Archive for July, 2011

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. – Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

Christ gives us an example of excellence.  Paul repeatedly states Christ as the “firstborn.” He is the firstborn of all creation as well as from the dead.  Christ is excellent due to His preeminence.  He made peace for us with God through His sacrifice of His own body and blood.

He’s excellent and serves as an example of excellence.  Countless biblical verses and passages could be used from throughout the Gospels and other epistles to show His excellence and His example.  Yet, this passage addresses His excellence and example as well as His existence.  He existed and continues to exist as the head of the body, the church.  You may have a pastor, but he still sits below Christ in the biblical order of things.  You may be a spiritual leader or preside over a ministry, but Christ reigns over the church.  If you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, He reigns over you and should have reign over your life as Lord and Savior.

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 3 But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
   my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the LORD,
   and he answers me from his holy mountain.

– Psalm 3:3-4

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Think on it.  The Lord ought to be something to you.  He should be something personal to you.  He reside in heaven, but he presides over all the earth.  He may appear to do something for everyone, even those who seem to only half-heartedly believe in Him, but He surely has done something good for you.

Take a brief moment to consider and contemplate all of what God has done on your behalf.  Before you utter a prayer, build up your arsenal of praise for what He has already done for you.  Forget about going to God with your cares and concerns.  Give Him some adoration and praise for His already-answered blessings bestowed upon you. Call on Him and acknowledge what He has done for you and how He has come through for you.

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You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.- Titus 2:1 (NIV)

Paul tasks his “true son” in the ministry to teach “sound doctrine.” he doesn’t fumble around with eloquent words and metaphors.  He says that Titus needs to teach it and teach it straight, just as the Lord laid it out. 

What if every pastor did like Paul and shared that with a younger pastor? What if that was the gut-check before every Sunday sermon and every Wednesday night Bible study? Is this sound doctrine? Just imagine that.

What we need to do as ministers is truly pray for ourselves and our fellow bearers of the Word.  We have to be on guard and prepared for the attack.  We have to watch ourselves so that our feet do not slip upon the slippery slope of compromise and conservatism.

Keep the doctrine sound.  Watch what you teach.  Keep an eye on what others are teaching the Good Shepherd’s sheep.  Some folks just want to stir up the flock and create an uproar.  Cut them off and clear things up.  Keep it sound.  Do not let anything corrupt or contaminate the doctrine as it has been given by God as His Word.

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3Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
4Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

Truly, this psalm hits home for a lot of us.  Let’s keep it real.  We can do that.  Right?

Keeping it real, we know that we have some deep-rooted contempt for certain folks.  You know, we may have it in for rich folks, other-colored folks, same-sex folks, can’t-get-enough-of-whatever folks, and countless others.  We just may not be able to identify well with them or all of the baggage that they bring. 

It’s really not about them.

Yep.  I said it.

It’s really about you.  I guess I should say us, but let’s stay on you for a minute.

. . . we are exceedingly filled with contempt. . . exceedingly filled with the scorning…and with the contempt

Why ask someone else: “What’s your problem?” when some reflection and examination will reveal the problem-holder in a second? Look at our language when we speak of ourselves.  We tend to come up short when it comes to coming clean about our stuff and owning our own issues.  Let your “I” message be about how you will handle your problem with others and deal with your own contempt for others.

This psalm pointed out that those who were at ease and the proud were targets of the contempt of the faithful.  The faithful sought the right resource.  They called upon God to have mercy upon us in a repetitive phrase in both verses 2 and 3.  It demonstrates the realization that God who sits high in the heavens is watching over his own children. 

Let us go to God and seek His mercy upon us as we seek to be delivered from our own contempt.  We want God to purge and purify us.  We want God to cure and cleanse us.  We ought to know that we cannot deal with this on our own.  We need His mighty hand.  We need His awesome power.  We need God to work on our behalf.

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Read the last verses of the Gospel of John’s first chapter and you will see how much connections count in Christianity.  John the Baptist proclaimed the Lamb of God as He appeared in the remote region where John was baptizing people.  Two of John’s disciples attached themselves to Jesus, one being John the disciple whom the Lord loved and the other was Andrew.  Andrew went and brought his brother to Jesus.  It demonstrates how much connections count in Christianity.

Since we’re connected to Jesus Christ, we are connected a whole lot of others who have connected to Christ.  We are part of the body of Christ.  We are all part of one uniersal church that has many local branches with heaven as its headquarters and center of operations.  We are connected.

However, we are connected to Christ and other Christians.  Do we connect others to Christ? Do we hook them up with an introduction to Christ and an invitation to connect with Him personally? Those are connections that count.  They make a difference between people getting to know about Christ versus people coming to know Christ as their Savior. 

Make a connection that counts.  Connect with Christ for your own salvation.  Keep connecting from there.  Connect someone else to Christ.

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The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.
The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
– Winston Churchill

Not long ago, the State of California and its legislators figured to get a few more dollars from business by taxing goods, products and any items sold on the Internet that had a connection to California.  It didn’t hit me until I got an email from Amazon about my Amazon Associates account facing potential closure due to the fact that I live in the Golden State.  I was just catching my breath again when I received another email that said that it was a done deal.  The night before I had been an Amazon Associate with MP3 samples teasing reading on my blog and magazine images from Relevant and Outreach on the same hone page, linking my blog readers to an Amazon storefront- astore as they call them for their own viewing. 

No more, though.  That is over.  If I have not gotten over that, imagine my Christian dismay when my other affiliate program Christian Book shot me a casual email that said it was cutting ties with its California-based affiliates.  That just added to the barrage of additional junk that gets piled on in the midst of a budget crisis.

I was seeking out just how I planned to get some things done and fought with myself to see things clearly and optimistically.  I had been kicked here and as I turned the other cheek I was gracefully given another swift kick right there, too.  I was fed up as a freelancer who also gets a few coins here and there on my blogs and articles when people click on or through the affiliate ads for Amazon and Christian Book.  Luckily, I hadn’t heard from Google AdSense acting irrationally, too.

I assessed my situation.  Affiliate revenue did not even account for one-third of my total business revenue or a high percentage of my online income either.  My mainstay is the purchase of articles, poems and fillers that I write as a freelancer online.  I get a pretty good amount from Helium and Textbroker.  I am starting to get some real traffic on HubPages, too. 

What I am saying is that I don’t make a lot of fuss over what didn’t make a big difference in the bottom line or in any major category of life such as salvation, family and sanity.  Amazon only dropped me as an affiliate or “associate.” I am still listed as an author on the siteI am stilled adding books and tweets on the site, tooIn fact, my publishing site is still working with me as I struggle to complete another book of poetry and a few sets of materials on Bible study and devotion.

I just added a new video to my author profile on Amazon so go and check it out.

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 Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity,  A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.- Isaiah 1:4 (NKJV)

God shared a vision from above.  God revealed His vision of Israel with His prophet.  He showed Isaiah exactly what He thought of this “sinful nation.”

How the faithful city has become a harlot!…- Isaiah 1:21

For Jerusalem stumbled,     
And Judah is fallen,     
Because their tongue and their doings     
Are against the Lord,     
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
– Isaiah 3:8

And so it shall be:     
Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench;     
Instead of a sash, a rope;     
Instead of well-set hair, baldness;     
Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth;     
And branding instead of beauty.
– Isaiah 3:24

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;     
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;     
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!     
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,     
And prudent in their own sight!
– Isaiah 4:20-21

What is the view from above today? Does God look down upon us and smile pleasantly as we sit passively and await change to come about by osmosis? Is God delighted as we watch and sit by silently as man and woman go on with earthly merriment and continue to move towards eternal damnation?

Imagine if God were to grant a vision to those who lead the body of Christ today.  Just think it over for a moment.  Let the thought of God’s view from above sink into your mind, heart and spirit.  Thoroughly think through and over what words might fall from heaven as the Lord describes His views of the Christians on earth below.  Let your thoughts wander to the multiple metaphors and various visual images God’s words would conjure up in your mind.

Just take a moment and imagine the view from above.

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