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Yesterday I blogged about how God functions in man, and I placed an emphasis on how God is love. God is love; not God has love. So, if you and I want to love more, it a matter of surrendering to the person of love-the Lord. Love is not some item that is imparted into us apart from the person of God Himself. Love is a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit. It is not a fruit produced by humans. Love is a person.

Next I want to mention power. Just visit almost any church, and you will hear prayers and songs for power. “I want power Lord! Send down your power Lord! However, the Bible does not say that Christ has power. Scripture says in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 that Christ is the power of God. He is the Almighty One. Think about it. When someone has all power, that means all power. We humans think we are powerful. However, we are weak. For example, Scripture tells man to “dwell with his wife as the weaker vessel.” The truth of this Scripture is very clear. If woman is the weaker vessel, then the man is a weak vessel. (To have a weaker person implies there is a weak person.) Now, someone will probably say, “Hey, you call the woman weaker.” Yep, that is what the Scriptures teaches (1 Peter 3:7). But, don’t stop there. Men are weak too. All humans are weak! Man is not the power of God. Christ is the power of God. And Christ has come to live in every man and woman who has accepted Him. Now, let the weak say, “I am strong.” Not strong in my own strength; but, strong because Christ lives in the believer! 

Concerning the power of God and human weakness, we would do well to listen to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. So, the truth is, the human self is a weak self. It always has been and always will be. We are needy! Even a perfect environment like the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were needy and weak. The Lord wanted to indwell them, and He has come to live out His Life in and through us. So, quit trying to be strong! It’ll never work. It's self-effort. It's an illusion. It's sin. Instead, acknowledge that the Strong One lives inside you, and He is able to spring into action anytime and place He gets ready.

Prayer: Lord, I am sorry for trying to be strong or "get stronger". So many times I have condemned myself because I see and sense fear, lust, anger, and other temptations. These things are just evidence of my weakness. Thus Lord, instead of fighting my weaknesses, I look to You to be strong in me. Lord, if I take this approach, I can join Paul in exclaiming, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  Lord my prayer today is, “Jesus, be strong in and through me today.” Amen!

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There are a lot of stories in the news today about abuse: spousal abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, just to name a few. All of the above are a sad commentary on the ways of fallen humanity. It seems today that humans have lost their way.

Thus, I want to start a simple blog on How God Functions in Man to quell some of the confusion concerning our relationship and responsibility before the Lord. The first thing I want to say is humans were created to “bring glory to the Lord.” What I mean by this is, humans were created to “contain” and “express” God’s presence in the world. 

Don’t miss the importance of “contain” and “express” God’s presence in the world. We were not created to be something in and of ourselves. Jesus said in John 15:5, “without Me you can do nothing.” We were created to “express Someone-the Lord Jesus Christ.” This idea is clearly seen in Scripture as “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)

This idea concerning  “contain” and “express” has huge implications. For one, it takes the responsibility from us of always trying to “get better” and “self-improve” and causes us to relax and look for what the Lord is doing. Both “getting better and self-improvement are an impossibility and a sin. If humans could get better and improve self, Christ came and died for nothing (Gal. 2:21). For example, we tend to think, “I need to be more loving.” Well, did you know that God takes care of the loving more part in Christ Jesus? 1 John 4:8,16 says, “God is love.” These verses do not say, “God has love, but God is love. Grubb says, "If someone has a thing, it isn’t he himself." (N.P. Grubb, The Key to Everything) It is just something attached to him, like a coat or money in his pocket. The person just has it and can share some of what he has. However, Scripture doesn’t say that God has love, but God is love. 

Therefore, love must not be a thing I can have. Love must be a Person. God is love.  Love is an exclusive characteristic or attribute of God, and we humans will never have love apart from having God. Scripture goes further and declares that every believer has had the “love of God…poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:5) Do you see how God attaches love to the Person of the Holy Spirit? Love is not an item that is imparted into us apart from God so that you and I can, in ourselves, “be more loving.” Love is the Person of God living in the believer and manifesting and demonstrating his grace and kindness toward another person. We simply contain and express the Person of Love-God. As Col 3:14, we are to “put on love”. By faith, we choose to allow the Lord to lead us and express Himself in and through us. We are vessels who contain and express the very character, nature and attributes of God to the each other and the world. 

Prayer: Lord, as the Father loved in and through You, please love in and through me. By your grace, I choose to be a vessel today to manifest your love.

 

 

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 Over the last couple of months, I have been reading Tim Chester’s book “You Can Change”. In this work Chester posits four central ideas concerning the character of God. Today I would like to blog about the first of ideas with the goal of encouraging each of us to trust the Lord in all areas.

 Today’s point: God is great (and because He is great)- I don’t have to be in control. 

 Can we really trust that God is an omnipotent, sovereign, omnipresent and omniscient God?

 I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I think I am in control of the outcomes in my life.  Why? I know, at least humanly speaking, I will do what is “best” for me. However, Scripture is clear that only God truly knows what’s best for me. In fact, if you and I can name anything or anyone we are trying to control, including ourselves, we are in essence saying, “I am greater than God.” Many today trying to control their spouse, children, siblings, parents, friends, boyfriend, girl friend and the list goes on and on. However, this truth rings clear: God is great (and because He is great)- I don’t have to be in control. 

 Consider for a moment how great God is. God created this world by speaking it into existence. "Let there be..." Everything that we see and know was created with the spoken word of the Lord. The prophet Isaiah, in trying to put God’s greatness in anthropomorphic terms, states it as such:  

 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:12 NKJV)

 Consider the enormity of Isaiah’s statement by looking at the universe. 

  • Light travels at 186,000 miles per second.
  • At this speed, you could circle the earth 7xs and pass the moon in 2 seconds.
  • At 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 4.3 years to reach the nearest star.
  • At 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 100,000 years to cross our galaxy-The Milky Way.
  • IC 1101 is the largest Galaxy found to date. It is 60 times larger than our galaxy-The Milky Way and contains 100 Trillion stars.
  • It is believed that there are at least 100,000,000,000  (100 Trillion) Galaxies in the universe. 
  • At 186,000 miles per second, it would take 2,000,000 years to reach the closest galaxy.
  • At 186,000 miles per second, it would take 20,000,000 years to reach the closest cluster of galaxies.

 And when you get to the cluster of galaxies in 20,000,000 years, you would just be beginning to scratch the surface of God's marvelous creation. God created all this by speaking! God is great (and because He is great)- I don’t have to be in control

 My friends, if God can speak the universe into existence and “uphold all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3), surely he can control all the details of my life. The $64 million question is, “Will I trust in the veracity and integrity of God’s character?” Or, will I go around trying to control things and people. 

 May we all take the writer of Hebrews advice and rest in the greatness of God. 

 Hebrews 4:10 (HCSB)  10  For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. 

 

Grace and Peace to you!

 

 

 

Adapted From: Chester, Tim. “You Can Change.” Crossway, 2013. iBooks. 

 

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How many times have you gone to someone to deal with an offense only to not be able to deal with the issue at hand. The reason you cannot deal with the imminent issue is you are unable to focus on “one” issue at a time. Again, as stated in an earlier blog, instead of trying to bring resolution to the issues we face, many of us are more concerned about winning our argument than creating win/win situations for the parties involved. Thus, we posit our case by bring up every offense that comes to mind. Friends, this approach is counter-productive! Here is a word from Lifeskills that I believe will help us in this area.

 

“When we are arguing with someone significant in our life, it can be difficult to resist the urge to bring all of that person's shortcomings into the current argument. However, when we are attempting to resolve conflict, it is imperative that we stick to one issue at a time. If we begin to drag other issues in, it will inevitably take the focus off of the issue at hand, and nothing will be resolved.” 

 

Friends, let’s practice making a “conscious effort to stay on point and resolve one issue at a time!”

 

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1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV) 

7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  

In August my mother-in-law, Veratene Frazier, was hospitalized because of severe back pain symptoms. At the time, little did we know that she would be diagnosed with colon cancer that would rapidly spread through body and take her life in less than a month’s time. She will be laid to rest today. Veratene Frazier will be sorely missed!

As I have reflected over Vera’s life and her impact on hundreds of people, one theme has manifested. She loved God, loved her family, love the kids she taught, loved her church and loved life. In short, Vera was good at loving. She loved well!

 Many today use the word love in a flippant manner. I love cars, steaks, shoes, my house, my clothes, etc., etc. However, none of the above is an adequate handling of the word love. John Powell, in his book, Why I am Afraid to Love, gives an excellent definition of love. To summarize, Powell says that true love demand a “forgetfulness” of self for the purpose of bringing happiness and fulfillment to others. Powell notes that this forgetfulness can and often does include the foregoing of personal convenience and emotional satisfaction. As I read this, I came to the conclusion that this was my mother-in-law’s secret and the real legacy she left.

Additionally, as I juxtaposed my life with Vera’s I was suddenly struck with the fact that I need to humble myself and practice self-forgetfulness for the purpose of bringing a smile to the hearts of those whom I engage with on a daily basis. I need to do this even if it means forgoing of personal conveniences and emotional satisfaction. So, as of today, I offer myself up afresh to the Lord to love in and through me. I know that He will, for He is a God of love. All He needs is a willing vessel.

 

Prayer: I am willing Lord to be a lover; however, this can only happen by your grace.  Lord, any area of my life where there is the slightest hint of unwillingness, touch these areas and bring them into alignment with Your Spirit.

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For those who struggle with Anger, here is thought I learned from the folks at Life Skills:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Conflict-images.jpg

Anger is NEVER a primary emotion; it is always a secondary response to a primary emotion. We realize that we have been wounded or hurt and our expectation is not being met. We can learn to process the situation, our feelings, and our expectations, and then identify the reality of the situation versus our perception of the situation. Take responsibility for your triggers and learn to resolve conflict. The benefits are worth the effort! (Life Skills)

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Oftentimes what I feel collides with what I know and what I feel, more times than not, overrides what I know. What about you? Are you able to walk by faith-even when it calls for you to put your emotions in check? I sure hope so. Check out this Lifeskills moment. I hope it helps you.

What You KNOW Has to Override What You FEEL

After we have taken the initiative to… learn new skills and healthy behaviors, we have to realize that what we now know has to override what we feel.  This means that even though we feel really angry, we know that we are triggered and can take time to process the situation instead of lashing out. This means that even if we feel all alone and worthless, we know that we have tremendous value and it will not be like this forever. Remind yourself of what you know in difficult situations, or reach out for reality checks if necessary.(LifeSkills)  

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The Point:
In a conflict, there are no innocent parties.

James 4:1 (HCSB)  1  What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? 

James 4:1 says that we fight for our idols! The fight is really about what is going on deep down in our heart-our idols or “cravings"!

Referencing this idea of idols, Dr. Paul Tripp says that there is a pattern, and if you follow the pattern, starting from punishment, back up to desire, you can find the idol. Here is the pattern:
  • Desires that become demands;
  • Demands that become expectations;
  • Expectations that lead to disappointment;
  • Disappointment that invites my judgment of the person;
  • Judgment that justifies punishment (nasty treatment) of the person; and 
  • Punishment that destroys relationship.
 
Additionally, it's sad to say, but pride keeps us from owning our part in conflict. We are all culpable. We all have cravings that drive us to judge and punish the people who do not fall in line with what we crave! There has to be a better way. And, there is a better way. See if this Lifeskills moment speaks to you:
 
Dirty Fighting Technique:
 
When we use Blame we make it very clear that the fault lies entirely with the other person, and that we are an innocent victim.  We do not admit that our behavior plays any part in the problem.  We also have to make the other person realize that they must change first.  The truth is that we all have some part in every one of our problems, and that change must begin with us.  Try owning your piece of a problem and see how the dynamic changes! (Lifeskills)
 
Prayer:
Lord, help me to see and repent from my own idols/cravings. Grant me the grace to be honest concerning what is really driving me to fight: my desires, demands, expectations, disappointments, judgments and punishments. May I take all of the aforementioned off of people and place my desire on You. Be my desire Lord! In Jesus Name!
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How does one apply the "do not go to bed while you are angry" Scripture? "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Eph. 4:26, NIV) Are we, as a rule, to "Stay up all night and fight it it out"? William Congreve says, "Never go to bed angry, stay up and fight." Alternatively is there a higher principal at work here? Personally, I think there is a greater principle at work that calls for wisdom in handling conflict. In conflict, I believe you must acknowledge there is a problem, offer the hurt to The Lord and agree to discuss this matter when "the emotion dies down." (Preferably with the next 24-72 hours) Even then, the combatants must agree to use principals of communication and active listening rather than "let me tell you how wrong you were/are." Consider the following Lifeskills moment to see if there is any encouraging word present for you:


All Problems Have an ANSWER and Can Generally be RESOLVED Within 72 Hours
When a problematic situation occurs, we are often upset and anxious and lose our ability to see the situation clearly. This is when we need to take a step back and realize that all problems have an answer and we can take 72 hours to sit with the situation. If we give ourselves 72 hours, our adrenaline will come down and we will be able to spend time figuring out our feelings and how to best go about getting our needs met in a healthy way. The flip side of this is if we do not resolve the situation within 72 hours, it will turn into shame. (Lifeskills)
What do you think? What does Scripture teach concerning conflict?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Conflict-images.jpg

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I recently went through 40 hours of recertification with Peacemakers ministries for conflict coaching and mediation. I was reminded of the ways people handle conflict. Peacemakers teach that there are three ways handle conflict:

1. Escape Responses: 

      a. Denial

      b. Flight (run away)

      c. Suicide 

 

2. Attack Responses

      a. Assault

      b. Litigation

      c. Murder

 

3. Peacemaking Responses

      a. Overlook

      b. Reconciliation

      c. Mediation

      d. Arbitration

      e. Accountability

 

The desired way to handle conflict is #3-the Peacemaking response. Matthew 5:9 (NKJV) says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” 

I do not know about you, but conflict is difficult for me. It makes me want to run. Frankly, I hate the pain of any type of conflict! However, Christians are called by the Lord to stay engaged in the relationship and deal with the conflict. Oh, this is hard! Nevertheless, Scripture is clear, conflict provides an opportunity to glorify God, serve others, and is a means God uses to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; James 1:2-4).

How do you handle conflict? If you would like to weigh in on the subject or you want me to discuss this matter further (especially the 3 conflict responses) or another subject, respond and let’s have a conversation.

 

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Anybody Angry?

Nowadays it appears that almost everybody's angry. Angry at husbands, angry at wives, angry at children, angry at employers, and angry at employees, angry at the government, angry at mom, angry at dad, angry at siblings, and you maybe even be angry with your self!

 

New Living Translation

And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry,

 

Here our (Lifeskills) moment:

Anger is complex and can be confusing.  We are often taught as children that nice little boys and girls don't get angry.  The truth is that anger is normal and appropriate.  Anger is a source of discovery.  It lets us know that something is going on that isn't right.  When we can learn to trust our feelings, we can use anger assertively and get our needs met.  When we are careful not to turn anger inward or use it aggressively, anger is a gift.  You can learn skills that will take you to the source of your anger and work it out!

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What’s Your Motivation?

 

Why you do what you do (motivation) is very important in the kingdom of God.  Today we seem to be dealing with a lot of people who operate from a WIIFM principal.  WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” When joining the church, they ask “What’s In It For Me?” Does the children’s ministry, youth ministry, praise and worship, size, racial makeup, singles ministry, couples ministry, etc. meet my needs?  A friend of mind, whose church is geared to ministering to children and youth, told me a few weeks ago about how many families come to him and say the following, “This church has been great over the years of ministering to my children.  They were saved, baptized and discipled here. However, now they have graduated and are in college. It is time for my spouse and I move on and go to a church that focuses on ministering to us as a couple. “ Is anything wrong with that mindset?  I think so.  It is a “WIIFM” approach that the western church is pregnant with.

 

What ever happened to doing things because God wants you to do it?  Whatever happened to joining a church because God wants to use you to build up a children’s or youth or worship or outreach ministry? Isn’t this the right motivation, what God wants? It certainly is, if we want to receive eternal dividends. 

 

The Lord says concerning leaders, “To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition.” (1 Timothy 3:1 NEB)  There is such a thing as an honorable, godly ambition.  This is in contrast to worldly ambition (WIIFM).  Paul wrote this when to be a leader “costed” you something. The leaders just didn’t embrace the positions from a WIIFM perspective because to be associated with the church in leadership meant hardship, contempt, rejection, abuse, and in some cases—death.  It wasn’t about prestige or comfort or any other self-seeking ambition.

 

My encouragement to all Christians today is to check your motives. Do the right thing for the right reasons.  Remember the Lord is calling us to be disciples and to make disciples.  He is not calling us to a life of comfort and WIIFM.  He is calling us to follow Him and allow Him to live His life in and through us.  So, let’s let WIIFM go and embrace WIIFG (What’s in it for God).  In the end, I think we will be fulfilled because we are doing the will of God.  And, we will get our needs met from the Lord.

 

Thanks for allowing me sharing a few thoughts with you!

 

Pastor Reggie

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One of Satan’s oldest tricks is to get Christians to work for what the Lord has already given us.  Satan basically told Eve that God was holding out on them, and she had to do something to be like God.  Well, it was a lie.  She was already like God.  The Lord had breathed his life in them.  They were created in the Lord’s image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26-27).  Therefore, they didn’t need to “do something.” They needed to “believe something!” 

Scriptures tell us in Paul’s letters to the Romans that it’s really about right believing:

          Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)

          16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

          17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The  just shall live by faith."

 Notice the text didn’t say, “to everyone who behaves.”  It says to everyone who believes.  The main issue really is, am I standing on God’s promises or my performance (behavior).  This is important because God honors our faith. 

Paul continues on the importance of right believing in letter to the gentile Galatians.  The Judiazers came in and said they need to do certain behaviors to be right and stay right with God.  Paul corrects this error.  Listen closely:

           Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? 

          Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could  complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? ... 

           Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him  to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.” (Galatians 3:2-8 MSG)

 

Paul's argument is: the only way to get right and stay right and live for the Lord is simple trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross, apart from any human effort.

 Jesus plus nothing: (not bible reading, not giving, not serving, not witnessing, not coming to the altar, not keeping the 10 Commandment,)

 We don't have to do any of these things to get right or stay right with The Lord.  However, we "get to do" these things because of  what the Lord has done to us and in us.  These things are the fruit of right believing.

 So, are you trusting in God’s promises or your behavior? 

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