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Entries in Jesus (4)

Saturday
Sep232017

Football and faith

I bet without hesitation you can name your favorite football team, start singing the fight song from memory and have at least one jersey you could pull out on game day.  Am I right?

I love the passion and conviction of college football fans. Fans scream, yell, point big foam #1 fingers in the air, paint their faces and some their bodies. Fans high five, chest bump and can't sit still.  Their team colors are displayed in endless pieces of clothing and accessories. Even babies are dressed for game day. (They recruit them young!)  If attending the game and in anticipation, they arrive early, watch their team warm up and start singing and keep on singing their team's fight song. The energy and the sound level are high.  It's intense and electrifying.

During a college football game, there is no way you can be a passive observer.  Eventually, you'll be drawn in by the passion and conviction of the fans. Before you know it, you'll be jumping up and down, screaming, giving high fives and singing the fight song.  Oh, you'll pick sides alright.  And, if you aren't careful, fans might win you over to the other side.  Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

I'll never forget attending the Oklahoma vs. Tennessee game in Knoxville in 2015.  I think they said that event set an all-time sound decimal record.  We went to the game with Oklahoma fans and were seated in a sea of Tennessee orange and white.  Me, I'm not so much into football, but I love the social aspect of being with my husband and friends.  In other words, I go for the fun and not so much the football!  But, this event was beyond fun.  It was intense and electrifying. I jumped and screamed for OU and wished I had a big foam #1 finger.

The coaches and teams fought hard to win!  The teams, bands, cheerleaders, and fans were all in!  They shared the common goal:  Victory!  Bands played their fight songs over and over and over again.The cheerleaders and band kept rallying the fans, and in response, the fans sang louder, chanted more, swayed and fought hard to cheer their team on to victory.  

Oh, did I mention that Tennessee played "Rocky Top" a bazillion times?  The first few times, a yeah, alright, okay - we hear you kind of experience.  A catchy tune but somewhat intimidating as it reminded us that we were in their territory.  Then, it got irritating.  Enough already.  Of course, they didn't stop, so the song continued and continued to be played. At one point, we looked over to find one of our die-hard, season ticket OU fans standing in his seat singing Tennessee's "Rocky Top."  What?  How is this possible?  I remember my husband and the others giving him a really hard time about it and yelling so he could hear them over the music. "What are you doing singing 'Rocky Top'?  Get down." While he wasn't won over or converted into a Tennessee fan, he was caught up in the moment and drawn into the passion of the people in orange and white. What possible harm could there be in singing the opposing team's fight song?  Uh...like I said, he was caught up in the moment and forgot himself.

College football is one of those places where being passionate and convicted is expected and acceptable. As obnoxious as it all can be at times, football fans show each other a lot of grace. I love it because their passion and conviction are very appealing and in many ways makes an appeal to me and to you to join in.  Football fans love to invite people to come watch the game, hang out, bring and eat food.  They recruit. Hanging out with them and it won't be long before you are wearing their team's colors, singing their fight song and filled with the same passion and conviction as those around you. Yep, they recruit young and they recruit hard!

In a way, football fans "contend earnestly" for their team! Their team is THE best. Even if their team is having a bad season, they are still the best. Team fans might talk among themselves about not being happy with the team, a player or coach performance.  Sometimes they'll fight among themselves about such things.  This is all normal and acceptable.  But, if someone on another team starts talking negatively about their team, player or coach - watch out. It might not be a fight song that breaks out. Let me say it again.  Football fans are a passionate and convicted group of folks.

Okay, so you know this preaches, right?

I started writing out the book of Jude this week.  I've only written out the first 3 verses because I can't get past verse 3.  It's grabbed my heart and mind.  I've read the verses that follow, so I know where Jude is going with this, but still, I'm stuck in verse three.  Let me share it with you and explain why.  "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."  

Contend earnestly for the faith.  Jude feels it necessary to appeal to us to contend earnestly or fight with sincere and intense conviction for the faith (conviction of truth).  And the picture I have painted above is what comes to my mind.  It's time to put on our game faces, dress the part and get out our big foam finger that points to Jesus.  With passion and conviction, we fight for our faith. When those on the front lines fight their way up the field, all stand to their feet, wave with all we have and cheer them on to victory. The preacher preaches, the choir sings, the band plays, and the faithful sway!  Every inch of ground gained is a victory in Jesus.  Sure, we get pushed back, fumble the ball, miss the kick and even get intercepted.  But, we keep cheering, trying and believing.  We keep contending for our faith.  We sing fight songs!  The chorus of one goes like this:

OH, VICTORY IN JESUS,
MY SAVIOUR FOREVER
HE SOUGHT ME
AND HE BOUGHT ME
WITH HIS REDEEMING BLOOD

And, if we see one of us standing in their seat getting drawn into the passion and conviction of the other side, what do we do?  We contend earnestly for the faith.  With passion and conviction and over the noise of the opposition, we yell "what are you doing"?

Okay, so when I think of contending earnestly, you know what visually comes to my mind.  So, if you see me with a cross painted on my cheek, pom-poms in my hand or a big foam finger pointing toward Jesus and I'm singing about victory in Jesus, you'll show me some grace and remember I'm passionate about Jesus, my faith, and the truth!  You can expect that I might dance a little jig, jump up out of my seat or shout, post, and tweet over and about truth.  Oh, and I probably need to warn you, if I see you acting like you are getting caught up in the passion and conviction of the world and talking anything other than the truth, I will ask you "what are you doing?"

Friday
Aug182017

When is it good to hate?

Hatred of people demeans, demoralizes, slanders and is spewed via social media in the form of a vile tweet, Facebook rant, video message and so on. It spreads like gangrene (₁).

There are countries and groups of people that hate America and Americans. They hate us so much that they are ready, willing and some able to destroy us. Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

Some Americans hate each other.  Each year a few will act on their hatred by terrorizing others, killing some, and even themselves. More and more we see hatred displayed in acts of violence during what should be a lawful and peaceful rally or protest.  Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

I suppose hate has been around almost since the beginning of time. I'm not sure how long Adam and Eve had in the garden before sin entered into the world. But, I do know that once sin entered the world, in came hatred.  

Then Jesus showed up.  

He instructs us to love our enemies, to honor all people, to forgive and so many instructions like this I cannot fit them all into a blog post.  Hate has no place in the heart of one who is in a relationship with and follows Jesus. 

I believe the only way to remove hate from a heart is to give it to Jesus.  So, I don't think we'll rid the world of hate anytime soon, but we can be intentional and aggressive to teach and model what it looks like to give your heart to Jesus so you can love your enemies and honor all people. 

It is good to see so many people take to social media to condemn hatred.  Let's continue proclaiming and teaching that hatred for others is wrong. Proclaiming that it is a sin against God who created people and sent Jesus to die for all people. Hatred is divisive, destructive and evil.

Hatred for others should have no place in our hearts - ever.  So, how do I know if hatred for others is growing in my own heart?  How can any of us examine our own hearts and teach others to determine if hatred is hidden or growing there? 

Hate what God hates (₂). What does God hate?

  • Haughty eyes - thinking you are better than anyone else or a group of people.
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • A heart that devises wicked plans
  • Feet that run rapidly to evil
  • A false witness who utters lies
  • One who spreads strife

I read what God hates, and my heart calls out:  "Lord, when and how do I think more highly of myself than I should?  When and how has my talk been deceitful or has it spread strife?  Oh Lord, how often is my heart devising sinful plans."

I talk to myself a lot. I devise all kinds of plans in my head of what I will do and say.  If these thoughts and plans are not coming out of a pure heart that's been filtered through prayer and God's word, then I can guarantee you it's like running after sin, devising sin and so on.  These are not the actions of love for others. These are the actions of hatred toward others. I need to hate these things in my own heart so that hatred will not grow in my heart. 

When is it good to hate?  We should hate the things that God hates.

What a better place this would be if we would all agree to hate what God hates!  To commit to:

  • Hate what God hates
  • Examine our own hearts
  • Not do what God hates 
  • Teach others what God hates and help them live it out like we've learned to live it out.

It's a start!  Let's do this.  Let's take the above truths to the streets!

 

(₁) 2 Timothy 2:17

(₂) Proverbs 6:16-19

Tuesday
Apr112017

Why is Jesus called the Lamb of God?

When seeing Jesus for the first time, John the Baptist said: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Thirty-one times in the book of Revelation the word Lamb is used. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, we are told we have been redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.  

Did you see that?  Precious blood.  Precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.  Oh my, these are the most beautiful truths. 

Here are a few tips that will make the below truths from God’s Word jump off the page and #wow your heart: 

Ask God to give you understanding as you read and as you read

(1) circle every reference to blood

(2) put a square around every reference to lamb

(3) underline every reference to Passover.  

After you read each passage, looked back at the words you marked (they should jump out at you) and

(4) make a quick and simple list of what you learned about bloodlamb, and Passover.  

I promise you will be left in awe and wonder. 

  • Romans 6:23 (The word death implies both physical death and exclusion from the presence and favor of God in consequence of sin and disobedience but never as extinction.)
  • Romans 5:6-10 (Justification means declared right with God.  Reconciled means to change from enmity to friendship.)
  • Leviticus 17:11
  • Leviticus 5:5-9
  • Exodus 11:4-7
  • Exodus 12:1-27
  • John 13:1-2(a)
  • John 18:37-40
  • John 19 (In verse 30, “it is finished” can also be translated “paid in full”.  In those days when a debt had been paid in full, the word “tetelestai" was stamped or written across the certificate of debt and nailed where all could see.  The last words spoken by Jesus were - I have paid your sin debt in full – it is finished!)
  • Ephesians 1:7
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • John 1:29 (“Takes away” means to take up, carry away, or remove by carrying away.  To take away sin means to take away the imputation or punishment.)
  • Revelation 5:12

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” Revelation 5:12

Thursday
Mar022017

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine!

This moment marks three years ago that Jesus came for my daddy.  As I have been remembering him and his last day, I am moved to share from my heart the hope that is within me!

Did you know there is a such a thing as "actively dying"?  I didn't.  Until I was told it was happening to my precious mother.  Some eight years later, it was my dear daddy's turn. Thankfully, in the midst of their dying, there was no doubt Jesus was coming for them and they would spend eternity in His presence.  As sad as it was for us to be losing them, we had and still have confidence and assurance that once they died, they were in that very instant with Jesus.  What a comfort.  But, let me be perfectly clear here. I didn't tell myself this to make their dying easier to handle. I didn't believe this because they did or because some preacher or Sunday School teacher told me so.  Sure, it started out that way but then my heart starting wanting my own personal relationship with Jesus.  Their Jesus became my Jesus.  The Bible they read to me became the very words of God spoken to me. The hope within me was my own born from my own personal relationship with Jesus.

As a child, I remember my daddy reading Revelation 21-22 to me.  I'm not sure how many times he read it to me, but I remember vividly the impact the description of the new heavens and the new earth had on me.  My heart was filled with excitement, anticipation and yes, even longing.  Certainly no fear of death. As wonderful as my childhood was, being with Jesus in the place described could not be topped!  I was told Jesus would never leave or forsake me, that He was in heaven even then/now preparing a place just for me, and that absent from this body (death), present with the Lord.  These truths (and more) from God's Word were expressions of a love even greater than the love my parents had for me and I wanted to know this Jesus as they knew Jesus.  So, in Sunday School, when Revelation 3:20 was shared with me and later when my daddy would explain further, kneel and pray with me and ask me if I would open the door of my heart to Jesus my answer was "yes"!  Jesus was my savior.  He was mine and I was His.  Forever.

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood."
 
Blessed Assurance by Frances J. Crosby 

Losing my momma was so hard but God in His graciousness gave us 8 more years with daddy. But, this strong, independent man from the "great generation" found himself a widow, legally blind, battling cancer,  multiple other physical conditions, and dependent upon his children and other precious caregivers.  Yet, his faith in Jesus gave him a grit and joy for life that amazed us all (Dear Daddy). Once again, I found/find myself wanting what I saw him having with Jesus. On his last day of his life here on earth, laying in a nursing home bed, struggling and unresponsive, I read God's Word over him, including Revelation 21-22!  Waiting for Jesus to come, I also played him his favorite hymn - "It is well with my soul". Of course, I reflected on his life of faith but the thing that really struck me that day was the reality that all he had was Jesus and Jesus was enough.  From a human point of view, he'd suffered the loss of everything but he had gained more and more of Jesus.  Beautiful.  Learning that all we have is Jesus and Jesus is enough is one of the greatest gifts of this life and legacies we can leave.

Whatever you are facing today - joy, trials, suffering - even death, Jesus loves you and wants a very personal relationship with you.  Think about all the good relationships you have and all that involves. Things like: talking heart to heart, getting to know each other intimately, doing things together - quality time!  That's the kind of relationship Jesus wants with each one of us.  Walk with Him, talk with Him.  Know Him as intimately (through His Word) as He knows us.  If this describes your relationship with Jesus then you have blessed assurance that when you breathe your last breath you will be present with Him.  And, that while you are still here experiencing joy, trials, suffering - whatever...He will never leave you or forsake you.  Before God spoke the world into existence He thought of you, planned for you. He knit you together in your mother's womb.  He ordained your days before there was yet one of them. He sees, He knows, and He cares. Oh, glory!

On this day, I can think of no better way to honor my earthly daddy (parents) than to share the hope I have in Jesus. Thank you for letting me share.  If your heart has been moved to know more, I encourage you to take the time to read the below words from God's heart to ours.  May God capture your heart with His words and give you blessed assurance.

1 Peter 3:15

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Philippians 1:23-24

1 Corinthians 15

Revelation 21-22

It Is Well With My Soul lyrics

Deuteronomy 31:10

1 Peter 5:7

Psalm 139

Ephesians 2:10

Philippians 3:7-11