A Teflon Faith

 

teflon-frying-pan
The reality called “teflon.’

“That I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ “

Genesis 14:23

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

Daniel 1:8

There is something that certain men and women face when their faith is flourishing.  It is an authentic commitment to walk exclusively in the will of God, no matter where it takes us.  But both Abraham and Daniel had considered the ‘pros and cons’ of having a faith that would bend.  They chose however not to become this flexible.

As people who call themselves ‘believers’.  We need to figure out exactly how we are to emulate Abraham and Daniel.  How bold are we to become?  That question reverberates through us, and demands that we seriously deal with this issue.  Exactly when will we compromise, where is the line?

The Bible gives us the distinct impression that our compromise will lead us into a period of confusion and doubt.  Compromise is presented as a deadly choice, a decision that will irrevocably bring us to a death–of sorts.  For believers who consider themselves as flexible, there may lift to us some immediate consequences, but the end result is brutal.

We cannot trade to get a temporary peace and comfort to enable ourselves to walk in the place of harmony and successfulness.  If we try we will discover ourselves to be unfaithful and negligent to the Lord’s purposes and will.  This is a place of shame, and comes incredibly close to outright denial.  In this present ‘day and age’ perhaps our faithfulness might matter more then our ‘results’.

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ybic, Bryan

The Wonder of Abigail

She is known for her wisdom
She is known for her wisdom
Narrative from 1 Samuel 25
 

If she were a man, she would have been a prophet. She is wise, and very beautiful. That’s quite a combination. Her husband, Nabal, is a crude and rude, nasty dude. He cheats most he has dealings with. He is also a wealthy man, and he has had previous contact with David’s men. It seems that David provided protection for Nabal’s sheep and shepherds. Definitely a good thing to have in the wild and woolly Judean wilderness.

David sends a delegation of 10 men to ask for some special provisions. This would be a small  recognition of the service rendered by David’s men. Please note: Their simple request was not burdensome or excessive. They were not asking for wages, they just wanted a nice diversion– a party was anticipated. It was sheep shearing day.

Nabal essentially mocks this delegation. He laughs at them, calling them bandits who are in rebellion from King Saul. (Nabal, I suppose may have been trying to appeal to Saul.) Nabal sends the delegation away, with nothing to show for their efforts.

David is beside himself in anger, his men have been denied– and he has been publicly mocked. He quickly puts together a small army and moves directly against Nabal. His force  is enough to destroy everyone. His heart is full of vengeance. He moves to destroy Nabal. And then Abigail shows up.

Abigail is magnificent. She has been warned of Nabal’s insult that has triggered this potential massacre. She takes the initiative and launches out to meet David. She carries the deep scent of grace and humility with her. And she brought the provisions he had initially requested.

At the first sight of David, she throws herself down. She pleads for her people, and begs for mercy. It is interesting that she focuses on David himself. She appeals to David’s reputation, and seems more concerned about it than he does. But her intercession is more effective. In humility she speaks to David with a visible brokenness. She reminds David of his true identity. She declares to him, who he really is, and how he should behave, as a result. And David desperately needed to hear her voice.

lynnie1
Lynnie, my Abigail

Abigail deserves any focus we can place on her. Many years ago, a man placed his hands on my shoulders and prophesied. All I remember is this, “Your wife is an Abigail to you, she will be a source of wisdom and understanding to you. Listen, for she will be your wisdom,” This is the most significant word anyone has ever said to me. It has really shaped our marriage of 24 years.

Understand dear reader, my wife Lynn is my Abigail. She consistently brings me back to my true calling and purpose. She will not let me shake off my holy summons. Her words press me, and guide me into a place where I finally see His direction and purpose for me. She is God’s gift to me. I desperately need her to speak into my life. She is truly my wise Abigail. I am sure that her eternal crown will exceed mine.

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ybic, Bryan

Cheryl Meakins Horizontal 300x200I recently have been introduced to Cheryl Meakens. She has a wonderful blog at http://www.meakinsspeak.com/.

I encourage you to visit her site. I believe she has something good for you.

Something Beyond Us

kindness-of-God
He is kindness focused

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Psalm 107:1, ESV

From all eternity, O Jesus Christ, you have been our Lord and our God: so did the Father will it. Yet in this, the last of all periods of time, you also had your birth; you were born of a virgin, of one who had no knowledge of any man. To redeem us from the Law, you submitted to the Law. Your purpose was to free us from the slavery to which our corruption had reduced us and to confer upon us the rank of sons.

Deliver us, now, Lord, from all that is vain; fulfill your promise and free us from sin and shame; fill our hearts with your Holy Spirit and enable us to say: “Abba, Father.”

A Syriac Liturgy (adapted)

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Is Jesus Your Center?

Jesus, the Center of Life and Time

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him about all the things they had done and taught.”

Mark 6:30, New Century Version

We need to become accountable to Him for the things we say, and the things we do.  A liberated discipleship is one that can’t be trusted–there is no supervision, and no direction.  And we need to be accountable.  It is not a question of freedom– but of slavery, and duty (kind of a “neutral” word.)  Within our culture, we are dancing on a knife’s edge, and we become intensely counter-cultural when we live authentically as His disciples.

The text has noted, “They gathered unto Him.”  That dear one, is the real essence of your walk.  He is the absolute center, that fact will never change.  Without Him we will drift in and out, unfocused and confused.  But these wonderful disciples know absolutely that Jesus Christ is their common focus, no matter what their own personal proclivities.

A simple word about all the plurality and variety among Christians.  We are intensely different.  Some of us are Pentecostals, and some are Roman Catholics.  Some Orthodox, Lutherans and Quakers. We are Mennonites, Baptists and Methodists. There is so much variety in the Church.  But I think that all of us are coming to Jesus–He is our center!

I no longer doubt or fear the amazing variety that is in the Church.  We are dealing with a God who can’t even make snowflakes alike!  We make Styrofoam cups that are exactly alike, and He does snowflakes.  He insists on creativity and being unique. Shouldn’t our churches reflect this?

The verse tells us that the disciples had the freedom to come to Jesus and report.  There wasn’t a need to embellish or exaggerate their work. They are not in competition with each other.  They have a broad confidence, an easiness and sureness about Him.  Jesus is the easiest master to work for.  Bob Dylan told us, “You gotta serve somebody.”

And serving Him is kind of demanding, but it is also a great and wonderful joy.  Only those caught in the middle are miserable.  They can’t make the choice.  They’re in a tough place. We must pray for them.

“Done and taught.”  The disciples have been active on their journey.  They have travelled different directions. They work, and then they teach.  And really that is all that disciple comes down to.  Working, and talking.  Talking, and working.  I believe that it was significant that this would become the focal point, and bulk of their time with Jesus was essential.  That tells me something.  In some real sense, this is how we are to monitor and evaluate ourselves.

1)  Do I gather onto Jesus with others?

2)  Do I share with Him things that matter?

3)  Do I evaluate my service with His light?

4)  Do I tell Him everything– “honest and truthful?”

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ybic, Bryan

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