Loyalty to Our Friends

Completely Loyal

“Loyalty and truth preserve the king,
         And he upholds his throne by righteousness.” 

Prov. 20:28

 “Through these fields of destruction, baptism of fire
I’ve watched all your suffering, as the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad, in the fear and alarm
You did not desert me, my brothers in arms”

Dire Straits, ’84

Loyalty, and our deep committment to our “brothers” and our “sisters” should be growing in your life right now.  It should be “escorting” you to a deeper sense of intimacy with each other.  About 20 years ago, I visited a Lutheran church on a Sunday service.  There was a point in the liturgy when you were to greet the people around you.  I remember grabbing a guy in the pew in front of me.  I gave him a massive bear hug, squeezing the air from him.  He was my brother, even though he was a stranger!  I hung on tight to him.  He was my brother.

In Bible times David and Jonathan had a friendship that defied political reasoning.  Jonathan was supposed to be the next king of Judah, everything had been arranged by his father, Saul.  But when David came into Jonathan’s life, everything was changed.  An instant friendship changed everything.  They would remain loyal to each other for the rest of their lives. I believe they are a model of what we are to each other, in the church.

I will confess to you, I have neglected so much in my spiritual walk.  There is a lot I am ashamed of. I have sinned more as a Christian, than I ever did before I came to Christ.   As a Christian, I have sinned quite vigorously.  But one thing, I have held to beyond all else.  I loved my brothers.  They all know who they are!  I can list them if you want.  But in the final analysis, I have been faithful to them.  I’m pretty stupid, in so many ways.  But it seems that at this particular level, things are simplified.  “Do you love, Allen?  Of course I do, Father: even if he is in a strange and difficult place, I love my brother; always, and forever.”

Loyalty to those who have been brought into our lives, should not ever be diminished or explained away for what we call “logical reasons.”  There should be a connection that should never, ever be terminated.  Some of the brothers who I connected to in the ’80s, are no longer serving the Lord.  But as I think of them, there is a relationship that can’t be broken, even by their disobedience.  I still love them deeply.

Being loyal to someone, does not mean you honor their choices, or their sin.  It seems that the issues they grapple with, can’t ever really erode or diminish your love for them.  When I was a boy, on occasion we declared a “blood” oath with each other.  It was almost “ceremonial,” we would cut our thumbs and meld with each other, mixing blood with blood.  If only commitment and loyalty were that easy.  But this is the definition of an “agape love.”

I believe the Holy Spirit sees, and honors loyalty.  But I admit, I’m not doing this things for His blessing.  Rather it is a compulsion, something I know is right; something I will do until they bury me.  And I honestly can’t explain it. But they will always be  my “brothers in arms.”

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Our Salvation Is Quite Sure

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I love his Gospel, and the three epistles that he wrote, and of course,  Revelation.

There are a couple of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eye witness to Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

It is this last point that I want to write about today. Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

John here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. One of the definitions of assurance on Dictionary.com is “full confidence; freedom from doubt; certainty.” Throughout this epistle, John provides further assurance that those who trust in Jesus can be assured of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word “know” appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

I am writing to you, dear children,
   because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
   because you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:12-13 (NIV).

 

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

1 John 3:21-24 (NIV).

 

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

1 John 4:15-16 (NIV).

 

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

1 John 5:13-14 (NIV).

 

None of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a Savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

John does not advocate living a life in which we sin ‘willy-nilly’ simply because we know we can be forgiven.

Now don’t get me wrong. Those who truly believe in Jesus, and trust in Him for salvation, will desire to keep God’s commands. His Spirit living in our hearts will help us to overcome the temptations of the world and to love as He has commanded.

You may be struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation. But remember – God is faithful in His promises and He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us, but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom. Your salvation is sure.

aasignLinda

 

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My Faithful Savior

Many things in this life are uncertain, causing even the faithful to struggle and doubt. Even at such times, or maybe even more so then, I am thankful that God has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me.

I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).

When times are tough, may this triolet remind you of your faithful Savior Jesus.

My Faithful Savior

My faithful Savior will always be near
In my struggles and pain, when I doubt
that anything will ever change
My faithful Savior will always be near

I know someday He will exchange
the tears I cry for a glorious crown
My faithful Savior will always be near
In my struggles and pain, when I doubt

aasignLinda

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’.

&

ybic, Bryan

For Men Only

Brothers,

I just want to encourage you to consider something. Specifically, your relationship with your wife. Whether you acknowledge it or not, she has been specifically given (assigned?) to you for a solid purpose. A couple of simple thoughts.

  1. You made a covenant before God and His people to love, serve and honor her– in sickness or health, for richer or poorer. This obligates you for the remainder of your life on earth.
  2. Your wife is a compliment to your self. She enhances and enriches you as a person. Your sins and flaws (I’m sure there is a few) are covered and protected by your “help-meet.” You’ve been ‘graced’ by her. (And you also bless her.)
  3. All other sisters, are forever off-limits. You are your wife’s exclusive partner. The ring you wear on your left hand must be a reminder of your status; it must ‘speak’ to you of this special covenant always.
  4. The girls that you dated before your wedding were special, but they were pretty much there to prepare (hone and polish) you, for your wife. You are a different person because of them. Don’t fantasize about how different life would be if you connected someway with ‘x’ or ‘y’ or ‘z.’ Don’t mess with reality.
  5. You are meant to serve your wife. The definite way you honor her is the solid way you serve the Lord God. When you pour out on her, you are pouring out on the Lord Himself.
  6. Never, ever compare your wife to anyone else. You are foolish if you do. She is ‘unlike’ anyone else.
  7. You must lead your wife, and family to the Lord. You are a priest of your home, completely responsible. You must be an intercessor for them, for they are in your care.
  8. God’s grace will meet you, and if you ask for it He will give it to you. All of this should overwhelm you, and if it doesn’t you don’t understand. The Holy Spirit knows all that you need, and He will guide you into the truth.
  9. Your children are there as a result of your love for your wife. They are looking to you for guidance. They depend on you at every turn.
  10. “Everyone sings the blues, and everyone plays the fool.” You will sin, and fall. There will be serious seasons of doubt, and confusion. There will be seasons when you are disoriented about your wife. But stay the course, and all will be well.

I do want to stress that to be a true and faithful husband will demand as much of God’s grace as it would take to pastor a “mega-church.” I surely would not advise you to do the ‘status-quo’ as a husband and father. You can do it, but I think you will regret it later.

As a husband (and father) means you are in the ministry, as much as a pastor, or church leader. You must be faithful and humble. What you do, or think affects far more people than you realize. I encourage you to discover other men who share this calling.

 

ybic, Bryan

 

Walking Intelligently

  1. Faith–“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Cor. 5:7
  2. Spirituality–“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Gal. 5:16
  3. Consistency–“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”  Eph. 4:1
  4. Love–“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”  Eph. 5:2
  5. Wisdom–“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” Eph. 5:15
  6. Light–“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7
  7. Christlikeness–“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”  1 John 2:6

 

These 7 verses all talk about our walk.  Each verse brings us a facet of that walk.  We must avail ourselves of every awareness, following Jesus is indeed a “walk.”  We take steps that will lead us into an vast eternity with our Savior.  We move spiritually from one place to a closer place.  We walk forward, and not back.  We move ahead, and each day closer to our Lord.  Time, you see, only exists to bring us that much nearer to Jesus.

To walk means progression.  It also is destiny.  Some of the greatest works in literature is the book, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” by John Bunyan.  It is a book about walking.  We are all walking toward home.  It is challenging to make this journey through tremendous issues.  We all are making progress as we travel home.

The issues are “faith, spirituality, consistency, love, wisdom, light and christlikeness.”  Which of these are we prepared to ditch?  If we concentrate on each of these, we find that we can’t give up any of them.  They all are dear and fundamental to an authentic faith.

Walking can be strenuous.  When we walk it means we have direction and a goal in mind.  It is almost never done aimlessly.  As we walk, we begin to unfold these seven issues.  We will find that the Father inserts us into situations and circumstances where we get to unveil these seven.  We will enter into events where we take on certain qualities.  As we walk we learn the behavior of our Lord.  And that dear ones, can’t be all bad.

Just Fling It

A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”  –Mark 4:26-28, NIV

 

The insurmountable potential of a single seed!  It is scattered without a whole lot of conscious effort, hundreds of seeds in a handful scattered out on the dry ground.  It doesn’t get the dignity of individual effort, but is simply flung out.

I became a Christian believer partly through some indiscriminate seed flinging.  I was being escorted by Temple security in Salt Lake City off the grounds.  It may have been because I was shirtless and smoking, and being hammered as well.  As I was being thrust through the gates, I ran into Christians who were sowing their tracts.  These tracts landed on good soil. And I’m indeed thankful.

We simply do not know about any individual seed that leaves our bag.  We can not predict what is going to happen.  Jesus chose this particular metaphor to emphasize the supernatural nature of spiritual growth,  it grows whether we sleep or stay awake.  We don’t understand how things grow.  A tiny, dry seed comes to life, and grows up to be something amazing.

Dropping seeds; that is it.  We drop without taking responsibility for what may or may not happen next.  We scatter seed without contemplating what will follow.  It may grow, and it may not.  The believers standing in the baking sun outside of the Mormon Temple in SLC were simply sowing seed.  It fell on my heart, and I cannot tell you what happened to that seed.  All I know, is it started to live, and grow and eventually was harvested.

Buy some tracts, Christian books, DVDs, CDs.  Build an interesting website.  Sow seed.  You cannot harvest unless you sow something.  You must be faithful to your part, and God is faithful to do the rest.  Growing things is beyond our comprehension and ability.  I cannot tell you the dynamics or the process of spiritual growth.  Bible college did not have a class for that.  It is imponderable and  mysterious.

Be faithful, and sow.  Fling the seed.  Don’t mind the hot sun, or the thorns or the hungry birds.  Be faithful, and fling it.  Psalm 126:5-6 

 5 Those who sow in tears
       will reap with songs of joy.

 6 He who goes out weeping,
       carrying seed to sow,
       will return with songs of joy,
       carrying sheaves with him.