Not Enough Air

I’ve taken up cycling again for the 4th or 5th time in my life. At my age, it is taking considerably longer to “get in shape”. Bought a used hybrid bike and started riding with my wife who has been riding while I walked for exercise.

Made the mistake of going to Covington, LA and riding on the Tammany Trace, an old railroad corridor converted to a hiking and cycling asphalt pathway. I thought it would be okay when I saw that you could call 911 from the Trace and the paramedics would respond. After I made it to the Rusty Pelican in Mandeville for lunch, I thought I could keep up with my wife and my fifteen year old grandson on the twelve mile return. Not true. They left me in their dust but were gracious when I finally caught up with them at the truck.

Now this bothered me. I was running a 51.7 second quarter mile when I was seventeen….. of course, that was 49 years and 82 additional pounds ago.

This week, after still struggling on rides with my wife, I finally discovered the problem. I had erroneously assumed that the technician at the bike shop had maxed out the air pressure in my tires but instead of 85 pounds, there was only 35 pounds. The bikes are designed to operate most efficiently with high pressure tires. My old road bike operated at 115 pounds.

Not enough air. I felt 15 years younger when I fixed the problem!

My Christian life is sometimes like this cycling experience. A lot of effort, little visible results. Just as the under inflated tires created too much road drag and laborious pedaling, too much Carl and not enough daily reliance on the Holy Spirit creates drag in my spiritual life and causes diminished or no results. Just as the bike designers design road bikes to operate with high tire pressure, our Designer designed born again people to operate by His Spirit, not Self.

That is why the early Church was so effective in spreading the gospel without radio, TV, internet or the printing press. Pliny, The Younger, a pagan Roman official (circa 100 AD), reported to the Roman emperor that the pagan temples were almost deserted in his providence. Due to so many people being converted to Christianity, the sale of animals for idol sacrifices plummeted. The Holy Spirit was working through these “primitive” people. (It’s always interesting when a commentator speaks about the early Church as the “primitive church”. My how we need the primitive church today!)

To bring it closer to our time, in The Shantung Revival Dr. C. L. Culpepper, a Southern Baptist missionary, tells how dead the Christian churches were in north China in the 1920s and early 30s. He goes on to describe how the Lord brought the missionaries to surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit and then He could work through them to bring amazing revival to the Church in Northern China and Korea. Untold thousands were born again and the church was strengthened for the coming of communism.

Why? Because people surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what Dr. Culpepper in 1968 said about the problem and the solution:

“Most of the things that took place in Shantung are as foreign as Chinese in American churches today, mainly because of resistance to the Holy Spirit. ”

“In his defense before the council, Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.” The charge remains true to this day. Actually this resistance is usually disguised by a professed aversion to “Pentecostalism”, but it’s becoming more and more evident as nothing more than resistance to the Holy Spirit.”

” The writer has used these expressions to designate the experience of total surrender to the Holy Spirit, resulting in a dramatic experience of Christian joy.”

The problem – resistance to the Holy Spirit.

The solution – total surrender to the Holy Spirit.

How about you? How is your tire? Properly inflated or under inflated?

Full of Self or Full of the Holy Spirit?

Carl

When One Knows Oneself Well….

“When one knows oneself well, one is not desirous of looking into the faults of others.” –John Moschus (ca 550-619 AD)

Woe is me! Woe is you?

Let us not be the judge of others since there is only one True Judge, Jesus the Righteous.

Let us remember that pride always sees the faults of others.

Let us pray for one another.

Carl

SELF

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,…”  Ephesians 2:1

The opening scripture is describing our condition prior to finding forgiveness for our sins in Jesus Christ, our great Savior.  We were dead to God. What an awful thought.

Concerning this “dead” relationship to God, I want to share the following statement from William Law (1686-1761).  Law was a devout Christian Englishman who, through his writings, attempted to wake up the sleeping church in his day. He wrote the following about Self:

“Men are dead to God because they are living to Self. Self-love, self-esteem and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride; and the Devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, nor without an influence in them. Without a death to self, there is no escape from Satan’s power over us….

To discover the deepest root and iron strength of pride and self-exaltation, one must enter into the secret chamber of man’s soul, where the Spirit of God, who alone gives humility and meek submission, was denied through Adam’s sin…

Here in man’s innermost being, self had its awful birth, and established its throne, reigning over a kingdom of secret pride, of which all outward pomp and vanities are but its childish, transitory playthings….

Imagination, as the last and truest support of self, lays unseen worlds at his feet, and crowns him with secret revenges and fancied honors. This is that satanic, natural self that must be denied and crucified, or there can be no disciple of Christ. There is no plainer interpretation than this that can be put upon the words of Jesus, “Except a man deny self, and take up the cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.”

The Seduction of Christianity – Dave Hunt & T.A. McMahon

I have read this statement numerous times and each time I see something else about my Self.  May you linger over it until the Holy Spirit has shown you everything He wants to show you concerning your Self.

May we evaluate our discipleship in the light of the words of our Lord. Is our discipleship genuine according to His statement in Mark 8:34 or is it just a religious facade like the Pharisees had. Jesus described them as whitewashed tombs, pretty on the outside but full of death or Self on the inside.

Heavenly Father, God of all wisdom, please open our understanding to how deadly Self is. In Jesus’ precious name we ask this. Amen.

We believe in and therefore choose to walk in Paul’s words:

“…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with , that we should no longer be slaves to sin…” (Romans 6:6)

Take up the Cross,

Carl

God Made It Simple – Part 2

After posting, God Made It Simple, I felt the urge to write a follow up. While researching in Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, I found the following. I share it for our edification and encouragement:

“God shows His wonderful love in calling us children of God; as expressing community of nature, rather than sons, which expresses the position of privilege.

The world, therefore, does not know us, even as it did not know Him.

We are children of God; and in this fact lies enfolded our future, the essence of which will be likeness to God, coming through unveiled and transfiguring vision.

The result of such a relation and hope is persistent effort after moral purity. “Every one that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself even as He is pure.”

This attempt to purify corresponds with the fulfillment of our true destiny which Christ has made possible. Sin is irreconcilable with a right relation to God, for Christianity emphasizes the law of God, and “sin is lawlessness.” The object of Christ manifestation was to “take away sin”; therefore, “everyone that abideth in Him sinneth not.” “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” “He that committeth sin is of the devil”; but the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil. The divine seed –the divine principle of growth– the germ of the new life is in the true believer; and the idea of divine Son ship and sin are mutually exclusive.

The being a child of God will manifest itself not only in doing righteousness, but in love— the love of God, taking shape in love and ministry to the brethren. This is the highest expression of righteousness. The whole aim of the Gospel is the creation and strengthening of love; and the type of life in God through Christ is therefore the direct opposite of Cain, who being of the evil one, slew his brother.

Over against this love is the world’s hatred. This is bound up, as love is, with the question of origin. God’s children share God’s nature, which is love. The children of the world are the children of the evil one, whose nature is lawlessness and hatred. Love is the outgrowth of life; hatred, of death. He that loveth not, abideth in death. For ourselves, children of God, we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.

Christ is the perfect type and revelation of love, since He gave His life for us. We, likewise, ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. The practical test of our brotherly love is ministry. The love of God does not dwell in us if we refuse to relieve our brother’s need.

The fruit of love is confidence. “In this,” —-the consciousness of active and sincere love to the brethren resting upon and moulded by the love of Christ—-in this, we perceive that we are of the truth; and, perceiving this, we shall assure our hearts in the presence of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. It is of the very essence of Christian life that it is lived and tested before God. No assurance or confidence is possible except from being in right relation to God.

Through the consciousness of love, then, which is of God and which marks the children of God , we perceive that we are children of God—of the truth; and in this knowledge we find assurance and confidence before the very highest tribunal. “We shall assure our heart before Him.” Vincent

Wasn’t that concise and rich! I want this “love” to be manifested in my life toward my God, my brethren and those in need of the gospel. He shall bring it to pass if we cooperate with His Spirit.

God bless you!

Carl

God Made It Simple

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a middle aged man who was in the midst of a very stressful situation.  He spoke of his past Christian experience and was confused about the future.   Our interaction reminded me, that as biblically born again believers, when we wake up in the morning, there are only TWO things the Lord requires of us:

  • To Love Him
  • To Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves

The Lord Jesus said:

“…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’   Mark 12:30-31

and then He adds this statement:

“There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

The Lord Jesus says there is nothing greater than loving the biblical God and our fellow man.

The word “love” is the Greek agapao. This “speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and praise.” (Wuest) It is the same word the Apostle John used in John 3:16 to describe how God feels about lost mankind, whom He sent Jesus to redeem. He considers each person precious. That is why He paid such a high price to redeem lost sinners, like you and me.

Therefore, when I wake in the morning, this is all that God requires of me.  I am to consider my fellow man, lost or saved, as precious to God and, therefore, to me.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives me the desire and willingness to do this. (Philippians 2:13).

If I love God like Jesus said:

  • I will have no other gods before Him
  • I will not have idols in my life
  • I will not take His name in vain
  • I will treat Him as Holy

And if I love my neighbor as myself:

  • I will not murder him
  • I will not commit adultery with his wife
  •  I will not steal from him
  •  I will not lie to him or against him
  • I will not covet his possessions.

When a person is biblically born again by the Holy Spirit, God begins to change that person from a “hater” to a “lover”.  A “hater”, as I am using it, is someone who sins against God and his fellow man. A synonym of “sinner”.

Take for example the apostle John.

The Lord Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. They evidently had a short temper. Luke 9: 54 says that they wanted to call down fire from heaven to kill some Samaritans who did not receive Jesus into their village. Jesus rebuked them saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” After years had passed, we see in the Book of Acts, John with Peter returning to the Samaritans to minster to them (a manifestation of love) with Philip, the deacon. Through what John learned from Jesus as a disciple and what God did in his heart when he was born again, he was changed from a “hater” to a “lover” of the Samaritans.

Later in his life, he wrote what we know as I John. In chapter 4: 7-12 his changed heart is manifested in these words:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

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.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is PERFECTED in us.   (emphasis added)

Everything God has done for us through Christ is to help us PERFECT His love in us:

  • We identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, therefore, we can overcome Satan and our sinful nature and walk in love toward others.
  • When we are born again, the Holy Spirit spreads the love of God in our hearts so we can properly love Him and our fellow man.
  • The Holy Spirit is given to us to comfort, teach, and encourage us as we fight the good fight of faith in learning and persevering to walk in love toward others
  • The Bible is given to us to teach us how to love through the example and instruction of others who had to learn to walk in love.
  • The Bible gives us levees for our love so it is channeled in the right direction and does not overflow into unrighteous.
  • The Body of Christ, the Church, is a place to exercise our love gifts, share love and perfect our love.
  • When Christ returns and we stand in His Presence, we will not turn away in shame because we have conducted ourselves like He conducted himself.

The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be PERFECTED in love.  To cause us to do what the scripture said in the beginning of this blog. To stop being a “hater” and change into a “lover” of people and God.

Conducting ourselves in love toward others, assures us that we are saved, “God abides in us“.  John said “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

The devil will use religion to heap expectations and distractions on us that will choke the true spiritual life out of you if you let it. If that is where you are, take a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traditions of men or church that are clouding your understanding of God and what he expects of you. Then ask Him to PERFECT His love in you.

In closing, listen to Paul’s personal priorities as expressed in I Corinthians 13 and 14:

” If I speak with the tongue of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love ,I am nothing. 

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“Pursue love…” (emphasis and underlining added)

In Paul’s personal life he was pursuing love. He was another disciple that was changed from a literal “killer” of Christians to a “lover”. May we yield to the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is trying to make us “lovers”, freeing us from being “haters”.

Thank you for your time.  May we be enriched in all knowledge and understanding by His Holy Spirit who was sent to lead you and I into all truth.

Carl

Payday for the Proud

“GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”    James 4:6

I don’t know about you, but I definitely need the grace of God daily.  I don’t need Him to oppose me or resist me because of pride in my life. I need Him to enable me to walk in the Spirit and be a blessing to others, not a stumbling block to others.

Here is scripture I found in Isaiah that speaks of a day of reckoning. It is a good reminder of what happens to the proud and those who reject God’s Word. May it be food for your spirit man.

“For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.”

“And the pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

“But the idols will completely vanish. And men will go into caves of the rocks, and into holes of the ground BEFORE THE TERROR OF THE LORD, AND BEFORE THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY, WHEN HE ARISES TO MAKE THE EARTH TREMBLE.”

“In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, in order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, BEFORE THE TERROR OF THE LORD AND THE SPLENDOR OF HIS MAJESTY, WHEN HE ARISES TO MAKE THE EARTH TREMBLE.”

Isaiah 2: 12, 17-21 NASB (emphasis added)

In Isaiah, God is about to bring judgement on the “house of Jacob” who has forsaken Him, for idols. Terrible judgement is coming on them. The proud will be humbled.

In Revelation 6: 14-17 we see the same futile “hiding” by the proud in the future. They still have their idols and have rejected the gospel of the Lord.

“And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;

and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “FALL ON US AND HIDE US FROM THE PRESENCE OF HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE, AND FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB;

FOR THE GREAT DAY OF THEIR WRATH HAS COME; AND WHO IS ABLE TO STAND?”

(emphasis added)

He describes these people and their idolatry in Revelation 9:20:

“And the rest of mankind, who where not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of sliver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”

Thanks be to God, our Father, because He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. We will not be on the receiving end of “the wrath of the Lamb”.  Let us walk humbly before our God and greatly rejoice in His love, grace and mercy.

May His peace be upon you! Keep yourself from idols!

Carl