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Spring Cleaning the Memories that Harm

In the popular song by Barbara Streisand The Way We Were, she said that memories light the corners of my mind. 
It's an interesting way to think about the things we remember.  In a sense, our minds are a vast un-forgettable accumulation of people, events large and small, and myriad impressions that line the attic room of our conscious minds.  The mind is full of things: good, bad, or indifferent,  that we can never forget or maybe should never forget.  The older one gets the fuller the mental attic becomes.  Year after year we keep adding and accumulating more and more stuff that builds up with our collectivee life experience.

The question for us today is simply this: should we spring-clean our minds like we do our homes periodically?  Should we sift through that vast cerebral collection and consider getting rid of some stuff, forever?  For the Christian the answer is an un-equivocal yes!  In fact, its a requirement of the obedient Christian walk!  Listen to what Paul the apostle …

Is thankfulness an option or an act of obedience?

How could being thankful be an act of obedience?    After all, isn't being thankful an option? These are good questions. 
Whether or not we are thankful for the things that occur in our lives may be optional, but for the believer in Jesus, it is not an option.  When Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Thessalonika, he finished the letter with a flurry of what I like to call screen door admonitions.  It reminds me of being a child when mom would be running out the door on an errand when, before closing the screen door, she would give a series of rapid-fire reminders to get done before she returned.
In a similar way, Paul is giving this church a series of short command-reminders as he closes his first epistle.  One of these commands focuses on the art of being grateful.  The apostle  says in 5:18,
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you
Did you notice a couple of things here?  First, this statement is not formed in the verbiage …

The Spirit of God and You

Have you as a believer given thought to how your relationship to Jesus Christ is made real from day to day?  The apostle Paul told the Ephesian believers that:

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (1:13-14)

Probably the single greatest element of this verse is the fact that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  This reminds us each moment that we cannot be taken from the Holy Spirit, nor can He be taken from us!  When I am in Africa I often remind the believers there of this truth and it always is met with applause and great demonstrations of joy. 

 Everything in life can be taken from us in a moment. Our family, our possessions, our life itself, but the Spirit of God cannot be separated from us!  This brings us to the point I would like to make today.  The permanence of our rela…

The Owner who asks instead of demanding.

I remember the life situation I was in when it happened.  It was while I was shepherding a church many years ago when seemingly out of nowhere my spiritual equilibrium went south.  During this difficult time the Lord taught me one of the greatest life lessons I have ever known.  It is simply this: God owns me and all that I am.

I can hear someone say, "But didn't you already know that as a Christian minister?"  My answer is yes, I knew it, but it hadn't traveled the full eighteen inches down to my heart!  The Scripture clearly says, for you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:20). If there is any New Testament verse which declares the fact of who owns you, this one does.  But that's only the introduction!

In Romans 12:1:2, Paul the apostle tells us what we ought to do because of the fact that God owns us.  That is a completely different matter isn't it?  So what is the proper life response to the God who owns our…

In Everything by Prayer

One of the most familiar verses to us as believers is Philippians 4:6, where Paul commanded the Philippian believers not to be anxious for anything, but in "everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,  let your requests be made known unto God."

Without giving a blow by blow explanation of the passage, let me at least mention that the entire passage which ends in verse 9 is focusing on allowing the Spirit to maintain the peace of God in our hearts as Christians.  Three things will determine whether that happens.  Verses 6-7 reveals that in order to have the peace of God controlling us we need to pray right.  Verse 8 shows us that we need to think right.  Verse 9 shows us that we need to do right.

The first of these is prayer.  In reality Paul is commanding us to pray about everything.  We tend to limit the scope of prayer, don't we?  I know I do, but God doesn't limit either the scope of what we can ask for or how He answers our requests.

I remember th…

God's Demand for Forgiveness

You are probably wondering why I would title a post about forgiveness in such a way.  After all, forgiveness is a purely voluntary option for each of us, right?  Yes it is, but it is also a command of God to each of us, and it is vital to the Christian, but actually works in anyone's life, believer or non-believer.  That puts a whole different spin on things.  What is commanded is not really optional for a believer in Jesus Christ.

Listen to what Jesus told his followers. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Some of you may know something of my life story since its been published, but in case you don't, let me tell you something about me.  I was orphaned when I was ten years old by my stepmother.  My dad, a physician, had died four years earlier.  From the time my stepmother put us out, I never lived with my brother or…

Distractions distractions, and more distractions.

I travel all over the world for our foundation (see www.gbtf.net) training national pastors in such place like Rwanda, Congo, Togo, Liberia, Uganda, Myanmar, and Haiti.  All of these countries are identified as developing countries, formerly called the third world.  They all have one thing in common.  They all, for the most part, are marked by extreme poverty, government corruption, and a malaise which could be characterized as desperation or hopelessness, perhaps both.   The majority of the populations move from day to day hoping only to put food in their children's mouths and gas in their cheap Chinese scooters or keep their bicycles in operation.  Beyond that, there is not much else to which they can aspire.

For these people, life is defined not by what clothes they wear, what car they drive, what house they live in, or what kind of food they eat.  Its actually much simpler than that.  It's merely about survival.  They don't have the option of thinking about anything el…