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Archive for October, 2010

A Wild Hog!

Today as light turned to darkness I went for a run in the woods near my home along the Chattahoochee River.  I veered off the main path to run a familiar stretch or trail that knowing so well not much light is required. I ran up and down hills, over small creeks and through the woods where the only sound was my breath on the chilling air.  I came to a part of the trail that widened and flattened.  I began to relax and locked it in on cruise control.  The hard part was over, now I would enjoy the last few minutes of a an idyllic fall run.  Then, out of the right corner of my eye I saw something large, black, and moving quickly.  There are times when you scream, that is one way of coping with fear or fright.  This was another way, I stopped dead in my tracks and fell silent, stunned as I watched this enormous wild hog run across my pat a mere fifteen yards in front of me.  Wild hogs are just that, wild.  They have been known to charge people especially if protecting their young.  Needles to say I took the situation very seriously.  I waited just moments for the animal to fully cross the path and into the woods when I began to run softly.  I was not running slowly, but I was running softly over the crunching leaves beneath me.  My senses were heightened, I was listening as the hog ran over the fallen leaves and branches from the trees.  I was concerned he might turn on me, so as soon got twenty or so yards from where he crossed I ran, and I ran fast!  I ran like someone, or something was chasing me.  It was a blur.  I ran over hills and tight corners and finally out of the woods back onto the main trail.  I was safe, but I was shaken.  I’d had a “never before” experience with a dangerous wild animal on his turf in the dark.  The first thing I did when I got back to my car was call my brother over and over until he answered.  He and I run that same trail on a weekly basis together, so I knew he would appreciate a good story.  He was in disbelief.  Not the kind where you don’t believe someone, but the kind of story you want to hear over and over again to get all the details and see the situation for yourself.

In the gospel of John, Jesus heals a man born blind.  The first thing the man does is go tell others his story of his encounter of Jesus.  He famously tells the inquisitive Pharisees ” I was blind, but know I see”.  He said this in response to their accusations that Jesus was a sinner, but the man said I know not whether he was a sinner or not, all I know is i was blind and now I’m not!  You can imagine how many other people he must have told his story to.  With awe and amazement those that knew must have wondered what had happened to this man who had caused him to see.  Simply, and yet profoundly he had an encounter with the Living God!  We, as Christians have all had a personal encounter with Christ, and we should be just as quick to tell our story as the blind man.  For most of us, our story does not include physical blindness, but spiritual, which is far worse.  Thant makes our story even greater than this particular man, our very hearts were lind, but now we are seeing.  The encounter with the wild hog left me shaken, but that will wear off.  My encounter with Jesus changed my life, and I will never recover from that!      

John 9:24-25

24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

 25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

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I know you think this statement is anti-American.  After all, isn’t America the land of opportunity?  Is America not the land where dreams are made?  Well, I live in America, and I love America, but this land where I stay is not my home.  My home is in a New Jerusalem that is and will be where my king reigns forever.  We believers living in this great land have succumb to the notion that we are to take advantages of all the comforts this fine country affords us.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with enjoying and having many of the luxuries we are afforded here in the States, but we have taken it too far.  For many of us, the idea of the Christian faith has become intertwined with the notion that we are to find satisfaction and happiness in the things of our culture.  Many, many “Preachers” today are preaching a false gospel in our country that says if you are good enough, if you pray enough, if you have enough faith, then God will bless you and give you everything you’ve ever wanted.  Sounds good right?  Most would say great sign me up, I will become a better Christian and get all the things and stuff I have always wanted.  Finally, I will get that car, or that house, or that lake house, or that promotion, then I will have arrived, then I will be happy.  You know by now that prosperity talk is crap, and no gospel at all.  In fact, it’s an anti-gospel.  I think if you and I examine the scriptures closely enough, we find a God who is not chiefly concerned with giving us more stuff, but making us more like His son Christ (I Thess. 5:22-24).  The Bible reveals a God who cares more about his own glory than even the people he died for (Ezekiel 36:21-23).  God through his word tells us if we love our lives more than we love Him, then we are not fit to follow him (Luke 14:25-27).  Yet, when we focus on getting more and more stuff for our lives we become idolatries, because we desire the created things rather than the creator (Romans 1:23).  Imagine too, if God actually gave you and me all the stuff and things we wanted.  It is very likely we would find very little room in our over crowded lives for the God we say is first.  I believe God keeps things from us, that we sometimes desire out of protection for our own hearts.  He knows are hearts are bent toward pleasing ourselves, even those that have been redeemed.  God knows we need him far more than we need stuff, and positions, and money.  So yeah, I hope you and I don’t get the life we’ve always wanted, because I think if we ever truly arrived there, we would find we left God behind.  My life would be a ruined train wreck if God had given me all that I thought I wanted.  Plus, the closer I walk with him the more my desires and ideas change to become more like his (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:4).  The life you and I have always wanted is usually a life that does not include radical obedience to Jesus Christ, but for the Christian that is the only life worth living.  And instead of getting the life you have always wanted, my prayer is you get more of Christ, he is more than enough to satisfy my heart and yours from mon til forevermore.                

Mark 8:34-36

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

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Psalm 16:8 says, I have set the Lord always before me;  He is at my right hand, I will not stumble.  When we think about putting Christ first in our lives, it is important to remember that we must keep him in focus in order serve him effectively and enjoy him supremely.  Setting Christ before us means we always have him in mind.  Setting him before us also means we also have set him apart in our heart as the greatest of our affections.  When we place anything before us (lets say a coca-cola) we are placing unique value on that thing.  Throughout our days we set many things before us, but sooner or later they lose our attention and we move to something else.  With Christ, our goal needs to be keeping him in focus at all times.  It’s when we take our eyes off Christ or set him to the side, we willingly jump (not fall) into sin.  We face a constant battle of being distracted by he enemy, whose aim is to get us distracted and keeping us tangled in sin.  Setting Christ before us always means we see everything though the person of Jesus Christ…every moment of everyday.  Imagine, if we actually did that, kept Christ in focus all day everyday.  We would experience some great victory’s though the strength of the Spirit.  My problem, your problem, we focus on Christ not always, but sometimes.  His requirements for us are complete focus and attention on him.  The enemy is not losing his focus in tempting us toward sin, we better keep our focus on Christ in an effort to combat our own sin nature and the schemes of the evil one.  If we stay focused on Jesus and the cross, we will begin to see things more and more they he saw/see’s them , and we will continue to grow more and more in his image and likeness.

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