Tag Archives: spirituality

What the Resurrection Means to Me

Image“I wish I could do it all over again;” “I wish I could take it back.”  These phrases depict some of the times in my life when I have hurt, insulted, or denigrated someone.   When I have said or did someone wrong, my heart’s cry is to turn the tables around, push the rewind button, start over.  Often, I can’t. Redemption escapes me. There is no way to make what I did wrong, right. “I’m sorry” does not clear my conscience and alleviate the remorse I feel.

Yet, I have found hope in the resurrection.  The resurrection provides forgiveness, reassurance, and transformation.  The story of the Passion of Christ offers all who have found themselves in situations which are unredeemable, hope and healing.  Through the resurrection story, I realize the great lengths God went through to provide forgiveness in places where forgiveness by people could not penetrate.  In the depth of my soul, the forgiveness found in Jesus travels so that I can once again operate in peace and soundness of mind and spirit.  

This gives me reassurance that all hope is not lost when sins against humanity cannot be repaired.  God reassures me through forgiveness that God is with me and that God still loves me.  I can begin again; even when I deny Christ, desert Christ’s teachings, or distance myself from the Christian faith, I can return to the cross and find forgiveness and reassurance.

Finally, the resurrection provides transformation; I am changed from the inside out.  As John Wesley aptly spoke, “My heart is strangely warmed.”  An encounter with Jesus and his Passion Story opens my heart to God and provides insight I could not have attained otherwise.  I can be changed; I do not have to remain the same.  God is a God of another chance; God’s mercy is limitless and his grace is aboundingly efficacious.

Doors to a new life are opened for me through the resurrection; the resurrection means forgiveness, assurance, and transformation to me.

 

Don’t Interrupt Me; Listen

I’m an impatient person. I like for someone speaking to me to get to the point. If it seems that they’re struggling to finish, I will interrupt that person. And when I interrupt that person, invariably I reach wrong conclusions about what he was trying to convey. Sometimes I am hurt, offended, or just put off by what I thought that person meant all because I didn’t wait for him to finish.

This scripture is informative: “Whoever gives an answer before he listens is stupid and shameful.” (Proverbs 18:13 GWT)

That is exactly how I feel. Once I finish my tirade based on what I thought he was saying and discover I was wrong, I feel so stupid. Have you ever heard the words, “let me finish” or “if you had let me finish, you would have known. . .” Over the years I have heard those words repeatedly.

Sometimes my interruptions have caused unnecessary, shameful arguments. But I was trying to move the conversation along at my pace unaware that the other person did not process information in the same way I did. I now realize that I caused more drama, made more mountains out of molehills, and only the grace of God in the other person allowed the relationship to continue. I was forgiven and now I can hear a firm voice say, “LISTEN.” Now I make meager strides to listen more carefully and interrupt more infrequently. Personal growth is learning process indeed.

Conversations, unlike a point guard pushing the ball down court, cannot be rushed. Those involved need to be both respected and affirmed; their thoughts matter. Listening reaffirms a person’s worth.

Prayer: Lord let me be “slow to speak, quick to hear, and slow to wrath.” Help me not to prejudge a matter. Please allow me hear the entire thoughts and intents of that person’s heart. Grace me with empathy and compassion I pray. Help me become a better listener, in Jesus Name, Amen.

The Power of Your Character

Miss Ceely points her finger at Mister and declares, “Until you do right by me everything you touch gonna fail. ” She cursed him with her words or did she?
Bricks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me.” This sounds true but has been found to be flawed.

Proverbs 18:21 reads, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” I am intrigued by the phrase “in the power of the tongue.” I would add “in the power of the tongue of the person speaking.”

The question how does one develop ‘power in one’s tongue’ leaps from this passage. The answers include such things as power, position, and influence relative to the status of the one to whom the words are spoken.

However, let’s think deeper. Was it Miss Ceely’s words or even the way she demonstrably said them that influenced Mister to fail? Did her words produce death to his livelihood? I think not.

The one thing that gave Miss Ceely’s words power was her character. It was the strength of her life, her integrity that gave power to her words. When you develop character you gain influence in relationship to others and your words matter. This is true in all adult relationships where the probability of abuse is eradicated.

If one has no character, her words either fall on deaf ears or are easily overcome by effort. You determine whose word influences you; don’t give that power away easily. Evaluate the person’s character and ask yourself if he has a right to speak into your life. If that person does not have character then speak back and reclaim your power. If she is a person of character, then analyze the critique so you can grow.

Mister, by his unwillingness to do the right thing by Miss Ceely caused his own decline. His conscience held back his blessing until he did the right thing. In other words his character grew and he regained his power.

My friends remember, “No weapons formed against you shall prosper and every mouth (word) that rises in condemnation shall be stopped (refuted); for this is your heritage (birthright) in the Lord.” The key is your character; invest in your character and your words will have power (influence).

God Demands a Response to Jesus

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37 KJV)

In the Movie, Deliver Us From Eva, LL Cool J is hired by three men to woe a woman away from her sister.  Her brother-in-laws have described her as a devil from hell.  Before meeting her, LL agrees to woe Eva, played by Gabrielle Union and take her away from her sisters so the brother-in-laws can have more influence over their wives.  However, when he actually meets Eva, LL is awestruck. He cannot deceive her because he finds her altogether lovely and now wants to spend his entire life with her.  So immediately, the plan is foiled because LL Cool J has made a decision to love Eva.  It was a radical, costly decision, not logical, critical, or methodical.  His heart and head joined together to attain the woman of  his dreams.  That was an irrational move.

This passage illustrates clearly how irrational following Jesus can be.  Here we have two disciples of John the Baptist upon being made known who  Jesus is immediately walk away from John to follow Jesus.  They move without forethought, without going on a retreat, without having to pray about it, they move without consulting anyone else, they simply walk away from their past life and begin to follow Jesus.  There is something to be said for people who have a sense of when to move forward and do so with clarity of purpose.  These two disciples wanted to know Jesus in a more personal way and so they left John’s ministry to go with Jesus.  They didn’t even know where Jesus lived or what Jesus was about.  They had not even heard one message from Jesus to justify their actions.  When John the Baptist identified Jesus as the one promised in the scriptures, the Messiah, something in their heart resonated with that proclamation and they responded in radical fashion.

The fact of the matter is some of us are just  too cautious about changing when clearly the time for change has come.  We procrastinate just because procrastination is what we do.  But when you meet Jesus, Jesus calls for action, immediate, swift, decisive action.  Either you love him or you don’t but you can’t just sit around and think about it.  This morning Jesus is looking for radical disciples, those who will throw caution to the wind and follow him with their whole hearts.

Critical thinking has its place, reasoned thought has its place, but when the gospel is preached, when you meet The Lord Jesus Christ, your mind and heart births faith to believe or reproach to reject Jesus.    Paul put it this way in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16, 17 KJV).

God’s salvific action is revealed “from faith to faith” from person to person.  What Jesus needs is somebody like John, somebody like Andrew who will witness as to who Jesus is.  Andrew  first concern was his brother  and  goes looking for  Simon and exclaims, “We have found the Messiah” and then brings Simon to Jesus. By the preponderance of the scholarship regarding this statement John also finds his brother James and brings him to Jesus.  Thus, John brings his brother James, Andrew brings his brother Simon and the first four disciples begin to follow Jesus.

God demands a response from each one of us when Jesus is proclaimed as the Messiah.  It is a response based on faith not logic, not critical thinking, not being persuaded by scientific inquiry, but being instantly converted by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  God demands an instant, unequivocal, irrevocable response, either I will follow Jesus or I will not follow Jesus.  All who try to procrastinate, put off, or reason, end up not following Jesus.  But when you follow Jesus, you become a new person.  I want to ask you, what will your response be to the gospel of Jesus Christ?