Build the Wall – Leave Your Mark

Whether or not you believe in the necessity of The Wall, you should take a moment to consider what is happening with the WeFund the Wall/We the People will Build the Wall movement.

Bottom Line: Individual Americans are rising up and declaring that, rather than wait for the government to fill the need, they will instead do their part to help make it happen. Thousands are contributing to a non-profit that plans to start building parts of The Wall very soon-without the government’s help.

This is huge. We live in a culture where we’re always waiting for someone else to step up, to reach out. It’s the government’s job to do this. It’s the Church’s job to do that. It’s the school’s job to do the other. These people are saying, “No, I don’t need to wait on them, to rely totally on them: I CAN HELP.”

Our Pastor has been ministering a lot, lately, on letting our lights shine, on being that city on a hill, on leaving our mark. In other words, on realizing that WE, the individuals that make up the church, have not only the responsibility but the power to meet needs where we find them. Our church has given us many opportunities to get into the community and meet needs, and is preparing for more, but the idea is bigger – that I, the person sitting in the pew, realize that I CAN HELP…and get myself out there and do it, being the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that make an impact on people’s lives.

Seeing what’s happening with WeFund the Wall brought Pastor’s teachings home. Yes, there are agencies and organizations out there to meet all sorts of needs, but it’s not just their job: it’s also mine. I have the responsibility and the power to make a difference in the lives I touch.

I CAN.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

He is I AM

Jesus said to His disciples, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” (John 8:58)

I’m sure you’ve heard someone, at some point, refer to a Scripture as having leapt off the page while they were reading. This is one of those verses for me. There I was, reading along, when suddenly I SAW Jesus say, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

I’ve heard this verse used to support Jesus’ divinity, as it hearkens back to God’s declaration to Moses, but the revelation I gained in that moment was entirely different.

Picture me sitting there, stunned expression on my face, realizing that He’s saying “I AM before Abraham,” that even though He was standing there talking to them He was also, at the same time, before Abraham was born!

The revelation hit me in a moment, but it took my brain weeks to process it. Throughout my days, I kept going back to the thought the way you keep returning to a pot that’s simmering on the stove. I even pulled out my concordance and sought out similar times when God made such references to Himself.

You see, I’d always heard it taught that God was saying, “I am _________ (insert your need in the blank,” meaning He is whatever you need.
I am your Savior.
I am your deliverer.
I am your healer.
I am your provider.

This is all true, and lines up with the very names of God. The challenge is that Scripture isn’t two-dimensional. You can look at it one way today and see that it means one thing, and realize tomorrow that it means that and much more. The challenge is to keep from getting locked into only one view.

As I meditated on Jesus’ declaration, God lifted another verse from the page. “Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) It was as if He were writing me a personal message.

Be still and know that I AM
~God

It’s a fact: Time is meaningless to God. Yes, we find it hard to comprehend this truth, because it’s almost everything to us, but I’m convinced that its only use to God is that it helps us keep our own lives in order. Well, perhaps that’s an oversimplification, but you get my point.

Through the weeks, I slowly gained an understanding that GOD IS, that even as God IS with me as I type this, He IS also with Moses in the desert and Adam in the garden. At first, it was almost like a mental exercise. I’d been given a new piece of information and was slowly grasping what it meant, what its significance would be in my life. Like watching the sun slowly creep up over mountains, I knew something was coming. And I was actively watching for it.

And then the day dawned.

We’d been dealing with CPS (Child Protective Services). The report was completely bogus but, like everyone else who has ever been accused, we had been doing our part to prove wrong the accusations made against us. On “that” day, I walked out my front door, heading to the mailbox, and I suddenly GOT IT. Even as I took those steps, I prayed something along the lines of, “Daddy, you’re in all times at once, so I ask that you do whatever you have to do three days ago for there to be a letter in the mailbox today saying, ‘We’re so sorry. We’ve found nothing wrong. We’re dropping the whole thing.’”

The letter was there. It didn’t say, “We’re so sorry,” but I really didn’t care. That was the day my prayer life radically changed, the day I realized that what I call retroactive prayers are a thing.

Have you ever received a prayer request at noon for a surgery that was taking place at seven, and felt terrible because the surgery was surely over and all you could pray for was a swift healing? But you can still pray in such situations! God, who is with you when you get the request, is – at that same moment – with the person before they go into surgery, in surgery, and as they come out. Truly, since God isn’t bound by time, there’s almost no such thing as “too late” for Him. (Almost. There are definite spots in Scripture where God declares to man that time is up.) I mean that literally.

We’ve heard it said that when a man is dead he’s dead, that you might as well stop praying for him. As a Protestant who doesn’t believe in Purgatory, I understand where that teaching comes from, but I don’t entirely agree. Not anymore.

The fact is that the same God who is with me now is – even now – with a specific young lady I’m thinking of who died in a car wreck, and He is capable of reaching out to her in those last few moments and saving her soul. Yes, I asked Him to as I learned about her. It is true that, even at the end, she might have resisted Him, but I still have the ability, the right, to ask Him to try. He told me so Himself.

Be still and know that I AM.
~God

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

What’s Your Motivation?

I did an in-depth study many years ago and reached a very important conclusion.

WHAT I do is important. Getting into God’s Word, learning what He wants me to do, and making sure I do the right thing… Important. But even more important than WHAT I do is WHY I do it.

In other words, motivation is everything. God doesn’t just want our actions to be right, our appearance and performance to be acceptable; He wants our hearts to be right. I can go to church, hug my neighbors, raise my hands in worship, give liberally in the offering… but if my heart isn’t in it, if I’m only going through the motions so I’ll look good to others or satisfy some legalistic need inside of me, I’M WRONG.

And if I’m wrong, the only thing I need to be doing is getting right. It’s time for me to go to Him and ask for His forgiveness and help, to pray with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:10 (KJV)]

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

PS: The verse in the graphic is from the NLT.

Why Church? Where Two or Three…

In Matt. 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

In the introduction to this series, I mentioned the man who told me he could get just as close to God on the lake as at church. I know you can get very close to God on the lake, but if that is your only place of worship you ignore this verse. Now, he might answer, “My buddy and I are two…” but I’d hazard a guess that he and his buddy would have gathered in the name of fishing and merely invited the Lord to join them. That’s not quite the same thing.

There are obviously many places in which two or more gather in Jesus’ name and enjoy being in His presence. Care groups, prayer meetings, small groups… They’re all wonderful, and I strongly support them for many reasons. I can’t see them being a replacement for church, though. The more we come together in His name, and enjoy the benefits of being together in His presence, the better.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Why Church? The Big Picture

Coming together, as a body, in God’s presence, has been a part of our relationship with God from the first day He walked with Adam in the cool of the evening. When God laid out the Law through Moses, as He worked on turning this group of people into a true nation, He specifically told them to come to the place of meeting for certain feasts every year – no matter how far away they lived.

In Jesus’ day, they customarily went to Temple every week. We see repeatedly that it was Jesus’ custom throughout His ministry, and in the book of Acts we learn that the disciples continued to do the same. The disciples also met from house to house in the book of Acts.

I see an interesting progression here. At first, the requirement was to gather a few times a year, though obviously the more often a man came to Temple the better. In Jesus day, on the Sabbath was a standard. After the death, burial, and resurrection we see the true disciples meeting pretty much daily.

Now look at us. A very few who claim to be Christians meet twice a week. A few more meet once a week. The majority (here in the US anyway) who claim to be Christians might make it to church on Christmas and/or Easter.

It looks to me like we’re regressing rather than progressing.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

We Lay Our Crowns

There is a line in a song we sing in church: “We bow down. We lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.”

We sing this song in the present tense, and I recently realized the importance of doing this very thing. We may not wear literal crowns today, but most of us have areas in which we feel we rule, parts of our lives in which we take pride (often rightfully so), places where our “hat” is a crown.

When we lay everything else at Jesus’ feet–our burdens, our brokenness, our sickness, our pain–we should lay these crowns at His feet as well. In doing this, in submitting one’s whole life to Him, you see those strong places strengthened even more; also, when you recognize that no matter how much you “rule” in an area it is He who reigns supreme, you steer clear of the sin of pride.

It is far better to lay one’s crown down that to have it removed as a result of sin.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Nobody’s Perfect

It is interesting, how we expect people to be perfect. Non-Christians despise Christians because of their imperfections. Christians leave churches because of other Christians’ weaknesses. We cannot seem to get past the fact that man, even Christian man, makes mistakes – sometimes horrible mistakes. Why? Where did we get this idea that Christians are perfect? That any man is even capable of perfection?

Look closely at well-known Bible stories and you quickly discover just how imperfect our heroes really were. Moses, my personal favorite, had such a temper that it caused him to first flee Egypt and then lose the right to enter the Promised Land. Abraham walked in fear where his wife was concerned and practiced deceit as a result. So did Isaac. Jacob deceived his own father. David gave in to base lust, then murdered a man. Solomon… Wow.

From our earliest days, man has been imperfect. This is exactly why we needed a Savior, the Perfect Lamb. Having accepted His sacrifice, His great love that takes me – imperfect as I am – and makes me His own, I do not have the right to hold other Christians’ imperfections again them.

As was true in the past, it is true today. Nobody’s perfect.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

What if you knew?

Copyright Barry Hatch Copyright Barry Hatch

What if you knew that yes, there will be a Rapture of the Church?
What if you knew exactly when it would be?

(I know… “No man knows the day or the hour.” Just roll with me on this.)

How would that affect your life?

How would it change the decisions you make every day?

What if you knew it would happen next year? Next month? Next week?

If you knew it would be next year, would you slack off in certain areas, comfortable in the knowledge that you “have plenty of time”?

If you knew it would be next month, would you get more serious about your relationship with God because you’ve suddenly realized, “I have hardly any time at all to prepare for the next phase of life!”?

If you knew He was coming back in a few weeks, how would you spend your money today? Would you buy that new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting, or would you give that money to missions in hopes of more people coming to know Jesus before it’s too late?

If you knew He was coming back next week, how would you spend your time? Would you be out watching movies, or would you be getting deeper into His Word, sharing Jesus with everyone you could, and hitting your knees in prayer?

If you knew He was coming back tomorrow…

It’s a fact: No man knows the day or the hour.
We sure can judge the seasons, though, and from the looks of things…

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Ephesians 1:19-21

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

 

Ephesians 1:19-21
NKJV

…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

 

This very same power is available for me! Why do I have such a hard time getting this revelation?

…the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe…

 This final word is the key: believe. This exceedingly great power is available for us who believe – who believe in Him, in all He’s done, and in the fact that He will do it all for us. Believe. It’s so simple, or should be. Why, good grief! You’d think I would figure it out in my heart as well as my head that if this same all-powerful God gave His only son for me then I am important enough that, having expended so much power already on the “hard stuff,” He will be pleased when I give Him opportunity to share more.

It is clear that He looks for the times when I trust Him and open the door so He can, “…show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (II Chron 16:9) I love that portion of Scripture. In the New King James the verse reads, “For the eyes of the lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”

My heart is loyal to my God. I may fail in the area of consistency, but I love Him and I will (I choose) to be faithful to Him. So He tells me in His Word – more than once – that His will, His choice, is to bless me… To bless ME! I hear Him speak it to my spirit over and over. I see Him in action time and time again. So why is it hard to remember that His will is to bless me? Why can it sometimes be so hard to believe that I am worthy of those blessings?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Luke 18:16-17

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Luke 18:16-17
NLT

16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.”

 

Matthew, Mark and Luke all share about this event, about how Jesus rebuked His disciples for trying to keep the children away. Mark and Luke both quote Jesus’ declaration that only those who have childlike faith will enter the Kingdom of God. All good students know that when the teacher repeats himself you can be sure that the information he’s giving will be on the test. So what all was Jesus saying, that God ensured it would be repeated to catch our attention?

First, any time His disciples tried to keep people from Jesus they were rebuked. Here He rebuked them and then the event was recorded repeatedly in the Gospels.

Moral: Do not stand in the way of anyone who is trying to reach Him; He does not appreciate it (and may well make an example of you for posterity’s sake).

Then He explains that the Kingdom of God belongs to those children and others like them. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God, He says, unless we have their kind of faith. This is a powerful warning. How do we heed it?

The key, of course, lies in understanding a child’s faith. A child’s faith is, in a word, absolute. The child of a normal father – even one who is only decent, rather than outstanding as a father – tends to trust his father completely. Whatever Daddy gives him he receives with confidence that it is a good thing. When Daddy holds him, he knows the world is safe. Whatever his need, he walks convinced that Daddy will fill it. That is, after all, what daddies are for.

God wants us to trust Him in just this way. He desires…demands…our absolute confidence in Him. He wants us to come before the throne of grace as boldly as any child would run to his father’s chair. He wants us to whisper in His ear, sharing as any earthly child would, telling Him about our hopes, our dreams, our needs and concerns.

He also wants us to love as freely as a child loves, throwing our arms around his neck, climbing up into His lap, playing “I love you most” with him, and in general letting Him know that He is the most important One in our whole world.

Our tendency, in today’s culture, is to rush to grow up. He says, “Come as a child.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C