Lord, If Thou art Willing

Lord If Thou Art Willing

And when he came down from the mount, great multitudes did follow him, and lo, a leper having come, was bowing to him, saying, ‘Sir, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me;’ and having stretched forth the hand, Jesus touched him, saying, ‘I will, be thou cleansed,’ and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, ‘See, thou mayest tell no one, but go, thyself shew to the priest, and bring the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.’ [Matthew 8:1-4]


And having sternly charged him, immediately he put him forth, and saith to him, ‘See thou mayest say nothing to any one, but go away, thyself shew to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing the things Moses directed, for a testimony to them.’ And he, having gone forth, began to proclaim much, and to spread abroad the thing, so that no more he was able openly to enter into the city, but he was without in desert places, and they were coming unto him from every quarter. [Mark 1:43-45]


I have been pondering on this passage for a while.  I prayed this very same prayer that the leper made, while waiting on the Lord to heal my nerve pain.  And He did answer my prayer, although in an extended healing over time rather than the quick relief [like the leper] I had asked for.  I am still on that journey to recovery – but amazed at how far I have already come.  Or rather, how far He has carried me.


I am struck by three things in this passage.


First, the leper asked unabashedly for Jesus to heal him.  He recognized Jesus as a source of healing, fought the crowds to get near Him, and knelt before the Lord to make his request.  I imagine Jesus loves this kind of dogged determination to get close to Him.  The leper was a social outcast.  I can picture others making efforts to avoid this man as he made his effort to get to the Lord.  The leper is a picture of all of us with the stain of sin in our lives.  We are not clean, but we recognize Jesus as the One who can take away our sin.


Second, the leper anticipated the healing.  To be sure, he asked the Lord “if thou art willing,” but at the same time he stretched out his hand to be healed.  Because perhaps of what he had seen or heard about Jesus, he had full confidence that Jesus would in fact heal him!  What great faith!  In the same way, we can have full confidence that God will heal us.  First, to heal our heart of the sin that comes between us and God.  Second, often through physical or mental healing according to His will.  And third, in our final and ultimate healing when He calls us home.  We will not suffer the infirmities of this physical life when we reach our final reward in glory!


Finally, despite Jesus’ stern warning not to tell anyone about what had happened, the former leper could not contain the joy inside of being touched by God.  We can, I think forgive this man for disobeying Jesus’ command to keep it quiet.  Jesus probably wanted less focus and attention on the miracle itself, and more focus on lives changed forever by Him.  We see from the parallel passages in Mark and Luke that instead of telling no one, the former leper made such a fuss, so to speak, that Jesus had to move His ministry out of the city and into the desert.  If you think about it, leprosy is a very visible disease. People who knew this man could not help but see the change. And he could not help but proclaim the work of Jesus in his life! 


We as believers in Jesus should also exhibit a manifested change because of His healing in our life and soul.  We should also have joy so pent up inside that we cannot fail to tell others about what Jesus did for us.



Lord, if thou art willing…I am willing; be thou cleansed

Eat, Drink, and Sleep

This will be a relatively short post…

Recently I attended a leadership meeting held by my employer.  One of the topics concerned the implementation of a new information system.  The total cost outlay would be one of the largest in the Corporation’s history.  Definitely the largest non-real asset expenditure.

Our CEO talked of the need to have people at each location fully invested in the success of the new system.  To take personal ownership, leadership, responsibility.  Those who would “eat, drink, and sleep” the new system.  Without such dedicated and focused leaders, the implementation might fail.  Obviously, we can’t afford to let that happen.  The mission of the organization is at stake.  I work at a not-for-profit.

That got me thinking.  We need people who “eat, drink, and sleep” the gospel.  The Word of God.  The Kingdom.  Repentance.  Holiness.  Surrender. Agape love. Compassion to hateful, mean, lonely and forgotten individuals. And oh yes, patience and forgiveness.  Smiles in a world of frowns and scowls. Truth in a world of anything goes.  Life at all stages valued in a world where it is too often disposable.  Sold out, for my Savior.

Would that it would be, in me.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  [Matthew 5:6]

The Love of God Descending

The Love of God Descending

The Love of God Descending

The Sons of men, not apprehending

The innocent, the tender babe

The manger, obscure and vague

The Magi, honored guests

The shepherds, nothing less

The horde of sinful men, destined to die

He the Savior, for them, crucified

But for now, a tender coo

The baby Jesus, delivered

For me – For you 

Forgive me Lord

Yeah.

Here we stand, mid-December.  In the season celebrating the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Son of God, King of Kings, and Prince of Peace.  No greater single earth-side historical event even comes remotely close to the significance of the birth of the Christ child (save the Cross of Easter, of which the former leads inevitably to the latter).  The redemption of all mankind stood in the balance.  Eons of perpetual sin.  A tyranny of transgressions against the Most Holy God.  Wickedness of geometric proportions.  And a most beautiful, holy, perfect innocent child.

He came.

He was born.

He lived a spotless life.

He died on the cross.

He bore our sins, lovingly and willfully.

His death as a sacrifice to give life within.

Our death to sin to receive new life in Him.

And yet.  I am not who I should be this Christmas.  I let the humdrum busyness and routine of life intrude on the sheer majesty of the advent.  Think of it!  The intersection of the Supernatural upon the natural.  The Holy upon the humdrum.  The miraculous upon the minutiae of life.  If we allow ourselves to be caught in the cycle of the mundane, the mindless trudging back and forth between our beds from morning to evening, we will miss the Savior!

Forgive me Lord!  There are things I adore more than You, more than than Your Son – sent to save us from ourselves.  Restore to my heart and soul a longing for anticipation.  Anticipation of the baby Jesus.  Anticipation of His redemptive work on the Cross.  Anticipation of His sure return!

Poem:

Forgive me Lord

Forgive me Lord

There’s something I adore

more than You

unfortunately

I give You this

and implore

Remove, Replant, Restore

 

Contemplations of a Savior – Part II

I have often thought about what gift I could give to Jesus for all that He has done for me.  In one sense, this is nonsensical; there is absolutely nothing I can possibly give or provide to God, no act of service, no thought or sentiment that could remotely come close to recompensing Jesus for the Cross.  Just not ever gonna happen.

There is not a cell, molecule, or DNA strand in my body that is anything close to worthiness for His redemption.  Standing on my own “achievements”, I have no chance in Heaven; every chance in Hell.


Yet Jesus deemed me [essentially an evil worthless wretch] worthy of being saved for eternity.  No words…


So what can I do?  I cannot ever repay Him.

  

But I can respond to God’s perfect gift by endeavoring to love as He does.  To be obedient to the Word of God.   To put Him, my family, and other people before my own needs and wants.  This is what Oswald Chambers meant I believe by abandonment to God.

  

“It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence, and my self-will.”


–quote from today’s My Utmost for His Highest.

Contemplations of a Savior – Part I

Imagine you are the perfect Being.  Complete.  Holy.  All powerful.  All knowing across the spectrum of time.  Perfection personified within and beyond the universe.

How humbling must it have been to be born as a baby human?!  To obey and submit to flawed earthly parents.  To get along with imperfect, grumbling, jealous siblings.  To grow up in a backwater town in a conquered nation.  To talk and listen among people who for the most part just don’t get it.


To live a routine, hum-drum life as a son, a carpenter, a Jew.  To be basically invisible for most of his youth, adolescence, and young adult life – among fellow humans.

  

And all the while, He never sinned.  Although tempted just as we are on a daily, hourly, or constant basis.  40 days of incessant temptation directly from Satan.  Yet never to have (even once) given in to his earthly human nature – I cannot fathom such a man!


Children learn at such an incredibly young age the tools of manipulation, behavioral modification and reinforcement, and the desire to have it my way.  Me, me, me!  Tantrum, fake tears, jumping up and down.  All to get WHAT I WANT.  This is nothing more than infantile greed, lust for things, desire for control.  The Father of Lies, the Prince of the Air, the roaring lion of destruction – Satan himself – begins early to plot our downfall.  Maybe even at the moment that we are conceived, Satan is assigning demons to bedevil us for our entire earthly existence.


But Jesus, receiving mega-doses of temptation, never gave in and sinned.  And because of His faithfulness, He was able to present Himself as a spotless sacrifice for our sins on the Cross.

  

Unbelievable.  Amazing.  Unfathomable.


Only Jesus.

So much more…

I can only echo yes, yes, yes to this sister’s exhortation. God would use us if we are ready and available to do His will and His works. All for His glory.

israelsideblog

Image result for there is more

Today as I was reading a devotion a thought hit me..it hit me hard.

It is great to have devotions. It is great to read your bible. It is even better to pray. But at some point we are called…ASKED to do more. We gain all this information, we build our relationship with Christ, our faith increases…but is all of that for just our own good?

NO!

We are to do. We are to apply what we have learned. We are to go forth and share the things the Lord has taught us.

Some people feel empty and search for things to make them feel whole or more complete. When in reality it is God who is calling us to go deeper by becoming a teacher for Sunday school. Or to go out and evangelize or lead a bible study. To take the next step in our walk. In doing…

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Memorable Christmases

I am at a time of transition.


I no doubt have been for some time now, but as with many things involving calendar-induced change, I tend to think I am immune.


Not that I am in a continuous state of denial about growing old, or want to revel in and bring back my college or high school days.  No thank you.  Rather, I am comfortable with my age – which just happens to be 55.  I just like to think of myself as a young 55, whatever that means.  Sure, I posted Sammy Hagar’s famous pre-Van Halen rant, I can’t drive 55 on Facebook for my birthday – but it was just a lark.  I love being a Papaw to three lovely, well-behaved…okay three lovely, beautiful, but spoiled rotten grandchildren.  (They are actually well-behaved on the whole, if you discount the Tornado path of toys and stuff through our house…)


Sorry – I got off track.  It’s just at this time of year that I sometimes think back to my own Christmases of the past.  Here’s a hodge-podge of memories, in no particular [including chronological] order.  I may come back and add to the list if I think of some special ones that I missed:


* The recon mission.  I usually colluded with my younger sister to go on search and find missions throughout the house to locate where Mom hid ours and others’ gifts well in advance of the big day.  Applied equally as well to birthdays.


Eggnog and fudge.  My dad was the eggnog connoisseur, and we always drank it without any extra enhancement.  After all, we were kids!  But the real treat was my Momaw’s incomparable Chocolate fudge.  The fudge was kept in a tin that was placed on the attic steps [where it received just the perfect amount of cool air to make the fudge to die for].


* The cool bikes.  In Christmas of 1969, my brother [1 year and 3 weeks my senior] and I received new orange spyder bikes with tiger head grips.  Shortly after Christmas, in January 1970, our family moved to a new home.  I distinctly remember riding our bikes in the chilly January weather in our new driveway.


*  The infamous bird ornament.  My dog Baron was the first of many Miniature Schnauzers in our family.  Someone (probably my Dad) bought an ornament that simulated the chirping sound of birds.  It literally drove Baron crazy, and we no doubt got some humor from it.  Not that the noise hurt his ears; on the contrary he wanted to hunt it, get it, and kill it.  That dog had to have some hound in his blood somewhere along the line.


* Post-Christmas planting.  My mother picked out a live tree every year.  And we loved the smell, and decorating it as a family. We usually kept the tree up until New Years, and then it was time to haul it outside.  Rather than tossing the tree, or grinding it up for mulch, Mom and Dad wanted to plant the tree out in the yard [we had several evergreens on the property already].  So, my brother and I would trudge out into sometimes bitter cold and try to dig a hole in an even more bitterly hard ground.  Our tree came with roots and all, which made it that much heavier to carry or pull.   Despite our efforts, I can’t recall a single tree that survived.


The train.  I loved our Christmas traditions, even if I have portrayed myself as somewhat of a Scrooge in my adult life [I am recovering].  One of my favorites was a felt Christmas tree banner that was hung on the wall each December.  It had 12 square boxes on each side of the tree for the days in the month [through Christmas Eve], and each contained a small “ornament’ held by a pin.  Each day, one of us kids [four in all] had the honor of hanging the little ornament for that day on the green felt Christmas tree.  One ornament in particular held fascination for me.  It was a little blue train engine.  Perhaps it was because my grandfather [who I never knew] was a railroader.  In any event, that became my special ornament to hang year after year.


Christmas Knick-Knacks.  Our parents have now been in an assisted living facility for a couple of years.  For a while we have been packing up things at the house.  We were amazed at the amount of Christmas decorations, knick-knacks, odds and ends, and various other Christmas items that my mother had purchased over the years.  She simply loved Christmas, and the house reflected that.  


* Keeping the Fire Burning.  My church today holds a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service each December 24th.  One tradition is that at the end of the service, we extinguish the lights and pass the flame as one candle lights another during the singing of Silent Night.  The flame is to represent that the Light of the World [Jesus] has come for all people, and we are to take that Light out into the world.  In my youth, my home church took that to heart.  Today, we turn the lights back on, blow out our candles, and turn in the candle as we exit the church,  Practical; saves money on candles.  In my youth, we kept our candles burning as we exited the church!  If it was particularly blustery night, it was a challenge to keep the candle lit until we reached the car.  Then, as we drove home we would see other cars with candles burning inside on the highway.  What a vivid image of taking Christ out into the world!  I imagine that the practice was stopped in the name of safety or risk management in the litigious environment we currently live in.  But as a kid, I loved it.  



What about you?  What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?  I encourage you to write and share on your own blogs.  If nothing else, it rekindles brain cells and is a cathartic process for the soul.


Merry Christmas to all.

A Tiny Life

baby-jesus-in-the-manger-3-728-1.jpgA Tiny Life

 

A tiny life

delivered into obscurity

    and humility

Yet full of the Godhead

and imbued with Divine Majesty

 

Set among the common things

    of life

Among animals and mud

Among men who tended sheep

    in the fields above


And yet sought with great earnest

by travelers following prophecy and a star

Lit by the Heavenly Hosts

to bring them nigh the newborn babe

    the long awaited King on High

 

And thus He came

A Baby King

A Light to the Nations

A Savior to the redeemed

the most innocent tiny life

to bring Heaven to earth

and peace inside

 

12/10/15


Christmas Reflection

Several of my most recent posts have dealt with the issue of sin in the life of a believer, and the deleterious effects thereof:

  • Cleaning Fluid
  • Shipwrecked
  • Stop the Nonsense

Obviously, this is a topic that I care deeply about.  I consider the fight against sin and depravity in the culture to be of paramount importance.  And of course that fight begins with me in my own soul.  Thus, much of what I write is an admonition first and foremost, for me.

But I want to focus the remainder of this month on praise, wonder, and celebration of God’s gift to us in the form of His one and only Son, Jesus.  There is no greater gift.  And He is first and foremost, for everyone.

And thank you for reading.  I wish you the deepest joy found in the advent of the Christ child.

 

Christmas Reflection

 

Into the darkness

You brought

inexpressible pure Light

 

In the face of rampant evil

You sent a child, resplendent

all for us that fateful night

 

Your glory shines, undimmed

from Heaven down to earth

with sprinkled stars arrayed till Dawn’s alight

 

Amazing then, redemption began

Improbably, in humble nascent birth

to bring the Savior who would set things right

 

Amen.