One of the great desires that man has sought for throughout his history has been the quest for freedom. There is not, in my opinion, a desire rooted any deeper in the soul of man than this desire for freedom from bondages of any kind. Jesus gives us a promise for freedom. For those who believe upon Him, continue or abide in His Word, and discipline their lives after what He has spoken, they will know the truth and will experience freedom in every area of their lives. Believing is quite easy. All it takes is a decision to accept as truth what one hears.
Though Jesus adds to this, the Bible uses the word faith, which comes from the
word “pistis” meaning a firm persuasion based upon what one hears. Believing then, is coming to a conclusion as to whether something is true. Then deciding to act upon what it declares as a matter of faith, trust, and conduct.

But Jesus requires more than believing words and especially as it relates to the subject of freedom. He requires us to discipline our lives around His teaching in order for us to experience this promised freedom we all desire. To continue in His Word is to abide in it. The word abide is “mone” which means to abide as one who is at home in his environment. It is to dwell in the Word in the same way we dwell in our houses we live in. It is "dwelling in" the Word as when one is at home in their dwelling. This is not making casual reference to the Scriptures or for that matter, making a commitment to them in times of crisis. It is making it a place of sweet fellowship with Jesus because we seek to spend time with Him around the table of fellowship.

After believing in and disciplining our lives through spending time in the Word, we then are able to know the truth and not before. The word for know is “ginosko” meaning to know by virtue of what is conveyed within the context of a personal relationship. This is not a knowledge that comes through acquiring information but knowledge that comes through spending time in fellowship with the one from whom knowledge is desired.

In other words, Jesus wants to impart truth that is an outcome of His fellowship with us. This is not truth that is acquired by virtue of information gathered through a variety of means, but knowing the person of Jesus Christ. This truth that comes, comes from Jesus because He imparts it to us. Though acquiring truth is a necessary function of discipleship, we do not get this radically changing knowledge through study, but we are given this knowledge after we take what we study and meditate upon it in our quiet time in fellowship with Him. Truth which leads to a radical change in our attitude and conduct, releases the power of freedom into our lives. It comes through personal fellowship time with Jesus Christ. To know truth is to know Jesus in a personal way.


Worshippers Response to trouble

My father does a weekly devotion and this past week the topic was the favor of God. here is a brief excerpt of his devotion:

"Jewish tradition did not seem to allow for women to assume leadership in the
nation and its religion. If anything, they were pushed to the background and
dismissed to a role of insignificance. So when Mary was addressed as "highly favored" that was perhaps just as astonishing to Mary as it was true. Women were not thought of in such terms for the normal Jewish person.

"To us who are in Christ, we are very highly favored with the Father. If we think of
redemption in terms of the Scripture, we were purchased out of the slave market of sin. The Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus, made payment for you
and me in that state. The favor He placed on us is equal to the value He placed
on His Son, in that He gave valued assets in order to bring us through the process of redemption. So the asset given was equal to the cost of redemption and
the value of the item redeemed! It seems awkward for us to think of ourselves in
such terms, but that is the fact of redemption's cost to the Father.

This favor gives us entrance into the Father's Family. This favor gives us opportunity to communicate with the Father without human mediation. This favor allows for the generous flow of heaven's resources into our lives. This favor allows us to enjoy the Father's blessings without the a requirement to earn them. This favor provides for us an eternal abode with the Father for eternity. This favor opens all of the Kingdom's resources to us in order to carry out the Father's desire for a lost world. This favor allows us to be called the "children of God" on the basis of His love for us and our willingness to say yes to His open invitation.

what would life begin to look like if we began live under the principle that the favor of God is not man's favor? what if we as Christians begin to understand that God's favor doesn't just mean favor on our jobs, or ministries, families, music,etc? but what we realized that the favor of God is FIRST and FOREMOST access to Him. certainly He blesses us with finances, jobs, creative ideas, man's favor, and all of the earthly stuff we need and have--those things are apart of us having the abundant life that Christ promised we would have here on earth, but i don't think that those things are the pinnacle of the favor of God. what i would suggest is that the favor God is about us having access to Him at any time, in any place, without having anything (say besides our sin) blocking our way to Him. and even in a place of sin the love of God can bridge that gap for what does Scripture say, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

but i think that the Favor of God doesn't have so much to do with us gaining favor here on earth as it does us growing closer to Him. we can have failing business, ministries, families, etc and still have the favor of God. this is why i am blessed going in and going out, this is why i'm blessed in the field and city, this is why i'm blessed from one season to another -- because He's with me no matter what. because whether i'm in great prosperity or poverty, i've got access to Him. whether i'm the on the throne in the king's palace or in the cave of adellum with a group of rebels (see 1 samuel) He's with me. and this is the favor of God.

thus, God so valued this access, He so desired this ability to commune with us, He so wanted us to have this favor that He sent His Son. His desire for us equaled His desire for His Son.

the thought that really struck me was the concept that the favor that we walk with as son's and daughters of God is only equal to His love for Christ.

He favors us as much as He loves His Son. and this is what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about God providing this kind access to mankind, Christmas is not just about the gift of His Son - but in that, its a gift of not only salvation, but that of access.

i don't think that God simply had mankind gaining salvation in mind when He sent Jesus- because those living in the time of the Old Testament had that -- but God had intimacy in mind. He had this crazy thought that He could come to us so that we at any time could come to Him. this access -- this favor -- i think is what God was really after.

salvation came because of Jesus i know - "for God so loved the world that He sent His Son . . so that who would believe in Him would have eternal life." yes Christmas is about salvation -- but that only came through the giving of Jesus.

the Father so wanted us to have this salvation - so wanted access to us and us to have access to Him that He gave His Son.

God's desire for us equals His love for His Son. Jesus tells His disciples this, that the Father loves them just as much as He loves Jesus. and that they in turn will love the Father just as much as the Father loves Jesus.

what an incredible thought. the Father's desire for us to have this favor, this access, this love equals that of the love He has for His own Son.

what favor. what blessing. what an amazing God.


extravagent worship

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” John 12:3 (KJV)

This is probably one of the most beautiful and symbolic stories in the Gospels related to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here Mary brings an alabaster container of some type filled with a precious ointment/perfume and breaks it over the head and feet of Jesus, anointing Him with it. John records the fragrance filled the room. Jesus declared this was a prophetic act of worship symbolic of His death (and resurrection) and would be declared throughout the world as a memorial to her.

It was costly. It had great value. It was an extravagant display of devotion. It was worth a lot of money. There was criticism of her then which is still with us today when people think something to be given “costs” too much when it is offered to God as an expression of love and worship. There will always be something else that is much more “practical” (in the mind of the critic) that money can be spent on. There are times for extravagance in devoting ourselves, most importantly; and of course, our possessions and talents to God!

We are alabaster boxes filled with precious ointment that come to Jesus every week. In the place of worship, we come in our external beauty as seen of others, viewed sometimes, by our dress, activities, and motives. Often, we come in beautiful and we leave the place of worship just as beautiful. But, do we leave having broken our vessels before the Lord in worship? Have we broken ourselves at the feet of Jesus and allowed the fragrance of our worship to be experienced by those present in the room and ultimately our lives by those outside the Body of Christ?

Broken pride says, “I need you.” “You are important to me.” Broken self-absorption, meets the needs of others we see. Broken walls allow others into our lives to encounter our transparency and see us as we really are. It is with this attitude of brokenness our lives become a refreshing fragrance to others around us.

It goes without saying, but I will. This wonderful refreshing fragrance is Jesus in us. However, as an alabaster box, He cannot be experienced by others through us until we allow ourselves to be broken at His feet. You see, these containers were sealed to maintain their freshness. Even though we inwardly possess Jesus, the sweet fragrance of heaven is only enjoyed by others to their benefit when that fragrance is released through our surrendered will and heart.

1. We must die to self and all that pertains to our lives, conduct, attitudes, and aspirations.

2. We must with what we possess and hold with great value, pour them out before Him.

3. We must recognize that before our possessions can realize their real purpose and worth, we must surrender ownership of them, through worship, to Jesus.

4. We must understand that surrender is not a loss of possession or loss of our lives, but a realization of full value and potential found only in Jesus and His lordship.

Therefore, our brokenness before Jesus is characterized by His fragrance that others experience when they come into contact with us!


Christmas promises

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:21 & 23 (KJV)

God introduced Himself to Joseph in a dream with a message that his engaged bride was going to have a baby. It must have challenged his understanding about God, the Law, and even natural law. During the time that followed, through the pre-natal period, the actual birth of the Christ-child, Jesus’ dedication in the Temple accompanied by the prophecies of His future by Simeon and Anna, it must have been beyond mental comprehension. Later they were warned in a dream to go to Egypt and stay there until Herod died after which they traveled back to Israel taking up residence in the village of Nazareth.

Following these events and now years later, they experienced another recorded moment with the twelve-year- old Jesus as He sat in the presence of the Temple leadership impressing them with the depth of His comprehension and responses concerning His knowledge of God. It must have added astonishment and mystery that lasted a lifetime. All of these experiences were pieces to a puzzle they perhaps may have never totally understood. To us these events all communicate an unfolding of the Father’s love and commitment to His creation that we now see clearly in the Scriptures because of our greater revelation of Jesus, the Son of God.

Note the following communicated to us in this passage:

1. Promise: To Israel, Jesus became the fulfillment of a promise made from the time of the Fall in the Garden of Eden through which God would ultimately deal with the sin that plunged humanity and the world into chaos, death, and destruction. To us, regardless of how devastating life may be for the moment, God’s long-term plan for us is salvation and ultimately heaven on earth. God has likewise promised to overpower Satan’s attempt to destroy your life in the here and now. Keep your heart focused on His promise and keep believing He will fulfill it in His timing!

2. Messiah: The long-awaited One, was anointed (Luke 4:14-21) to forever deal with the torment, bondage, and destruction of the Promised Land and its people, Israel. If we are willing to remain faithful, God will bring into our lives His Promise and the One Who is capable of rectifying the curse of sin that has devastated our life. He doesn’t promise to tell us how or to give us the details, He simply promises to be there when all others fail. He never fails to maintain His faithfulness to His promise.

3. Birth: The process of this birth was supernatural from start to finish. Jesus came as the Seed, was received by faith, manifested according to the power of the Holy Spirit, and brought to fruition through the completion of God’s plan for Israel and the world. I believe God’s plan for our lives follows the same process: we read the Word (God’s Seed), we receive it by faith, the Holy Spirit energizes its inherent life and power, and God brings it to fruition in our life. In the same way this happened, apart from Joseph or Mary’s personal credit, it was clearly a divine act of God seeking to intervene in the affairs of mankind, and of course He desires this for our lives as well!

God is continually speaking to His children. Every time you open the Scriptures, He has a specific word for you to be received by faith, filled with the power of God to bring it to pass, and the power of the Holy Spirit to make it a reality in your life. The reality of the Messiah, The Awaited One, presumes a people of anticipation. To us, we can be a child of anticipation, awaiting the entrance of Jesus into our life’s circumstances. When He comes, He will make the changes in our lives that show the power of God, His love, and desire to make our lives a reflection of His love!

Question: How are we as a Christian people granting Jesus, of Christmas, access into our livestyle?


i'm lost . . . . so what

so there's this tv show . . .its called lost. . .have you seen it? i haven't so if you have please respond to give me the full picture. but from what i understand its a bout a group of people who crash either by plane or boat i'm not sure on this island where no one else is supposed to be. .. only come to find out they aren't the only ones. there are these crazy monsters or "island people(?)" on the island as well.

yeah what a story line.

so anyway, i got to thinking what if they actually make it off the island. and they return home, like for example the movie "cast away" with tom hanks. (this i have seen). do they, as well as tom hanks, see that time as wasted time? do they few those days, months, or years as this strange time removed from the rest of their life? do they resent that time because it greatly interrupted the rest of their lives?

for tom hanks, well he gets to the island engaged (or about to be), successful fed ex dude and rather overweight. when he gets back 4 or 5 years later he's lost more than just his belly. but his job is gone, the love of his life is married and has kids with some other cat . . . . his life is completely and will be completely different than it had been before his crash or before his being lost.

what would be tom hanks reflection on his time on that island? would he view it and only think about all the things he'd lost and look at it as wasted time?

i feel that i've been in a general season of being lost. there are dreams in my heart and life to do so much more than what i'm currently doing, yet no breakthrough. plans and visions that constantly come at night time or through out the day and yet that's all they are because they aren't coming to fruition. and when i cry out, i most certainly don't feel like i'm being heard. its as if i'm in the middle of the desert screaming and no one hears.

and i feel lost--on the back side of the desert --forgotten even by the One who i believe gave me those dreams. . . and i am at the danger point of feeling that this time has been wasted.

i wonder if i was tom hanks how ticked i would be to look back at the island and see all my time spent with wilson as a waste worth nothing . .. something tells me i might. that i get back to the states, the love of my life is gone, my job gone, life completely altered . . . not seeing a happy ending here.

what i would probably miss is all of the character stuff that was formed inside of me. the things that happened and shifted inside of me because of that season of being lost. i think i would miss seeing as a time of being prepared.

and i would also probably not see that i was WAY TOO immature for those very dreams and visions that are still in front of me. that's my problem, i always think i'm ready way before i am. i have a feeling that the time spent with wilson would be a way to mature my immature self.

the problem is i think i'm the only one whose been lost before--no i'm not talking about the cast of cast away or tom hanks.

but Scripture is full of them.
moses spends 40 years in the desert BEFORE the burning bush experience.
david spends 14 years in and out of caves inbetween being anointed as king and taking the throne. in fact at one point he's in a cave called, adellum. in hebrew that means, "cave of no forseable future."
joseph has these crazy dreams and gets sold into slavery, spends 14 years in prison before a forgetfull butler remembers him and tells pharoah about him.
Esther spends years in a kings court without really having to make a difference.
Rehab spends years being a prostitute before she becomes gigantic in the sacking of Jericho

and in all of these cases a serious season of "lost" played on their live's tv sets before their dreams and destiny's came to pass. why .. . i'm not exactly sure but i think it has to do with that vision being formed in their hearts and minds and them not being ready for it.

and Israel had the same case. in isiah 49 israel feels just that, forgotten and lost. they've had this promise of a major nation and yet they sit in babylon captive and their home and identity destroyed. if there's anyone who feels lost its them. and in fact even after God tells them all of your dreams are even too small that i will do way over and above that, they still say, "we've been forgotten, we're lost and no one can find us, our time and lives are useless and meaningless."

that's when God says this rather amazing stuff . . . He says that even as a mother can't forget her child nursing at her breast so I do not forget you (talking to Israel here) and that Israel's name is marked or tatooed on my (God still speaking here) hands and your walls with forever be in front of my eyes.

the fact is that we aren't lost and certainly not forgotten. God sees us and in His strange way He is orchestrating a much larger plan than what we can see. its scary to think that He would be apart of that season, but i think its true.

in hosea he tells Israel that Hes going to take them out of the city and lead them into the wilderness. but He tells them there, He's going to be there with them, allure them, speak lovingly to them, and re-establish a covenant with them. that lost-wilderness place is Divinely set up -- its to get us alone with Him--so the jist of it is . .. we aren't by ourselves and it didn't happen by accident. there's real purpose in it.

oh yeah and that time isn't wasted. our times in these deserts, caves, and prisons are hard yes, but in it He's doing a work in us, He's causing stuff to come out that needs to be out and putting stuff in us that needs to be put in us.
so that when we do come out of that prison or cave or out of the desert, we are able to handle the pressure of the dream and vision.

i guess i'm convinced that i'm never ready for the dream or vision when i think i am--thus God in His incredible wisdom uses these caves and prisons as the preparation for something so much larger than just myself. and in it we learn things that go beyond our own scope of understanding but its always about a greater plan, a greater vision, a greater kingdom.

so when we do get off the island and get back to civilization we hit the ground running --because we are formed trained to do so. there isn't a time of mourning over what was missed . . . but rather a rejoicing because our perspective has changed -- we actually become grateful for the island -- it got us ready for civilization.


top 10 list for a woman of God in college

several years ago my wife wrote a top 10 list for women headed into their first year of college. being that it is coming into that time i thought it appropriate to share with the world . . .

Top 10 List for Woman of God in College

1. Seek Fellowship Immediately: If you think Christian fellowship is just going to appear out of nowhere you’re wrong. You have got to take initiative and find out what organizations have good fellowship. This is important to find the first week of school.

2. Check out more than one church: Don’t just settle for the first church you find. Ask around, meet new people and families and get to know the community. Find a church with a pastor that challenges you and pushes you to pursue God even more.

3. Spend time with God daily. Figure out what your schedule is going to be and with that set in stone when you are going to spend time with God. This is the first time in your life where you don’t have to be at school at 7am, so now you won’t be as rushed and can have a more leisure time to wake up. Be sure to pencil in your heavenly father as if it was a class you were taking. Search your campus for that secret place where only you and the Lord share time together and no one else knows about it.

4. Avoid boyfriends your first year at all costs. Well some may have a problem with this statement, but let me explain myself. For the first time in a while you are going to meet a plethora of good-looking guys that are “good” guys. Let them be just that, “good” guys that are your friends. The more the merrier, but the moment one of them becomes someone “special,” you begin to miss out on meeting so many other folks you would be meeting if you were single. Ladies, enjoy your singleness, it is more precious than silver or gold. Besides, if you get involved and it doesn’t work out, you have to realize that you are going to see that person over and over for the next four years of your life. Don’t burn any bridges so early in the game.

5. Be efficient with your time. It is easy to get distracted in college, particularly when your closest friends are all in walking distance and the internet is next to your bed. Be wise how you spend your time. If you have an hour in between classes, use that time to read and study, so that later in the afternoon you can have fun and not feel guilty about it.

6. Get involved with different activities; don’t spend all your time in the dorm. But in that same breath, don’t over commit yourself. Know when to say yes and know when to say no.

7. Don’t allow tension to build up with your roommate. It can sometimes be challenging living in such small quarters with another female. If something is going on that really bothers you, share it with her in love. Don’t allow the little things to build up into one huge mountain, that is how friendships are ruined. And realize that your roommate does not have to be your best friend, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t hit it off the first week.

8. Pray. Pray. Pray. You are in a position to impact your campus for Christ. Know that in every move you make and every word you speak people are watching you, particularly if you profess to be a follower of Christ. The only way you will be victorious on your campus is if you commit to being on your knees daily.

9. Call home. Be thankful that you are able to go to college. Be appreciative and love those who helped get you there. Enough said.

10. Don’t compromise your values. You may meet a lot of people who profess the name of Jesus, but don’t live it out in their actions. Don’t allow them to steer you off the narrow road. God never said that being a Christian would always be easy, but He did promise you life to the fullest. So even though others may compromise their values and beliefs, don’t allow that to affect you. Stay right smack in the will of God and you will not be let down, believe me.

You are about to step into a totally new adventure that God has for you and it is such an exciting time in your life. I am thrilled for you and in some ways envious. I guess what I wanted to leave with you to take were a few words of advice that if I had had an older sister I would have wanted her to share them with me. So that is exactly what you are to me, you are my little sister in Christ, whom I love very much and I am waiting and praying in expectation for the things God will bring to pass in your life. Hold fast to the Word of God because it will bring life to you wherever you are. If there is anytime where you need a familiar voice or someone to listen, I want you to know that I am here for you. I will stand with you for the things you are asking God for, just let me in on what they are. College is what you make of it. It is a choice, choose life my sister. It is a season of your life where you will be stretched, challenged, and thus sharpened. You will never be able to go back on these years so make the most of your days. All I have to give you is what the Lord has deposited in me, Jesus Christ, and with him all things are possible. Amen Sister. I love you!!!

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 with 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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!


faith stuff

so i have this friend. i've known him for quite some time, has a very strong Christian heritage. grew up in a Christian family, school, etc. the whole deal.

he recently told me that he is now agnostic. not sure if God exists and if He does, not sure who He is.
wow. this floored me. my brain immediately started going a thousand miles an hour-coming up with all of these arguments and points to explore this "craziness" that my friend was getting himself into.

thankfully the filter on my brain stopped me from unloading on him a kazillion thoughts. but i began to ponder in my own life this faith stuff.

the questions of why does one change faith? how does that happen? what about his life or life circumstances affect his change of faith? was it real to begin with? if it was, then what could have possibly caused him to shift from that? and if he could do that . . . could i?

where is the line drawn from circumstances to determine our perspective faith and our faith determines our perspective on circumstances?

i know that faith is just that, faith - believing in that which is unseen and unknown, but there is an experiential side to our faith -- there is a tangibleness to the Christian walk.

we start out with faith--we hear the first of this crazy message that a God does exist. then we hear that He really loves us, a lot. but because we are all screwed up and He wants to be with us, He sends His Son, Jesus, to live a life as a human to live a "non-screwed" up life and yet gets the same punishment as us screwed up people--death. but what's different about this cat named Jesus is that while He's a human, He's also God. so He comes back to life and offers us this same opportunity (eternal life) after our screwed up selves finish our time on this earth.


so right from the start it takes a pretty major leap of faith to even believe in this faith stuff . . . yet then this rediculous thing happens . . . in some shape or fashion, this story - this faith stuff becomes real. like, for real for real.
we experience Him, His presence, His love, grace, mercy, etc. we see Him in dreams or visions, we have peace in a way that we cannot explain in a time when we should be freaking out. our dad's get healed of cancer (like mine), our parents marriages work out, we see people who were literally blind now able see (like i've seen).
so there's a direct correlation to this life experience and this faith stuff, it marries the two together.

but the problem is we can't always stay there. while we will have these God- experiences time and again, that isn't what solidifies our faith. because for as good as these God-experiences can be, we are screwed up people and we live in a jacked up world, and bad things can happen. this is when our faith is what it is--faith-belief in stuff that we can't see.

so when a grandparent dies (like mine have) when your heart is crushed (like mine has been) and when you've got bills out the wazoo (like mine are) and when life just sucks-you fall back not on just experiences, but on faith that says that crazy story is true. that these things that i have believed about God are true, His character is what He says it is.

and while it just doesn't make sense, life that is, I know that i know that i know that i know that i know that i know, that He is God.

and i cannot disregard my faith because for a season of life my experiences don't match up to what i thot life would be. cause its faith stuff.

delusional, convicted, weird. .. yeah maybe all of the above. but this is what i've found. if i continue to believe in this, faith stuff -- even when life doesn't match up-if i persevere through it . . . i've found my life experience to ALWAYS match the faith stuff.

its just takes some work sometimes to ignore my present heart-ache and to stand on that faith stuff. i hope my friend finds that journey back to the faith stuff. cause i can't imagine life is better off where he/she is now.

that's the thing about this faith stuff. we can leave it because life stuff happens, remember were screwed up people in a jacked up world, but life removed from the faith stuff seems to be much much more unsettling.