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Sky Links, 12-30-13

The journey is harder and more rewarding than you thought it would be

Alison Brown, writes:

“10 Steps to Freedom” or “5 Ways to Instant Maturity” are popular paths dependent on someone else’s revelation and my self-help prowess.  Wide at the beginning, they quickly become dead ends.

The Road Less Traveled is where we can settle for nothing less than our personal encounter with God when we are challenged or pressed.  We want to know God in this place for ourselves and discover who He is passionate about being for us now. It’s a toll road, but pay the price gladly.
.No Neon Signs Along The Road Less Traveled, by Allison Brown.


Calling


Have you been called?  Are you called?  What is calling, anyways?  I have been asking this question and pondering it for a very long time.  Mathew Schuler wrote:
For me, the concept of “calling” can quickly warp relationships by imposing a power structure that diminishes one party and exonerates the other...
...So am I “called?” I would say I am beingc…

Happy People Know The Shout For Joy

The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy!
They walk in the light of your presence, Lord!
-Psalm, 89:15

Happy people know the shout for joy.  "Blessed are they that know the joyful sound" is how the New King James Bible says it.  I have known the song that says this for years, but I did not know that it meant more than enthusiastic singing.  In the translation I use, the Common English Bible, it says, "celebratory shout".  Happy are the people who know the celebratory shout.

I was wondering what this joyful sound was, that the psalmist had in mind.  We might assume that he meant the sound of voices praising God.  That seems like a good answer and that is what I assumed for these past 25 years.  Thank God, for a newer translation, that tries to get closer to the original language's meaning.

The NIV Bible version has been pretty popular, and it says, in Psalm 89:15, "blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you".  Even though I use the…

Happy People

“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.
“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.
“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me.  Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.
-Matthew 5:3-12

Do you want to know who the happy people are?  Happy people are …

Contrapunctus - Counterpoint - Singing Your Part

We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function.  In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.  We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us.
-Romans 12:4-6a

Did you know that you are music that is meant to be sung?  Did you know that your life contains a specific gift or destiny for you to uniquely minister or serve?

God has a creative voice that speaks out into every place.  God has also given each person a creative gift or voice.  When we express our gift, sing with our voice, or operate in our special gift, we voice something that is interdependent harmonically, but independent in rhythm and contour.

Interdependent means that you are aware of others, you take your turn, and you are a team player.  Independent means that you have your own goals you are going for, you express your uniqueness, and maintain your individuality.

Contrapunctus m…

Joseph's Story

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly.  As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
-Matthew 1:18-21

Joseph's story is a smaller story within the bigger story of God's story, His story, the story of Jesus birth.  Joseph is a credible witness of Jesus birth.  We have already learned that Joseph was a righteous man, who displayed God's kindness and wisdom in his life.

In his righteousness, Joseph was deciding what to do.  He was a sensible man, a…

Joseph, The Righteous Man

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly.
-Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary, when she told him that she was pregnant.  She told him something that didn't make sense.  She told him that she had not had another man in her life, but that she was visited by an angel, who told her that God would cause her to be pregnant, in a miraculous way. 

We do not know how Joseph judged Mary's account of how she became pregnant.  What we do know is how he responded to this crisis.  He responded with mercy and honor in a righteous way.

Joseph's betrothal to Mary was a more serious  matter than engagements of couples today.  In today's language, Joseph was already Mary's husband, while Mary remained at her father…

Jesus' Prayer Request

“I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours.
-John 17:9

It is astonishing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would humbly ask a request of his Father for you and me.  Today, that is just what Jesus is doing.  He is praying for us.  Jesus is asking God on behalf of you and me.

If you can let that sink in, it seems to me that we would want to know just what he is praying for us and pray with him.  What is it?  Do you think that each of us can go to God and ask God, "what it is that Jesus is praying for us, for me, because I want to pray that same prayer to you".

I believe that the Father listens to Jesus' prayers.  I also believe that Jesus is wise and would know what to pray for me.  Maybe what Jesus is praying is so deep that only my spirit and can receive what it is a pray that back to God.

When Jesus' life, before being executed on the cross, was coming to an end, he prayed.  He prayed a lot for his …

Insights For Living

You are what you eat and what you focus on or give yourself to is what you become.Your destiny is hidden in your daily routine.What you say is what you are.You can understand your life with your mind by looking backwards, but life can only be lived looking forwards with eyes of faith, hope, and love.We are designed to worship

A life of bad eating leads to poor health and a chance of earlier death.  There is also a spiritual principle that what we behold we become.  If you behold Christ, you will become like him.  I know it is not enough to just look, but by looking at Jesus we hear him and obey him, imitate him, and have his nature imparted to us and are transformed; which is the Christian life or "Christ-i-an".

There is nothing wrong with many things in life like work, hobbies, creative interests, and important relationships; but if any of these becomes what we are living for, they will take over.  We were designed by God as creatures that worship Him in relationship to hi…

Sky Links, 12-7-13

In God’s wisdom, he determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. Instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching.
-1 Cor. 1:21


I love what Paul Pastor wrote about preaching is his article, Have We Forgotten the "Foolishness of Preaching"  Paul asked if preachers today are raising up a church of gnostics, who take pride in hidden knowledge while avoiding transformation and Jesus' mission.

Paul wrote:
"I am weekly in danger of forgetting the “folly of preaching”, not through rejecting a deeper understanding of scripture, but by allowing that Teaching to usurp the place of my Teacher. The lines that determine where that process sours are beyond me right now, but somehow I set my mind on wisdom, and miss the Wise One.
As I think back, some of the worst sermons I’ve ever heard in my life ended up changing my heart, because in some nearly intangible way, they connected me to Jesus." That pic…

Breakthrough Is Preceded By Breakdown & Breakout

Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.-James 1:4

I have learned that breakthrough comes through breakdown and breakout..  The kingdom of God is paradoxical compared to the world.  To become big, you must become small; and to live you must die.

People who want a break through, but are refusing to have a break down, never break out.  The Christian life is a life of transformation.  To be transformed, you have to give up something and leave it behind. 

A nervous breakdown is when someone falls to pieces.  A breakdown in God is when we put our sinful nature to death,
So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  The wrath of God is coming upon disobedient people because of these things.  You used to live this way, when you were alive to these things.  But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice…

The Power of High Praise

Sing to God, play music to his name, build a road for the Rider of the Clouds, rejoice in Yahweh, dance before him.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Sing hymns to God; all heaven, sing out; clear the way for the coming of Cloud-Rider.
Enjoy God, cheer when you see him!-Psalm 38:4 (Jerusalem Bible, ESV, MSG)


When we praise the Lord, we are making a way for him.  When we worship God, we are opening a door for God to walk through.  Singing to the Lord invokes the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.

God is a covenant God.  God only does things in partnership with his children.  When we praise God, we are welcoming him to come and set things in right order on the earth.

When we sing praises to God, we are making a highway for him to come down into the earth on.  We are removing anything that would obstruct God's coming.  There is a time to repent for what we and our people have done to s…

God Notes

The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
-John 10:10

God is positive.

God is optimistic.  God is a "glass half full" person.  God sees the best in people- what they could be with grace.  God is hopeful and merciful.

God's love is relentless and crazy(1) by human standards.  One poet described God's relentless love as "the hound of heaven".

What are you thinking?

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. -Philippians 4:8That's life!

"I have come that you might have life", and, "I am the life", Jesus said.  Are you getting his life?  Do you have it?  He came to give us a life.  The Christian's life is life in Christ.    Go …

Stressed Out?

“Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest.
-Isaiah 55:1-3

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

Halt.  Stop.  Stop it.  Freeze.  Before you take a negative thought, before you say something negative, and before you beat yourself or someone else up... just halt.  Hey there, ho!  Can you hear me?  You look tired, thirsty, hungry, and lonely.  God sees you and so do I.

W…

Before You Call, I Will Answer

Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
-Isaiah 65:24 (CEB, NLB)

Did you know that God is waiting or standing in your future, anticipating your needs and waiting for you?  We don't make God aware of something, so that he can help us.  He already knows and has the answer before we ask, before we seek him.

If our whole life is about walking with God and being discipled by Jesus, then we can expect all our needs to be met.  Instead of being far off from God and crying out for vision, we are close to God and have provision.  In every situation, we can expect provision.  In every providence, God is provider.

God knows when you are going to have a bad day and places provision in that day and time.  You don't see it or recognize it, before you need it.  God is already catching you, with arms held out, when you sta…

Oikos: Baptism, Family, and House

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
-Acts 2:39

Oikos baptism

Oikos (household) evangelism, led to household baptisms in the book of Acts.  The father got saved and the whole household (wife, children, and perhaps servants) got baptized.  Nothing in the text indicates that the father carefully led each of his family members to Christ before they were baptized.  As far as we know, all of these family members were baptized just as infants are today, in some of our denominational traditions, before they understood the gospel messege and have repented and believed.  Read the story in Acts 16.

Household baptisms also occurred on the day of Pentecost.  Read Acts 2:36-40:
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Je…

Oikos: Spiritual House & Household Evangelism

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

 -1 Peter 2:5, Hebrews 3:6 (NIV)

Spiritual house

"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house..."  Peter tells us that we, as Christians are God's new temple.  We are not the stone blocks.  Wayne Grudem wrote about the meaning of Oikos in 1 Peter 3:5, stating that the spiritual house is,
"an amorphous 'building' that continually takes on the changing dimensions of God's assembled people.
Spiritual (pneumatikos) when applied to 'house' and 'sacrifices' does not mean 'immaterial' (for the believers are not immaterial persons!), but rather 'influenced or dominated by the Holy Sirit; sha…

Oikos: Household

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.-1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)

House 

Your house, my house, the house of God.  We say, "in the house", to mean dwell.  Before the church, the Bible's writers referred to the temple as God's house (Isaiah 2:3).  Even Jesus used that language, referring to the temple (Matt. 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46).

After Jesus rose from the dead and the day of Pentecost,  when the church was born, a shift took place.  The house of God, or the dwelling place of God was no longer the temple in Jerusalem, but was now the people who are in Christ.

Rather than being a fixed place, location, or house; the dwelling place of God was and is now super-portable.  The people of God are now the house or temple of God.  We no longer go to a place where God dwells, but God dwells with each one of us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When the churc…

Get Yourself Free

Get yourself free like a gazelle from a hunter, like a bird from the hand of a fowler.
-Proverbs 6:5

As Christians we are set free to live in freedom.  "It is for freedom that he has set us free".  Jesus paid the price and now we have to live the life... with God's help and the help of others.

We don't save our selves but we steward the salvation God has given us.  Viktor Frankl, who survived a concentration camp, during World War Two, said that freedom is the choice we make after something happens to us.  He set us free so that we would be free to make good choices with how we live, talk, and think.

When something negative happens, like a disappointment or an offense or a loss; we get to choose, will we go negative and grouse, murmur, pout, wine, and grumble?  Or will we exercise faith and focus on God, what can be, and find the silver lining in the dark cloud, or make lemonade out of the sour situation?  Freedom gives us that choice every day.

When we are in a neg…

Renewing Your Love

Dear friends, I’m not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the message you heard.
-1 John 2:7

If you are wanting to mature in Christ and get closer to God, to live the life; you might be searching for the deeper things, the deeper teachings, or the deeper knowledge.  There are dozens of things you might do, which I will not list.  Most of them are dead ends.

Only Jesus himself is the way, the truth and the life.  The essence of the Christian life is the person of Jesus Christ.  It is personal.  Do you as a person know him as a person?  

To find out what the Christian is all about, we have to look at where we came from.  What birthed Christianity?  Christ birthed Christianity, but where did Christ come from and how did Christ happen and what was Christ all about?  In other words, what was the motivation of Christ or God in Christ?

If the Christian is part of a family, referred to as friends or beloved: brothers, s…

Many Thoughts, Many Cares

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
How amazing are your thoughts concerning me! I couldn’t even begin to count them.

-Psalm 94:19 & 139:17

I was thinking about thoughts and worries or cares.  Some translations do a play on words for 1 Peter 5:7, stating, "cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you."  Simply stated, the only way to live the life is in and through Christ.  We must interact with Christ to live the life.  That's discipleship.

If you've got worries or negative thoughts, your antidote or medicine is God's thoughts: specifically, God's thoughts concerning you.  He loves you.

So, if you have a bad thought; take another thought, from God.  It is that simple.
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so... So, if I get it that he loves me, then how does that change my thoughts?

Healing or memories and transformation happens from taking another thought.  The light of God's thoughts changes the a…

Sky Links, 10-27

All things are from him and through him and for him.
May the glory be to him forever. Amen.
-Romans 11:36





These are a few of the interesting things I read over the past two or 3 weeks:

Have you heard about food allergies, wheat allergies, or gluten intolerance in particular?  I started hearing about these allergies about nine years ago.  So, what about bread in the Bible?  Luke Gilkerson wrote on Is Gluten-Free Biblical?.  One take-away is that today's wheat is not the same as in the Bible.


I remember in High School, that we had an assembly where a lady came and told us her story about going through World War Two in Europe.  We who have been born in the USA and never known anything else, don't really know what it would be like to live under a totalitarian government.  It is interesting that before Nazi Germany, Germany was a democracy and Hitler was democratically elected.

Kitty Werthmann lived in Austria during the time of Nazi Germany.  Her country was taken over by Germany,…