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Chosen by God

Scripture is clear that God's people are chosen. They are chosen to reveal the one, true God throughout history and over all the world. This is an incredible blessing both for God's people and the world. God does not have to use people. God does not have to reveal Himself. Actually, His choice in this matter proves that He is both personal and relational.

As fantastic as that may be, the other day I came across a passage speaking about God's chosen people and I was caught by an issue of perspective. When I hear God say, "you are chosen" do I apply it to myself or to others? What I mean is, how does that truth affect my life? To be chosen by God is enough of a mind job to completely absorb every bit of of my focus for the rest of my days. However, it could easily be turned outward in a negative way. To give it a distorted application all we have to do is add a line saying something like, "I am chosen... and you are not." If I do that then I am completely…

Spiritual Inheritance

Have you ever thought about how much you will leave as an inheritance? I've thought a lot about saving money for my later years and I regularly hear from people who are concerned about how much or how little they will be able to pass on and sometimes those who feel the pressure of wisely handling the inheritance they know will be passed down to them. Today, as I read Exodus 20 I was struck by the inclusion of a spiritual inheritance within the famous passage of the Ten Commandments. Those who hate God pass on a curse while those who love and obey pass on a blessing.

How often do I really think about spiritual inheritance?

This is a weighty and complex thing to consider but I want to focus on the generosity aspect. Most of the time, I think about my faith as a personal relationship and the application of blessing is usually in reference to my current circumstances. Yet I also know that I cannot separate my personal call from the corporate call as one of His people. This means that …

Of God

Why is it so important to receive our righteousness from God? In Romans 10, God makes a big deal out of the difference between receiving His righteousness and establishing our own righteousness. Wouldn't it make sense for God to tell us to pursue a life of right standing and good relationship as an act of obedience on our part? The answer according to revelation is a resounding "No!" but why? If God is perfectly good then in order to have a right relationship with God there must be no blemish on my record, and even the pattern of my thoughts must be perfection. On my very best days I would be concerned if my relationship with God depended on that amount of excellence. The truth is, I know that the necessity of that level of goodness is the way it must be. Not only that, I want it to be the truth!

What I mean is, I want God to be the opposite of evil, and so far opposed to evil that He can't even be in the same room with it! Well, metaphorically speaking. Of course, i…

Living It Out

What does it mean to live out a resurrected life? Remembering is an essential element of following Christ. It is the motivation for taking the Lord's Supper, it is the activity that allows me to apply the words "It is finished," and it is the practice that provides a supernatural reality check whenever I have cause to doubt. The discipline of remembering is actually a unique opportunity. No other religion or philosophy can remember as we do. When doubts or difficulties arise the Christian simply has to remember who they are. Everyone else has to remember what they need to do. This is only possible in Jesus the Christ. This is the key to unlocking all of those passages in which Scripture speaks of life, abundant and free.

At any given moment I can remember what was accomplished through Jesus and I can experience revival. As a Christian, I can remember that He has given freely (at a terrible cost) so that I can receive and not have to earn. I am not a product of my circums…

Build

One of the most humbling moments of my submitted life occurs when I approach God in prayer. I know who God is and if I pause too long I get overwhelmed by the question of why He would bend His almighty ear to my words.

I know I'm not alone in this feeling.

A key aspect of this difficulty is believing that I need to get my life together before I pray. God, in His holiness, surely does not want to hear from someone who is in the middle of stumbling through their circumstances, right? Not to mention the fact that God surely would be able to hear my words better if my actions weren't getting in the way. I mean, I can't come to Him about life's specks until I remove my own plank, that's for sure... or is it?

When Jesus taught us how to pray He said our first two words should be, "Our Father." It is on this teaching I must build my entire understanding of prayer. Obviously, I don't have to begin every single prayer with those two words but I do have to ask,…

No Other Name

There is no other name like the name of Jesus. This morning I read John 1:1-18 with the Interns and we talked about the impact of knowing Jesus. What has it meant for my life that I know the truth? Not just that I believe in the concept of absolute truth, not that I think there is a truth that makes more sense to me because of how I feel, but I know the truth. I know Him personally and knowing Him has transformed my life. At this point in time, understanding the comprehensive effect of Christ on my life, I was challenged to try to define the spark that started the ball rolling and what I discovered is that the spark still exists.

Most people who know me these days know that I love studying. Anyone who knew me fifteen years ago knew that I despised studying. When I looked closely at this change I was able to point to the fact that knowing the truth has given me the motivation for studying. I have always been interested in world religions and philosophy but my interest always seemed to …

In the Moment

I need times of transition. This is something that I have discovered about myself and my daily life. I have a difficult time jumping from one thing to the next, especially if I have spent a significant amount of time dedicated to a single focus. To contextualize what I am talking about let me say that on any given day I come up with a new list of three things to accomplish and I add these to my "daily six list." Those six are the things that I have prayerfully decided upon in order to keep myself accountable and effective in my calling and purpose.

Applying both of those lists to my routine has taken a lot of time and discipline to include as an every day reality, but to talk more about that would be a blog of a different color.

I usually don't need a transition between each of those nine daily items as they are similar in focus and the mental/spiritual/emotional preparation is the same. However, when I go home I need a time of transition to adjust my focus so that I can…

Friendship

Friendship is a loaded concept. This past week I've been challenged by the parameters that I place on this kind of relationship when compared to what I see in Scripture. Last Sunday, the sermon looked at the fact Jesus referred to us as friends and Ty pointed out the conditional nature of that friendship as Jesus said, "You are My friends if you do what I command you" (John 14:15 HCSB). Living in covenant with my God means that I am walking in friendship with my Creator, Redeemer, and King. In our culture we embrace labels and often apply them to ourselves and others as the definition of identity. When I think of Jesus, I don't connect our friendship to His identity. He is, "I AM" and I relate to Him as a friend when I follow His life giving instructions. That got me thinking about my other friendships. Do I identify people by the level or kind of relationship they have with me? The Bible shows friendship to be a covenantal relationship yet I usually only a…

In the Potter's Hand

This past Sunday I told a story about my boy having bad dreams. I said that I would talk more about how that was resolved so I wanted to take this time to write an encouragement to all of you in the church. If you remember, Cora came to tell us that her brother was crying and would we please do something about it because, she said,

"It's keeping me awake." 
We decided to bypass the lack of compassion in this very tired sister and so Mom went down to comfort the boy. As Beth went into his room, Toby was softly crying but she could see that he was shaking and covered in sweat. She brought him out of his room and held him close but he wasn't settling down. Beth tried to talk to him about the dream but he could only say that it was bad and he didn't like thinking about it. He was clenched up in her lap and he was still whimpering in a way that told Beth just how scared he was. Her response was to get him to talk. 
Beth: "Toby, tell me something that is true.&quo…