Yesterday, I was reading the book of James and eating a pickle. Good combo. I really love this book. Written by Jesus' half brother, this book really gets down to the nitty gritty of what it looks like to be a Christian. Sure, we know what we believe, but how do the things we believe transform who we are? If there is a guy who can talk about a transformed life, James is it. He spent all of his growing up years with Jesus, never believing his older brother's claims. Yet, when James encountered the ressurected Jesus, Jesus wasn't just his half brother any more--Jesus was his Lord and Savior! James' life showed this to be true.
James writes to encourage Jewish Christians who are facing persecution for their faith. In the midst of persecution, it would be easy to take a couple steps back and shy away from boldly lived faith...it would be easy to neuter it down to a list of beliefs--head knowledge. But what James shows us is that isn't true Christianity.
We can have all the right head knowledge, yet never live a transformed life. We can know all the right stuff...and still look just like everyone else.
So, back to that pickle. That pickle bcame a delicious, juicy, garlic-ladened epiphany in my mind. Every pickle starts out as a cucumber (no, that is not the entire epiphany...read on). Nothing against cucumbers, but they don't have a whole lot of flavor...at least not when you compare them to a pickle. But when you pickle a cucumber it takes on the flavors of whatever you are saturating it in. There are some really good pickles, and some really bad pickles...they may look the same, but what's their flavor?
You are more like a pickle than you think.
What things are you saturating your life in? We naturally start taking on the flavor of the people, media, culture, and worldviews we surround ourselves with. For many of us...that should make us a bit nervous...we may just be bad pickles.
But, if our lives are saturated by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, if we are being led by him in all the choices we make, if we are producing the fruit that naturally flows from a transformed life--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control, and if we are fellowshiping with a body of believers that challenge us to live bold, transformed lives--well...thats one tasty pickle!
Here are a couple verses that I will now continually remember as the pickle verses:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. --Romans 12:1-2
Monday, February 13, 2012
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Most of us don’t really like standing out…even when it is standing out for what is right. I think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. Here are three guys who, along with all the leaders of Babylon, are asked to bow down to an idol. King Nebuchadnezzar made it pretty clear that whoever didn’t bow down to the statue when the music started playing would be burned alive in the furnace. These guys knew the consequences, but as everyone around them fell to their faces before the statue, they quite literally stood out! I think it would have been easy to justify bowing down in my mind—everyone else is doing it…I don’t have to really mean it in my heart…what good am I for the kingdom of God if I’m dead!—but they didn’t. Can you imagine saying this to anyone, much less the insane, self-absorbed King who holds your life in his hands?
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Now, there’s some boldness! God rewarded them for standing out by sparing their lives, and raising them to even higher positions of prominence in the Kingdom.
Someone had this picture posted on Facebook today.
This picture was taken in Hamburg in 1936. The guy’s name is August Landmesser. When everyone else was giving the Nazi salute, he refused. He was married to a Jewish woman. How easy it would have been to fit in to the crowd. Yet he chose to stand out. It was the right thing to do.
Submission is not a dirty word. All men submit. We do have the opportunity to choose who we submit to though: will we submit to the negative influence of peers and corrupt leaders or to the authority of the Holy Spirit in our lives? I pray that your life will be so aligned with the Holy Spirit’s leading that people won’t be able to help but wonder what makes you different! I pray that when the temptations of peer pressure come along, you will think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…and August Landmesser. Let God steer your ship, don’t hand the wheel over to anyone else!
picture and accompanying story are taken via senri no michi facebook page
Thursday, February 02, 2012
I had a couple married friends who were trying to set me up with a girl they knew, thinking we would make a good match. This was a beautiful, godly woman; so pretty, so talented, and so interesting, I was flattered that my friends would even consider her and I together. So, one night the four of us all went out to a local coffee shop. Thats when I told this angelicly beautiful girl that I enjoy green tea lattes...because they look like pond scum.
Some things you shouldn't share until the second date.
Some things you shouldn't share until the second date.