Living under the other shoe

shoe dropFor years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When  I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did.  A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution.  I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?

Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”

I’ve never worried about that shoe again.

 

A tale of two Bibles

Which Bible looks more like your Bible? Continue reading

I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Do I have to draw you a picture?

“Well, [pause] yes,” he said. [Pause again] “Sometimes you may have to.” Continue reading

The Shoes of Peace Aren’t Flip-Flops

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What’s your FQ? your faith quotient?

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Are you a Sea of Galilee or Dead Sea believer?

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What’s your WQ–Winning Quotient?

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Baskin Robins Christianity

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The Church can not be separated from the State

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7 ways to resolve conflicts

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Whole lotta shoutin’ goin’ on

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It’s been one of those days

Murphy’s law on steroids.

Whatever could go wrong today went wrong. From the moment I left the house this morning until I crashed on the couch at days’s end. My soft couch was welcome respite.

I regret to say I was not a nice person today. in the throws of multiplemurphys-law setbacks I lashed out at two ladies. Both, in their respective roles were trying to help me. Both were cheerful and pleasant. I was not.

I chose to complain and become one of those antagonistic clients they practice on in  HR customer service training classes.

I sought them both out at the end of our meetings and apologized  profusely and earnestly. I resent my negative responses to people who only wanted to serve me. All I wanted to do was argue and register my dissatisfaction and disappointment. All they wanted to do was help me.

By days end I was exhausted and regreted that I responded contrary to my usually pleasant Type A, never-meet-a-stranger self. I needed relief.  I needed rest.

I came home and opened my bible and read Mathew 11:28-30 several times.  About the third or fourth time I felt His peace wash over me. I was quiet, refreshed and at rest in Jesus.

I’m so grateful that on Murphy’s law days I can always come to Jesus and let Him take away my burdens and my anxiety and give me His peace and I can rest in Him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke
is easy
and my burden is light.

A book of discipline

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Banging on the door

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What resentment can do

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He just loved her

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The Day God Ran

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Isaiah 65: a devotional in the Message

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What is the church doing about mental illness?

Nothing.

But church folks can minister to families struggling with mental illness in effective, loving ways. Continue reading

I’m okay. You’re okay. It’s okay. Okay?

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Go ahead! Take God for granted

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Was God’s creation perfect?

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Why do “they” go to church?

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Do humans get a pass on sin?

Is it okay for people to sin just because they’re human? What do you think?

How many times have we heard people who get caught committing sin announce, “I’m only human.” Why yes, we are. All of us are “humans”. We’re mortal. Politicians claim membership as humans with a flair of confidence after they’ve been caught in sin. Admitting they’re “human” seems to justify all manner of transgressions, to them anyway.

Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 all (all us humans) have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God.

But does admitting we’re human when we sin give us a pass? Does our human condition make it okay? Where’s the remorse? Where’s the repentance? Where’s the accountability? Does being human justify sinning? Can we justify our sins by simply admitting we’re human?

We can be justified, but not by anything we say or do.  We are justified by the precious blood of Jesus on the cross. His priceless blood supplies the only justification for our sins. Not anything from or by us. It is only Jesus and his blood on the cross that justifies the sins of us humans who have a personal relationship with Him.

Let’s replace, “I’m only human” with “It is against You, and You only, that I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so You are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. from Psalm 51.

Religion or relationship

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The 800-pound resentment in the room

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How do you look at things?

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Are we drifting?

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Self is a four-letter word

When we use, or you hear someone use, the word “try” that means “self” is vying for control. Self is

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Ten excuses for not changing

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“Pick up your mat”

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Come on. Get Up!

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I wish I had said (done) something.

When I published my “I with I hadn’t done that” post several days ago, I got an interesting flip side perspective. . . Continue reading

“I wish I hadn’t done that.”

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Eternity. What a concept!

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What a beautiful attitude!

One of my favorite contemporary worship songs is, O Lord, You’re Beautiful by Keith Green.

I call it one of my cry song, because every time I hear it or sing it with our praise team, I cry. It’s a beautiful cry and I’m full of joy when I hear it sung. My favorite lines in the song are in the first verse:

“And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown
For my reward is giving glory to You

What a beautiful attitude: As we serve others, as we love others, as we worship our Almighty Father, to have as our only reward bringing glory to God.

Think about it. The way we relate to others, the way we talk, the way we act, the way we respond in difficult circumstances, the way we respond to injuries, hurts and insults, the way we treat our enemies, the way we serve and love others–all with the attitude of bringing glory to God.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, life-changing, world-changing attitude for us to live out each day?

Oh Lord You’re Beautiful
by Keith Green

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful
Your face is all I seek
For when Your eyes are on this child
Your grace abounds to me

I wanna to take Your word and shine it all around
But first help me to just, live it Lord
And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown
For my reward is giving glory to You

Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear

I want to take Your word and shine it all around
But first help me just to live Lord
And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown
For my reward is giving glory to You

“Kind” on my mind

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. Thinking there’s not enough of it.

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The Bible Police

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Does your pastor preach too long?

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A “Yet” Mindset

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

In life we have two choices – we can focus on the bad things that happen or we can focusjohn Ed on how good God is.

Our tendency is to focus on the negative, but that can play tricks with our minds. The Bible reminds us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Ps. 23:7). Our mindsets govern our actions and attitude.

There is a book in the Old Testament called Lamentations which addresses a negative mindset. In the first three chapters, Jeremiah gives a long litany lamenting how bad things are. His beloved city, Jerusalem, which “once thronged with people, was silent now. She sits like a widow broken with grief alone in her mourning. She was once a queen of nations, is now a slave” (Lam. 1:1).

Jeremiah describes his initial reaction. “I begged my allies for help. False hope, they could not help at all. Nor could my priests and elders. They are starving in the streets while searching through the garbage for an ounce of bread” (Lam. 1:19). “There is no one anywhere to help” (Lam. 1:21).

He continues, “I cried until tears no longer came. My heart is broken as I see what has happened to my people:little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. They cry out, ‘Mama, Mama, we want food’ and then collapse on their mothers’ shrunken breasts. Their lives ebb away like those wounded in battle” (Lam.2:11). Jeremiah describes himself like one who “cannot escape. I am fastened with heav chains. My path has been filled with detours” (Lam. 3:7).

In the midst of this sad litany, Jeremiah changes his way of thinking. The key word is in Chapter 3, verse 21, when he says, “Yet.” I love that word “yet.” It means that change is fixing to take place. He says, “Yet there is one ray of hope. God’s compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. God in His faithfulness, His loving kindness begins afresh each day” (Lam. 3:21-22).

The quality of life we enjoy sometimes hangs on the ability to use that word Yet. Read my blog from July 15, 2015, about the prophet Habakkuk regarding the Yet mindset. Habakkuk knew how to let the Yet mindset govern his thinking and actions. When you get down, get up to the Yet mindset that focuses on His compassions and His mercies and His faithfulness. (Tweet this)

One of my favorite hymns, based on Lamentations, says – Great is Thy faithfulness /Great is Thy faithfulness / Morning by morning new mercies I see / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided / Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

This hymn is a great witness of how faithful God is. We discover it every day. The last verse says – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth / Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide / Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow / Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

That’s a Yet mindset! It doesn’t deny the fact that things can be tough, but it affirms the fact that God’s faithfulness is stronger than our toughest situation, and His blessings are in the thousands!

We have a choice. A choice determines a consequence. You can choose to live on the negative side – and focus on how bad things are – and you can be completely overcome. Or you can say “Yet” and let God help you change your thinking to the positive side – to focus on how faithful and merciful He is. The Yet mindset makes possible unbelievable results!

Let God help you get a Yet mindset!!

The problem with listening

Too often I listen, but I don’t hear.

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The World; Gravity; and God

Which gravity is stronger? Earth’s gravity or God’s gravity?

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Radical Risks Are Rewarding

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Spiritual Gravity

Gravity. It’s the law. It is the force exerted by large objects that draws smaller objects toward it. Earth’s weight and mass draw Continue reading

Will public libraries ban the Bible?

I’ve read two emotionally-charged stories and received email this week suggesting that public libraries might ban the Bible.

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Have you ever mumbled to yourself and said. . .

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It’s Friday. But Sunday’s Comin’

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You might be a Pharisee if . . .

You might be a Pharisee if . . .

you catch yourself saying, “You can’t talk to me like that!”Pharisee

you think life is not always fair.

your prayers are more self-talk than talking with God.

you catch yourself mumbling, “Did you hear about…”

you believe you’re more spiritual than your friends.

you justify your anger because you know you’re in the right.

you enjoy receiving praise from other believers.

you believe you’re pleasing God by following rules.

you believe you’re humble.

you don’t think you need anybody’s help”.

outward righteousness is better than heart holiness.

you  celebrate the failures of others.

you obsess over the opinion of others.

you are convinced your opinion is the only right one.

you’re quick to criticize others when they disagree with you.

you think “Christians” who don’t agree with you are “compromisers”.

you feel good when you catch someone’s Scriptural error.

you look down on people who are not on your spiritual level.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness
and looked down on everyone else
,
Jesus told this parable:
 
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee
and the other a tax collector.
  The Pharisee stood by himself
and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not
like other people—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not
even look up to heaven, but beat his breast
and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other,
went home justified before God. For all those who
exalt themselves will be humbled, and those
who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14

I was there. At the empty tomb. Really!

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