Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Faith At Any Cost

Can you imagine how much courage it took for Martin Luther to stand up against the established religious practice of the day, the tradition for over a thousand years, to state what he believed to be true about God and His character? I’m sure it cost Luther his job, his status, maybe even his friends and family. He held his convictions so strongly that he faced public ridicule to bring attention to the differences between what the Bible teaches and what was being practiced by the established church.

I’m sure John the Baptist went through the same thing. The son of a priest, a relative of Jesus Christ, he began to speak about the coming Messiah. It seems this should have been welcomed news to the Jewish people. The Messiah was their whole focus. They knew God was sending Someone to redeem them, to restore them, yet they refused to hear John’s message when he proclaimed the Messiah had come.

Noah faced similar circumstances. A flood was prophesied; total destruction would result. He gave people an opportunity to escape certain death, but they did not hear him.

When Saul (now known as Paul) was converted on the Damascus road he changed from being a killer of Christians to one of the strongest proponents for the cause of Christ. People were skeptical, thinking it was perhaps a ruse to entrap them. Now we use Paul’s writings to learn how to live the Christian life.

I’m sure as you read those short paragraphs that things came to your mind. Some immediately applied these thoughts to the current political turmoil in the United States and the need to overthrow the “other party”. Others had ministers or ministries come to mind whose belief systems are clearly not scripturally based and should be brought down. Others thought of “the rapture” so you could escape all the madness in the earth. For me, this shows a tendency in human behavior to allow things to drift from the original intent of things to a place of apostasy and turmoil, but also the faithfulness of God to bring individuals who will do His bidding, to speak truth regardless of the consequence.

It cost Noah 100 years of his life, but he saved mankind. It cost John the Baptist his life to hold to his convictions, but he gave himself to introduce mankind to their Savior. Paul gave up his prestige and position in order to represent Christ to his world. Luther opened himself up to public ridicule and shame in order to stand for what he believed was right. What has your faith cost you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

This is my first blog post in quite a while. When you get out of the habit of writing it is difficult to get going again. I guess that is true with most things.

The past few decades gave us a couple of songs that came to mind this morning. As I drove home yesterday I noticed in my rearview mirror the young lady in the car behind me. She was singing with whatever music was playing in her car. I love music. I love to sing. It always seems to dampen the enthusiasm when we realize someone is watching.

Lee Ann Womack had a hit back in 2000 called “I Hope You Dance”. It starts out:

            I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
            You get your fill to eat, but always keep your hunger
            May you never take one single breath for granted
            God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

The hook of the song comes with this line: And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance … I hope you dance, I hope you dance!!

Apparently the young lady behind me yesterday had heard the song “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching.” The lyrics of the song have unclear origin and attributed to many. That doesn’t diminish their impact. It goes something like this:

            Dance like nobody’s watching
            Love like you’ve never been hurt
            Sing like nobody’s listening
            Live like it’s heaven on earth

Children do this all the time. I believe that’s one of the things Jesus implied when He said, “Anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Little children are curious. They trust completely. They love fully. They play with nothing held back. Oh, if we could only find that place again. I do not believe these are the “childish things” that Paul intended to be “put away” when we mature in Christ.

The prime example of this is given in the story of the woman of Bethany that came to the home of Simon the Leper while Jesus was there. She was described as a “sinful woman.” Footnote here: We all are sinful! She was not an invited guest but she had an unquenchable desire to see Jesus. She brought with her a box, or bottle, of expensive perfume. When she saw Jesus, she broke the container open and poured the fragrance on Him. This was her worship!

She did not care that she was a “sinner”, or uninvited. She only knew one thing: if she could get to Jesus she would bless Him the best way she knew how. She gave the most precious thing she had. For her, this was “living like it’s heaven on earth.” I don’t know if she knew that it literally was heaven come to earth, but she was drawn to Jesus because He embodied everything that she desired: unqualified love, complete forgiveness, and total acceptance.

That’s really what all of us want, but we know others are watching or listening. We have been hurt. Until we can find a way to let God heal the hurt we will never find the freedom to worship Him with abandon. Oh, how I wish we could.