Monday, September 6, 2010

The path that leads to many paths of blessings

As I pondered Romans chapter 6 on freedom from sin, I pictured the contrast of a life of bad choices, living for oneself with that of a life choosing to live for Christ, making decisions based on your relationship with Jesus. The more bad choices, or the more sinful life you lead the narrower your choices become. You lose more freedom with each bad decision. It's like a funnel, narrowing you down toward death. When you live for Christ, each right decision opens up a whole host of good choices, sometimes making it difficult to choose what to do next.  A good example of this is when we choose to follow Jesus to serve others.  As I have gone to countries on mission trips or across town to share God's love in the inner city, I am amazed at suddenly the flood of opportunities that seem to come my way to bless others.  I begin to see that there is a world of people out there waiting to be blessed by God and often times, I have that potential.  But if we are looking at life through the lens of self, we don't see those opportunities.  We just walk by and miss the obvious.  But when we choose the right path, that path leads to other paths and life begins to become an adventure full of opportunities.  However we must choose to take a step on that pathway.  We can't stay home or we will miss out on the opportunities and the fullness of life that God has for us.   God will continually give us opportunities.  Just open your eyes and heart to them, and join Him in his work.  Don't miss the abundant life! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Would God lead me into the valley of death?

Does God's will always lead us to safety and security or does He sometimes lead us into trials and hardship?  I was reading Acts 21 today and writing in the discussions in Chapter of The Day groups about the leading of the Holy Spirit and find it an interesting study in determining God's will.  Paul, being led by the Holy Spirit is focused on completing the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. It has been obvious from the start of his amazing journey that he has followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Yet prophets and others are not only warning him but forbidding him to go to Jerusalem because of the danger there.Sometimes the counsel of friends, even well meaning friends, filtered through their fears and desire for safety, can actually be counter productive. Those who commit to going on mission trips often times find that the biggest hurdles are their friends and relatives who try to dissuade them from going because they are concerned for their safety.We in the west have an unhealthy regard for security. The early Christians and the heroes of faith were willing to put their lives on the line for Christ. Today it is hard to get believers to go into an unknown neighborhood because it might not be safe. How willing are you to sacrifice for the sake of Christ? Where are you not willing to go, to share God's love? 

Posted via email from John Walter's Life Stream

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reinforcing the religion of consumerism

During our mission trip to Colorado I was reading Alan Hirsch's wonderful book, The Forgotten Ways.  He makes the case that one of the greatest hindrances to living a life of Christ is not the false religions that we can so easily identify but one that is deceptive yet so prevalent in our western culture, that of consumerism. He writes "This is a far more heinous and insidious challenge to the gospel, because in so many ways it infects each and every one of us." We saw this vividly as our mission team held a sports camp for children at a new church plant in an affluent area in the superb of Denver, Colorado.  As we usually do, we promote the camp by giving away prizes for all kinds of things including prizes for those bringing their friends.  These are bracelets, balls, and various inexpensive items that can be found at the dollar store.

We usually do the camps in poverty stricken areas and the children love the prizes, even the most simplest of awards.  Although the kids here in the more affluent area were not so enamored by the prizes they still desired to compete for them. During our block party on the last night we had set up some simple games where the children won prizes and most of the children played the entire time, winning prize after prize.  One of the girls had at least 15 skinny bands, a couple of other bigger prizes and a very nice soccer ball she had won in a raffle. She still wanted more. She was not satisfied. It was such a clear picture of the ugly side of our consumer culture.   
It hit me the next day that we had unintentionally taught consumerism to the children at the camp perhaps more than we did the Gospel.  We certainly had taught about Jesus and shared the Gospel with the children during the camp but by our actions, we just reinforced the "religion" of consumerism. By awarding the kids with these worthless items, we taught them that these are the things we should strive. Then we turn around and tell them that they need Jesus. We’ve just told them by our actions that worthless stuff that you buy is the real treasure to strive for. Note to self, don't do this again. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Joy Robbers

What was it that stole the joy from the Galatians?  They were being persuaded to fall back to a rules based faith.  Fewer things can suck the life out of a believer than having to follow rules and regulations to earn their approval.  I did this until I was taught the truth at a church who taught about grace.  It changed the way I lived, thought, worshiped, even the way I played sports.  We all know people who are the rules keepers and judges in our lives and I'd say not many of them are much fun to be around. 

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Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Living in God's grace

Galatians 3
I can get very judgmental and point my finger at the many religions that set up a whole list of rules to attain salvation and ignore grace, the essence of the Christian faith. But Paul points his finger at me when he gives me notice that I am failing to live by grace and have fallen back into trying to gain God's approval by works. "After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"
This maybe the most difficult aspect of the Christian faith to live out. I can accept that I'm saved by God's grace but it is much more difficult to understand that same grace will continue to shape me into the likeness of Christ. I don't need to fear, or feel guilty, or be anxious for anything if I'm resting in Christ's love and grace. Why is this so hard to live out?

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Monday, May 31, 2010

SACRIFICE FOR FREEDOM

As I've listened to the radio and watched shows on televison commemorating those who fought for our freedom, how thankful I am for those who gave their lives so we could have that freedom.  Then Galatians 2 comes to mind and I recall how Paul was standing up for freedom also, freedom from the chains of legalism and religion. He eventually gave his life in that cause.  And then I am reminded that Jesus' sacrifice was for our ultimate freedom from the bondage of sin and spiritual death. Thank you for dying so that we may have life!  Without your sacrifice none of us would understand what true freedom is. 

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two principles for winning the battle

In Ephesians 6,after Paul encourages me on how to live he reminds me that I have all that I need to live the life God calls me to live. Sometimes Christians fall into the trap of the "former life thinking"...I am a sinner therefore I sin. However, as a new creation in Christ, I am no longer a sinner but I am now a saint. I have the power to overcome any temptation. I don't have to sin anymore. Paul instructs us to do two things. !. To prepare for battle. Stay in constant communication to God, read your Bible and absorb truth, have faith enough to obey Him in every decision. Before the trials come, be grounded and prepared. 2. When the storm hits, stand firm. Don't fear and run to things that you might have run to in the past. Hold your ground, trust God and do the right thing which most of the time is the most difficult choice. Two simple directives that can make all the difference in the world for us.

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Friday, May 28, 2010

Eph. 5 Mutual submission

Many sight this passage in verse 21 as one to justify a husbands dominance over the wife. But in the following verses Paul describes how mutual submission works in 3 types of relationships: wives and husbands, parents and children, and slaves and masters. This idea of considering the needs of the other in relationships was world-shattering for its time. Paul takes the unorthodox stance that those who had the traditional power should submit as well as Christ submitted his life for us.
I've found that this principle is really the key to a great marriage. When both husband and wife surrender their own needs for the good of the other, then they are guaranteed a healthy marriage. When one or both live for themselves, the problems begin.
I pray that I can deny myself, pick up my cross and follow Jesus in my marriage and in every area of my life.

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Walk in a manner worthy of your calling.

I find it interesting how Paul always begins his letters building a foundation of theology and then gets to the application in the second half of the letter. It's always more fun delving into the theology and discussing the meaning than reading about what we should do with it. But knowledge without function and purpose is just hot air.
In Ephesians 4 Paul gets to the point by reminding us to walk worthy of our calling. And gives the characteristics of one who is a child of God. Isn't it interesting that these are not characteristics that are preached about on Sunday very often; humility, gentleness, patience and relating with each other in love. He gets more specific in the middle of the chapter but ends again with the admonition to be "kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ." And I must always remember as Paul taught in the previous chapters that I can't do this on my own, but only through the power God provides through the Spirit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The immeasurable riches of Gods grace

In these incredible scriptures, Paul continues to remind the Ephesians and us today that all we have in Christ comes by God’s grace.For by grace you have been saved through faith, not of your own doing, it is the gift of God.  And then he adds the reason God created us and the reason for the gift of grace, our purpose for this life on earth; to do goods works for Jesus.When I get off course and begin to be overly concerned about myself, my happiness, my comfort, my security, this verse reminds me that His purpose for me is to glorify God by loving God and others.He blesses me not so I will be happy, but so that I may bless others.  And that it is accomplished not by my power or strength but through his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.God, may I surrender my will to you today and allow me to be your vessel to bring the light of the gospel to those I encounter today!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Untitled

Why do we so often forget about the hope that we have in Christ and the immeasurable greatness of his power?  Reading Ephesians 1, I’m moved by so much of this chapter as Paul reminds me of the power, position and calling I now have as a follower of the King.  If only we could fathom the riches we have in Christ. Not just understand but actually live by His power, how would my life change? What could I accomplish through Christ? What could God accomplish though me? God I don’t want to live a life on my own power, paralyzed by fear and doubt. Help me understand who I am in Christ, what you have called me to, and the power that I have through Christ to bring reconciliation to a world that desperately needs Jesus.  Join me and others as we read a chapter a day.  Today, Ephesians 1. 

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

Friday, May 21, 2010

Magic Kingdom not so magical

Barbs and I spent a week in Orlando on vacation earlier this month and four days at Disney World parks. Disney had a great vision but I'm not sure the parks bring about what Disney intended. He called the place the happiest place on earth. At 3 PM on the first day at the Magic Kingdom I didn't see many smiles. As a matter of fact, most of the people seem tired and angry. Why was that? At the happiest place on earth of all places.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Reflections of the championship game

Last night’s disappointing championship game is a reminder that life is not fair, that no matter how prepared we are, life can blindside us.   I can’t think of a much crueler fate for Colt McCoy than to get taken out of the game just as he got rolling, to get just a tiny but delicious taste of things to come and to  have it yanked away. And to rub it in even more, Colt is sidelined by a hit that rendered his most potent weapon, his arm useless while the rest of his body was left perfectly fine.  Standing and watching helpless without pain with a dead arm, as his Longhorn replacement struggled in the biggest game of his life, is like the cruelest prank fate could play.  And in the end, Colt McCoy, holding back tears of disappointment held his head high and  proclaimed "I'm a man of faith and I would never question God.'' I can’t remember a game in which I was more disappointed and it is hard to imagine the collective letdown across the country.  Even Alabama fans had regret that they did not get a chance to beat Texas’ best.  Although Gilbert led Texas back into the game in the second half, the excitement and anticipation of a match of the Titans had fizzled out with word that Colt would not return.  We will all be left to contemplate what if.  It is also interesting that all three of the great college quarterbacks of 2009, Colt, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow experienced disappointments this year.  All three are strong believers and great examples of men who live out their Christian faith.  It will be interesting to follow all three to see how they respond to their unique trials as they move to the next stage of their lives.    Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

Posted via web from John Walter's Life Stream

A new low on violating religious freedom in the USA

I read in dismay this past week about a powerful senator indicating he would vote no for Russell Vought, President Donald Trump’s nominee ...