Abiding in Christ

Woman's hands on black background

“If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:33).

The Bible has its share of comical scenes.  Here’s one.  A man born blind can now see.  But because Jesus “broke the rules” by healing him on the Sabbath, in the minds of the Pharisees, this was impossible.

Moses?  He was righteous.  He gave us the law.

Jesus?  He broke the “law,” and had to be a sinner.

But there’s this pesky issue of, “once I was blind… now I can see.”  And now here’s Mr. Newsight offering a little theological insight to the no-sight clan:  “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

 

Grape VineTwo extremes.

Two in-your-face, He-can’t-be-serious statements made by none other than Jesus Christ.

Two simple statements of fact covered up and made sleepy by years of self-initiated religion.

I’ll tell you right up front – you’ll say you believe it.  But I would gently challenge you that on typical days you probably don’t.

The statements?  Read this slowly as if you’re reading it for the first time (maybe you are!): [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

When the burdens overwhelm me
And the floods begin to rise
When I see the circumstances
Through lonely, helpless eyes,
There’s a place to go for refuge
And a place to be restored.
And when the storm has passed away,
I’ll be stronger than before.

It’s a place called Higher Ground.  David referred to it as a “rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1).  “Take me there when my heart is overwhelmed,” he prayed.

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, it was fairly common to hear small craft advisories and warnings of approaching storms or hurricanes in which people in “low‑lying areas” are warned to move to higher ground.  The danger for them is that the storm can literally overwhelm them.

In Psalm 61, David finds himself in a situation in which he is under such pressure of heart that he doesn’t think he can deal with it by himself.  He’s in a “low-lying area” spiritually and circumstantially.  Can you relate? [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

I grew up in the Deep South in the 60s and 70s.  There, when my African American friends wanted to know my address, they had a unique colloquial way of asking.  They would ask, “Where you stay?”

I don’t know where the phrase originated.  What I do know is that the question – Where you stay? – resonates on a much deeper level than just my physical address.

Had we lived a century earlier in Great Britain, the question may have been something along the lines of, “Where do you abide?” Or “Where is your abode?”  Again, the question has to do with a physical house, but it communicates something much deeper.

It’s a question of the heart, not just the body.  It’s a question of your dreams, your company, your vision, your love.  It’s a question of what you hang on to and what you let go of.  Of who or what touches you for a moment, versus who or what changes you for a lifetime. Of where you turn for security and where your heart finds its permanent places.

Where you stay?

When Jesus Christ invaded history, one of the possibilities He brought with Him was a whole new way of relating to God.  [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

true-heartTense Truth: God gives you desires you can never satisfy and makes demands you can never fulfill.  He then goes about bridging the gap, doing for you what you can never do for yourself.  Your primary responsibility is to trust Him to be Himself – to rest in His faithfulness.

++++++++++++++++++++++

Have you ever felt like God was somehow playing a joke on you?  You hear people talking about being forgiven, and you feel guilty for, well, feeling guilty. You read the stories about miracle-working power, and wonder why you got left at the station.  You learn more and are less happy; work harder, but feel weaker.  You’ve learned to speak “Christianese” and go through the motions, but sometimes you just feel like a fraud.

What if I were to tell you that God has a glorious answer?  Something more liberating than a self-improvement project or yet another string of self-disappointments?

David’s Truth Discovery

For nearly a year, David had played the role.  The psalmist of Israel, the beloved king, had gone through the motions, mouthed the words, and tipped his hat to the man he once was.  Very few knew people the real story:  David was just a shell of the man he once had been. [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Help Wanted:  Branches

Master of the Universe, a firm dedicated to establishing change agencies throughout the world and providing eternal dwelling places for an undisclosed number of people, is seeking branches on which to conduct its fruit-bearing strategy.  Generous benefit package.  Unlimited positions available to trusting and trustworthy candidates.  No previous experience necessary.  Will train the right candidate(s).  (Please note:  No advancement possible.  This is an entry- and exit-level position.  The other two positions – Vine and Gardener – have been permanently filled.)

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Stop doing God’s job.  Not only is it unnecessary, it’s ridiculous.  And believe me, when you try to solve God-sized problems with man-sized vision and wisdom, you will be ridiculed.

So, following up from the last post, how DO we approach situations, opportunities, challenges, and problems that are larger than we are?

You approach them like a branch would.  [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

The Popcorn Tree

by Andy Wood on September 5, 2008

in Enlarging Your Capacity, LV Cycle, Turning Points

The LifeVesting Cycle

1. Allocate your resources.
2. Explore the possibilities.
3. Follow your passion
4. Execute your plan.
5. Protect your investment.

6. Enlarge your capacity

When I was still a kid, my dad built a flower box for my mom. We got some nice, rich soil from a place behind our house where we had a lot of mulch and trees. She planted some flowers in the box, and we were excited to see what would come out.

What came out was something that at first looked like a weed. But this was no weed. It was a tree. A popcorn tree, my dad said.

I was entranced. It was my first sense of fatherhood and stewardship, all rolled into one.

If you aren’t familiar with them, popcorn trees, or Chinese tallows, grow in moist climates. They grow rapidly, and can get pretty big. They make great shade and ornamental trees, and in the fall, their seeds split open to appear like popcorn.

I watched this little tree take off, and soon we transplanted it from the flower box to the front yard. We got more and more into trees, and soon found four more popcorn trees – then some redbuds and dogwoods. I had this sense of pride and ownership in all of them, but none more than the original – the queen of the yard – as she quickly grew taller than the eaves of our house.

Then one day the unthinkable happened. I came up the street to my house, and found the most horrific sight. Someone (my dad) had taken shears and whacked my tree off at about six feet. The queen of the yard now had a crew cut.

It was ugly.

Shameful.

Hideous.

“Pruning,” he called it.

“Disaster” was what I called it.

Of course, my dad knew a whole lot more about trees and all things agricultural than I ever will. (I once asked him, “How’d you get so smart?” He said, “I keep my ears open and my mouth shut.”)

Anyway, the queen began to reshape. To spread. To grow, not just taller, but shapelier, even more beautiful.

This life lesson became even more applicable to me as I grew spiritually. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }