Sky Links, 7-30-16

Photo by longboard CC 2.0
Here we go...

Busy, busy, busy.

 Business is an issue and a detrimental problem I see.  If you are a very busy person, you may not see the down-side of business.  I believe, or it is my opinion that, a busy life, overstuffed with too many activities and responsibilities, is a shallow life, that yields diminished returns.

And, some pastors are way too busy, and way over-worked, because 'the job description' is way too wide and frankly inhumane.  Everybody loses: the minister, their spouse, their children, and the ministry.

This is why I want to share this article by Tim Suttle, The Importance of Disappointing Your Congregation, where Tim reflects on the words of Eugene Petersen, about 'unbusying yourself':
Peterson’s probing question is essentially this: If I was not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what would I actually do as a pastor?

His answer is quite simple: pray, preach, and listen. The pastor must be a person who prays, which takes disciplined hours of time set-aside to engage with God. We cannot pray if we are busy. The pastor must be a person who preaches, stewarding the pulpit faithfully by speaking the language of the scriptures into our present day context in creative and compelling ways. We cannot preach if we are busy. The pastor must be a person who listens, spending time with the congregation over coffee and meals, learning about their lives and bearing witness to their struggle. We cannot listen if we are busy.
Busyness is the enemy of the pastoral vocation.
The problem is that, as Peterson says, if we decide to become an Unbusy pastor we will become a huge disappointment to many people in our congregations.
I believe these principals also apply to folks who are bi-vocational or who are 'great commission Christians' , who are trying to be on mission in their lives and use the gifts God has given them.  Your 'pulpit' is the place you have in your life to speak the word.  What if prayer, listening, and then speaking carefully when it is our turn were the main things for all ministers?

Suttle quotes Petersen as saying that we are too busy in life, because we are both vain and lazy.
I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important. 
I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself.
In a nut-shell, this means that we think we are more important than we really are and we let others or the waves of life overwhelm us, because we are too lazy to set boundaries and have priorities.  The paradox is that lazy people can be workaholics, and the laziness is in the compulsive, lack of self-control and boundaries.  In other words, the lazy one lacks discipline, and so their schedule is out of control and they beholden to all instead of God and themselves.


You Are Irrelevant

Somewhere I saw this quote, from Henri Nouwen:
I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.  (In the Name of Jesus, 1989)

Apostle Paul's Surprising Word About How You Should Live Your Christian Life

Chaplain Mike, wrote on Paul's words about the simple and normal Christian life in, Another Look: Paul's Disappointing Approach to the Christian Life:
In today’s church, we might have expected Paul to exhort us about being more involved in the life of the congregation.
 After all, how can your love for others grow if you are not participating with them in the fellowship of the church? Are you attending church regularly? Are you in a Bible study, learning God’s Word with others? Are you in a small group, sharing your life and praying with others? Do you have an accountability group to help you keep your motives and actions in check, so that you are staying pure and living a life of holy love? Are you actively partnering with others in Kingdom service? Paul does not point out any of these things.
Paul’s encouragement, instead, must seem remarkably lackluster and ordinary from the point of view of those who invest so much in spiritual engineering and technology, motivational methods, and churchianity.
"Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your

hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others."
There it is, friends:
Live a quiet life.
Mind your own business.
Work with your hands.  
The best way to show Christian love to others? It almost sounds like a prescription for a small, selfish life! Yet this is how the Apostle, by divine inspiration, encourages us to live.
Paul commends a life that is the very opposite of activist churchianity.
Instead, he advocates the way of Christian vocation — Walk humbly and quietly with God.



What Are You Looking For?

 I was struck by this post from Greg Crawford:
What are you looking for as you surf endlessly through all the Face Book posts? Is this where you think you will find God? Is this the place that holds your answers? We waste so much time trying to find revelation in the wrong places...
Later, he writes:
What are you looking for? If you’re looking for awakening, then what exactly does awakening look like? How do we know we have found it? Because what we see sure isn’t producing the shift in hearts we desire...
And he says:
I’m not looking for what we are currently calling fivefold, awakening, revival, or whatever tag that has to be the center piece of attention but the Lordship of Christ would put all such nonsense into an eternal grave and resurrect a people who are under Lordship’s power first in their heart. I’m looking for competition to be replaced with esteem and honor. I’m looking for national prophets to carry a true national word. I’m looking for apostles to be allowed to function so we can sort out the mess and find the true apostles. I’m look for real sons and daughters willing to walk a journey in life together with a spiritual father and willing to pay the price to do so. I’m looking for the foolishness of being “spiritual” to cease as an excuse for a person’s unwillingness to change or hear truth. I’m looking for messages that come from heaven not the Internet, Google, books, etc. that shakes the unredeemed portion in believers’ lives to step into light and out of the darkness.
What are YOU looking for?  Read, What are you looking for? by Greg Crawford.



Have You Had Your Pharisectomy?

Here is a post, called A Pharisectomy In Progress, with the testimony of a lady named Julie, who is in the throes of change, transition, and transformation in her life in Christ.  Her story illustrates some of what this death and resurrection is like for many people today, as you will also read in the interaction in the comments section, if you follow the link below:
I too am a recovering Pharisee. I was really good at it. I was an ultimate performer and striver as I exerted my strong will to be the best of the best for 21 years. I grew up in the church, I heard all the stories on flannel graph, memorized the scriptures, learned the books of the Bible. I was studious to the point that I did 2 Beth Moore Bible studies at one for fear I would miss something. I was going to KNOW God.
I have been coming out of that for a few years now.. and I see so much wrong I believed. I now understand that I am crucified with Christ and that I no longer live. I have absolutely no desire to prove anything anymore. That has been stripped from me. I have no desire to perform or strive. I haven’t been in “church” for five years and I have no desire to go back and sit under sermons that try to mix the old with the new. I have a great deal of exposure into this new covenant living and am soaking it up. I now know it is all about Christ living in me and what Christ did and has done and will do through me. I know it is not my life but His in me interwoven together as one.
I want to believe I am currently in a transition phase… that the dark night is just before the dawn. I feel so very lost and uncertain. I have dropped everything I used to do—journaling, praying, reading the Bible, attending church, and writing (a great love of mine). In the midst of this I find myself feeling so very gutted to the point that it feels hard to know who I am.
Wayne's response begins with this:
If I could say one word to you, Julie, it would be relax! Your mind is racing a hundred directions right now worried about outcomes you can’t possibly see at this point. I know it is scary. I know it is incredibly disorienting to move out of a religious framework and go on a better journey. All your perceptions are set on an old paradigm and as that shifts this kind of season is incredibly normal.
Read, A Pharisectomy in Progress, at findingchurch.com, with Wayne Jacobsen.


Pars, Birdies, & Eagles

What Attracts People Into The Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement?, Roger E. Olson

An imbalanced and woefully incomplete description of pastoral ministry,  Chaplain Mike


You're My Best friend


This is my love, and this is my friend.
-Song 5:16

Who is your best friend?  I have had many best friends in my life, beginning with my brother.  I have  thoroughly enjoyed my friends.

Today my best friend is my wife.


Friendship

Friendship in the Bible is defined as an affection and love between two people.  The affection begins with association:  he/she is a associate.  This then progresses into loyalty: a bond forms wherein that person becomes a part of your life, a special person to you that you care about, do things for & with, and spend time with.  Finally, this can progress to having an affectionate bond between us.

We can be friendly to everyone and there are people who are so friendly, that we say that they are "everyone's friend".  But friendship comes about through mutuality: both people have to desire friendship with the other, for a bond of friendship to come about.  It is like dating: one invites and the other responds or chooses not to and a friendship begins or continues, or it does not.

We have times when there is not mutuality and a friendship does not grow.  Also, it is notable that the majority of friendships fade or end.  The association that brought you together might change or end; and you realize that the loyal bond was based on that original association.  When the association ends or changes, the loyalty weakens, and the affection fades; and "a best friend" shifts to being just "a friend" and might go out of focus completely, transitioning to "a former close friend" that we eventually become estranged from.

Estrangement

A stranger is someone you don't know and estrangement is when you transition from close to distant or friend to stranger.  Many of us can recall people we used to speak with every day or very often, to who we have not spoken or seen for a year or a decade or decades.  We usually do not have a "going away party" and have a last goodbye with a best friend, but instead a shift happens and the friendship changes and fades.

Friendshifts

Friendships shift and are often lost when associations change.  Another dimension that affects association is that we outgrow certain friendships.  If the friendship was centered around something you have outgrown, but your friend still lives there, it might be hard to relate.

We are all designed to grow and we mostly grow at different rates and in different ways.  A friendship's association may be very good in that we are both growing and encouraging one another, or one of us may be ahead of the other and in a mentoring role that is enjoyed by both of us.  But eventually there is a state where it is not 'working'.  

If the friendship was heavily based on the association and possibly the loyalty that was garnered out of the mutual enjoyment and the association shifts, then the the friendship must shift or die.  The shift is into just enjoying one another's company.  This is hard when the roots and the history of that friendship were always that previous association.

An example might be becoming friends in a transitional, and perhaps crisis laden time of your life.  When the crisis is past, can we still be friends?  The friendship will have to shift into the unconditional love of just enjoying another's company and sharing life together.

General, Special, and Best Friends

We can generally address people as friends, because we want to be friendly and associated with them.  When I give a speech, I might say, "friends, family, and loved ones", and I am calling out associations that people in my audience have with one another.  But when I speak, and say to an audience, of whom are many strangers to me, "friend...", I am speaking to them as an acquaintance/associate.

We can call many people friends, because there is an association there.  We might introduce someone as our "new friend", meaning that we just met because of some association.  But, these are not close friends or best friends; although they have that possibility of becoming one.

Bad Friends

Jesus called Judas, "friend".  When we hear that scene, we might gasp, because Judas is betraying him.  Have you ever been betrayed, by a friend?

Betrayal usually only happens among friends, because the association is the doorway, and the more loyalty and affection that previously existed, the deeper and more painful that betrayal is.  Betrayal is real and it hurts.

Other pitfalls in friendship are when 'friends' are really 'fake friends', people pretending to be your friend, perhaps for some ulterior motive, but they are really not your friend.  Someone who really is your true friend, might intervene and strongly encourage you, saying, "____ is not your friend!"

Friendships are tarnished when we loan a friend money and they do not or can not pay it back.  Friendships are ruined when we gossip about a friend.  Friendships are weakened when we do not show loyalty and affection for a friend when they are wounded in life.  We call people "fair weather friends", who are only around when things are fun and easy.

Jesus' Definition of Best Friend

Jesus said that the highest form of friendship is when we lay our lives down for our friends (John 15).  He said that we demonstrate that we are his friends when we are obedient to his commands.  He invites us all into a friendship, where we serve him and know him.

Best Friends in Marriage

Now, what about friendship in marriage?  Is your spouse supposed to be your best friend, or does marriage surpass and glide above friendship?  Can you have that exclusive romantic relationship with your spouse and have them be your best friend, and does that mean that we can be missing something if we don't have a best friendship with our wife or husband?

In the Bible, we have this verse, Song of Solomon 5:16, that is a statement that makes the suggestion that there is the possibility of being in a relationship filled with adoration, romantic love, unabashed sexual feelings that desire fulfillment, and authentic friendship.
His mouth is sweetness. He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem.
Do we dismiss this as part of the starry-eyed infatuation that this woman is experiencing, or embrace it as a bold fact, that breaks new ground for lovers, and is divinely inspired scripture revealing to us the depths of a relationship between a woman and a man who have become a couple?

Do we exclusively interpret this verse and the whole of this book as an allegory of God's or Christ's love for his people?  No.

I believe that it is both.  The relationship between a man and a woman is actually a reflection of God's love for his people.

This Hebrew word here for friend,  "rea", רֵ֫עַ, ("ray'-ah"), falls into the Biblical definition of association, companionship, neighbor, fellowship, another, and friend.  And in the Bible, the word neighbor is much richer than we often use it and has to do with community and relationship; rather than houses, condos, apartments, property lines, walls, fences, and stick figures of people we really don't know and might wave at, as we drive by, with our car's windows up.

The Context Usually Defines The Depth of a Friendship

Friendship in the Bible, is pretty much defined by the larger context.  I can say that Peter, James, and John were Jesus' best friends; because of the extra time and experiences they had with him.

John was Jesus' very best friend, because of how John identifies himself as, "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  John displayed special affection for Jesus, and was a bit more loyal than the others, when Jesus suffered on the cross.  And Jesus asked John to take care of his mom, when he was dying.

In the context of The Song of Solomon, with all the adoration, respect, romance, and sexuality expressed through the larger story; this lady exclaims, "And he is my friend!"  To me, this implies that two people can have a good marriage, but lack the best friendship.  And I think it was that way then and is that way now.  Friendship is the great "And" in a marriage.

Some quotes and notes on this revelation from three theologians:

  • Friendship goes far deeper goes than mere sexual compatibility and excitement.  Happy is the husband or wife whose spouse is also a friend. -G. LLoyd Carr
  • The Song of Solomon is unabashedly erotic. Yet it is never satisfied to be content with the physical alone. A normal person finds the erotic ultimately meaningful only if there is trust and commitment, delight in the other's person as well as in their body. The writer of the Song understands this. Our hero is her lover, but he is more: he is her friend. -D. F. Kinlaw
  • With this ringing declaration the woman expresses not only her love and commitment but the depth of their relationship.  Her beloved is not any man whom she finds desirable - he is her friend.  This speaks of an intimacy and a sharing, an engagement that goes beyond and yet is expressed by physical closeness.  Certainly, there is intimate friendship manifested as erotic passion at work, but the passion arises out of deep love, understanding and commitment to the other.  The love is entirely mutual, the love of two equals:                                                                                                                                        "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine ..." (6:3)                                                                                                                                                                                         We have here no idea of female subservience to the male, but two equal human beings who have found true love.  -Peter Vardy

My love and my friend

I have had many dear best friends, starting with my very special brother.  And it is my goal and passion to be a friend of God and like John, Jesus' best friend.  But it is also my great desire and joy, to be best friends with my wife.  I want to adore her, romance her, respect her, support her, champion her, mentor her, protect her, affirm her, facilitate her, sacrificially love her, and be her best friend.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My Best Friend, by John Deacon (Queen)

Ooh you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me
It's you you're all I see
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live
Ooh you're the best friend that I ever had
I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you're my best friend

Ooh you make me live

Ooh I've been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You've stood by me girl
I'm happy at home
You're my best friend

Ooh you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live

You're the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I'll never be lonely
You're my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
Ooh you're my best friend

Ooh you make me live

I'm happy at home
You're my best friend
Oh you're my best friend
Ooh you make me live
You're my best friend





_______________________________
Bibliography:  

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1:254-60
C.S. Lewis: The Four Loves
Jacalyn Eyre, Faithfulness: The Foundation of True Friendship
G. Lloyd Carr, Song of Solomon
D. F. Kinlaw, Song of Solomon
P. Vardy, The Puzzle of Sex

When God Moves Against The Enemy It is Revival Time

For the worship leader.  A song of David.

O True God, hear my voice! 
  • Listen to my complaint!
Guard my life; 
  • keep me safe from my enemy’s threats.
Hide me from the sinful circle that conspires against me,
  • from the band of rebels out to make trouble,
  • Who sharpen their tongues into swords, 
  • who take aim with poisonous words like arrows.
  • They hide in the shadows and shoot at the innocent; 
  • they shoot at them without warning and without any fear.
  • They persist in their evil purpose and plan in secret to lay their traps. 
  • And they say, “Who will see them?”
  • They plot their offense with precision and say, 
    • “Now we have the perfect crime.”
The human heart and mind are deep and complex.

But without hesitation the True God will shoot at them;
  • His arrow will surely wound them.
  • He will use their very own words to bring them to destruction;
    • all who see will be appalled at what happens to them.
Then everyone will fear the True God; 
  • they will proclaim His deeds
  • and will reflect upon all He has done.
The righteous will delight in the Eternal
  • and will take shelter in Him.
All those with an honest heart will glorify Him!

-Psalm 64 (VOICE, verse 9 in bold)



We Are Living in a War

There are times when God moves against the enemy, against the enemy's works in the earth, in people who are agents of the enemy and enemies of Christ and the followers of Christ.  We are living in the midst of a war, between God and Satan, on earth.  Satan is infinitely weaker than God, but through the fall of mankind and the not yet restoration of humanity, the enemy and his forces wreak havoc in the earth world.

The enemy works in hiddenness.

In Psalm 64, David is crying out to God against his enemies.  Hiddenness is a theme.  He asks to be hidden from them and then he goes into detail about their sins they do in hiddenness.  Then he proclaims that God will suddenly unveil their hidden machinations.

Things like conspiracy, treason, insurrection, plots and plans, lies and deceptions are brought to light.  This is like an embezzler being exposed as a fraud and a thief.  God is against or at war with the works of the enemy in people's lives who have sided against God and God's people.

We do not celebrate when people fall or face disciplinary action.

When a person, who has become our enemy, who is living in sin, is exposed; our reaction is important.  We do not celebrate when our enemy falls, nor do we rejoice when they trip up (Prov. 24:17).  We are not permitted or commissioned to mete judgement on others through celebrating their demise (Prov. 24:18), like the fallen world does (Rev. 11:10).

Getting revenge on the enemy through living in grace, spreading the good news, and setting others free; is a whole different thing than celebrating other human's demise, exposure, or misfortune.  We should live and do justice, loving mercy and kindness, walking with God, in humility (Micah 6:8).  This is the Romans 12:1 life of worship, in continual thankfulness to God; where prideful gloating has no place.

We are worshipers who belong to God.

The proper response to the exposure of the enemy's work in people is authentic worship: yielding to the sweeping fear of God, proclaiming what God has done, and living in awe of God.  Psalm 64:9 reads:
Then everyone will fear the True God.
They will proclaim His deeds.
And will reflect upon what He has done.


Everyone 

The exposure of the enemy's work is not a private matter.  To me, this sounds like revival. Not renewal, but revival. Revival happens outside the church. I believe 'everyone' means 'all people'.

It does not say "my family will", or "my tribe will", or even "my people will", but "everyone will". David could have even just made it plural, meaning more that one, and written, "people will", but he wrote, "everyone".

Everyone will fear God. I looked up the Hebrew word here for everyone, and it means all, the whole of, or every. When this thing happens, where God ambushes the enemy, it will be seen by all, and everyone will get it that God did it and fear or honor God.

You don't have to advertise a fire.

The next point is that all the people will proclaim God's deeds. This is called "word of mouth advertising". It is the most effective advertising and it is free.

When we are advertised to, the advertiser always has to get past our skepticism or cynicism. Half truths and lies are unfortunately more common that truth, in the world. We have juries in court, who hear cases and try to find what is true; and as we try to figure out if something is true or not, we say, "the jury is still out on that one".

But in this case, when God moves, to drive out and drive back the enemy; it is clearly, inexplicably true to all.  And all the people will broadcast this truth of the act of God, against the enemy.  Everyone will go and tell people they know, to whom they are credible witnesses, what God has done.

The Authentic Fear of God Because God is Real


Those who had none or not much fear of God, will suddenly realize God is real and fear him reverentially, and will announce what they saw and experienced to those they come into contact with.

Perhaps the "all" or "everyone", is reached by the announcing. All will know because the all who first experienced God's works will tell all, who all will believe.  A fire is not hard to advertise.

This deliverance or push-back that God does on the enemy will be something that is understood or reflected upon to be God's work. It will not be explained in any other way except that the True God worked against the evil ones. It won't be explained scientifically or by psychology, sociology, anthropology, or any human based explanation.

The message will be, "God is real and God did this good work". This is not something that is taught, but caught. It will happen and some will be witnesses of it's happening.

These people will announce to all others what God has done. The truth and genuineness of God's action will come with a bonus package of the revelation that it is genuine and really God and God's doing.

Revival

And this is how revival works and spreads, will work and will spread.

Put A Little Love in Your Heart

One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?”

“This is the most important,” Jesus answered:

Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

“The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other command greater than these.”

Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher!   You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.

-Mark 12:28-34


How are you doing at the one thing that matters?  Loving is what it is all about.  Loving God and loving people.

A Christian without love is not a Christian.  The kingdom is all about love.  If you are not in the love you are not in the kingdom.  You can't not love and be in the love.

The man here that spoke with Jesus was a scribe.  Who were the scribes?  From Elmer Towns, "Bible Answers...":

  • Scribes in ancient Israel were learned men whose business was to study the Law, transcribe it, and write commentaries on it.
  • They were widely respected by the community because of their knowledge, dedication, and outward appearance of Law-keeping. 
  • The scribes went beyond interpretation of Scripture, however, and added many man-made traditions to what God had said. They became professionals at spelling out the letter of the Law while ignoring the spirit behind it. Things became so bad that the regulations and traditions the scribes added to the Law were considered more important than the Law itself. This led to many confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes. 
  • The scribes’ original aim was in earnest—to know and preserve the Law and encourage others to keep it. But things turned horribly wrong when man-made traditions overshadowed God’s Word and a pretense of holiness replaced a life of true godliness.
  • The bigger problem was that the scribes were hypocrites at heart. They were more interested in appearing good to men than they were in pleasing God. Eventually, it was these same scribes who played a part in having Jesus arrested and crucified.  (Elmer Towns, Bible Answers)
This scribe asked Jesus, "What are the most important things that God wants us to do here?"  And Jesus told him, "Love God, then love people".

Perhaps the trouble for the scribes was that they loved the written words, but mistook that love for loving God.  Then, they made the mistake of adding their traditions, to "make it even better".  And inevitably, the traditions became as and even more important than the scriptures.  We can do this today and we do it a lot.

We want to get our doctrine right, we want good theology, and we want to teach correctly.  This is good and we should do this.  But, we go too far, when we put the Bible, or rather our interpretation of the Bible, above our love for God and our love for people.

There are many verses that encourage us to read the Bible and to study it and to seek to know it.  But, the numero uno thing is to love God, and the second thing is to love people.  

Today, we put knowledge (so called) first and then call it loving to judge and teach and fix others, based on our perceived knowledge.  Behold, the modern day scribe, who does not walk in love, but claims authority because of their perceived knowledge.  And a big component of this disease is that we peddle doctrines or schools of theology that are man made understandings, but not the word or the person of the word (Jesus) and we hold those beliefs up higher than loving God and loving people.

Let's debate and discuss, question each other and respond, in a dialogue.  Let's not give monologue speeches with no interaction.  Jesus' people ought to be known for their love, and it is loving to listen to others and interact with others: discussing, and responding to each other, as we work out loving God and loving each other.



Put A Little Love in Your Heart
By Jackie DeShannon

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's getting late
Oh, please don't hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by
Still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We won't let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
All the world (all the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see, wait and see

Take a good look around
And if you're looking down
Put a little love in your heart
I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
And the world (and the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see

People, now put a little love in your heart
Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart
There's no other way
Put a little love in your heart
It's up to you
Put a little love in your heart
C'mon and...



Rich Man, Poor Man: Discontent vs Loving Your Gift

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. 
When he arrived, he said to him:

There were two men in a certain city, 
One rich and the other poor.

The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle.

But the poor man had nothing 
Except one small ewe lamb that he had bought.

He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children.
It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; 
It slept in his arms, 
And it was like a daughter to him.

Now a traveler came to the rich man.
But the rich man could not bring himself 
to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him.

Instead, 
He took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.

-2 Samuel 12:1-4


Question: Do you ever want what someone else has?  Do you ever long for a different life, to have the things, the position, or the recognition that someone else has?  Are you unhappy with other peoples blessings?

A Simple Story About Two Different Men

Nathan, the prophet, told a story here, to David, of two men.  One was rich and one was poor.  One was content and one was discontented.

We might imagine that the poor man was the one who must have, naturally, been discontented.  But, not so.  The rich man was discontent.  He coveted the one prized possession of the poor man.

The Ugly Word: Covet

Covet is a Bible word that we do not use often in every day speech.  The sin of coveting, found in the ten commandments, is the sin of strongly desiring other peoples stuff.  In ancient times and today, coveting other people's stuff is an issue, a problem, and a destructive sin.
Covet: to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else.
Coveting often leads to stealing and stealing is often the result of coveting.

Acting on Coveting Opens the Door to Destruction

In the story of the two men, the rich man has the audacious desire to have and then steals the one prized possession of the poor man.  He adds stealing on top of coveting.  To not steal is another thing spoken about in the ten commandments.

You might say, "wait a minute - I see the stealing, but not the coveting".

Let me explain.  He coveted it when he looked and desired to have it: something that belonged to someone else.  You begin to get the idea of how bad this is when you see someone looking at what is yours, even at your wife or your husband, with the desire to take her or him from you.

The rich man, even though he had his own flocks or herds of livestock, had his desires set on the one lamb of the poor man.  He looked and desired before he stole.  His discontent drove him to destructive sin.

The Biblical mandate for all is to live the opposite of this.  We should celebrate other's gifts and generously give to others.   The poor man lived right and the rich man was evil.

Everybody is tempted to covet and to steal.  We all need to not do that.  But it is particularly egregious when the rich covet and steal the prizes or the gifts that poor people possess.

David: Man after God's own heart and egregious sinner.

The person's story that this parable points to is a particular person, who was one of the most honored and favored persons in the whole Bible: David.  We could examine this story, forgetting it's immediate context, but look at it in the context of the whole of scripture and conclude or teach, and rightly so, that God is against the rich exploiting the poor.  All of scripture and God himself, stands against this rich man and the evil thing he did.

But it turns out that this rich man, the bad person in this story, was none other than David, beloved of God, grandfather of Jesus.  When I read the wider story here, I wept for Uriah, and I wept for the baby.  I felt very sad for Bathsheba and very angry at David.

There is a cognitive dissonance here, a paradox.  The, "Man after God's own heart", engaged in something diabolical.  If you read the rest of the story, you will hear God's indictment of David, that he despised the Lord (2 Sam. 12:10) and treated God's word with contempt (12:9).  David's sins were a direct affront to God.

We have to ask, "why?": The forensics of the crime.

The beginning was covetousness.  Why did David act on it?  Why would he or why would we do something so selfish and destructive, when he or we know better?
Covet: to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else.
Sitting in a palace, surrounded by the gifts of God, David was an ingrate: an ungrateful person.
Ungrateful: not showing or expressing any thanks.
David might have experienced envy, which is a sin.  Envy rots a person from the inside (Prov. 14:30) and is a loveless heart (1 Cor. 13:4).
Envy: to wish that you had something that another person has: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.
David showed no pity for the Uriah, when he stole his wife.  He displayed conduct that was unbecoming (of) an officer and a gentleman, and deserved court-marshal.
Pity: sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy.
No pity: indifference, mean, mercilessness, unkind, disdain.
Grace defiled: ungracious licentiousness from a bitter root
Licentious. 1 : lacking legal or moral restraints; especially : disregarding sexual restraints. 2 : marked by disregard for strict rules of correctness.
Why or how could David have done this?  In the episode he was completely without grace: he missed the grace of God.  David was not walking with God or living in the empowering presence of God when he did this whole thing.  David displayed very bad fruit in his life.

David's entitlement, his arrogance, and his greed; was rooted in his putting himself above the law (Deut. 29:19).  In so doing, he fostered a "bitter root that defiled many" (Heb. 12:15).  The indictments bear this out (2 Sam. 12:9-14).  David did what he did out of contempt for the Lord and he despised God's laws.

David was not a pagan or a heretic.  He was known as someone with good theology and an example of God's work.  But he allowed himself to become corrupt and put himself above the rules, as if they did not apply to him; but they did apply to him.

This very destructive episode, which would haunt David and ended the lives of two people; all started with coveting, with David desiring something that was not his.  One sin leads to another greater sin, and by greater, I mean more destructive.  And sin is not a private singular matter, but affects those around the sinner and the sinners family and whole community.

We can imagine that Uriah had fellow soldiers that were also killed, because of David's malevolent scheme.  Later, two of David's sons would die tragic deaths that did not have to happen, but for David's own treachery.  Does the story of David's sin break your heart?

The only hope for David and all sinners is the Lord, who forgives and redeems.  

How could this happen to David, the gifted warrior and worshiper, who had a heart previous to pursue God?   How did it happen, and what can we learn of how this can happen to us?  David forgot who he was and all that God had done for him, and 'helped himself' to something that was not his to have, that was 'off-limits'.  

Did David set out to ruin his life and ruin the lives of others?  I do not think so.  We can not get in his head, but he seems to have become delusional.  What he did was insane.

David walked himself and fell into a trap.  In a moment of self-deception, he reasoned that he was poor and that woman was his for the taking.  He did not see her as someone's wife or someone's mother, sister, or daughter.  He did not see her as Father's child.

See the person.

A great lesson, in the realm of romance, or eroticism, is to see the person.  The same principle applies when ministering to a person who is not attractive to you on the outside in any dimension: to see them as a person who Father loves.  And this principle also applies in matters of prejudice: to see them as a person, a person whom God loves and we love with the love of God, if we are indeed Christians.

Discontent: the illusion of poverty

We could talk all day about how stupid and how bad and how sinful he was.  But, setting that aside, perhaps David, in his mind, was the poor man, who was starving for something, and when opportunity knocked, he opened.  This is the deception of discontentment that leads to the destructive sin of coveting.

It is interesting that low self-esteem manifests itself both in delusions of grandeur and self-hate, both in the same person.  What if David was conceived out of wedlock and he and his brothers found out and he began a life of shame based wildness, while congruently having a gift for intimacy with God and an insatiable hunger to worship God and know God?  Like all of us, David was a mixture of personal brokenness and the gifts of God.

The Bible says that "the sins of the fathers are visited on the children..."  We pass on our sins to our children, unless we appropriate the forgiveness and redemption, healing, and deliverance that God offers.  What if David's dad conceived him with a lady he was not married to at the time, and this became more of an open wound for David?  Deep healing is available for deep wounds, if we seek it.

Low self-esteem is usually rooted in childhood hurts.  When we are walking-wounded people who are not in God's program of healing, we do not see ourselves or others through God's eyes and we might imagine ourselves to be poor, when we are indeed rich.

Today, we have a lot of people walking around, who have been blessed, but have not processed their woundedness, who are living destructive lives.  This destruction did not have to happen to David, and it does not have to happen to us.  The truth is that we can and will destroy our lives and other people's lives, if we do not walk with God.

David's story yells to us, "do not do what I did!", "spare yourself the heartache and destruction!", "walk with God and keep your eyes on the Lord always!"

When we are jealous of others, of their gift from God, and want to take it from them for ourselves, we are just like David and his sin, who this story has pointed at.  To look at others and think, "they should not have that, I should have that", is flat out wrong.

Father gives good gifts to each one of his children.

When we look at others with envy and jealousy, and covet for ourselves, wanting to steal what they have been given, for our own selves; that is wrong because it takes our eyes off of God, who has given and is giving precious and personal gifts to each one of us.  When we desire what others have and yearn to steal it for ourselves, that is self-destructive to our own relationship to God, where in he is our Father who gives good gifts to each of his children.

We can not yearn for and desire to have someone else's life, their gifts, their fame, their influence, opportunities, or their homes and families; and walk with God.  

When you feel bad because something good happens for someone else, I hope I don't have to convince you that it is not good.  We do feel bad when bad things happen to us.  But when we feel bad when good things happen to others, we have a symptom of a problem.

The solution is not just, "stop it", but, "turn back to God and see the gifts he is giving and has given you.  Let's imagine, and I believe it is true, that the poor man in the story was very content.  Let us imagine we are each the poor man.

Being "the king", and being, "the songwriter", and being famous does not bring happiness.  David's happiness was always rooted in his intimate love relationship with Yahweh, cultivated during those long lonely days and nights, out with the sheep.  That was David's treasure and his gift from God.

The one who lived before the Lord, in contentment.

The poor man in the story is the man named Uriah.  Uriah had a love for God.  Uriah had a wife, who was a gift from God, to him.  Uriah seems to have been content and a godly man.

The parable of the two men, the poor man and the rich man, is a lesson about contentment.

Being rich, powerful, and famous does not make you happy or content.

It was the rich man who had a problem and sinned against the poor man.

Money and fame do not bring happiness.  Money and fame actually bring stress and trouble, especially when they suddenly come and you are not able to handle it.

Many rich, famous, or powerful people do not feel good about themselves.  They feel poor, and not in a blessed way.  Contentment is an inside job.

All of us are either content or discontent.  Being discontent has nothing to do with your stuff.  It is soul problem.

The poor man is our model for content living.

The person to emulate, from the parable, is the poor man.  He relished and cherished the gift he had acquired.  He was living in contentment.
  • Relish: to like or enjoy something greatly.
  • Cherish: to love, protect, and care for someone or something that is important to you.
  • Contentment: the feeling or state of being happy or satisfied.
We can choose, and it is up to us to cultivate contentment.  If you do not enjoy life and the gifts of God in your life when you are poor, you will not enjoy life when you are rich.

The content person enjoys what they have.  They savor their life.

Promotion, striking gold, or favor are welcomed by the content person.  They do not strive, but they work hard and welcome new gifts, more gifts, if and when they come.  They are content whether they are rich or poor, whether they fail or succeed.

Content people are also unselfish team players.  Content people do not cheat.  Content people are dignified and honorable, giving dignity and honor to others and God; out of their lifestyle of humility, meekness, and love.

Discover, unwrap, and enjoy your gift from God.

The lesson of Uriah, from Nathan's story, is to enjoy the gift or gifts that God gives you and cherish them.  It seems that this is what Uriah was doing before David interrupted his life.  That is the lesson for us and for David.  This is the verse that is my message:

But the poor man had nothing 
Except one small ewe lamb that he had bought.

He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children.
It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; 
It slept in his arms, 
And it was like a daughter to him.

-Second Samuel 12:3

You may not be rich and famous, but you do not have nothing.  See that word "except".  You are exceptional in God's sight.  He has already given you an exceptional gift.

Have you discovered the gift of God in your life?  We might have a gift, in the singular; or a plurality of gifts.  Have you seen your gift?  Have you opened it?

We need to discover and unpack our gifts from God.  Then, we need to cultivate them, enjoy them, learn about them.  We need to thoroughly enjoy our gifts and celebrate them with God.

The gift of God in your life is for God's glory.  Gifts always point back to the giver.  Are you glorifying God with the gifts Father has given to you?

Why would we need to be jealous of the toys that God gives to others, when we are sitting in Papa's lap?  There is no need to feel bad when God gives favor, or promotion to his other kids, because Father is our provider too.  Cultivate and grow in the heart of Jesus that is never jealous of what others have, but is always enjoying what Father gives, sends, and provides.


Some Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?

We must meet hate with love.

I’m talking about a type of love which will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. We've got to love.

Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls "the image of God," you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.

I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. [...] when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, "Love your enemies." Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist.  I am certain that Jesus understood the difficulty inherent in the act of loving one's enemy. He never joined the ranks of those who talk glibly about the easiness of the moral life. He realized that every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God. So when Jesus said "love your enemy," he was not unmindful of its stringent qualities. Yet he meant every word of it. Our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it out in our daily lives.

Let us be practical and ask the question: How do we love our enemies?  First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words "I will forgive you, but never forget what you have done" never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing totally for his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, "I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you." Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can ever love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.


Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry.' I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don't plan to run for any political office. I don't plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I'm doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.

Here are two of his sermons:

'Love Your Enemies' November 17, 1957
"Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool" August 27, 1967

Freedom in Christ

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

-Galatians 5:1 (HCSB, NIV, NKJV)


Freedom in Christ

Christians are free.  Set free and changed.  This happened through the cross of Christ.

We need to know that following Christ does not put us or bring us under the law.  We have to say this because there have always been people who teach that we need to come, dwell, or abide in, under, or through the law to be saved.

We are now free to live in Christ, desiring to serve God, in love.

The center and the life of Christianity is the person of Christ.  The life of Christ in me makes me a Christian and his life in me desires righteousness and lives the godly life.

Living in Christ

The freedom of Galatians 5:1 is predicated on, is based on, and comes out of the life of Christ and the death of me.  Galatians 2:20 says,
"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but the life of Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  
We are not saved and become Christians so that we can now finally obey the law, but we come to Christ and die to our selves and he begins living through our lives.

Our freedom, our liberty, is now in the resurrection life of Christ, in our lives.  We are set free to live freely in Christ.  That is the life of love.

Freedom to love

The whole law which Christ kept is summed up in, "You shall love your neighbor as your self" (Gal. 5:14).  The freedom in Christ is to love others (Gal. 5:13).

Before Christ, the law was given for people who do not wish to be righteous, to force them into righteous living.  We now have liberty from religious legalism imposed on us.  God wants us to take His strength and walk in freedom.

This is different than legalism, which is being bound to the law, which attempts to bring us into a righteous life, from the outside.

Freedom from the Law and freedom from sin

Freedom and liberty are not for us to do anything we want, not denying our selves any desire, 'living large' in some sort of life with no boundaries.  The liberty or freedom in Christ is freedom from the tyranny of having to work our way to God and freedom from sin.  He set us free so that we do not need to find our righteousness by following of rules, laws, or codes.

He is our righteousness.

Freedom in Christ is not a door way to selfishness (Gal. 5:13).  Freedom in Christ is about your having Christ and He having you, and your freedom to live out your life, learning to live in love (Gal 5:13).

The works of the flesh, just like the desire to live under the domination of the Law, are both what we are set free from.  We are freed to live free.  We stand in freedom and live by the Spirit.

The free life is now lived by service to others in love (Gal. 5:13).  The freedom is so free that there is a temptation to sin in the flesh, which is another form on slavery or bondage.  This is why Paul says, "stand firm" in your place of freedom, and "follow the Spirit" ("keep in step with the Spirit").

The life in Christ of standing in freedom and following the Spirit

There are 'some-things' that we must do, and there is someone (the Spirit) that we need to cultivate a relationship with, to walk out the Christian life.  Jesus indeed does not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).  We ought not live as orphans who don't belong, but live belonging and loved and guided, helped, and comforted by the Spirit.

The freedom comes through the cross and the living out of Christ comes by the Spirit.  One cannot avoid the cross nor avoid the Spirit and be a Christian.  A Christian is one who has been to the cross and lives by the Spirit.

Rules are good, boundaries are good.  God created rules and boundaries.  It is a problem or an enslavement when we begin to tell ourselves or tell others how well they are walking with God based on following rules (Gal. 2:4).  Freedom is within boundaries and within Christ.

However, if we see or experience that someone is walking in sin, we know that they are not living in Christ and we can call them back to Christ, lovingly.  Lovingly, lovingly, lovingly.  Some 'Christians' rebuke, judge, and try to fix people; before loving or instead of loving them.  This is not love.  This must change.


We are free in Christ through the cross.  We need to stand firm in that freedom, from Law and from sinfulness.  We stay free and live free through walking with the Spirit of God.




Notes: An overview of Galatians from G. W. Hansen:

  • Freedom and unity in Christ are central themes in Galatians.
  • Paul addresses Christians whose preoccupation with keeping the Law was splitting their churches along racial lines, separating Jews from Gentiles.
    • These splits are intolerable because the new unity in Christ (Gal. 3:28) that transcends racial, social, and sexual barriers; is based upon the "truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5): Christ was crucified to set us free from the curse of the Law so that we might receive his Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14).
      • It is the Spirit, not the Law, that gives us our identity as children of God (Gal 4:6).
      • Believers must protect their freedom from the Law (Gal. 5:1) and also use their freedom to fulfill the law by serving one another through love (Gal. 5:13-14).
      • We are no longer under the Law that divides;  we are under the Spirit who unites.
  • The central teachings of Galatians are freedom through the cross and unity by the Spirit.
    • Complimentary themes in Galatians are:
      • Paul's account of his calling to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:13-16).
      • Paul's story of his loyalty to the gospel for the Gentiles in relation to the other apostles (Gal. 1:17-2:21).
      • An explanation of justification by faith, not by works of the Law (Gal. 2:15, 3:6-12).
      • An exposition on OT texts regarding the Abrahamic promise and the Mosaic law in the context of salvation history (Gal. 3:6-25,; 4:21-31).
      • A defining of Christian ethics, in terms of the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-10).

The message of Galatians is, "stand firm" for freedom in Christ by "keeping in step with the Spirit".

- G. W. Hansen: Galatians, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, IVP, 1993. pp. 323-334

Servants Rule!

The greatest among you will be your servant.
-Matthew 23:11

How is your serve?  I was thinking about the phrase kids use to brag that their group is the greatest, like, "nerds rule!"  It's like "we're the best", or "we're the greatest".

And it is true that Jesus said that servants are the great ones in the kingdom.  Kingdom values are different, even upside down from earthly values.  We are kingdom people first and church members second.

The way that Christians are governed is by kingdom values inside and outside the church.  It does not matter if you are thinking of "the church gathered" or "the church scattered".  Jesus, who is the builder of the church, says that his people will not be like the world or like the religious institutions, of his day.

Jesus said that there is no hierarchy and no corporate flow chart.  There are not special people who are heads or positional leaders.  There are no officials or officers.

We're just brothers and sisters, with Jesus as our head, Lord, teacher, and leader.

Serving is it.  Jesus said he came to serve.  Father sent Jesus to serve.  

And Jesus says to us, "As the Father sent me, so I send you".  What does he send us to do?  Serve.  Who does Jesus make us all to be?  Servants.

How is your serve?  

I see Jesus inviting us into his life of service.  I see Jesus building his church through servants.  And the servants are in on Jesus' secrets (John 2:5-9).

You can be a pastor, a preacher, an evangelist, a prophet, an apostle, or a teacher.  But you will only be great in the King's sight, if you are first a servant.  Servants serve, they do not feel entitled to being served in any way.

Servants rule!

Freedom: Asking For Rescue and Deliverance or Vindication

In Your justice, rescue and deliver me; listen closely to me and save me.
-Psalm 71:2

How many of us right now need to be rescued or delivered?  I think there are two categories of people: those who who are desperate and those who think they are ok.  The truth is or the reality is that we are all in desperate need of rescue and deliverance.

What if I told you that you need, I need, we all need deliverance and rescue?  If you keep saying that deliverance is for someone else and you are ok, then I doubt that you have a vital spirituality.  To be alive towards God is to come into the realization of our deep need for rescue and deliverance.

The rescue and deliverance that we need is asked for on the basis of God's justice or righteousness.  The NET Bible translates the beginning of this verse this way: "Vindicate me by rescuing me!".  I asked, "where are the words, "In Your justice", or, "In Your righteousness"?  "Vindicate me", is the answer.

Justice is asking for vindication.  We don't want to try to vindicate ourselves, but cry out to God for vindication.  The psalmist had been abused in some way and was calling out to God for help.

Did you know that righteousness and justice go together?  Most other translations have "righteousness" in Psalm 71:2, but the HCSB and The Voice have "justice".

Righteousness has to do with doing the right thing.  When I ask God to do something, "In Your righteousness", then I am saying, "Please make it right":  "Wrong has been done to me and I am asking you to make it right: give me justice", or "vindicate me!"

We are asking God to make things whole that are messed up.  "That ain't right."  "God, please make it right, make it just, please vindicate me."

There are two ways of living.  The first way is the way of absolute surrender, where we continually surrender our lives, unconditionally, to the Lord, and humbly ask for help.  The second way, is the, "I'll do it my way" life, where we live as actors on life's stage and direct our lives, writing our scripts and signing our tickets to ____, and do not ask for help, because we're 'fine'.

Psalm 71 has 24 verses, and in them we learn all about this good man who is an older man, maybe a man in his early 60's, who is calling out for God to make things right in his life.  He is not a new believer nor a young person and he has some serious history behind him in God.  Yet, he asks for help.

We too have a life-long relationship with Father where we ask him to help us, to rescue us, to deliver us, and vindicate us.