Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Faith without works is dead...

 James 2:17
"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

If you grew up a Jehovah's Witness, you had this scripture memorized at an early age.  It was the supreme go to scripture that validated your existence at five meetings a week and countless hours going door to door -Works are what God requires, and without them, your faith is dead, and you are dead.  I will quote them on this from a recent article in the Watchtower (March 1st, 2014) based up James 2:17:  "Everlasting life in peaceful, pleasant conditions, without the threat of illness, war, famine, or death, would surely open the door to endless happiness and blessings. Whether you will receive those blessings depends entirely on you. The question that remains really is, What are you doing for God?"  The more appropriate question should be, 'What is God doing through you?'  When we analyze where the works of God come from, and how they are manifested in our Christian walk, we can easily identify how destructive this view is.  The fact is, if you are trying to work your way into the Kingdom, you will not be there.  The Bible answers this for us in what is the most comprehensive plan of action for our lives in Christ Jesus.  The Gospel is so simple when it's cornerstone is faith in Christ Jesus, and not our own effort in the flesh. It all, and always, comes back to Jesus.

John 6:28-29 is the very scripture that lead me to believe as I do now. It was the key - it is the nemesis of those who go to scriptures like James 2:17 in an effort to elevate their religion of works as the Pharisees did. It reads "Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”.  Note that he answered them singularly when asked a question in plurality.  All of the works God requires can be accomplished by one work alone. Faith. Now, let's jump to this very issue that was in progress during Paul's ministry. This account is a pivotal moment in Christianity, and its lesson effected the growth and spread of the true Gospel right down to our day. In Galatians 2:4-5, we read "...because some false brothers had infiltrated or ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give into them for a moment so that the truth of the Gospel might remain with you"  What was at issue here?  Works.  Peter and Barnabas themselves had been led to believe that Jesus ransom was not enough, and that obedience to the Law was still necessary for salvation to the Gentiles, converting them to Christ through Judaism and its law code. Paul states in verse 11 "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong". Paul told then that they "were not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel".  What is the truth of the Gospel?  This brings us to a scripture that nails down the entire bible to me. If I had to share just one scripture with someone who was curious about the power of true faith, it would be Paul's retort to those who were trying to manifest faith by works. We read in verse 20: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me".

If we believe in Jesus Christ, we have died with Him, so that He may live in us -this is being 'Born Again'.  Spiritually, this is to be taken literally.  It is not of our own doing.  When we are doing the work of our Lord and making his light of truth shine onto the path of others, it is Christ in us. It is the work of The Spirit and not our own will.  It is the will of God that we work,  because it is him working his will through us by means of our faith. Just read Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.The power of the Gospel and the will of God is manifested through us, and not by us, by the Holy Spirit.  We can never work hard enough to be considered right in the eyes of the one with whom we render an account. We can only have the kind of faith that is willing die in the flesh, acknowledge that we are useless without Jesus Christ, and then allow him to develop us into vessels for his purpose.  Nobody is good enough to make themselves better in the eyes of our Lord.  He does that for us and through us so that his will is accomplished.  When we have true faith, we abandon the notion that our works reflect the strength of our faith - our works reflect the will of our God. We exist so that others may believe. When we awake each day, our purpose is His purpose - we no longer have the will to do our will, because his will is to live within us and through us so that others may believe with the kind of faith that is reciprocal, and this will always come back to having faith in Jesus Christ. 

  Faith without works is dead. So too, is the belief that we can work enough to be considered faithful. The true Gospel will always lead us closer to faith, and further from fiction. It will rest on the idea that we must die in order to live, and believe that there was one who died so that we may have life.  It all, and will always, come back to Jesus Christ.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Progidal Years

Romans 8:28-30

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified..."

I am on the far left - Photobombing in 1982

I have to admit something.  I have found out that becoming and being and walking as a Christian has left me with one huge regret:  I wish I would have done this much sooner.  When I look at this picture where I was just a little kid,  I still see the dreams and the hope within me that was life back then - I had the whole world ahead of me. All I had to care about was the next fine day.  This world though, would pull me in later in life and bring me to my knees with the pain and all of tears and worry I would cause myself and others all in the name of having fun and a good time. I had no idea in this picture, that one day I  would become, a prodigal son.

   What sense is there to make of the years many of us have spent so far away from right, running to what was wrong, and laughing along the way?  I have found solace and comfort in coming to the knowledge that, at least for me, these things had to take place to get me to this very moment where I am writing this blog entry today.  I could have had babies and a wife, a million dollars - but nothing, not one of these would bring me the peace and calm I feel knowing that right now in this season of my life,  I have never been happier.  It has everything to do with God.  Not God the creator, but God the Father. The long walk back to His love has led me to realize that all along the way, these lessons and failures, and sometimes tragedies,  were taking place because He loved me. He wanted me to return to Him - to know Him, and in His infinite wisdom and understanding, he knew exactly what that would take. I believe that here are no coincidences with our Lord.  I was never meant to be or do anything but to return to Him so I could walk with Him.  It is and always has been my purpose in this life. This is the will of God for all of mankind.

   The last few lines in the story of the prodigal son are deeply impacting to those who have been the recipient of God's undeserved favor and kindness after living a life so seemingly undeserving.  They read in part, "...we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. " (Luke 11:32)  If we were to take these scriptures at face value, we see that the prodigals among us were once dead and lost,  now alive and found.  We tend to be very merciful and gracious, since so much grace and mercy has been cast upon us. (Luke 7:41-43)  When we are forgiven much, we love much in return.  We have learned the hard lessons, and now realize that they have been responsible for our molding and shaping us into vessels of honor and fine use in The Lord.  The Shepherd in the bible abandons the ninety nine sheep just to find the one that is lost. And what is the response to those of us that are found?  Luke 17:7 tells us,  "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."  Instead of dwelling upon the failures of our past - all these things that we cannot change, find peace in knowing that by the very hand of God, you have changed. It is by the will of God that we are now his own, and he has known this all along.  Make peace of the pieces in our lives when we were lost. Find and embrace the grace of being found.  I can honestly say now that I would not change my yesterdays - they have changed all of my tomorrows, and everything I am today.   I am a prodigal son.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Will the circle, be unbroken...

Psalms 136
 "...Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his love is eternal"

  There is a truth about living a life truly in Christ:  It is an eternally reciprocal relationship.  The more you lean, the stronger His shoulder - He wants you to love Him so bad, He was willing to die, be spat upon, killed like a criminal and then carry your weight and walk with you for eternity. Before you ever knew Him, He knew you.   His love cannot lie.  He cannot lie. I believe that relying on His unending love to always be there is the first step into faith. It rests and resides on the Rock that is Jesus.  He loves individually, completely and without limits. Always.

  The 'greatest of these is Love' - The greatest of these is in this context in Agape, and this is not a love that we can truly obtain to on our own - it is allowing God to love through us to the world for his glory - we have to submit to it, believe in it, receive it, and share it.  It is the power of the Gospel - that God's love is not our love - he loves though us.  We can work to death trying to understand His love and wisdom - his patience and grand plan for the Universe. There is a simple truth:   The ultimate love that we can feel is the love that we allow into our hearts from God.  It is supernatural,  and we will never be able to love him as much as he loves us. He wants us to love others with that same passion and purpose. He believes in us and Loves us - infinitely, and he already has, all of our life. God never fails. God is love. It is what He is, and not just something He does.

  The true circle cannot be broken when we truly come into Christ, because it is the beginning of an eternal relationship.  When we really believe unto his Holy Name and understand what his ransom has done for us - all we have to do is have the faith in Him to receive it.  Ask and you shall receive.   Our access to His love just needs to be believed to receive - and that will always be enough for him.  His love is unending, it is a steady flowing river.  It will never go away and it will always be there.  He wants to be the waters of the ocean that we can walk upon.  He wants our heart.  He wants to make it an open vessel for his love and grace.  When we come to a solid faith in what the Gospel means for our lives, individually,  and collectively as a church - we are transformed, and our lives will never be the same because they become an eternal life when we Love him. Believe Him.   The circle will not be broken.  That is the will of his love, and his love, is Agape.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The lesson of the Eunuch

Acts 8:26-40

   To what extent is our Lord willing to go to save just one soul?  How important is it to listen to the Holy Spirit in guiding our ministry to others? And, just how amazing is God's perfect timing in finding fulfillment of his grand purpose for the lives of mankind: That he wants all to be saved?  Let us take a quick look at the account of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch - the insight into how our Lord and Creator works his hand in guiding our ministry and his will is highlighted here for our benefit.

  Phillip is heading from the region of Samaria to Jerusalem, a beeline distance of around 35 miles. For an average walking pace - it would take around a day and a half.  He just left the area and was heading towards Jerusalem with Peter and John in tow.  They had just done some amazing things in the Lord, baptizing many who had heard and accepted the gospel.  In fact, the conversion of Simon in this area was remarkable - he had "amazed all the people of Samaria...both high and low" with his powerful acts of magic and sorcery, and had a large following. (Acts 8:9,10)  The signs and miracles and ministry they performed must have been something to see.  The many followers of Simon the magician were baptized after they heard the good news of the kingdom and Christ Jesus. In fact, Simon began to follow Phillip everywhere he went - going from being followed to a follower,  just like that. As the three of them neared Jerusalem, an angel spoke to Phillip, commanding him to take the road south from Jerusalem towards Gaza, another 47 miles.  He was to catch up with a eunuch traveling the same direction on a chariot.  This man worked for the queen as a treasurer, and had just left from Jerusalem where he was worshiping.  He just happened to be stopped in his chariot reading from Isaiah, when the Holy Spirit manifested God's awesome plan for this man.  "The Spirit told Phillip, go to that chariot and stay near it."  The angel did not say why, he just said go. This is where the "real magic" happens - God's awesome power in directing his ministers to save lives and ultimately, bring glory to God.

  The eunuch was reading from Isaiah the words  ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer,  so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.'  Phillip, no doubt under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, began to explain to the eunuch who the verse was about, for the eunuch did not know it was the good news about Christ Jesus.  After understanding the truth about Christ and the full meaning of the scriptures he was reading, he was baptized without hesitation. Then, the same spirit that led Phillip to this soul suddenly took Phillip away to another area about 22 miles north, and then he preached his way another 58 miles to Caeserea, stopping at every town along the way.

  Now, lets take a minute and break this down:  Phillip had just been scattered from the church in Jerusalem with many other believers where Saul (soon to be Apostle Paul) had just that very day oversaw the death of Stephen.  From there he traveled down to a city in Samaria and preached to people who all followed a sorcerer;  everyone there soon converted.  The bible does not say how many were baptized in that city in Samaria - but it did say "all the people".  Now from there,  Phillip had to travel around 3 days, give or take a half day, to reach this eunuch.  Would you think after being scattered, then converting a village,  that God was finished with his ministry through Phillip that week? Hardly.  He was guided to separate himself from John and Peter and catch up with a chariot where a royal member of Ethiopia was reading, (just at the right time) the very words about the Christ as mentioned in Isaiah, and Phillip just happened to be led to that very spot, explain the Gospel to this man, baptize him in a body of water that just happened to be there by the road, and then keep on going about his ministry. Is Our God a God of coincidences? How important is our salvation to our Lord? Who can possibly love someone so much that He is willing to navigate time and distance and space and unfortunate circumstances and persecution and then utilize his loyal followers and the Holy Spirit all for the sake of single solitary soul?  Our God is an awesome God.

  Ministry is a difficult manifestation of our faith sometimes.  We know it may be unpopular, but it is not like we just witnessed our brother being stoned to death and then had our entire church scattered over an area of some 500 square miles.  God's Holy Spirit I know compels us at times to approach someone who is needing to hear the Gospel, and I know that you know what I am talking about. Perhaps it is a co-worker, a class mate, or a complete stranger on the street. What if it was a famous sorcerer or modern day royalty? TRUST THAT VOICE!  Our witness to the word of truth is essential dear friends, because lives are at stake. Not just lives, but eternal lives and the salvation of what could be entire families and groups of people that could bear further fruit that we may never get to see ourselves come to fruition all for his praise and glory.  In our silence, we have just our example to be our witness, and for many that is some kind of powerful seed to plant - I am living proof of that.  But too, lets think of Luke 19:40 here: "...Teacher (Jesus), rebuke your disciples.  But Jesus answered, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out..."  Our ministry does not just confirm our faith - it shares it.  It is a ray of the light of love that Christ Jesus wanted us to share so that others would know the truth, so they too, could be set free.  Are you free?  If you are, then you are also free to share.  Free to live this life fulfilling our great commission.  Our service to God in his ministry may be just helping others, it may be just lending a hand to a neighbor, and for some it may be moving 4,000 miles away in a jungle learning a new language and culture in order to share the truth found in our hope and purpose with others. Whatever our commission is, it should be our mission as well.  We are the light of the world in Christ Jesus.  Whenever, wherever, and however - let that light shine. It can and will make, an eternal difference.




Monday, April 7, 2014

The power and purpose of your posterior in the pew

   I do not know who invented the typical church pew.  Gauged by the numbness and tingling in my legs somewhere around song number four or minute number twenty,  it was likely a man who sat up straight, brought a pillow, and loved seeing everyone uncomfortable but him.  Twas not the services revolving around damnation, hellfire, Gehenna and then grace that brought the adherents to their feet - it was the lack of blood flow to the lower extremities.  The pew has been around as a standard method of seating since the Protestant Reformation around 1517.  This saw the introduction of the traditional long-sermon service,  and Western chiropractors. It would not be until the mid 1930's that Otto Bayer and his colleagues would develop the technology that would mass produce foam seating for the masses, or oddly, around the same time regular church attendance saw a historic increase of 'biblical' proportions. Google it - you just can't make this stuff up folks. 

When I was a child,  my parents would "drag" me to church. 'Training up a boy in the way' meant sitting there regardless of a desire to attend because in reality, the bible instructs instruction at an early age.  However, In my newness in Christ,  I look at my position in the pew as one of honor that, when fully explained, will make perfect sense to you as it now does to me.  The reason that you are in attendance with your brothers and sisters, and the reasons we are part of God's Church has much to do with the intent of God's plan.  It is not by chance or coincidence that you are amongst believers my friends.  It is the will of God for you to be his own, and when we can attach God's will, with our purpose, the pew becomes very becoming to the reasons we are assembled in His name.

   Let us first look at John 6:44 - "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."  The word draw (Greek -  helko or helkuo) used here has eight other appearances in the Bible.  Let us look at two of these to shed light on how this words' deeper meaning can effect the way you look at being closer to God in your walk with him:

 John 21:11  "Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were many, the net was not broken."

 John 21:6  "And He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish."

   Now let us think of it this way in light of these scriptures:  We are in the net, metaphorically. God is drawing you as fish that have already been caught. Sounds crazy - God does not work that way you may believe.  Let us dig a bit deeper into this word - it is simply an awesome thought.  The root of the Greek word draw (helko) is (haireo). This term means this: To take for oneself, to be chosen.  God has taken the time in his grand purpose to choose YOU.  God has chosen to draw you to himself like a fish in the net.

 So considering that we are drawn to God, and that we are chosen by him to be drawn, let us finalize this with the reason we are called into his own.  This is found in 1 Peter 2:9  "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.Friends,  we are drawn by God because we belong to him,  he has chosen us out of the darkness (the world) into his light (Jesus Christ) so that we may declare His praises.  We do this amongst ourselves in worship.  We do this in our daily walk, and we declare this in our ministry to others.  It is why we are here - this is why we exist on this Earth.  We have been chosen for a glorious and infinite purpose.  That is so humbling to dwell upon. God has drawn you to do His will because you belong to him.  Think of this the next time you become uncomfortable in the pew and your legs tingle and your back aches and the sermon just started:  So has your eternal life in His glory and purpose. His will is His glory through His Church. His Church is his bride - think of it as being at a wedding where everyone lives happily ever after.  Literally :)



Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Legged Racing...

Hebrews 12: 1-2

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

    I sometimes think about field day in elementary school - this was like the Super Bowl for a well too energized 9 year old boy. I recall looking forward to this day all year;  it meant school was almost over,  the best brown bag-sacked lunch ever, and the beginning of a summer in the sun waiting impatiently around the corner.  I loved the contests and races and the ribbons that awaited the winners.  There was the famous tug-of-war battles, the 50 yard dash, the water balloon toss and the long jump, and most everyone's favorite...the 3 legged race. You see, the downside of the 3 legged race was this - you were only as fast and as good as your partner.  It was the only contest where you had to have great timing to have the best time.  It was about rhythm and motion and balance while attached to a classmate from the knee down. In retrospect, I am not even sure if I won any of those races.  I do remember grass stains and tears, so that is probably a no. However,  I can assume that if my partner and I would have had time to practice - to get it down, it would not have been a contest at all. The 3 legged race is hard because there is no practice.  It is learning to run with someone in perfect time in order to win.  Sounds about like real life, the real life of a Christian.  We too are running with and along someone, and the winners will be those who are closest in step with the ultimate running partner in life, our Lord Jesus.

   It is really the first steps that we take that set the pattern and flow of victory.  We are not racing to lose - we are running to win, and this requires a solid start on which to build momentum.  Once we get into the groove so to speak, it becomes so much easier to predict the path and our pace. 1 John 2:6 says in part "...whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." Imagine if we all walked in the path of our Christ, where would our road lead us?  To certain victory.  Even though our Lord is no longer present in the flesh, by looking to him, we can walk with him now.  His helper in the Holy Spirit remains in us as a guide to find our way out of the lost condition we are all born into.  Galatians 5:25 puts this thought in such good perspective: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."  Walking in the Spirit requires listening with our heart, and real world application.  It also requires something we sometimes forget - removing our baggage before we begin.

   The scripture at the heading of this message puts into context why our way should not only include looking to our Lord, but having the kind of faith that can identify what we cannot carry with us into our race:  "Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."  In context,  we are advised to do this before we begin our race.  I find it interesting that the word "weight" used in this passage is used only one time in scripture.  The Greek word here is 'ogkos - it means literally - 'a prominent burden'. These burdens are not directly sin according to this verse as they are mentioned separately, but they both cling to us and weigh us down, they both impede victory,  making us more sinful.  We all are certain of who can remove our sinful condition, but we can be just as certain and reassured of who removes our burdens; our weights.  We lay them aside by replacing them with a new one.  Is this even possible?  It is actually imperative.  Matthew 11:30 states quite simply,  "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light"  Notice that Jesus did not say "my burdens are light", it is singular.  We have an awesome opportunity to take every burden that we have - ALL of them, and replace them with a kind and light burden. I would say that is a fair trade friends.

  So from 1000 feet away it looks like this:  'Before we start this race, give me all of your baggage, and I will trade you for mine, which is light and easy to carry. This race may take a while, but that is okay too - I will help you endure. And have no fear, I actually already won this race for you, so just look to me with eyes of faith, and your victory is guaranteed.'   It is often easy to think that living in grace means our sins are cast away and forgiven, but it also means that the burdens we carry have been lifted and replaced, and all we have to do is accept that as a fact of our faith in Jesus Christ.  He is literally waiting for us to finish.  He is our perfecter and protector - he is our biggest fan by a long shot,  and he has myriads of "cheerleaders" around him cheering us on as well with each and every step.  Sure, life is a race - but it does not have to be a rat race of sorts.  We are in a marathon that we have been promised to win already.  By looking at this life through that kind of assurance, without anything to hold us down,  and looking to our Lord as we move forward, we cannot lose.  We cannot lose. We simply cannot lose.  On your marks - get set...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Learning how to walk again


                                                                             "Every day - every step - every stride;
My fear of who I really am is fading,  and these cavities are being filled
 with his Spirit of love and truth..."

When I lived in Colorado, I spent so much more time walking.  Do not get me wrong, there is nothing like taking a drive up the mountains. Watching the canyons and valleys present themselves in their amazing beauty as around each new corner something God has made is unwrapped before your eyes like a gift - it was so much to take in at 50 mph.  I never really appreciated all that was Colorado until I got into hiking. My brother Mike who lives there now has spent weeks without interruption hiking the Colorado Trail and parts of the Continental Divide Trail.  To be realistic, I never had those kind of lungs or gear. I had the ambition, but lacked what it took physically to have enough confidence to feel safe being two days away from anything resembling modern conveniences.  In his example though, I discovered a love for hiking.  I was so surprised when I realized how much I had been missing by not hiking - the beauty that was sometimes just a quarter mile off of the road. I was never able to look at the mountains the same way again.  After the hiking bug got to me, my days of seeing the awesomeness that is the Rocky Mountains from a car window or my mountain bike slowly dwindled. I had to take them in stride, and that meant, at least for me, one step at at time.  The sound of the wind, the scent of the pines - the way the land seemed alive;  I had really been missing out. There are so many small, beautiful flowers in the High Country that you basically have to be close to them to realize their existence. At the base of these huge mountains are valleys of life that you could never see from the road.  I had been overlooking so much of the mountains I moved to be near by not slowing down, getting out of my car, and walking. I am learning again in my life, that God wants me to walk with him. He is concerned about my step, my every single solitary step.  Knowing this now, I see what I have been missing, and I cannot look at my life the same way again.

   I have to be honest to my core when I say this, despite how it may make me appear to others.  What I thought being a Christian was, and what it is turning out to be are miles and miles apart.  Those ideas that Jesus would come into my life and all would be smooth and pretty and easy from that day moving forward were not accurate. That I would feel saved and safe and ready to take on this world - again, I was lying to myself.  I expected Jesus and my relationship with him to be a fast moving train on the highway to heaven - that would be three things I have been so wrong about.  The opposite of this has been true, because I have failed to realize what walking with our Lord actually meant. Romans 6:4 puts it this way: "We were buried there with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in newness of life".  Looking at this scripture in the context of needing to be born again (John 3:3,  1 Peter 1:3), I realize that this is a new walk - these are the first real steps I am taking in my new life in Christ Jesus.  I am a baby right now.  I run ahead of his word working through me, and I have to wait on him because I am impatient - I am learning to wait on him.   I fall behind in my walk and the spirit convicts me to the point of absolute misery. I have to listen to him.  And here is why:  HE WANTS ME TO WALK WITH HIM.  Down this path, I will tell you the truth,  I am learning things about myself that are ugly to me.  What I have done wrong and what I do wrong now and how it has been and is and will be manifested in my life are being revealed to me, and like I said - it's not always pretty.  I am one of those people still afraid to tell the story of my life because I am learning now,  how it has jaded me so.  However, as I learn to walk with my Lord, I can see and I feel something new and beautiful happening within me, knowing that I am a new creation.  I am not saying it has been or will be easy, but by an immeasurable amount - it is so totally worth the peace and love he is placing within me.  I have been born again by and through him.  It's just something you have to experience. It is the real life, and it begins with taking your first steps with him.  That is the place I am living in today - learning to walk all over again.

   Every day - every step - every single stride;  My fear of who I really am is fading, and these cavities are being filled with his Spirit of love and truth.  It is worth more than all the money in the world to be reassured that you are walking the right way,  that he is there for you and with you.  Yesterday someone amazing shared 2 Corinthians 4:7 with me - today that makes perfect sense as I continue my course in the Lord: "For we walk by faith, and not by sight." Verse 14 of the same Chapter states "...for the love of Christ controls us..."  We are guided by and through his love. My new walk is amazing because I am learning to see just how loved I am by our Lord and Creator, and this not only makes me have a deeper faith and a stronger love for him,  it also makes me want to walk in his ways.  There are rewards for our walk, and they are deeply rooted within us.  We carry a peace because of what we know, how we know it, and how we allow it to control and work through us.  It has been difficult for me because this requires absolute trust, and one cannot trust absolutely what they do not fully know, or one whom they do not fully know.  So that is what I am doing now in my life, for those of you who may find it hard to track me down.  I am learning to walk with my Lord.  I will be seeking his ways.  I will be learning new steps.  I will be allowing him to take this vessel full of stain and sin and works and flaws and make me something beautiful so he can then, work through me completely.  

   How fitting the bible compares the Kingdom of God promised to us as a mountain, upon a mountain or mountain like, over 50 times. We have to look up to the mountains.  We see them from a great distance, and the closer we get, the more beautiful they become.  It is a stone, a rock that holds and protects life from which water comes forth and sustains all of the life beneath it.  Moses went to the top of a mountain to receive the law covenant.  Moses was again commanded to go upon a mountain so he could look down and see the Promised land of Canaan. And today, we are promised this in Isaiah 2:3:  "Come let us go to the mountain of God, to the house of the god of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways, and we may walk in his paths..." Today, if we are to live by faith and not sight, Jesus needs to be that path - he is the way and the truth, and the only truth that is bringing light into this world.  The light that is him shines on our path, and only then will we know how to let go of this world, close our eyes and walk with our Lord in our faith and trust in him.  This is how I am walking today - taking my first steps to his eternal and holy mountain.  I cannot wait to see how beautiful they are,  one sweet step at a time. Thank you my Lord for even giving us the opportunity to be redeemed,  to be cleansed, and to then walk with us in your love and grace.