Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why I think the Bible is relevant for today

1.  What other manuscript or writings have survived as long as the Bible?

2.  What other gods have spoken to their followers in such personal ways as the followers of Jesus can boast?  Do the 1000's of Hindu gods?  Buddha?

3.  Of all the languages in the world that could be used for writing the Bible, it was written in two languages of people groups still living, and living in large numbers today.

4.  The Bible outsells any other book, year after year.

5.  God has shown me how the Bible is relevant for me, personally.

6.  Wars have started, wars have stopped; churches have started, churches have divided; countries have fallen, countries have started; all because of one book.  Just one.  What other book has held such power for thousands of years?

7.  What other book starts with a set of rules and ends with throwing out the playbook and just living on faith?

8.  What books in history continue to confirm ancient historical events?  And are all time best sellers?

9.  What other writings - stories, poetry, novels, references - have described in detail the creation of the world and the end of time with authority?

10.  Because God said it is.

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

living - zao - to live, experience God's gift of life

active - energes - at work, active, effective, productive of due result, energized, full of energy

sharper - tomoteros - sharper, keener

penetrates - diilnoumenos - I pass through, pierce, to go through, penetrate

dividing - merismos - a distributing, a distribution, a parting, dividing, severance, separation

judges - kritikos - able to judge or discern

thoughts - enthumesis - deliberation, pondering, inward thought, inner-passion, the emotional force driving meditation and reflection

attitudes - ennoia - thinking, intention, purpose, opinions

heart - kardias - the heart, the inner life, intention, the "affective center of our being" and the capacity of moral preference, i.c our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are

hidden - aphanes - unseen, invisible

laid bare - trachelizo - to take by the throat, to overthrow, I am laid bare

account - logos - is a common term (used 330 times in the New Testament) with regards to a person sharing a message; logos is a broad term meaning "reasoning expressed by words"

What other book can claim such power?  What other book has such power to back up its boasting?
We have the Bible today.  We have access to the Word of God beyond any Moses, Paul or any of the writers may have ever envisioned.  We are educated.  We can find Bibles not only in Christian bookstores and libraries, but you can buy a Bible in Walmart, Target, online.  There is no other book that not only has the power to judge our hearts, but also has the power to comfort us when it does.  The Author provides both.  

How relevant is it for you today?  Open it while there is still the opportunity in this country to do so.





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stinking up Heaven

A long time ago, there was a woman who lived a sinful life.  By sinful I mean the kind any parent never wishes for their daughter to live.  Do I need to explain?  One of the "perks" of living this kind of life was the woman sometimes received expensive gifts in payment for the service she provided her clients.

A long time ago, in the time this woman lived, her value as a woman was equal to a dog.  Maybe a little less.  Women were property and women were undervalued.

A long time ago, this particular woman, who had received an expensive gift for the service she provided, most likely from a manwho found her a little more valuable than his colleagues, brought her gift and laid it at the feet of Jesus.

A long time ago, when this woman brought her expensive gift, given to her by a man who valued her a little higher than a dog, for a service she provided to him that no parent in today's modern world would want for their daughter to provide, used this gift to anoint the King of Kings.

A long time ago, a gift received with shame and guilt, was used to anoint the King of Kings for his burial.

A long time ago, this gift of fragrance, when it was opened, filled the room.  Those around this woman and Jesus witnessed an interaction that left some in awe and others in disgust.

A long time ago the fragrance filled - pleroo - to make full, to complete - the room.

A long time ago an expensive gift, received in shame and guilt, was used to anoint the King of Kings, completing the room with a beautiful fragrance, filling it with a scent that reached the nose of Heaven.

A long time ago, a woman who lived a sinful life gave a gift to the King of Kings that would pave the way for us, in a time far in the future, to lay our gifts before the King of Kings; the gifts of shame and guilt and fill Heaven's throne room with the scent of a fragrance only the King of Kings can smell.

In a time that is now, your gifts can be laid down.

In a time that is now, the gifts that came from the shameful and guilt-ridden places can be given.

In a time that is now, the gifts that are given, will be opened by the King of Kings.

In a time that is now, the scent of these gifts, given by shame and guilt, will be a fragrant and pleasing aroma, reaching the throne of Heaven's grace.

In a time that is now.



John 12:3

The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good...The success of the gospel makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain victory over the Almighty Himself.  (Matthew Henry)


We all have come through different journeys.  Everyone has a different journey.  I do not regret one minute of my past.  You know why?  God gave me my past for a reason.  To make me who I am today.  All the pain, all the blessings, all the joys that you have been on have made you the unique person that you are today...You are a unique person.
    You have a choice, right now, to say about your past; your past can either make you or break you.  And it's your choice.
    Your past can either be the most powerful thing that has made you the person you are or it can break you...Are we using all our experiences, good or bad, for God's kingdom?
    Your past can be a crutch to lean on or it can be a rod of power.  The memories f the past can become the blessings of the future.  And the choice is yours.
    God only asks one thing.  Look where you have come from.  Deal with it.  Thank Him for it and leave it with Him....And be set free.  (Carolyn Koons)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Walking the Line

I love Johnny Cash.  I love his deep baritone voice, I love his real life songs.  Unfortunately, it was at the end of his life that I really started to appreciate the man behind the name.  It helped when Walk the Line came out - the movie about his and June Carter's life together.  His honesty and forthrightness about who he really was, all he'd done to make a mess of his life, struck a chord (no pun intended) with me.  He made no excuses for the life he'd led before he began to follow Jesus.

In his autobiography, Johnny said, "I guess I'm right where I'm supposed to be in my life right now; so I'm happy with that.  I don't have any regrets, and I don't carry any guilt trips around.  I shook all that off with forgiveness and soul-searching.  Forgiving myself mainly."

I remember reading or hearing him say, can't remember which, but I'm paraphrasing, Johnny said something to the effect of the types of songs he wrote and sang after he surrendered to Jesus.  He said he was waiting for God to give him spirituals to sing -more hymns - but God just kept giving him words to prison songs, cheating songs, etc.

Isn't that the way God works?  We think that he's going to make us these nuns and monks when we surrender to him, but what does God do?  Keeps us right where we're at!  Sometimes God doesn't ever take us from the place where we met him and sometimes he takes us kicking and screaming.  Every situation is different.  Every person is different.  Every encounter with the Holy Spirit is different.

There was a quote I came across a long time ago that sums it up best for me.

"Jesus gained the power to love harlots, bullies, and ruffians...he was able to do this only because he saw through the filth and crust of degeneration, because his eye caught the divine original which is hidden in every way - in every man!...First and foremost he gives us new eyes...

"When Jesus loved a guilt-laden person and helped him, he saw in him an erring child of God.  He saw in him a human being whom his Father loved and grieved over because he was going wrong.  He saw him as God originally designed and meant him to be, and therefore he saw through the surface layer of grime and dirt to the real man underneath.  Jesus did not identify the person with his sin, but rather saw in this sin something alien, something really did not belong to him, something that merely chained and mastered him and from which he would free him and bring him back to his real self.  Jesus was able to love men because he loved them right through the layer of mud."

Helmut Thielicke

Jesus sees pass your shenanigans.  He sees way beyond your beliefs about yourself.  The beliefs that say to you, "I'm not good enough.  I've done way too many bad things.  I've hurt too many people.  Jesus could never change me."


Two things you need to know:

1.  Jesus is bigger than you give him credit for.

2.  Your sin is much smaller than you see it.

Yes, we've messed up.  We've done some horrible, horrible things that the pictures in our minds try to rob our joy and leave us feeling hopeless.  But that horrible thing(s) is not the end of your story.  That horrible thing(s) is what God used to show you how powerful and how complete his love is for you.  There is nothing, no thing too big that He has not overcome on the cross.  No Thing!

So, I'm going to ask you this...When are you going to quit running?  When are you going to surrender and give up the beliefs about yourself and what you think God thinks about you?  When are you going to face the truth about your life and how God wants to free you from your past's pain?


Tomorrow?  Next week?  When you get settled in your new house?  New job?  New nursing home?  When?  When are you finally going to just give up and give in?

The air is clear where truth lives.  The colors are beautiful where truth grows.  Our lungs breathe beautifully when peace settles in. The sounds are heavenly.  The lap of the ocean waves hitting the sandy shore beckon our hearts to taste and see that the Lord is good.  His love endures forever.  There is no end to his love for you.  

Your past can either make you or break you.  "When He lives within you, He wants to control our entire personality, our emotions, our intellect, and our will.  As we yield our emotions to Him, He can make a wonderful transformation.  He can remove all our fears, giving us His peace.  He can give victory over jealousy, envy, and quick temper if we let Him.  His abiding presence is perhaps more clearly seen in our emotions than any other part of our lives." (Unknown)

I pray you wave that white flag - today - and begin to live the life you were always meant to live.  Who knows, you may never have to do anything different in your life than you're doing right now.  You may be able to still write those drinking songs.

Jesus looks at us and loves us, right where we're at.



Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Not Grandma's Church Anymore

I heard some interesting adjectives yesterday used to describe a newly married couple.  Words like color, vibration, sound.  They were used, by those closest to the couple, in the context of how they  observed the newlyweds interacting with each other.  These words were given as compliments, and as I listened I realized that they were given sincerely and with respect.   Although I didn't quite get the New Age terminology, in my mind I translated to my language - "We see how much you are good for each other.  You seem to be a good match."  (Not as hip, I know, but I think that's what they were saying).

So it's got me thinking.  It's got me wondering about all those words that are used to describe us Christians.  The good ones and the bad ones.  I don't think I need to cover them ad nauseum, but we can agree, I hope, that the words used to describe us are used because of true and sometimes skewed observation.

Now, to address the bad ones - unfortunately, we can't do anything about the "H" word or the "B" word in some eyes.  No matter how much is written or argued by many (this girl included), for whatever reasons there are, we will always be considered hypocrites and bigots.  There's no use trying to defend ourselves on that.  We will be seen that way by people who want to see us that way and it has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God.  I'm hear to tell you, stop wasting your breath trying to justify or argue - it's something that can only be settled between them and God.

But, it does give me pause to wonder about those words I heard yesterday:  color, sound, vibration.  I'm taking a leap here, but I would guess that the colors that surround the H and the B word are probably black, maybe gray, brown, blood red.  The sound may sound like screaming, shouting, a loud foghorn.  And the vibration, maybe one that is annoying.  Like the vibration a train makes in your house if you live next to a railroad track.  It vibrates the house for a little bit, but then after the train passes, it's quiet again.  The dishes stop shaking and the chandelier stops swinging.

Here's what I'm starting to think the problem is in our off colors, our annoying sounds, and our distracting vibrations. We are observed this way because we don't know any other way to be.  We've been taught, we've observed, we've followed the ways of our organized religion without even knowing the stench we've put off.  We pridefully think our colors our yellows and pinks and pretty blues.  We pridefully think our sound is angelic and peaceful and we are shocked to even consider that instead of sounding like soft waves lapping on the beach on a beautiful summer day, we are instead an intruding earthquake shattering and splitting open wounded hearts.

It's a lot to admit about ourselves.  It's hard to imagine that we may be seen differently than what we thought we were trying to convey.  It's hard to swallow the pill of conviction.  Here, have a drink of the Living Water.  He helps it go down much better.    

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart my be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  

Followers of Christ, we have a lot more to learn about Jesus than just what our Grandmother's form of church showed us.  It's not the same culture around the church our grandparents devoted themselves to.  It's becoming more like the culture Paul was in when he wrote this prayer down.

Paul didn't pray this prayer for unbelievers.  He prayed it for us!  He prayed it "ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."  And then he told us what he's praying for us:

*  the Spirit of wisdom and revelation - why?  so that you may know him better.
*  the eyes of your heart to be enlightened - why? in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.  And not only that, so you see the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, AND, I love this - HIS INCOMPRABLY GREAT POWER - for who?
for us who believe.

When we know this, when we ginosko this down to the bottom of our feet and to the deepest atom of our deepest cells, that's when our colors, our sounds and our vibrations will change.

How do we maneuver this culture in which we live?  With the wisdom and revelation and those formerly darkened hearts that have suddenly become lit up.

But the problem is, your problem is, my problem is - we don't know this.  We didn't know this prayer had been prayed - for us.  We thought it was for some folks 2000 years ago.  But it wasn't just for them.  It was prayed for all of us.  For us who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It's not just for the strongest of faiths or the most educated of saints, Paul prayed it for you!  If you believe in Jesus Christ - this prayer was prayed for you!

So, what are you going to do about it?  I see you have a few choices.

1.  Nothing.  You're crazy, Ronda.  You are just a gonging cymbal.  I like things how they are.

2.  Pray.  Pray some more.  Pray some more and some more and some more, until you know that God is doing something new in you.

3.  Believe.  Believe it's for you and it's time you start asking God to make it real in your life.

Then, who knows what God will do in your life, what things will start changing and shifting and leaving and letting go.  You may find some things become more important, some things less.  You may find you have a peace you can't describe settling into your soul.  You may see your fellow Christian - gasp, the one that doesn't belong to your denomination - as your brother or your sister in Christ.

Who knows what God will do?  God does.  And it's his business what He does.  Not ours.  Not our manipulation or "help" to do what only God can do.

He also know what you will do.  Don't you want to find out what he's truly capable of doing?  Don't you want to really see him in action?  Don't you want to just get a glimpse of that incomparably great dynamite power?

I hope you do.  I know I do.

Come on, we'll jump in together.  1......2......3.........Jump!



Ephesians 1:15-21

Friday, July 24, 2015

Words Matter

I have been praying this passage written by Paul for my friends and family, and for you, dear readers who take the time to visit this blog of rambling thoughts.  I thought you may enjoy a taste of what these words actually mean in Paul's prayer.  I know I have.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together will all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

riches - ploutos - wealth, abundance; much in number

glorious - doxes - honor, renown, glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor; what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth

power - dynamei - able, having ability; for the believer, power to achieve by applying the Lord's inherent abilities.  "power through God's ability" is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven

strengthen - krataioo - to strengthen, I grow strong, become strong; to prevail by God's dominating strength, i.e. as His power prevails over opposition (gains mastery)

Spirit - pneuma - wind, spirit, breath

inner - eso - within, inside

being - anthropoid - a man, human, mankind, one of the human race

Christ - Christon - Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ

dwell - katoikesai - I dwell in, settle in, inhabit, settle down as a permanent resident, i.e. in a fixed permanent dwelling place as one's personal residence; to be exactly at home.  (The force of the prefix - kata - suggests "down to the finest, exact details)

hearts - kardiais - the heart, inner life, intention; the affective center of our being; desire-producer that makes us tick, i.e. our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are

through - dis = on account of, throughout, properly, across to the other side, back and forth to go all the way through

faith - pistis - faith, belief, trust, confidence

being rooted - rhizoo - to cause to take root, I plant, fix firmly, establish, to cause to take root

established - themelioo - to lay the foundation of

may have power - exischuo - to have strength enough, I have strength for, am perfectly able, apprehending (decisively laying hold of) the fuller dimensions of knowing the Lord (His love, calling, presence)

to grasp - katalambano - to lay hold of, seize, I seize tight hold of, arrest, catch, capture, appropriate, overtake; to grasp something in a forceful (firm) manner

know - ginosko - to come to know, recognize, perceive; to know, especially through personal experience (first hand acquaintance)

surpasses - huperballo - to throw over or beyond, to run beyond

knowledge - gnosis - a knowing; functional ("working") knowledge gleaned from first-hand (personal) experience, connecting theory to application; "application knowledge," gained (by) a direct relationship

you may be filled - pleroo - to make full, to complete, fill to individual capacity, i.e. to the extent it is appropriate

fullness - pleroma - fullness, a filling up, sum total, fulness, even super abundance

God - theou - God, the Creator and owner of all things