Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Uprising - Wed Mar 31

The Big Day Approaches!

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well." 1 John 5:1

Do you know Jesus? Do You "Love" Him?

If you have ever been around an engaged couple, then I'm sure you can testify that their excitement, for their "soon to be wedding," is contagious. Just mention the words and their thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams will come spilling out with smiles and anxious giggles. And, as the day approaches, the soon to be bride may on occasion scream out in anticipation and excitement as each day is a count down for the "Big Day".

Oh, all the thoughts of preparation. The invested time, resources and energy. Oh, the planning....Oh, the expectancy.

Have you ever given thought to how we can know the bible forward and back, and still not know the author personally. We can know all about him and still lack love "for" Him.

The bible refers to the body of Christ as a bride preparing herself for her bridegroom. We are encouraged to make ourselves ready and live with the expectancy of the soon coming King. One day, we will all see Jesus face to face. We will be able to look into the eyes of the one who loves us and gave his life for us. We will be able to hear His audible voice say "I love you". I guarantee He is longing for the day with great hope and anticipation...Are you?

Do you long for the day we stand in his presence?
Do you still need to prepare and make yourself ready for the Big Day? Every day is one day closer! The time is drawing near!

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'
Revelation 19:6-9

"Lord, awaken my heart to Know you."
"Lord, awaken my heart to Love you."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Uprising - Tue Mar 30

Road Signs for the Journey . . .

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:5-8

What images cross your mind when you see a railroad crossing sign? The train whistle, the bell clinging, the red light flashing? Most likely, these are strong, clear warning signs that help us stay out of the way when a train is coming. Railroad signs are there to keep us safe.

Detour signs are there to help us find our way when a road is blocked because it is not safe. We have to follow all the detour signs carefully until we’re back on the road, and on the other side of the blocked section. If we don’t follow the detour signs carefully, we could easily get lost. Detour signs help keep us going in the right direction.

What about “road signs” from God? Road signs in the Bible?

That might sound kind of odd, because they didn’t have cars in First Century Palestine.

But there is Truth all over the Bible to help guide us and keep us on the right path in our lives. For the past 5+ weeks we've been looking at much of the Truth that God has provided to help us remain in Jesus and bear much fruit. And the journey continues . . .

Look at Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” This is a verse to help keep us safe – to keep our hearts and emotions safe. It’s like a railroad crossing sign – it says, pay attention! Approach with caution! Don’t disregard the lights and guard rail – pay attention to the warning signs! You MUST guard your heart!

The ten commandments are good detour signs, especially the ‘don’ts’ – don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t have any other gods before me, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, don’t steal, etc. – these are all ‘signs’ and guidelines that keep us from straying from God’s will for us....they keep us going in the right direction.

What about a stop sign? Read Psalm 46:10 - “Be still and know that I am God.”

And a “yield” sign? What does it remind us to do? Slow down and see if someone else is there.

We see this many times in the Bible when someone is told to 'slow down.' (Good Samaritan (stops to help someone), Esther (prepares the feasts for the king), Jesus (when he was tempted in the wilderness).

The Bible is full of road signs for us. But you must be dwelling in God's Word to see them! You must ask God for the desire to be on HIS journey and then seek His hope in His Word.

What road sign is God putting in your path today?

"I have refused to walk on any evil path,

so that I may remain obedient to your word.

102 I haven’t turned away from your regulations,

for you have taught me well.

103 How sweet your words taste to me;

they are sweeter than honey.

104 Your commandments give me understanding;

no wonder I hate every false way of life.

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet

and a light for my path." Psalm 119:101-105

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Uprising - Mon Mar 29


It's Monday. Another Monday in Jerusalem. Although this one is different as people are scurrying about preparing for the Passover, the biggest Celebration of the year. It's a beautiful day, the sun is out, there's a Spring breeze.

Wives are gathering everything they need at the market as all will be shut completely down for days during the celebration. They need to be sure they have enough to feed the out of town relatives as well who will be in town to go to the Temple and observe the Festival.

Fathers are busy getting some last minute work done, items delivered, animals cared for. Many of them are taking their eldest sons to the field surveying which lamb will be sacrificed. Only the best for the Passover.

Children are excited and having a hard focusing at school, the Spring Sun and the anticipation of the holiday.

All is well.

And who would guess that this Friday will be the darkest day in the history of the world. Followed by the most mysterious and miraculous day in the history of the world on Sunday.

Today, for us, is the Monday before we Celebrate the Resurrection on Sunday. How do you think, if they had known the eternal impact of this week, it would have altered the Monday of those Jews 2,000 years ago? How does it change your week?

Here's some Scripture focused on Resurrection. I encourage you to meditate on it today . . . This week.

How is the Resurrection changing your life this week?

"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importanceOr you at the first

: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter,Greek Cephas

and then to the Twelve." 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." Romans 6:9-10

"“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,Or Messiah. “The Christ” (Greek) and “the Messiah” (Hebrew) both mean “the Anointed One”; also in verse 36.

"> that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact." Acts 2:29-32

"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." Romans 6:5

"Jesus told her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Some manuscripts do not include and the life.

Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.'" John 11:25

"We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence." 2 Corinthians 4:14

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Holy Uprising - Sat Mar 27

We are the Body

"4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly."

Romans 12:4-8

As I was reading through Romans, God really spoke to me on this passage. Just as the human body has its many parts, the body (of Christians) has many gifts. If each of us does our part in serving, teaching, giving, leading, and showing kindness to one another, our body will be able to fully function as a body. But what does it mean to be a 'fully functional body of Christians?'

Ephesians 4:11-13 explains that: 11 He [God] also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. 12 Their purpose is to prepare God’s people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ. 13 This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard."

To become a 'fully functional' body, we must ALL use our gifts in order to spread our faith and knowledge until every person comes to know Jesus Christ. Notice that it's not the 'paid professionals' (paid church staff) who God uses to build His Kingdom - but it's their job to prepare/equip ALL the other members to serve and build the Kingdom.

We, as Christians, are the body of Christ. How are we living out our share of the body?

Are you using your gifts to further the Kingdom? To spread God's Word? Do you have gifts that need exercise?

Maybe we serve in one capacity or another, but feel as though God is calling us to do something more. Do we make excuses, telling Him "I'm busy." "I'm already serving in _______ ministry." "I have too much school work." "Work is hectic." What are we using as an excuse to 'get out of' using our gifts to serve the Kingdom? What do we need to push aside to really and truly impact the Kingdom?

Take time to pray about the gifts God has chosen to give YOU.

Now, put those gifts into action!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Holy Uprising - Fri Mar 26

Is It Nearly Over????

"Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?" Luke 9:23-25

Alright only a little over a week left – Most of me is saying I cannot wait until I can try those things again – the things I have fasted from – the things I have given up to seek to be closer to God! So I have to ask myself – what am I really saying here??? Am I looking forward to being distracted from God again? Am I looking forward to partaking in my fleshly desires so I can escape from reality – so I can escape from my relationship with the Creator?

WOW! That is convicting! I really have to sit down and ask God what He really wants from me. Did I just want 40 days of not doing something just to not do it; OR do I desire a lifetime of reminders that He is in control, He has our back, and He is all I need.

This is the difference between religion and freedom. I choose Christ over obligation and pleasing others. I choose our King over earthly desires. I choose God over myself.

I have appreciated the extra time I have had with God every time my body told me, “Forget about Lent man, and just do what you want to do!” Because I needed God to get past those times – and His pleasure in me was greater than the temporary pleasure my desires fulfill. But even knowing this, I tried to come up with excuses to break it several times. I thank God for giving me the strength to persevere and make it till Easter. Now I am asking Him to help me persevere for life. I love Him so much – why would I want to try and hide again after 40 days of greater life – greater Joy – and a more real connectedness.

Thank you Jesus for your perfect plan. Now let’s all choose to follow Him every day after Lent. Let’s be the light of the world and show the lost and the helpless who their true Father is! We are not on our own. We do not have to live life to some man made standard. We will always fail to be perfect, to be religious, to do enough on our own. But He is there for us! We just have to seek Him – get in His Word. We only need to ask!

"If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you." (John 15:7 NIV)

Have a great, fruitful, powerful week basking in His love and His desire for you – then keep it going – you won’t want to stop!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Holy Uprising - Thur Mar 25

My Refuge and Strength

"God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1-3

Can you say with me that the earth as we know it has changed and that the mountains seem to be slipping into the sea? Or is it just me?

The industry in which I own a business has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. There are new regulations, new guidelines, increased demands, and less money. And that was before the economy bottomed out. I’ve wondered lately if as the owner I could fire myself and collect unemployment! Each day brings even more challenges than the day before.

Then there are the challenges of continuing to run a household on a reduced income, being available to aging parents, and keeping up my level of commitment to the non-profit entities that I am invested in.

For me, those things will begin to produce sleepless nights and the physical challenges that that brings with it. The earth beneath me is trembling and my mountains are slipping into the sea.

In the midst of this endless chaos, our church is in the middle of the 40 days of Holy Uprising. I confess to false starts and stops since the beginning of the Lenten season. While I may have waivered, God has been faithful. There are several things that God has continued to impress upon me during this season:

1. My joy is not dependent upon my circumstances.
1 Chronicles 16:10-11: “Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength.”
True joy comes only from seeking the Lord.

2. Every day I need to give myself entirely to God, to be His instrument, to be set apart anew for His purposes.
Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
God has given me a job and I must purpose to be available for His job and not be distracted by mine.

3. Make a fresh commitment to be a giver.
Don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking that you have nothing to give. No matter how small or limited it may seem, I need to invest my time, money, all my resources in God’s business. The parable of the talents depicts this quite well (Matthew 25:14-30).

So, if I can live out Psalm 46 and embrace God as my refuge and my strength, not fear, find my joy in the Lord, give myself entirely to Him, and recommit to be a giver in all areas of my life, will my business suddenly begin to thrive?

Maybe – or maybe not. It may well be God’s plan to move me to something else He has in mind for me.

If God chooses to restore my business and my finances, I will rejoice. If God chooses to move me to something else, then I will rejoice. Either way, I know He will use my experiences for His good, no matter how things turn out.

So while the world might say that I’ve failed, I’ve only failed if I fail to seek to live out God’s plan in my life. And that plan includes His joy, living for His purposes, and using the resources God has given me to further His kingdom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Holy Uprising - Wed Mar 24

Jesus is BIGGER Than evil! (Part 2)

Luke 8:26-39:

26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, Other manuscripts read Gadarenes; still others read Gergesenes; also in 8:37. See Matt 8:28; Mark 5:1.

">* across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town.

28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil Greek unclean.

">* spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. Or the abyss, or the underworld.


32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.

So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

Evil tells you, ‘you’re not good enough, you’ll never amount to anything’ and little by little, you begin to believe it. At first you fight against the temptation to give into the lies of Satan, but you become tired and worn out until one day you find yourself asking, “how did it get this bad, how did I get here?”. You know the answer but it’s hard to accept. It’s hard to face the many sinful choices, attitudes and actions that got you here, it’s much easier to blame circumstances or others. You resign yourself, evil must have been right all along and now, there’s just too much to overcome, too many things you’ve done that need forgiving, too many wrongs that need to be right, too big a mess to clean up! I think that is how this man in Luke 8 must have felt and Praise God he was wrong!

We read about a large herd of pigs nearby on a hillside. This man is possessed by a legion of demons, so many they are no longer known by their individual names, but the collective name of Legion. We are not told what evils had stacked up in this man’s life to get him to the day that is recorded here, but we can guess: lies, gluttony, lust, pride, greed, anger, hatred . . . . It seems easy for us to guess because they are the same evils that are still around, tempting us all to give into their control. And slipping into our lives.

We know this man’s life has been a big mess, we read he has separated himself from all others and he lives off of the wilderness. If ever someone’s life seems too far gone, too complicated to be fixed it would seem it is his. But all hope is not lost and it never is, today God would provide just the right amount of hope + desire to = complete healing. It would take every ounce of desire left in this man's heart, soul and mind and every single pig in the herd!

On this day, this man decides to let go of the need to reconcile, ‘how did it get this bad’ with the desire to seek out permanent change. He seeks out Jesus and he brings evil to the one with the power to banish it. Jesus sends the legion of evil out of this man into the large herd of pigs and apparently, it takes the whole herd to carry all of the past mistakes, bad choices, wrong decisions, misplaced trust, lies, envy, greed, anger, and all of the other evils that have stacked up in this man’s life. Luke 8 tells us the ENTIRE herd,that is now possessed by the evil that this one man had been carrying around, plunges over a cliff and this man is restored to his right mind! Thank you Jesus, that there were enough pigs!

What seems so big or so overwhelming in your own life right now, that you think perhaps there are just not enough pigs to fix it? Do you realize that's a lie? There is nothing too big for Jesus.

Will you bring it to Jesus? Just lay it down in front of Him like the man.

Pray: God I admit to you it’s scary to let go of the things that have control over me, the things that are not of you. They are my excuse, my reasoning away of the sinful choices and decisions that make my life spin out of control. I need your strength to let go of them, I need your encouragement to bring them to you, I need your peace that it’s not so bad and so overwhelming that you cannot heal me from it completely. Jesus I need you. Amen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holy Uprising - Tue Mar 23

Jesus is BIGGER Than evil! (Part 1)

Luke 8:26-39

26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, Other manuscripts read Gadarenes; still others read Gergesenes; also in 8:37. See Matt 8:28; Mark 5:1.

">* across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town.

28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil Greek unclean.

">* spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. Or the abyss, or the underworld.


32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.

So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

Legion was his name or at least that is the name the demons gave him. We never learn his given name but we do learn a lot about him in Luke 8 because his story is nothing short of incredible. It’s the kind of story you’d expect to see in a Hollywood Horror movie! Legion was a homeless man, who had been living in the cemetery completely cut off from his community. Legion had lost himself and his identity to evil. Evil controlled his actions, when folks would try to restrain him, he would ‘simply’ break free and run to the wilderness. Evil apparently even controlled his common sense because he didn’t clothe himself.

But this day would be different in Legions tortured life, today grace would overpower evil and Legion would be healed. Jesus arrived on the shore of Gerasenes, where Legion lived. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat Legion came out to meet him, unclothed, wild and shrieking loudly. What a scene that must have been, a man locked in a struggle coming out to meet with Jesus and the struggle was within himself. The struggle was between the man God created him to be and the evil that was now in control of him. The Demons inside where screaming at Jesus, yet the man inside of him, whose desire it was to meet with Jesus, was propelling him forward, towards the shore. Somehow, as if by instinct, this man was finally able to overpower the evil living inside of him.

Can you see it in your mind’s eye: The physical battle, the emotional struggle, the spiritual torturous walk towards the one and only one who could provide healing and hope for a restored and transformed life. Evil has no power over Jesus, even the many demons within Legion knew this. They knew they the battle for this man’s soul was over when he decided to make his way, no matter the cost, to the Savior.

Our lives may not be as lost to evil as Legions, but the raw honest truth is we all have areas of our lives where we allow evil to control instead of Jesus! As I type, areas of my own life are popping into my mind and I can feel that internal struggle starting…’bring it to Jesus’….’no, no, I'm just fine the way I am’.

Jesus longs for us to come to Him and seek healing from those evils that control us. He doesn’t want us to allow it to get so out-of-control that we are living scared, tortured lives apart from community.

What area of your life do you need to bring to Jesus and beg him to drive out the evil and take control?

How have you gotten away from the kind of life-giving community that helps us stay connected to God? What's your first step to getting back in community?

Pray: Father, help us to flee temptation and deliver us from evil. Give us the strength to run from the temptations that, little by little, allow evil to move in and please deliver us from the sin, and struggles that are the result of the times when we lose the battle with evil. Deliver us from lives that are out of your control! Your power is the power we desire to claim forever and ever. Amen!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Holy Uprising - Mon Mar 22


"Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:23)

"This is the day the Lord has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

"Better is one day in your courts

than a thousand elsewhere." (Psalm 84:10)

"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)

At the moment these verses all have new meaning to me after last week. I woke up early Monday morning with a 'rumbly tumbly' and ended up finding myself in bed for most of the week with a stomach that wouldn't quit giving back!

I felt miserable. It was my kids spring break and I was just a whiny, grumpy mess. On top of it all I was able to have NO coffee, ALL stinkin' week! Need I say more.

Kidding aside, I felt nauseous, unproductive, grumpy . . . and disconnected from God. All week in a funk. It's my fault. I didn't have to go all the way in there, but I did. You ever been there?

But when I look at these verses they remind me that today begins the rest of my life. That TODAY God's love for me is new and fresh. (Kind of like the fresh sunshine that is all over Corpus today after the storms we had yesterday!)
That I can live THIS DAY in His presence with no penalties or reminders of past stuff.
That if I will allow Him, everything that happens to me today will be used for future glory.

All of that makes me thankful?

Why don't you begin your day with thanks. Just take a few minutes and thank God for everything you can think of. While you're at it thank Him for the new beginning that you have today.

Now, go live in the sunshine!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Holy Uprising - Sat Mar 20

Desiring God or Desperate for God?

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourSome manuscripts our

life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

Powerful words, 'Christ who, is your life.' God's expectation is that Jesus will be the very focus of who we are. But it goes further . . .

I like what Francis Frangipane wrote below:

For many, Christianity is simply the religion into which they were born. For others, although Jesus is truly their Savior, their relationship with Him is hardly more than a history lesson, a study of what He did in the past. For those who truly love Him, however, Christ is Savior and more: He is their very life (Col. 3:4). When Jesus is your life you cannot go on without Him.

There is a story of a man who, in search of God, came to study at the feet of an old sage. The master brought this young man to a lake and led him out into the shoulder-deep water. Putting his hands upon his pupil's head, he promptly pushed him under the water and continued to hold him there until the disciple, feeling he would surely drown, frantically repelled the old man's resistance. In shock and confusion the young man resurfaced. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. His teacher looked him in the eyes and said, "When you desire God as you desired air, you shall find Him."

Was this not the attitude of psalmist when he wrote, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God" (Ps 42:1)? You see, there is a place in seeking God where our heart goes beyond the limits of desire, where the actual issue becomes one of survival. I need Christ as a drowning man needs air and as a parched deer needs water. It is here, where we feel we cannot exist without seeking and finding the reality of God, that our deepest passion is fulfilled.

Is Jesus a desire? How much so? How do you know?

Is He your hope for survival?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Holy Uprising - Fri Mar 19

"He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:29-31

Recently I challenged the high school girls (GNO) with this verse - to take these 40 days and see where they are right now.

Are you soaring?
Do you continually feel God's presence? Do you have full confidence that He not only hears your prayers but He is answering them as well? Do you see God's hand of blessing in your life? When an eagle soars, it's effortless - it lets the wind currents do the work for it. When we are soaring, we let God do the 'work' for us - we simply stay obedient to reading His word, prayer, and accountability. I think Jesus was soaring when he performed miracles! If you're soaring right now, enjoy it! Rest in His blessings!

Isaiah also says we may be running. Maybe you are in His word, you are praying, you are being obedient, but every day feels like you're against the wind. At times you get out of breath with the struggles, but as you persevere, you hit those times when your breathing gets back into rhythm and you know you'll make it to the finish line. I think Jesus may have felt like this in the Garden of Gethsemane - frustrated that his best friends couldn't stay awake, yet knowing He was fully in the presence of God. If you're running today, keep going! Keep praying, stay in God's word, find someone to be accountable to! Don't envy those who are soaring - find the lessons God wants you to learn in the frustrations. Maybe you need to take the focus off yourself and serve others - with simple acts of kindness or even a note of appreciation.

And then Isaiah says some of us will simply walk. One foot in front of the other. When all seems hopeless, keep walking. When Jesus carried his cross, he stumbled, but he kept going. You may be depressed, fearful, unmotivated to even get up in the morning. Serving others doesn't even seem like an option. Keep walking - He will keep you from fainting! Keep hoping, keep being faithful and He will renew your strength. Take one step each day.

Now, read the passage again. Recognize where you are and claim His promises. HE, will make you soar!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Holy Uprising - Thur Mar 18

Repentance and Forgiving Others

"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in himOr it

to make him stumble." 1 John 2:9-10

When I was a young girl I grew up in a church where you would reach an age of accountability, requiring you to receive the sacrament of confession, or penance.
What this meant was you became aware that you were a sinner, saved by grace, and must confess your sins to a priest, who then would offer you a penance, requiring absolution of your sins. I struggled as a child at age twelve, wondering what sins that I needed to confess. I often would prefabricate just in order to go through the requirements. So, long ago. And now as a grown woman…I do not have to think up sins, I sin daily, and know that I am a sinner, saved by grace, and as a priest before Christ, I am forgiven.

In reflecting on forgiveness, the theologian John Koenig defines forgiveness this way: “Forgiveness turns out not to be a work or a pronouncement but a discovery that grows out of our realization that we and the people from whom we are estranged are not very different after all.”

Forgiveness begins with an awareness of our shared humanity, recognition of the tremendous capacity that we have to both destroy and bless one another. The apostle Paul understood the complexity of our human nature—how we struggle to make the right choices, and how we sometimes do the very thing we despise: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”
If we acknowledge the potential that we have for harming others, then we can have more compassion for those who hurt us.

As we read John's word's in Matthew 3: “I indeed baptize you with water…but He…will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Oswald Chambers explains, “Repentance does not cause a sense of sin—it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals.

A great question Chambers asks: Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possible trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.

Conviction and Forgiveness: James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Frances J. Roberts explains this passage in scripture as such, “Man cannot forgive sin…Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another that you may be perfected. I do not love you because you are sinless, but I am able to receive you into my fellowship and bring you close to my heart on the merits of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here rests your hope of cleansing and acceptance. Here is the only door of access between sinful man and a holy God. But here indeed is all you need.”


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holy Uprising - Wed Mar 17

Renewing Unconditional Love

Part of Repentance and Renewal for many (if not all) of us is recognizing how we respond to others. Jesus said that following Him was all about loving God and loving others. How do you do with the least of those around you? Those with no voice and very few advocates?

Read Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I grew up being taught not to give a beggar money, because they would just go buy booze, and not to look them in the eye because they might attack you. My attitude developed to a point that I would just ignore the homeless or condemn them as lazy vagrants to be kept in the shadows. Perhaps if I was feeling especially generous, I would come down from my $50K+ salary perch to 'bless' them with enough money to buy them a hamburger I would never eat.

During the past week, God has shown me that this is completely opposite from His heart for humanity. All people are God's creation, worthy of love, dignity and compassion...especially the "least of these". They are worthy of the same grace God gave to me through Christ. The "least of these" are NOT worthy of my judgment or condemnation.

I challenge you to meditate and pray on those who are the "least of these" that God places in your path. If you give $5 to a homeless man, do you give it freely, or with strings attached (i.e. "only if you use it to buy food")? Do you show the homeless man that you consider him a person by speaking to him, asking his name? Do you "know what's best for him" and offer a ride to the shelter, or do you take the time to ask him what he actually needs...then help meet that need?

Christ's words extend beyond the homeless...the single mom trying to make it, the chronically sick with no visitors, the elderly with no family. All of us can drive to certain parts of Corpus Christi, turn on the news, or just look into our own lives and see people broken hearted, oppressed, homeless, depressed, jobless. Unconditional love has no strings attached, and while you might feel taken advantage of, this love is the essence of Christ's death.

I imagine most of the 'goats' will be those just like me: that praised God Sunday morning, then neglected the "least of these" on my way home. Will you take Christ's message beyond reading your Bible by actually doing what it says?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Holy Uprising - Tue Mar 16

Make Every Effort

2 Peter 1:5-9

"…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

- Goodness

- Knowledge

- Self-control

- Perseverance

- Godliness

- Brotherly kindness

- Love

“Make every effort” to add the above seven characteristics onto our faith. What gives me pause is the phrase, “make every effort.” It is easy to look at these characteristics and acknowledge that these are important or even that we already possess some of them. However, do I make every effort to have them in “increasing measure?"

Am I really seeking these godly values as much as I'm seeking other things in life?

These characteristics have huge ramifications! What do the verses say about the person who possesses these characteristics? Read it again and look. How about the person who does not?

Do I want to be a person who is effective and productive in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ? Or, do I want to be nearsighted and blind, forgetting what I’ve been forgiven from? Put it this way and it is easy to answer. The former of course! Now, asking myself, am I making every effort to increase the above characteristics onto my faith?

John Ortberg, in this book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat says, “We are too often double espresso followers of a decaf Sovereign.” Applying Ortberg’s quote to today’s devotional, we often feel that this list is way too overwhelming. Really, who can have all these qualities?

But look at the passage. God is not demanding perfection. He's using Peter to exhort believers (including us) to “make every effort” to have these qualities in “increasing measure.” We might not be able to double espresso ourselves to having the above list completed in our hearts and minds quickly, but over time, slowly, the Holy Spirit can develop these qualities in our life as we lean into God.

So, today, how are you making every effort to possess these qualities in increasing measure? Think through how you can change your thoughts, actions, and heart in small ways today.
Repentance remember is not just a change of mind - but a change of mind that leads to a change of action. We quit believing in what we can do and begin believing God's promises.

Start today and have God's perspective. Faith + time = Transformation. And before you know it, in a month or a year, you will possess greater amounts of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love added to your faith.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Holy Uprising - Mon Mar 15

"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."
(Psalm 119:15-16)

As I've been Reflecting I've gone back to Psalm 119 quite a bit in the last week. A lot of the time when I'm trying to find my spiritual footing, or find a more firm foot hold, I go back to Psalm 119. That's because Psalm 119 is a treasure chest of Truth about God's Word. Over and over and over the psalmist talks about how God's Word is LIFE.

[And for you trivia buffs Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is also the beginning of the second half of the entire Bible. Psalm 118 is the 'center' with 594 chapters before it and 594 chapters after it.]

God's Word helps us when we're suffering or in need:

"Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life." vs. 49-50

It shows us how to live the life of freedom that God has given us:

"I will walk about in freedom,

for I have sought out your precepts." v. 45

As I focus on the Word it keeps me out of the path of sin:

"How can a young man keep his way pure?

By living according to your word.

I seek you with all my heart;

do not let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you." vs. 9-11

It lifts us up in times of sorrow:

"Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;

then I will meditate on your wonders.

My soul is weary with sorrow;

strengthen me according to your word" vs. 27-28

There's no ending. Because God's Word is Living (Hebrews 4:12) there is no limit to how it can impact your life.

As you continue with 40 Days this week, make it a priority to dwell in God's Word. Take a verse or passage every day, write it on a notecard, carry it with you, pull it out every hour, read it and just think about for 30 seconds.

There is no more important Reflection that you can do than on God's Word. Ask Him to use it to transform you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holy Uprising - Sat Mar 13

Information Power

"Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long.

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,

for they are ever with me.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

for I meditate on your statutes." Psalm 119:97-99

"Open my eyes that I might see the wonderful Truths in your law." Psalm 119:18

I've been reading a book called Freakonomics -- it's a book written by an economist that's a treasure of history and trivia written in narrative form. I love it (but I love history and trivia!).

In one section he talks about the power of information. He uses the Klu Klux Klan as an example and how their entire power base was formed around their hoarding of information. As soon as the truth (information) was released - their private world made public - membership and activity plummeted. No more information power.

He also talked about life insurance rates - how in the late 1990's rates plummeted. Why? The internet. Beginning with websites compared life insurance rates and suddenly everyone had the information to get the lowest rates. Game over.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

As follower's of Jesus, God's Word is our primary source of information. To be sure it is more than just information because it is Living and through the Holy Spirit it gives life in miraculous ways.
We all desperately need it. It is the very words of God that the Holy Spirit us to transform us!

"Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:129-130

You need a diet of God's Word EVERY day. I pray that this 40 Days has helped you be consistent in reading God's Word if you were not before. But I pray that you will continue to feast on His Truth.

Without it we languish. With it, we have the information necessary to live transformed lives.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Holy Uprising - Fri Mar 12

The Cycle of Repentance

In this 40 Days we'v been talking about Reflection, Repentance, Renewal.

It would be awesome if repentance was a one time event in our life and we were done! It's not.

That's because sin is not a one time event in our life (at least not mine!). And as long as we have sin we need repentance. Remember, repentance is a GOOD thing, it's God's mechanism for removing that which comes between us and God.

What sin does:

Right after the Israelites went into the Promised Land they conquered the City of Jericho. Next they went to Ai. But it didn't go so good. Stop now and read Joshua chapter 7 and see what happened with the Israelites and a man named Achan.

Keep going here after reading Joshua 7 . . .

In time, the valley of Achor came to symbolize the worst of punishments. It was a place of death
and desolation. (This is a pic of the Valley of Achor).

Today, of course, we do not stone those whose sin or irresponsibility has caused others grief. Still, sin has consequences, and though we may not be physically stoned for our failure, the effects of public condemnation can be just as crushing to the human spirit. The fact is, too many of us have known a personal valley of Achor, where our moral negligence or ill-advised actions caused another's suffering.

Perhaps you committed adultery, and since then, your spouse and children are devastated. It might be that your anxious or careless driving caused an accident, resulting in great suffering or possibly even another person's death. Or maybe your lack of Christian example has caused your children to turn from God. The possible ways of falling are endless, but the result is nearly always the same: it is as though a curse rests on your life.

It is bad enough that your own heart condemns you. There are also those individuals who know your failure, whose chorus of criticisms convince you of your hopeless nature. Public censure, cold looks and judgmental attitudes have the same effect on your soul as Achan's stoning had on his flesh, only what dies in you is hope. Where once you could look with anticipation toward the future, now heartache and regret block your view.

Only virtue, made pure and strong by true repentance, can displace the burden of self-condemnation. Thus, the only correct response to wrong actions and their consequences is the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, the enemy has many Christians trapped in unbelief and self-condemnation. They know what they did was wrong and they hate it, but they cannot unburden themselves of the guilt. Remember, Jesus came to proclaim liberty to those who are "prisoners" (see Isa. 61:1).

Is He speaking only of those who are incarcerated in jails? No, His mission is for all of us who are prisoners of our past failures. God wants us to learn from our mistakes, not be held captive to them. Jesus came to deliver and restore those whose dreams lie buried in the valley of Achor.

Are you willing to repent? To confess to God what you have done and truly believe that the status quo is no longer acceptable?

Real repentance is knowing that there is no other way but through Jesus.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Holy Uprising - Thur Mar 11


"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)

As we've moved through these 40 Days many different issues have been confronted that hold us back from God. And there is probably no other issue that can lodge itself in our soul as deep as unforgiveness.

Read below what Mark Batterson recently wrote in a blog post:

It's so hard not to harbor bitterness. It's so hard not to hang on to unforgiveness. It's so hard to offer the same kind of grace that we've received from God. But it is the only cure, the cure all. How do you let go and let God?

I think the formula is found in Job 42:10: "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job,
when he had prayed for his three friends."

Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Job to forgive his friends. They added
injury to insult as Job suffered tragedy after tragedy. He lost his family. He lost his wealth. He lost his health. And then his friends took away his dignity by attacking his integrity. That's all he had left.

I've found that when someone wrongs me I have a tough choice to make. Either I try to
get even in some form or fashion. Or I have to begin praying for that person. I honestly believe that prayer is the only antidote to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. You can't just forgive. You've got to pray for that person. Why? Because it will change your heart. You'll find that a supernatural love for that person disarms your anger. Forgiveness will set your free. And prayer is the key.

If Job can pray for his fair-weather friends who turned on him in tragedy, then we can certainly
love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

We forgive because we are forgiven. If there are roots of bitterness still growing in your soul, dislodge them by praying for folks who have hurt you and ask God to change your heart!

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:12-13)