Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seven Steps


We hear this word a lot. Repent. Many people treat it as a one time event. You repent and life goes on. But I challenge you to see it as a verb, as a way of life. Repentance is the way a Christian lives. He tries to live his life in a way that pleases God, and when it doesn't, he asks for forgiveness and goes on trying again.

re·pent - verb /riňąpent/
1. Feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin
2. View or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse
3. Feel regret or penitence about

So here are my 7 simple steps to living in repentance.

Step 1 -

Every evening review your day. Ask yourself and ask God, did I sin today?

Step 2 -

Ask God to show you any sins against Him. Listen quietly for God's answer and allow Him to speak to you.

Step 3 -

Think about those sins and how they have harmed you, harmed your relationships, harmed others, and harmed your walk with God.

Step 4 -

Look inside yourself and see if you are willing to change for God. Look for any harbored emotions that make you want to keep going on in Sin.

Step 5 -

Trust in God. Cling to Him! Call out to Him! Ask him to help you with those sins and with any of those emotions holding you back. Ask Him to cleanse you and turn you into the person that only He can turn you into.

Step 6 -

Obey. Listen to what God tells you to do, and place yourself in His hands. (The more you do this, the easier it will become to hear God's voice in your life.)

Step 7 -

Do! Tomorrow take steps towards avoiding that sin. Find ways to not be in the situation you were in and not be tempted. Remember that Jesus is walking with you and will help you take those steps!

Father I pray that all who read this will begin to examine their conscience daily, to desire to be closer to You. That their hearts will be so overwhelmed with Love for a relationship with You, our God, that they will be crying out to you daily. I pray each person will be touched by You in such a way that they have no doubts of Your presence, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Lord we thank You for making our cup run over, filling us to the brim with joy, peace and love.

In Christ,

Brian

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Tongue: It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

The word hate is sharper than any razor blade. It cuts to the heart and leaves a lasting wound. No matter how undeserving it may be, the person who receives this word from you is left wondering. They are left wondering do I deserve that hate? Am I even a good person? Maybe it really is my fault that you hate me. More especially when it comes from the lips of one we love.

How much does this simple syllable crush the very being that is us. Bringing us to our knees in contrition. Begging God to show us what we did. Pleading with God to make us into someone who can be loved. Someone who doesn't deserve hate, but love. I am not a perfect man. I know that. I am far from it. The more time I spend in prayer and worshiping my God, the more I realize how imperfect I truly am.

But it's when someone hates me, that we are challenged to be the man we should have been in the first place. Even when that hate is irrational. It's when we learn that someone hates us, and instead return love, that we show the truth of the Gospel of Christ. When the words escape from the lips, maybe even unrealized before they are spoken, and the dagger pierces your very soul. That's when our lips should respond, “No matter how you feel about me, I love you.”

Words have power. When we speak we have authority for we are children of God. That is why we must speak with caution, and with much thought. For the word once spoken, can never be taken back. The apology though given, can never erase the word that echoes in the chambers of the heart. Even after forgivness and love pouring forth, it's difficult to forget how much pain that simple word can bring. But I pray Father that you will erase it from our seared minds. Till the word hate is simply a shadow, something that never was, and is replaced with only love. Love that over shines and always uplifts. Love that never allows us to even hear the word hate, but instead to realize the pain and suffering that person is going through, and that instead of feeling pain when this word is said, we reach out and help them carry there cross in as much as they let us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Have I given God enough?


I thought I had given him everything

I thought I had given him everything
When I walked up the aisle at church
I prayed the prayer the preacher said
God said there's still more, I want you to search

I thought I had given Him everything
When every Sunday I filled a pew
I carried my Bible each Sunday morning
God said theres still more I want you to do

I thought I had given Him everything
When at lunch we listened to McGee
Tuning the radio to preachers while eating
God said there's still more I want you to see

I thought I had given Him everything
When each night I started to pray
Pouring out my wants, my hopes, my dreams
God said there's still more I want you to say

I thought I had given Him everything
When I promised Him my relationships
Striving for agape with friends and lovers
God said there's still more I want from your lips

I thought I had given Him everything
When I offered Him my wife and kids
Their life and their hearts for Him
God said there's still more that your heart forbids

I thought I had given Him everything
When I looked at my life in review
I had returned to God all He had given
God said, can't you see.. I want ALL of you!

©Brian Mullins, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Two Horses


My friend Birdie posted the following story and I just felt a need to share it this morning. Such an amazing lesson to be learned here.

Two Horses

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing....

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.

This alone is amazing.

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is,
trusting that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse Being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way....

Good friends are like that... You may not always see them, but you know they are always there.

Please listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.

And remember...

Be kinder than necessary - - - Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly.......

And leave the rest to God!

FOR WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT!


Author Unknown

When I read the story above today it reminded me to always trust in God. It also reminds me that sometimes God leaves thorns in our sides. That some of us remain 'blind' so to speak in some area of our life. That we must trust in the other person and their bell (The Holy Spirit) to help guide us through our life. That God will send someone to help us handle those cravings or urges and will never give us something that we can't learn to overcome, as long as we walk slowly and confidently towards that bell with every breath we take.

In Christ,
Brian

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Magnetism!

I had a friend ask today, why does Sin keep us from God? So I wanted to give the simplest example I could to illustrate exactly that.


Most people alive today have studied magnets. They understand that when a magnet is facing the same direction, as in the first image, they attract each other. But when you turn one magnet around and they are facing different directions, they repel. God is holy, that means He has no sin whatsoever. He can't touch sin, and sin can't go near Him. When we fill our life full of sin, it's like turning the magnet around. God is always facing good, He never turns to sin. So when we turn towards Sin we begin to repel God.


You see God hasn't changed at all. He's still there facing the same direction He always has. It's us who have moved. We turned from God to Sin. When we did that we are no longer aligned with God and we are separating ourselves from Him. Not because He wants us to, not because He has changed, but because we choose to place a barrier between us. Like a wall. We are repelling ourselves from God because Sin repels from God.


How do we fix that? What can we do to become clean again? How can we again orient our lives? It's a very simple step. We turn to Jesus. Jesus has already bridged the gap. We become obedient to Him out of our love. We go back to God in prayer and in heart! By reorienting our lives we start being attracted to God again who never changed. He starts pulling at us again. But theres still that wall... Jesus tears it down! He cleans the sin out of us and makes us Holy too. Then we can walk across the bridge that He has built, and into God's arms again.


In Christ,
Brian

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Do not judge a book by its cover

A friend of mine posted the following story on her wall, and I just had to share it. I won't bore you with a lot of words about it, but will just let you get to the story.

In Christ,
Brian




"Some people!" snorted a man standing behind me in the long line at the grocery store.

"You would think the manager would pay attention and open another line," said a woman.

I looked to the front of the line to see what the hold up was. I saw a well dressed, young woman, trying to get the machine to accept her credit card. No matter how many times she swiped it, the machine kept rejecting it.

"It's one of them welfare card things. Darn people need to get a job like everyone else," said the man standing behind me.

The young woman turned around to see who had made the comment.

"It was me," he said, pointing to himself.

The young lady's face began to change expression. Almost in tears, she dropped the welfare card onto the counter and quickly walked out of the store. Everyone in the checkout line watched as she began running to her car. Never looking back, she got in and drove away.

I had learned never to judge anyone without knowing the circumstances of their life. This turned out to be the case today.

Several minutes later a young man walked into the store. He went up to the cashier and asked if she had seen the woman. After describing her, the cashier told him that she had run out of the store, got into her car, and drove away.

"Why would she do that?" asked the man.

Everyone in the line looked around at the fellow who had made the statement.

"I made a stupid comment about the welfare card she was using. Something I shouldn't have said. I'm sorry," said the man.

"Well, that's bad-real bad, in fact. Her brother was killed in Afghanistan two years ago. He had three young children and she has taken on that responsibility. She is twenty years old, single, and now has three children to support," he said in a very firm voice.

"I'm really truly sorry. I didn't know," he replied, shaking both his hands about.

"Are these paid for?" he then asked. He pointed to the shopping cart full of groceries.

"It wouldn't take her card," the clerk told him.

"Do you know where she lives?" asked the man who had made the comment.

"Yes, she goes to our church."

"Excuse me," he said as he made his way to the front of the line. He pulled out his wallet, took out his credit card and told the cashier, "Please use my card. PLEASE!"

The clerk took his credit card and began to ring up the young woman's groceries.

"Hold on," said the gentleman. He walked back to his shopping cart and began loading his own groceries onto the belt to be included.

"Come on people. We got three kids to help raise!" he told everyone in line.

Everyone began to place their groceries onto the fast moving belt. A few customers began bagging the food and placing it into separate carts.

"Go back and get two big turkeys," yelled a heavyset woman, as she looked at the man.

"NO," yelled the man.

Everyone stopped dead in their tracks. The entire store became quiet for several seconds.

"Four turkeys," yelled the man.

Everyone began laughing and went back to work.

When all was said and done, the man paid a total of $1,646.57 for the groceries.

He walked over to the side, pulled out his checkbook, and began writing a check-using the bags of dog food piled near the front of the store for a writing surface. He turned around and handed the check to the young man.

"She will need a freezer and a few other things as well," he told the man.

The young man looked at the check and said, "This is really very generous of you."

"No," said the man. "Her brother was the generous one."

Everyone in the store began to clap.

I drove home that day feeling very American.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day




This morning the father at our church began a homily about a violinist and how it requires work and dedication. I have been thinking about the words he said as I worked in my backyard to finish up my little project. It's something that should have taken me a few hours on a single day, but instead it's taken me about a week to finish. I simply can't do it as fast as I used to, but I keep plugging at it.

I've been working on a few raised beds for lettuce. We had taken out some landscape timbers from the center of the yard, because the area around the tree wasn't being used for flowers and was simply overrun with weeds. Much easier for me to mow it down and keep it done. Nothing grows very well in the shade of a tree anyway. So I wanted to reuse those timbers and create an area for our lettuce, kale and other cruciferous vegetables.

I have learned from the years of working in construction as a lead man and foreman that to really do something right takes not only hard work, but also time and planning. I've also learned from my parents over the years that preparing a bed for a garden requires building it properly. You have to make sure the foundation is strong. Then you have to build on that foundation. In the case of a bed you need a good layer of weed block, newspaper, and mulch in order to kill down any unwanted weeds. We don't want the weeds stealing the nutrients and water from our food plants. Then you need some good, organic, (vegetable in my case) based compost. This puts food in the new soil for feeding the plants. On top of that finally goes the top soil. All of which creates an environment in which plants can thrive. Without any of them they might grow, but they don't thrive.

You see our soul is much like a garden bed. It requires planning, preperation, and a good strong foundation. The first thing we have to do is build the base, that is the foundation. The bible tells us that Paul built his foundation on Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. Any other foundation is not the proper one and will just fail to stand. It will fall apart, and eventually the world will destroy that garden bed through wind and rain.

Once we've established our foundation, we've got to put in the weed block! Our soul is constantly under attack by the things of this world. From sexual images everywhere, to a nearly constant barragement of improper language; we constantly are having things in our lives that effect how we think. Remember this simply phrase, Garbage in Garbage out. The most effective weed block for your soul is God himself. We lay down our weedblock by studying his word, spending time in prayer with him, keeping our minds on the things of God and not of this world.

Next we need a good, nutritious soil and compost. We are reminded many times that we need the word of God to nourish us. Jesus even told Satan in the desert, “It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. We feed our soul (plant) by continuing to dwell on God's word. This is a two fold thing! God's word is both the Bible, AND the Lord Jesus Christ. You feed your soul by both reading and studying scripture, AND through communion with God! Receiving Jesus into your body as often as possible, making it a holy place where God dwells instead of a worldly soul full of dust and cobwebs.

Once we have these things in place, we simply need to keep adding them over time. It's not enough to simply experience it once, living with God is a permanent life. We must be obedient, we must be repentant and we must strive to be Holy and continue to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to be the person that God wants us to be! The word repent is not a single word, but a verb! It's a way of life. We need to confess our sins as often as we can, and turn away from them. Reconcile yourself to God, and watch as the grace flows in your life.

I pray that God will touch each of your hearts today, and fill you with that overwhelming love that He has shown me today. That you will be touched by the sadness as well that I have felt from God towards sin. May each of you come to know Christ as a personal savior, and continue to live in community with the members of His body. Serving one another as He, the King of the Universe, came to serve you and I. May you be filled with God's spirit in such abundance that when people look upon your face, they see the glow of God's presence as was seen in the face of Moses! And may others when they look upon you, not see you, but instead see Christ that lives in your heart.

In Christ,
Brian

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Road to Emmaus




Often times we hear protests from others, even from fellow Christians. Protesting verbally, and maybe even spiritually about being able to see God. Why has God left me alone? Why can't I see Him? I need a sign to show me He still cares! We are often just like Thomas, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25

Yet, Jesus gave us several examples about how God appears to us in the simple story of the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24) Two disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus when someone walked up and asked why they were sad. They said, How can you not know? Have you been out of town? Jesus was crucified today. The fellow then taught them about the scriptures and the prophets and how they testified of Jesus. They talked for a long time and as they approached their destination, they asked him to spend some time with them. They didn't recognize that it was in fact Jesus talking to them, until he went to break bread at dinner.

What does this teach us about God? It reminds us that often times we only see God when He is blessing us. We only notice what He's doing when He is breaking bread, that is about to feed us. We see God in our lives when someone gets a job after being unemployed for a long time. We see God in our lives when someone miraculously lives through a car wreck that should have killed them. We see God when we are healed from some pain that has been there a long time.

But do we always see God when he's right there? What about when things aren't going so well? When we are sad about someone dying? His disciples were distraught because they had just lost their master and their friend. They couldn't see God with Him standing right in front of them, saying don't be afraid! Instead they were in sorrow and wandering, not sure what to do with their life. It wasn't until God's hand stretched forth with sustenance that they said “Did you see that? That was God!”

Remember that right now we see through a veil, a shadow, as if looking in a mirror. We will see God face to face one day, but for now we can only see glimpses of Him. Look for Him in the flower after the thunder storm, still dripping with dew. Look for Him in the morning sunlight, warming your face and caressing your skin. Look for Him in the gentle breeze on a hot summer afternoon, bringing comfort and soothing sweat drenched shoulders. Look for Him in the face of a newborn child, still glowing and looking out with unconditional love. But above all, look for Him! You'll be surprised to find He's been there all along, you just failed to recognize Him!

Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

In Christ,
Brian

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

With great comfort, comes great responsibility




In class the other night we were posed a question. Do you think people are obsessed with money today? If so, do you think this is an American thing, or is it universal?

My answer to that question really brings up more questions, and more thoughts. I believe that the more affluent the nation, that is the higher the comfort level and the higher the incomes of its inhabitants, the more a problem it becomes. While there are many people who can have money and comfort, and still be very generous giving souls (Francis Chan for instance) there are many more who become more apathetic as they gain comfort. While we were discussing this, my good friend Nathan phrased it in a verry succint way: The more comfort we have, the less we give.

That's such a powerful way of saying it. As our comfort levels go up, the less empathy we seem to have. I think it's very much because of the lack of experience, the lack of a common suffering to keep us realizing that there are always those less fortunate. We live in a society where everyone seems to have a home, and most of those a tv, a phone, running clean water, a water heater, showers, indoor plumbing. We all have possessions, but how many of those possessions are wants and not needs? Do we lose some of our ability to be empathetic to others when we are not suffering any tribulation or trials? How much harder is it to think about the people in Africa in the blazing sun with no air conditioning, when we are comfortable and cool in our air conditioned homes. It's often not until we see pictures of these people suffering that we are even reminded that there is suffering in the world!

I am not saying that we don't suffer in some ways. But we often seem to think we have it bad, when God has blessed us so tremendously. Our good friends recently sold us a car, and I went to the DMV to do a title transfer and get tags. The lady behind the register said I needed my wifes signature on all the paper work. So I had to turn around and drive another hour to get her signature on the forms, and then come back. Then in the end it was a great deal of money more than I thought it would be! As I am on my way home, I'm literally complaining outloud about how much money I just had to spend. I went silent. God reminded me that he didn't have to give me the car, I had been praying for a car to help out in the summer and fall and here it was! Yet, after my prayers had been answered I was complaining about it!

In the story of the talents, Jesus reminds us that when the king gave out talents to each of his people, some made use of them and some buried them. (Matthew 25:14-30) The ones who made use of them could return the talents when the king returned, doubled. But the one who took what he was given and buried it, he had only the original talent to return. The King came back and blessed the two servants who had doubled his money! But the one who had done nothing, he took away the talent and gave it to someone who could use it! " For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

This is a reminder to us, that we have comfort and grace. That we are given in abundance, and God expects us to USE those talents for Him. We are supposed to share that grace and yes, those possessions with our neighbors. We are to take care of them and realize that they are blessings from God, gifts from Him! And if we don't use them, he'll take them away and find someone else who will. You've heard the phrase, if you don't use it, you'll lose it. This is so very true. Just like a beautiful singing voice, with practice becomes a thing of beauty, but when someone quits practicing they often lose that ability. Playing the guitar can be a lovely experience with practice and devotion, but if someone only picks it up once a year, they'll never develop that talent (even if they have a natural affinity for it.) Use your talents, and not just for yourself! Reduce your wants! Supply your needs, and with the excess help supply the needs of others.

In Christ,
Brian