Category Archives: Walking with Jesus

man in small boat

Flotation Device

When I consider my sinful past, I review a dead man’s life.1

It’s sifting through the ashes of a burned body, really. I see the molecules rise up and re-form. This isn’t like the mighty army in Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones.2 Rather, the smoke that appears is from past fears, demons and oppressions that threaten to haunt me when I forget who I am:

Delivered. Redeemed. Sanctified. An adopted child of God.3

How can I be threatened by this pile of ash? Even if it were to rise up into a specter of death, the wind would blow it away.

My declaration is, in truth it has to be that the past is of no effect. My past didn’t get me to where I am today. It’s God’s breath on that dead past that brought it to life.4 His redemption of my past makes me who I am today. Only that.

I am who God says I am, and that is much, much more than the sum of my parts.

When I veer from the Lord’s narrow path 5 it’s not an expression of identity. It’s my momentary captivity to a lie, to the enemy’s misdirection. Sometimes, the devil’s siren song lures me toward the rocks of self-destruction. I dashed my fragile craft there so often for so many years.

But after salvation, those dangerous shoals are only momentary. I always launch again, navigating for far deeper waters, where God the Father leads me.

Sailors don’t use a map to navigate; they use a chart. A map shows the lie of the land, as it were: only the surface. A chart takes a deeper look, below the surface. And, it adds in experience from lives lived there.

As I sail in God’s deeper waters, I have confidence they are not uncharted. Through every storm, along every rocky shore, Christ has gone before, and sailed out again. And many saints have followed, leaving a trail for me.

Their banners fly high in the breeze.

1. Romans 8:10-11 – “And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that lives in you.”
2. Ezekiel 37:7-10
3. 1 John 3:1 – “Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.”
4. Genesis 2:7 – “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man because a living being.”
5. Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it, because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

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Knowledge v. Wisdom

(A two-minute read)

Here’s a tough question for me: Do I spend more time each week listening to people teach or talk about God (via YouTube, podcasts, social media feeds, etc.) than I spend hearing from God directly from scripture?

The teaching and interpretation of scripture are good, but never as good as what Holy Spirit can tell me Himself. That’s because God knows my heart, and knows what I need to hear far more than what I might choose to listen to on my own. Five minutes with Him can outdo five hours from anyone else.

Paul warned his disciple Timothy about this: “For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.” 1

Are you cautious about which so-called ‘influencers’ shape your world-view?

Even if you think you are being intelligent, you can be fooled.

I can’t do this seeking in a vacuum

I need discernment. I also need to remember Charles Spurgeon’s observation that discernment isn’t the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, but between right and almost right.

We live in what’s been labeled a “post-truth” society; no coincidence it’s also labeled a “post-Christian” society. In my view, of course (unapologetically), the two go together.

As John says in his first letter,2 I must “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” I test these things against the full body of Scripture, and also amongst a company of discerning believers, including people who will challenge my assumptions.

This is because I cannot automatically assume I’m right, or even that I hear rightly. The inarguable point is that the more time I spend in the Bible, the better I will hear God’s opinion, as opposed to that of some inane YouTube bloviator.

So, how much time will I spend in God’s word today? How much do I want to hear from Him directly? Or is it ‘easier’ to just munch on another YouTube video?

Knowledge (from man – even when Spirit-inspired) may be good, but wisdom (from God) is better. It’s also worth the extra effort.

1. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
2. 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

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Another Dichotomy

Why do the self-professed atheists I encounter rail against Christianity only? They must understand Christ is true. So they imitate the devil in their opposition: religion doesn’t bother him, or them: it’s the person of Jesus they oppose. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you,” Jesus said.1

Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion unsuccessfully argues that my belief in a personal and supernatural God proves that I am deluded. He knows nothing about it. Saul of Tarsus, the ultimate Jesus-hater, had one of those supernatural encounters 2 just like I had. After meeting Jesus in a frightening fashion, he wrote about Mr. Dawkins and others: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 3

I’m like a couple billion others who walk daily with a supernatural Jesus, to varying degrees. We get to turn the tables and say the so-called rationalists themselves, in Dawkins’ words, have “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” 4

The evidence is right in front of you all; you just don’t see it. The devil has blinded you.5 Oh wait – he’s supernatural so it’s impossible in your view to believe in him either. Too bad; he wins this round, and may God help you snap out of it before the end.

But then, discounting everything but rationalist arguments leaves no room in the heart for a loving, compassionate Creator. The universe is heartless, clockwork, mechanical, you say. God’s love does not exist. In such a world, the populace must then be people who themselves have god-like delusions. How sad to fall so short of what exists.

A spot of good news: I’m only accused of being deluded; at least I’m not being deceived in this; deceit comes from the devil. Deceit is much harder to overcome than delusion. How does the deceived ever come to know the truth? Only by God’s intervention: again, a supernatural event.

The world isn’t suffering from an epidemic of misinformation, but a burden of myth-information. What the devil would have us suppose always obscures what God would propose. Satan’s voice is louder, but it doesn’t have to be clearer. Listen past his yammer.

All this confusion is heart-breaking. When I weep over it, my tears must be sanctified. They bless the earth on which the saints have trod and make holy the sinners’ ground. I pray that God brings his Super into the Natural these folks fruitlessly toil in.

As for my fellow believers, the greatest lie Christians fall for is that they are not good enough. The greatest truth they must know is that they are not good enough. The truth points toward Jesus, for salvation. The lie points to the devil, for confusion and blindness.

People who blame God for their troubles are also wrong in their belief. There is good news there as well

In blaming God, they unwittingly acknowledge that He is all-powerful. And so, there is hope for them, because God is love.6

Atheists, agnostics, lukewarm believers, doubters, the unsure: God has a place for you. My prayer is for all of you who have yet to come into Christ’s kingdom. May your arrival precede His return.

1. John 15:18
2. Acts 9:1-6 – “Saul, still breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and requested letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any there of the Way, either men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he went he drew near Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ He said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’. The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Trembling and astonished, he said ‘Lord, what will You have me do’ The Lord said to him, ‘Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”
3. 1 Corinthians 2:14
4. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, © 2008, Mariner Books, US (Reprint Edition)
5. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – “But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
6. 1 John 4:8 – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

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