Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gloves Off

The truth about it all. Curtains pulled back, guard dropped. Please understand (those who will take offense quickly on this) my heart of hearts. We get it. The world has made it crystal-clear, that the good ol' days of a basic respect for "the Christian" are well over. I like the honesty better anyway. Truly! I am very happy... for sake of honesty, mutual respect, communication, and friendship ...that people confront me / us with hard, strong questions like... "what kind of loving God would send, or even allow, people to an eternal hell?" That is a much better question than the many, many other vague, lifeless questions we (the church) have possibly enabled in. In our defense... we were really trying to be nice. Too nice, as it turns out. I apologize for that. Believe me when I tell you ...most of us would rather not get wrapped up in the heavy-felt, burdensome, this-is-how-you-lose-a-friend ...topic of "the Christian belief and way". Me? I'm a little warped. Lol. To that point... I'll also let you know... I have a little interest in some over-intellectualized, all religions are the same, all mean nothing,, feaux-equity attitude of.... "hey, let me believe what I want, while I snub my nose at your foolish Christian beliefs" ..attitude. Most definitely... you have the absolute "right" to feel that way, and or behave that way. I just fear that we are already incommunicato. My point is... I don't wanna' spar. Maybe a little. I don't wanna' rob you of your freedoms to live your life as you choose. Right the opposite, in fact. I absolutely support that notion. I also answer to a holy, just, loving God who supports the same. He taught me my own attitude toward the matter. This holy, just, loving God loves you and I so much that He won't force His love on you. He'll simply offer it. You are truly FREE. That is the good news. Free not to take it. That is His design. But it isn't His desire. Some will, again, intellectualize that very statement. Let's save one another the trouble of debate. Life's too short. I can't say it any other way, or be more convincing. God loves you... period. Murderer, rapist, good guy/girl, jihadist, thief, bank president, Rotary Club member, cute mommy of three, prostitute, homeless, spoiled brat, and even those who just will not believe in such an asinine thing as an eternal God of the universe, who hates sin, but loves me. By the way... when you hyper-smart people can provide no-argument evidence that we just evolved from some sort of  nothing ...I'll ditch God and join you, I guess. Though there would be nothing to join huh?. Meanwhile, I must continue to live by faith. A much easier faith for me to swallow. We're all in this together, folks. The list previously mentioned. I don't / can't hate you ..unless I just hate myself. And I do not. I can't think I'm better than you. That's an old trick isn't it? I'm not better. Way easy to demonstrate and prove it. And I will if you ask. THAT is also precisely why I can love you enough to be honest about this whole Jesus thing. Hard to believe those bible stories isn't it? Yup, I get it. And you won't believe it ...until you just take the plunge of faith. Sounds like a "here, drink this kool-aid" statement doesn't it? Lol. I totally understand that feeling, that skepticism. Dunno' what else to tell you though. It's a trust issue. We are not weirdos; at least any more so than we would be if not following Christ. We're not all perfect people either. Some un-believers are even more moral. Just the ttuth, sadly. Might as well be honest about it. It isn't changing. I'm not wanting to waste your time debating morality, freedom of religious belief, whether investing in the stock market is good or bad, sweet or unsweet tea, etc. No. I want you to experience the same "love of Christ" that has flooded my very being. I also want you to have the freedom not to. I love you for that. I support that! Until you crave that sort of freedom ...I'm not terribly sure you can truly follow Christ. Arguable, I guess. I won't treat you any differently. But I "will" be honest with you, because I DO love you. And the only reason I can even love that much ...is because this big, mean God loves me that much. So, I'm kinda' done being a careful Christian. You should really be tired of that too. I wanna go ride my motorcycle, and I mean like a LOT! I wanna play my guitar really loud (I'll respect your ears though), because these things are simply "me". And I want you to be you! Isn't that great! It's beautiful! And the God I follow designed it. But love your neighbor like yourself, and right behind loving God. True freedom. It's what we all want, but live in a fear-mongering world, who wishes to rob that. In the most Christian language I can muster... to Hell with that noise! My faith is not perfect. It doesn't have to be. I'm not accurate in all my doctrine, though I work as hard as I can to be. It is not a requirement of the faith. No time, personally, for the perfect people. You intimidate me and offend me. Both because you think you are, and because you are dishonest and dillusional to get there. But I kinda get it. I'm really no better anyway. I just have different issues. THAT is why Jesus died as He did. Because we just can't be perfect. So, He perfected for us. True love. True freedom. Do you wanna' be free?

Steve Terrell

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Faulty Faith

Why would we, why do we, so easily place our security in the "things of the world", albeit things we can touch, reference, etc. Surely, we KNOW that these, too, are perishable things, dying things? There is some sense of security (false, as it may be) in familiar things, things we can see, touch, or know someone who, very recently, has.

"And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham."
(Matthew 3:9 ESV)

John the Baptist, this wiley, kinda' wild, unorthodox, outcast of a character says it right... "So you have Abraham as your father. That's great. Can he secure your eternity?" I wonder,  did they ever ask, and really consider... who was Abraham's faith in?

God used Abraham in an amazing way. He is part of God's story. Frankly, I'd like his autograph. But he's NOT God!

What faith do you place your eternal answer in? Warren Wiersbe said it best.... "Like Nicodemus in John 3, they stumbled at the truth that they needed to be born again." There's the problem! Recognizing, admitting, that we are needy.

John continues, with more of what I call "spiritual common sense"...
"Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
(Matthew 3:10 ESV)

I have to quote Wiersbe again... "the root determines the fruit". It's not about what we can do to impress God. We cannot. But, we don't have to. Instead, with our faith rightly established, in the One who does affect our eternity, we will "then" bare fruit that is worth sharing.

Blessings,
Steve Terrell

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Our Most Basic Calling

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."
(Romans 1:20 ESV)

I cannot read this truth enough. I struggled with the idea of... "a calling". That is ...knowing if, what, or when God has called me to...  something, anything! Catch-phrases and church-speak, though surely well intended, often create confusion. Too, we (the recipient) must take some blame for this confusion ...and each individual, to be sure, must take responsibility for his own thoughts and understandings. A mentor once summed it up for me. He said... "You are not called to a vocation, or to be this or that. This is God calling you back to Himself." I grew to understand that what he was saying was... whatever we do, and by what means we do them, are free choices God has given us. True for both redeemed and the lost. Faith in Him "drives" our decision of "why" we do!

Whatever else, whatever to-dos, or things we conclude God has asked us to ...there is a most basic calling on each of us. BELIEVE! With belief, through faith, our journey begins.

I love what Paul expresses in his letter to the church in Rome. There is simply no good excuse not to believe, in this most basic way. Just open the front door and look around. Yes, there is war, and rumor of war. There are homeless, sick, needy. Yet.... consider what just happened in your body. You took a breath, then exhaled it. PRAISE GOD! This is what Paul was expressing! He wasn't being rude, or snarky. Simply saying... come on folks... be reasonable! Who is the base cause of that breath? I can find no excuse. Awesome, mighty, living, loving, Creator, God! And when we take our final breath ...know this too, is in God's ultimate plan. Paul also stated this perfectly. " For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

Know, believe, Jesus.

Steve Terrell

Thursday, September 3, 2015

True Joy, In Christ, In Living

Are you grateful for where you are in life? I mean truly grateful, and content? Or, are you craving, driving for more?


I believe Hebrews demonstrates how we can be content by seeking holiness, and this contentment will strengthen our worship.

  1. JOY COMES FROM DETERMINATION

  2. JOY COMES FROM DISCIPLINE

  3. JOY COMES FROM PEACE

  4. JOY EXPRESSES IN WORSHIP


"Therefore"... What's the saying ...anytime you read 'therefore', there is something there before. Hebrews 11 is what we refer to as "The Hall of Faith". The faith of things to come; maybe not in the same lifetime.


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1 ESV

JOY COMES FROM DETERMINATION:

Why should I persevere? Is there a time in your life when you weren't sure you could / would?...


James 1:12 says... "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."


1 Tim. 4:1 says... "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."


Luke 21:19 says.... "By standing firm you will gain life."

--------------------------------------

"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Joy? How could Jesus see "joy", with what He was facing?


Godly "contentment" is a thing to be desired, for sure.


Is it only for the joy of eternity with God? That is certainly foremost in our thinking. But can a Christian truly be joyful in this life?


Let me ask this... do you have to be "entertained"? Or, can you be content in just meditating on God's goodness?


Yesterday, as I was praying, it occurred to me to be thankful both for what God has given me, AND what He has denied me. I would not know the joy of long1suffering, of patience, of endurance, were it not for being denied what I've often wanted. I see life through a different lens.

Let me give an example, which may sound trivial....

I was thanking God for my automobile situation in life. This is very "practical", both in a worldly sense AND an eternal sense. I was talking to my 18 year-old about how I had to plan, starting several years ago, to ensure he and his brothers have automobiles to get started in. This turned into a blessing for both them, and Cindy and myself. Let me explain.... determining, way back, that I was going to pay-off both of our automobiles not only provided the boys with wheels; it provided me with better credit, which provides my wife the ability to drive a newer, more dependable, car. It provided us with the ability to be just a little less dependent on earning more money, but also helped us balance our budget, which allows us the ability to give more. Too, it provided the boys something to look forward to.


Do you get how this isn't trivial? Do you see the trickling effect? This is not about worldly prosperity. It has nothing to do with the "things" I just spoke of. Instead, it has to do with laying aside things which entangle us.


"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV

JOY COMES FROM DISCIPLINE:

"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons."
Hebrews 12:5-8 ESV

"For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV

JOY COMES FROM PEACE:

"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal."
Hebrews 12:12-16 ESV

JOY EXPRESSES IN WORSHIP:

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,"
Hebrews 12:28 ESV

Live on-purpose! If we don't decide our purpose, the world will decide it for us, Make glorifying God your purpose. He WILL reward you. Not with things, but with JOY, and a PEACE that goes beyond our understanding.


A Confident God

In today's culture, many aren't confident about God, but rest assured my beautiful friend ....God is confident about us! Let that sink in. For all our flaws, any of our goodness, all our nastiness, we surely haven't shocked God's socks off either way. If He is Lord of all, at all, He is most assuredly ...confident of His love for us. His redemption is THE topic that matters. Don't be confused by the topic of the day, or the Christian hypocrite of the day. Let's be clear.... that is all of us in greater or lesser degrees. Throw the darts. We deserve 'em. But don't confuse that with God's confident will for ALL of us. WOW GOD!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Waiting Patiently

"So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help."
Isaiah 30:18 NLT

As the context around this passage of scripture makes clear.... we are naturally rebellious. We don't like being instructed. We don't need it. Again, we live in the land of plenty.

As a result of our pridefulness, and God's patient, loving-kindness, He will not push a relationship on us. He wants us to want Him.
~Steve Terrell

Lalalalala

Remeber when you were a kid,  and didn't want to hear something being said? We would plug our ears and loudly say.... "lalalalala", just to shut out whatever it was. Not unlike many people in times of the Old Testament, in today's post-Christian, post-church, culture ...we don't want to be burdened with things like wise counsel, righteousness that comes only from God, nor depend upon the Lord for our daily living. No, we desire or own way, our rules, our freedom, our rebellion. A day will come that we'll be grateful for God's instruction. But not now. We live in the land, the time, of plenty.

~Steve Terrell

"They tell the seers, "Stop seeing visions!" They tell the prophets, "Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your 'Holy One of Israel.'" This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel: "Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies, calamity will come upon you suddenly— like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down. You will be smashed like a piece of pottery— shattered so completely that there won't be a piece big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well."
Isaiah 30:10-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.30.10-14.NLT