Faith

People talk about faith a lot.  Especially people of faith.  True Christ-followers understand the concept of faith better than anyone else, yet find it difficult at times to exercise that faith in certain situations.  James said it would happen [James 1:2-3].

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Recently I had the chance to exercise my faith in a real life experience, and I gained some valuable insight into the concept of faith.  Here is a little history of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

In 1888, George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver in Canada. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. In 1889 he suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon with the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano and a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.

for more information click here.

bridge small

This 153 yard bridge took me to the other side of the river, where we walked on other bridges up into the tops of the trees and looked down at the river flowing below.   I’m not a big fan of suspension bridges, holding at any given point more than one hundred people going back and forth.  The only bad thing about going all the way over to the other side… you have to cross the bridge again to come back.

Placing my faith in the cabling, wood, and design of this bridge was very challenging for me.

I suspect that for people far from God, who always want to believe they can handle everything on their own, they might have some difficulty believing Jesus really is the only BRIDGE worth taking.  They probably doubt His ability to be the Savior He claims to be.  They dispute His authority and claim to be the ONLY means (way, truth, life) of right relationship with God.

Nevertheless, it is true.

What it takes to act on this truth… is to take a step of faith into Jesus.

Hebrews helps us here [11:1]:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

If I wanted to see the river from the tops of the trees… there was only one way to get there… stepping out in faith.

If you want to know the joy of eternal life with the Creator of the Universe, there is only one way to get there… taking that step of faith into Jesus.

Abram’s Moxie

Daily Post: Moxie

moxie

This morning I slept in.  I didn’t set an alarm last night, intentionally.  But then again, I don’t ever set an alarm as though I need one to get up in the morning.  My internal body clock just gets me up.  I can’t just lie there in bed.  It’s virtually impossible for me to force myself to stay in that prone position after I awaken. Life has been this way for me as long as I can remember.  As a result, just after 7:00 am on a Saturday morning, (an hour later than average), here I am, sitting at my desk, writing.

Everyone has their routines.  But I can honestly say I didn’t wake up full of moxie this morning.  I didn’t have a lot of pep in my step, or energy coursing through my veins.  Mostly it seemed I was on auto pilot until my reading routine brought me to this word –Moxie – from the Daily Post.  It wasn’t like a shot of adrenalin, or enlightening like an epiphany, really.  My coffee hadn’t even finished brewing at that point.  Something in my brain just clicked, and it was time to write.

This word, moxie, reminds me of Abram.  Most people know him as Abraham.  He’s pretty famous for his role in becoming the patriarch of the nation of Israel.  Yet, most people don’t even understand that when God spoke to Abram, it wasn’t because he was Jewish.  There was no “Jewish” at the time of Abram.  In fact many of the nations of the world came from Abram’s loins.  Additionally, Abram didn’t even live in the land that would become Israel at the time God found him.  Abram lived in the area of southern Mesopotamia along the Persian Gulf, in the land of Ur (see map above).  Through archaeological discoveries this area extols evidence of elaborate wealth, skilled craftsmanship, and advanced technologies and science (for that ancient time).

Now imagine you are Abram.  God’s voice comes to you and you hear these words: [Genesis 12:1]
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives And from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

What kind of pluck, what kind of courage, what kind of MOXIE would it have taken for Abram to act on these words at face value?  It wasn’t like he had been to the middle east territories and said, “that sounds good, I’ll go live there.”  Abram hadn’t seen it, couldn’t see it, and wouldn’t even know how to get there, except God shows him the way.  Talk about a pioneer, this guy has something most of us can’t even comprehend.  Abram has to leave the only home he has ever known, all his relatives will stay behind, and he’ll never return to his country.  Call it what you want, that takes moxie.

Theologians, Pastors, Teachers and the Church at large tend to quantify Abram’s actions by the word Faith.  Clearly, this is what Scripture teaches in Hebrews 11:8.  By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

So here’s the thing, perhaps we’ve heard this word so frequently that today we need to find some context of its meaning for us personally.  Hence, I offer you here, Abram’s moxie as a bench mark of faith.  All of Abram’s actions were based in an active belief, resulting in behaviors which were evidence of his faith.  This takes moxie: courage, and determination.  Abram determined in his heart that God would do exactly as He said.  Abram then courageously acted in accordance with God’s commands.  I don’t know a better definition of faith.

After all, remember what Abram left behind in Ur… a culture of wealth, craftsmanship, technology… to become a pioneer of something greater.  When someone suggests walking in God’s will and way is easy, mostly they have no idea what they’re talking about.  It takes great courage and determination to believe God’s promises and act accordingly.  To pull up roots, to travel to an unknown land, takes moxie.

Faith today then should be expressed in Abrahamic style… with moxie.  Today I urge you to live courageously and determinedly, walking with God toward that land that you have not seen.  Step and in moxie-like faith, and become the person God intended you to be.

2 Corinthians 5:7
… for we walk by faith, not by sight.

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Eternal Dossier

via Record

An obituary typically consists of a brief biographical sketch of the deceased person from the vantage point of a friend or relative.  The view received from this information is still an earthly view.  While it may have a spiritual synopsis of the person’s life, often it is more about the nature of their character, the sum of past achievements, genealogy, etc.  I know a few folks who still read the newspapers, whose favorite section is the Obituaries, because they like reading these short biographies of those who have passed.

obituaries

Some people might even see this tribute as the “scorecard” for a life.  However, keeping score this way may not necessarily be the healthiest approach to life here or the hereafter.  If we are going to keep score, we might want to think more along the lines of what God keeps recorded in our eternal dossier.  Of course, this assumes you know that God does keep records of some things, and those things are defined for us in the Bible.  Allow me to give you a list of ten things God records, or has recorded over time; and will record until human history is over.

  1.  God records and stores all the tears we shed.
    Psalm 56:8
    You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?
  2. God records my birth, my life, my death in days – before it happens.
    Psalm 139:16
    Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
  3. God records the number of the stars and keeps record of their names.
    Psalm 147:4
    He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
  4. God keeps a Book of Remembrance of those who regard His name.
    Malachi 3:16
    At that time those who feared the LORD spoke to one another. The LORD took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name.
  5. God keeps track of people’s heavenly investments.
    Matthew 6:20
    But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
  6. God records the number of hairs on an individual human head.
    Matthew 10:30
    But even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
  7. God records every idle word a person speaks.
    Matthew 12:36
    I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.
  8. God records every Godly work of a person.
    Hebrews 6:10
    For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints–and you continue to serve them.
  9. God records the general life of all humans.
    Revelation 20:12
    I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.
  10. God records the name of every person who ever stepped over the line of faith into Christ.
    Revelation 20:15
    And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

An obituary is the record to be read by those who remain behind in this life, here on this earth.  God’s records are for the person who has just passed.  Specifically, God keeps a Book of Life where He records all those who have trusted Jesus as their savior.  By definition this means there are those who haven’t, and what awaits them is not imaginable or desirable as an eternal destination.  Does this give you pause? Because maybe it should.  Maybe this is the moment of reflection and contemplation your whole life has been leading up to.  In these ten simple statements you may recognize that all of life has meaning and purpose, but will your’s measure up to God’s standard?

What does your eternal dossier look like?

 

 

Neo to Morpheus

via Doubt

The mind bending alternate universe of The Matrix has always intrigued me.  Great movies like these sometimes challenge us to question everything we believe.  Is the keyboard I’m typing on real, or just an illusion?  Morpheus says to Neo, “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo.  But I can only show you the door.  You’re the one that has to walk through it.

matrix

Life for people of faith is exactly like this.  Doubt is a part of our existence, and Jesus knew this.  This knowledge is what originated the final part of the plan, whereby God’s Holy Spirit would indwell those who have stepped over the line of FAITH into Christ.  It’s as though Jesus says to every new believer, “I’m trying to free your mind.  But I can only show you the door.  You’re the one that has to walk through it.”  When God’s Spirit leads us, we follow.  When God’s Spirit inspires us, we write or speak.  When God’s Spirit motivates us, we act in ways that benefit others and bring glory to God.  That’s what it means to walk in the Spirit.  We live out our existence in this world, believing that there is another unseen world more real than the one we inhabit.

Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight-”  2 Corinthians 5:7

However, consider a few other verses which shed light on our doubt.

Proverbs 28:26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Psalms 25:4
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

James 1:6
But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Jesus was constantly asking those 12 men who followed him most closely, “Why did you doubt?”  Yet, remarkable as it may seem, Jesus fully anticipated that not only they, but we too would live a life filled with doubt.  So Jesus said to them, and to us, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1

There are days when I feel more like the man who watched his son, writhing on the ground, foaming at the mouth, at the mercy of a demon attacking the boy. The man just wants his boy to be free and sane again.  Follow this conversation… Mark 9:14-29

Jesus: “How long has this been happening to him?
Dad: “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!

Jesus: “IF … You can?  All things are possible to him who believes.
Dad: “I DO … believe!! Help my unbelief!

Many times in my past, in my present, and I expect in my future, I have or will look to heaven and cry out… “help my unbelief!”  Why?  Because I can’t see the Matrix that is God’s perfect will.   Because not only can I not see the Matrix, I can’t sometimes make sense even out of what I do see.  It causes me to doubt.  Not in a vacillating way trying to decide if I still believe it all.  But in a much deeper way than mere words can describe.  I’m like this dad… I just want help.

The Holy Spirit often speaks to me in moments like these with these words of wisdom…

Isaiah 64:4
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.

Paul quoted this exact passage when he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:9-12):

but just as it is written,
            “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
            AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
            ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.

Seeing is not believing.  Believing is seeing.  Do not doubt.  Do not be afraid.  Open the door to God’s Holy Spirit.

Jesus says:  I got this.