Before Good Friday our only knowledge was of what opposed God's knowledge.

The Resurrection has  qualified us to be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might.  Before Good Friday our power was used for our motives and purposes, not God's.

The Resurrection qualified us to have great endurance and patience.  Before Good Friday we could only give up and give in to the temptations of sin and defeat.

The Resurrection qualified us to joyfully give thanks to the Father.  Before Good Friday we could only complain and curse God.

We're qualified.  We got the job!  Do you want it?  Do you want the blessings and benefits and responsibility that comes with being qualified to live as a child of light?  Or would you rather stay working in your dead end job as a child of darkness?

Everything has been done for you to live as a child of the Light.  Everything.  You've got the promotion.  You're qualified.

Q is for Qualified.

Peace,
Ronda

Things to chew on tonight and on Resurrection Sunday:
1.  As a believer, what qualifications can you thank God for?
2.  As a believer, what qualifications do you need reminding of more often today?
3.  As an unbeliever, what keeps you from stepping out and taking the job you've been qualified for?

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Peace

I end all my blogs with the farewell - Peace, Ronda.

I wish you peace in your hearts and your minds and your souls.  We don't know each other well enough to be so forward for me to say, "Love, Ronda," although I do love you because Jesus loves you.  And who Jesus loves, I pray to love as He does.

I don't wish you peace from your trials and burdens, as in release from any trial and burden because that's not possible in this world we live.  We will have trouble, Jesus promised us that.

I wish you peace in the trouble.  I wish for you peace in the trial.  I wish for you peace in the burden.

Not the wishy washy peace the world wishes.  No, I wish you the peace that passes all understanding.  The peace that others see in you that is so mind-boggling it makes them nervous.  Nervous enough to want it for themselves.  I wish you that kind of peace.

Unfortunately or fortunately maybe, the only way you get that kind of peace is by having trials and troubles and tribulations.  You don't get it by a life without difficulty.  It's a peace that can only come and be seen when the trials surround you.

That's the kind of peace I wish for you each and every day I write it and the days in-between when keys on my keyboard lay silent and untouched.

This is the kind of peace our world needs and craves.  This is the kind of peace that sees the corruption, the heartache, the evil,  and the pain around us and still can say, "I know that my Redeemer lives."

This is the kind of peace that can rest knowing that even when the questions remain unanswered, God is still at work bringing all things under His authority.

This is the kind of peace that can grieve and wail but still know that God is a good God, an Abba Father holding His banner of love over me.

This is the kind of peace that gives courage, stomps on discouragement, and encourages us to keep going.

This is the kind of peace that can only come from Someone who is familiar with all our troubles and carries us through them, not abandoning us in our time of need.

This is the kind of peace that guards our hearts, helping us when we're helpless.

This is the kind of peace those who are made innocent through a sacrifice made and a life Resurrected  can have at any given moment.

This is the kind of peace that causes us to jump for joy, not caring what anyone thinks about our outward show of excitement and praise that we've been saved!

This is the kind of peace that comes when we know what we know what we know to be true is indeed True.

This is the kind of peace that continually stands ready to learn the lessons that come because of trials.

This is the kind of peace we can have each moment of our lives knowing he is near enough to touch.

This is the kind of peace we can have celebrating the original we have been made to be.

This is the kind of peace that is for you, not against you.

For He himself is our peace, our eirene - "our gift of wholeness from God, when all essential parts are joined together... The state of untroubled, undisturbed, well-being.  Such a state of peace is the object of divine promise and is brought about by God's mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.  The gospel of peace can only be the result of reconciliation with God and made a new relationship between man and God brought by the atonement" of Jesus.

Eirene,
Ronda

Things to chew on:
1.  Be honest.  Are you/ do you have eirene?
2.  Be honest.  Do you want eirene?
3.  Be honest.  Are you willing to surrender your feeble attempts for peace and submit to the giver of eirene?

References:  Biblehub.com and Key Word Study Bible NIV; AMG Publishers

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Original

Original:  not like others

When I was a new mother and learning how a baby worked I read everything I could get my hands on both while I was pregnant, after the baby was born and until he basically went to college.  Grin.

Then baby two came along and everything that worked for baby number one did not work for baby number two.  Several reasons for that became evident:

First of all and most important,  I wasn't a first time mother when my second baby was born.  I had learned to relax. A lot.  The second reason was first baby was a boy and second baby was a girl, and  you can enter in multiple sub-categories under this reason alone.

By the time I was pregnant with baby number three I thought I had figured out how it all worked and felt I could handle either sex no matter which God blessed us with.  (This was before we knew the sex of the baby before it was born - a shock to you new moms out there, I know!)

I felt pretty sure of myself and confident that I had boy babies figured out and girl babies figured out, I was ready for either!

And God laughed and laughed and laughed!

Baby number three, a girl, not only was nothing like the boy baby, but nothing at all like the girl baby I had.  What worked for the first girl baby didn't always work for the second girl baby.  And some of what worked for the boy baby DID work for the second girl baby, but all three were so different in temperament, personality, likes, dislikes, foods preferences, sleep patterns and multiple other traits that there was no way I could find THE book to fit my situation as a mother.

They were all ORIGINALS even though they shared many characteristics.  Things like organs and skin and bones and cells and blood came with all three children.  They all were born with brains and souls and the developmental paths were prewired so that they all reached the milestones at somewhat same timeframe.

But they were, and are, so different in so many ways, yet so much the same in other ways.

They are ORIGINALS.

And so are you and me and the rest of the planet. We all share the single most common denominator:  being human.  Created by a God who created the stars and moon and sun and the planets and the galaxies.

He created men and women, boys and girls.  All with the same basic model of either the male body or the female body.

And then he tweaked us.  He made us original in our design and our abilities and gifts.

Some are really good at math.  Some are born leaders.  Some are born shy.  Some are born laid back.  Some are born with a natural understanding of the sciences.  Some are born with a keen awareness of emotional pain.  Some are born to teach.  Some are born to work on cars.  He gave some of us brown hair, some blonde, red, black and mixed with other unique hues only for us.  Some were given green eyes, some were given blue and brown eyes.  Some are tall, some are short.

He didn't cause us to be born in the same towns or cities or countries.  He picked unique and original places for each of us to be born and live and have our being. He put us in families each original in their own way.

He's given each of us specially designed circumstances and upbringings which further make us originals.  None of us have the exact same history.  We share a lot of similarities but we are all originals with original stories.

Each of us is unique, an original.

Made by a unique and original God.  There is no one else like Him.  No other God can do what this one can do.

We are originals made by an Original God.

O is for Original.

Peace,
Ronda

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Near

Near:  close to someone or something in distance; not far away in time; almost or nearly



I don't like to simply make a blog post a bunch scripture verses because I realize that a lot of people get tired of being preached to and move on.  So if that's you, I understand.

But if you do want to hang around just a bit longer and reread the verses at the end I want you to know this:

It's simple.  It doesn't take a degree, a cleaned up life, a life not breaking the big laws.  He's near.  Right now, he's near enough to hear your cry for help.  He's near enough to hear  your whisper for peace.  He's near enough to hear your ache for joy.  He's near enough to hear you when you say nothing.

You don't have to have it all right and you won't ever have it all right.  Lord knows, I sure don't and I'm so thankful I don't have to!

You just have to believe what the words above say.

That's it.

He's done all the work in order for you to be able to believe the words above.  All the work.  There's nothing left to be done.

He lived the perfect life you can't.  He loved the perfect way you will never be able to.  He walked the perfect life you constantly stumble trying to walk.  There's nothing left for you to do except this:

Believe He is near and He loves you and He wants to do your life with you.  Not against you.  He is for you!

Believe what He did is enough.

Believe.

Believe He is the One who can give you the joy and peace you so long for.

Believe.

Believe He is near enough and able enough to save you from yourself and your lousy life.

Believe.

Believe He is near enough to help you climb out of the mediocre life you have and make it a life worth living again.

Believe.

Believe He has a plan for your life.

Believe.

Even when you believe, you're still going to mess up, but He's near enough to help you from making a bigger mess you would have made without him.

Even when you believe, you'll have days of doubt and despair.  But He's still near enough to hear your cries and renew your hope and joy and faith.

Even when you believe, you'll get mad, angry, sarcastic, snarky, and depressed from time to time.  But he'll still be near enough to grab up all those emotions and carry them for you.

Even when you believe, you will still have more questions than answers.  But He's still near enough to give you peace in not knowing all the answers.

Even when you believe, you will still get sick, you will still have pain, you will still suffer rejection and betrayal.  But He's still near enough to remind you He's been through the same, He'll get you through.

Even when you believe, life won't get perfect, nor will you, nor will any other believers around you.  But He will still be perfect.

It doesn't take some grand ceremony, some fancy prayer, some attendance or a slow walk down an endless aisle to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

Just believe it.  Right now.

He's near enough to be your Lord and Savior now.

He's near.

N is for Near.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14  Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Romans 10:8-9:..."The word is near you; it is in your mouth in and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:17  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

James 4:8  Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Peace,
Ronda