Let me introduce you to …

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I would like to introduce you to a new, oustanding blog called “Faith and the Other Five Senses.”  Biased I am, to be sure, since it is written by my daughter Shannon Gianotti. I believe you will find it refreshing … Continue reading

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Discipleship of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lews enjoyed popularity for his writings on Christian themes, as well as being a highly regard literary scholar. Despite the allure of even greater honor and recognition, he choose to live out his Christian life at the expense of his professional career.

Gali and Olsen summarize: “Lewis was frequently under attack for his decidedly Christian lifestyle. Even close Christian friends like Owen Barfield and J.R.R. Tolkien openly disapproved of Lewis’s evangelistic speaking and writing. In fact, Lewis’s “Christian” books caused so much disapproval that he was more than once passed over for a professorship at Oxford, with the honors going to men of lesser reputation. It was Magdalene College at Cambridge University that finally honored Lewis with a chair in 1955 and thereby recognized his original and important contributions to English literary history and criticism.” Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). Introduction.” Excerpted from, “In 131 Christians Everyone Should Know”, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, p. 135.

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One Sinner To Another

Pray for the man in the pulpit this Sunday. He is like one beggar telling other beggars where to find bread. He is one sinner telling other sinners where to find forgiveness. He is one struggling believer reminding other struggling believers of God’s grace. He is one weak person directing other weak people where to go for power. He is constantly challenging the rest of us to a standard he himself is still trying to reach.

He needs your prayer! Why not pray for him right now, that God would infuse him with hunger, humility, grace and power as he leads us all to the throne of God.

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He Saw the Blood.

During a recent terrorist siege on a mall in Kenya (September 2013) where  67 victims were tortured, maimed or mutilated, one survivor told of finding a teenager who had been shot and died, with his blood still flowing. She smeared some of his blood on herself, covered her face with her hair and pretended to be dead. The terrorist saw the blood on her and assumed she was dead. She later said, “His blood protected me.”  And it did, it protected her from being killed by the terrorists

We have a Savior whose blood protects us from far greater death, the spiritual death by the terrorism called sin. God sees the blood of His Son and sees us as dead with Him. (Romans 6:8 , Col 2:20). Praise God! Amen? Amen!

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Authenticity of the Heart

And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart … (1 Ki 9:4a)

Integrity is a matter of the heart, an inward character. It is who you are in your thought life and self-reflection.  This is the real you. Being a person of heart-integrity is much harder than to act with integrity in an outward way.  The latter can be faked (to some degree), but the former cannot.

There are only two that know your heart – you and God. The inner center of your being, that is the meeting place of God, the sanctuary that He cares about, where He spends His time. And in that place God finds the real you, all else is stripped away.

We may as well put aside the superficial fascia that we laminate like veneer on our outward persona to others — God is not impressed. What He is impressed with, though, is authenticity that goes to the center. Not a fad, but a rock-solid truth. A hard, wrenching, gut level truth with ourselves and with God.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. (Ps 51:6)

It is there that He meets with us. It is there that He delights with us. It is there that He reassures us of his grace and mercy. It is there that He accepts us and reminds us, “I love you.” It is there that integrity of the heart incubates.

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Staying By the Stuff

For who will hearken unto you in this matter? But as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. (1 Sam 30:24)

I like the old King James version of this verse. Are you one who “tarrieth by the stuff?” What does that mean? A little context will help.

In David’s pre-throne, on-the-run-from-Saul days, his favorite staging  for his military strikes against the surround nations was a place called Ziklag.  Upon returning from a raid, he found the Amalekites had ransacked Ziklag, and kidnapped all the women and children, including David’s family. David and his 600 men tore off in hot pursuit, only to have about 200 of them fall by the wayside in total exhaustion (it was hard to keep up with a man like David!). After victory, the 400 successful warriors initially refused to share any of the spoils (things captured in the raid on the Amalekites), with those who couldn’t keep up.  Only those with the stamina to fight on the front lines and follow through were worthy of being rewarded for their efforts, they reasoned.

Have you ever felt left behind because you simply were prevented from keeping up? Sometimes it seems like only those on the front lines of ministry have all the fun, get all the attention, see all the action and get all the rewards. The preacher, the evangelist, the missionary. While some because of health issues, financial limitations, inability, lack of stamina – are relegated to a supporting role. They are left to “tarry by the stuff.”

Maybe you are one of them, you fold bulletins, clean up after Sunday morning, are an assistant to a Sunday School teacher, send letters and care packages to the missionaries, straighten chairs, visit those in the hospital when they are sick – but you don’t make it onto the front page of the “Martyrs for Jesus” publication.

Well, if the Lord is anything like David (and we are indeed assured in Scripture that he is), you will not loose your reward.  For, your work is every much as important as those “on the front lines.”  Think about it, the problem at Ziklag began when there were none of the 600 men left “by the stuff” of guarding the women and children in the first place.  So when they took off in pursuit, though 200 of the men became exhausted by the pace of David, they still had an important role in looking after the equipment (“the stuff”) of the whole group. David, as a leader, had discovered the importance guarding what you have.

So, I want to encourage all of you whose role is to “tarrieth by the stuff,” playing what seems like a “lesser” role in serving the Lord and his people. You will share equally in the reward of those who serve on the front lines.

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What is your life?

“Baseball is my life.” Overheard in a TV interview of a major league ball player. “I eat, live and sleep baseball.” For others it is their job or their family.  For some young people, “My life is Justin Bieber.” Then there are those whose life is running marathons or cross country biking.

What is your life?

The apostle Paul writing to Christians says, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). Christ was their life. They were all about Christ. They lived Christ, they ate Christ, they slept Christ. Christ was their all in all, the center, the focus. When they got up in the morning, Christ. When they walked through the day, Christ. When then laid down at night, Christ. When they died, Christ. When they lived, Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was their life?

How about you? What is your life?

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Success Guaranteed!

The title sounds like a cheap infomercial on late night TV. But, don’t we all desire success in whatever we do?  In my morning quiet time, I read the following:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8 emphasis added)

The promise was made to Joshua, successor to Moses, one of the greatest men in the Bible and a hard act to follow. However, if Joshua made it his habit to spend time in the Word of God on a daily basis, his success would be guaranteed by God.

Was this some sort of spiritual-magical formula that God set up, that if Joshua does A, then God would do B? Well, not really. I believe that in the continual meditation on God’s word a person learns to see the world and himself through God’s eyes. If the old adage is true that you become like those with whom you associate, then by associating with God in His word, you become more like Him. And it is by knowing God that we become successful in living the life He wants for us.

Just think of it, daily filtering your thoughts through Scripture, reading the Bible every morning and evening, before the day begins, and before the idle brain time of sleep. To be sure you will not remember everything you read, but over time the Word will have its effect in your life, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

Notice, that meditating on God’s word is only part of the plan.  The other part is “to do according to all that is written.” After all, it is the wise man who doesn’t just admire the rock, but “builds” his house upon the rock (Matt 7:24-27).

If God could guarantee Joshua success in his huge assignment of leading the people of Israel in conquering the land, could He not also bring success into your life as you live for His purposes in your life, namely, living for His glory?

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Off-Limits?

USA Today, quoting from Newser posted this feed today (May 29, 2013):

“… a Vatican spokesman stresses that the church believes all salvation ‘comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body,’ meaning those with awareness of the Catholic Church who ‘refuse to enter her or remain in her … cannot be saved’ …  The spokesman also makes it clear that church doctrine considers salvation off-limits to members of other religions and other branches of Christianity, although people who have never been exposed to Christianity might still have a shot.”

Well, I have had no problem with salvation being off-limits to me. I knew that since I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition (I lied at my first confessional and never got that right), jettisoned it during college years and never to return again, that I was on my way to hell — according to what I was taught. This news feed tells me nothing has changed (I assume the quotation above reflect the accuracy, if not the spirit of what was said).

Actually, I agree with the idea–I have no right to salvation. But, then again, neither does anyone of any religion, “Christian,” “Catholic” or not. And it has nothing to do which “Christian” group or denomination or movement or alternate religion that I might associate with. We are alienated from God, not because we fail to identify with (embrace, believe, etc.) any particular religious teachings.  But, we are in deep trouble because we have failed to acknowledge the Lordship of the Creator God over our lives. All of us!

Only through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ do we enter into salvation, it is not of ourselves, or our religion – it is a gift of God, so that no one can have a smug, denominational arrogance.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8–9)

It is not a gift from any human organization, no matter their claims to authority. It is a gift! And it is from God! Period. Praise the Lord.

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Stare It Down!

Fear!!! grips the heart, prevents dreams, paralyzes actions, imprisons the soul. When God’s people fear anything, they embrace a downward spiral of death. Death of life–for living in fear is no life at all.

The Hebrews were on a roll. Their tormenters, the Egyptians, were decimated for resisting God’s people, ten terrible disasters capped off with the death of every family’s firstborn. No one resists God lightly!

In his song of deliverance, Moses and the people effuse with praise and rejoicing, their freedom had been a long time coming–430 years to be exact. They were invincible now, for God was on their side. The exodus had begun and they were victoriously on their way to the promised land! What lay ahead was nothing but positive, nothing could stop them. Their march was reported on ahead of them:

“The peoples have heard, they tremble; anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; the leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone…” (Ex 15:14–16).

As Christian, we too can sing,  “… for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him … and I will extol Him.” (Ex 15:1–2).

Yet, like the faithless Israelites who a very short time later, being in terror of the habitants of the land, and seeing themselves like “grasshoppers” in their eyes, shrunk back from going boldly into what was promised to them (Numbers 13:33)–we too sometimes let fear block our path from embracing the promises of God.

For Israel, Kadesh-Barnea was the place where they let fear control them, where they turned their backs to the land God had promised them. What are you fearing today? What is your Kadesh-Barnea? What has gripped your heart in terror or anxiety or worry? What are you shrinking back from? What is paralyzing you?

Remember what God has saved you from. He is still highly exalted, he is your strength. Let him be your song. By faith, I challenge you, to extol God in the face of your fear. Stare it down in the strength of the Lord. Don’t let your life die the death of fear. Remember, what Jesus said, “I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)

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