Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Curious Life of Buddy Law – A man with sight living as a blind man

I have a friend, Buddy Law, who is the same age as me. Buddy was born blind. For most of his adolescent and teenage years, Buddy walked around with the aid of a walking guide. Because he had the guide for a long time, Buddy  became adept at navigating through life with it. The walking stick quickly became an extension of him. It became his dear friend, his guide, his way of moving through life.

Then one day, Buddy ran into a doctor that told him he had a remedy that could reverse the condition that caused his blindness. Though skeptical, Buddy decided that he had nothing to lose and so went in for treatment. That one decision changed his life. After years of being blind, his eyesight was suddenly restored.

If you were to meet Buddy Law, you wouldn’t know he had regained his eyesight. Though his eyes have been opened, he still walks around with a walking guide. He keeps his eyes closed most of the time and so has to use his walking guide. He is not handicapped anymore, but possesses a mental handicap that keeps him living the life of the blind. He trusts the guide more than he does his opened eyes.

Why are you friends with Buddy Law? Some have asked out of curiosity. Why keep company whose behavior is odd for someone with sight they wonder.

I don’t know. Perhaps Buddy and I are friends because I can relate to him. Like him, I was born spiritually blind. Therefore, I bumped into things and fell into ditches I did not know were there. After years of being bruised and battered, luckily I found a walking guide by the name of the law. With the aid of the law, which some now call religion in some circles, I attempted to go through life without bumping into things. I became aware of ditches and was able to avoid them. Life was good.

Then one day, I bumped into a doctor by the name of Jesus (see Mark 2:17). He led me into His office and opened my eyes. He took the walking guide away from me and told me that I did not need it anymore.

He said that with my eyes now opened, I could go beyond avoiding trouble to actually living the life I was meant to live. Your perception of reality is about to change, He told me before I walked out of the office. You will now see things as they really are, not the way you always imagined things will always be. Though, the law (walking guide for the blind) was good, grace (sight of those with faith) is better.

Why do I befriend Buddy? It might be because I turn into him from time to time. I close my eyes to the grace of God and pick up the law once again. When I do this, I find that I turn into someone trying to avoid mistakes, feeling my way through life in the dark, not knowing where I am going, and therefore not enjoying the fullness of life. I find myself wanting to stick to environments I know – chasing after security. Anything different scares me. Every sudden noise and situation that I am not familiar with strikes me with terror. I become someone I do not recognize.

But then something within me tells me to let go of the walking stick, so I do. Why do I keep this wretched walking guide around, I ask myself when I open my eyes.

That’s when it hit me. I realized that I had a fear about losing my eyesight though the doctor had told me that this was impossible. My problem was that I did not believe the doctor and so I kept the law at hand as an insurance policy.

I realized that my unbelief concerning the grace of God was keeping me from living the best life he had in store for me.

Like me, everyone had told Buddy to keep an insurance policy. You better keep you walking guide next to you. What will you do if you lose your eyesight and you don’t have it next to you?

Buddy is now seeing that his unbelief is what is leading him to take hold of the walking guide. So he has resolved to spend more time with the doctor – to really get to know Him. Now seeing the character of the doctor, he is doing a much better job leaving the walking guide behind. One day, he resolves to change his name from Buddy Law to Buddy Grace.

Who would you like to be – Buddy Law or Buddy Grace?

When we decide to trust God is when our name gets changed – from Jacob to Israel, from Abram to Abraham, from Saul to Paul, from Simon to Cephas.

Do you need to change your guide? Do you need a name change?

 

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How to Get Along With Those With Opposing Views

With regards to opposing view, it seems as if there is nothing that divides people more than politics. I have hitherto seen as much passion out of people as I do when two people with differing political ideologies clash.

As I witnessed this a few days ago, I could not help but ask myself these questions: How would our world be different if we showed as much passion to change ourselves as we did trying to change other people’s views? How different would we be if we were as committed to God as we were our political views?

This is not the first time people have had different political views. In fact, the bible covertly speaks to how people with different political views, and speaks to how they can get along. This silent lesson can be lifted from the scripture by looking at two disciples of Jesus – Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector.

Simon the zealot was one who like his name was zealous for the overthrow of the governing body at the time. Matthew the tax collector was one who was getting paid by that same government to collect money from folks who probably did not care for the government. To Simon, Matthew would have been considered a traitor – selling his identity for money.

Yet the bible does not speak about these two disciples clashed – not even once. In fact, they were part of the twelve who spend time with Jesus and so spent time with each other often. This tells us a number of things:

(1) The Presence of Jesus Changes Everything: What we know about the two of them is that they were in the presence of Jesus. When God showed up and called them, they both gave up their special interests for His interest. Simon beat his sword into a plowshare (Isaiah 2:4) and Simon changed his love for money into love for God. This tells us that the presence of God changes everything. Now, for us believers, God is not only with us, but He is with us, through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. If the presence of God leads us, then we would see as God sees versus how we see things. Let us take the example of Simon and Matthew – let us behold God once again.

(2) A Kingdom Mindset Changes Everything: A kingdom is a complex word formed out of two words – King and Dominion. Hence, a kingdom is the king’s dominion. In a kingdom, the will of the king is what carries sway. He has final say and authority. What we feel, think, have been led to believe does not much matter. Being that we now citizens of the kingdom, only the instructions of the king matters. He has set forth some edicts. He says to love your neighbor  as yourself (Mark 12:31). He says to love your enemies, bless those that curse you, and do good to those that hate you (Matthew 5:44). It seems that Simon and Matthew must have taken this to heart for they did not hate each other once they accepted the instruction of the King.

(3) God Is The Answer: All people generally want the same things. We are all looking for security, identity, acceptance, happiness. The difference between all of us is that we look for the same things in different place – depending on where we feel and think we will find it or where the world tells us we will get it. Thus we see that Simon had his identity in his tribal heritage and Matthew had his security in money. Yet they realized that these things could not fill the hole in their heart. No matter how much money Matthew made, it brought temporary happiness but no more. No matter how passionate Simon got, there was still something missing. What they realized they had in common was that they were both in need of a Savior. Instead of arguing about who was right and wrong, they realized that they were both wrong. They realized that only God is right. They realized the selfishness of the intent of their hearts. And they realized that God + nothing = more than enough. So instead of pointing the finger of blame, they surrendered to Him who could do more with a word than a mountain of money or a thousand uprisings.

A person who loved the presence of God, had a kingdom mindset, and knew God was the answer to all he could face was Daniel. With these three things, a boy who was bought in chains to Babylon  – a place filled with idols but was the most powerful kingdom in the world – turned into a man who turned the kingdom upside down and caused the leader of the kingdom to decree the following:

Then King Darius wrote:

To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:

Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.

For He is the living God, And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

 

Food For Thought: If we truly want to be world changers, we have to first change ourselves – God can do way more through us when we resolve to be more like Him.

 

 

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Disappointments In Relationships – What To Know Before You End It

The truth is we live in a fallen world filled with flawed people. As such, in this life, it is not a matter of if we will deal with disappointments, it is a matter of when we will deal with them.

The truth is everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for – Bob Marley

A dire but commonly employed strategy for dealing with disappointment (especially in a relationship) is to try to avoid being disappointed in the future at all cost. This strategy calls for the tactics of putting massive walls around our hearts, looking for perfection, being overly sensitive and critical of mistakes, and withholding intimacy. These tactics so distance us mentally and emotionally from relationships, that we sacrifice real love and connection for the illusion of safety. The problem with this strategy for the person that employs it is that (1) it leaves a gaping hole in their heart and (2) it does not take away the relational desire. It is not unusual for a person who has employed this strategy to be plagued by bouts of melancholy and depression because they have starved themselves of one of the human basic needs – the need for a close relationship. I do not recommend this strategy but prefer the one of offering our disappointments to God that He may turn our hurt and pain into gain and glory.

We should neither set ourselves up for disappointments, nor try to avoid them – Anonymous

While there is an element of not setting ourselves up for constant disappointments by choosing our partners carefully, there is another element of expectations we must be careful to manage. Below are two expectations that set us up for disappointments.

Expecting Our Partners to Be Perfect

Born out of selfishness (for the person who expects perfection is themselves not perfect), this expectation looks to gain more than it gives in the relationship, and expects from the other person what they cannot give.  Asking someone for something they do not have the ability to give is a sure strategy to be disappointed.

Instead of expecting perfection, we are better off accepting their imperfection, just as we accept our own.

Expecting To Change Our Partners 

Born out of arrogance (for we try to do only what God can do), this expectation encourages the would be changer to alter the environment of their relationship to effect a change in their partner. Though it may start off lovingly, it usually reeks of manipulation, and will likely end up in frustration and disappointment for the one who engages in it.

Instead of trying to change our partners, we are better of praying to God that our hearts change towards our partners as He effects His change in His time on both us and our partners.

Disappointments are inevitable but discouragement in a choice – Charles Stanley

We tend to get discouraged when we think that things will not change. The thought that things will not change is what leads us to want to give up. It is what has led many people to divorce their partners or end relationships prematurely.

To think that things will never change is to limit the power of God. The root of this line of thinking is unbelief for it truly does not believe that with God all things are possible. Choose to think differently. Before pulling a plug on your relationship, consider these three things:

God Will Finish What He Started

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns – Philippians 1:6

God is not done with our relationships yet. His heart is that relationships not only survive, but that they thrive. We must submit ourselves to Him so that He can finish the good work He has begun in us. As His hands mark our lives, so will it mark our relationships. It is a process – we must let God do His good work. Things will not always be the same in Him.

God Can Create A New Relationship With the Same People

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland  – Isaiah 43:18-19

While people say “well if I tell you what happened”, God says “well if I tell you what I am about to make happen”. See if we knew the future God has planned for us, the past would not discourage us. Our plans compared to God’s plans are rubbish. It’s time to surrender our plans over to Him so He can create rivers of life giving water to sustain the relationships that have become dry wastelands

God Brings To Pass What We Commit To Him

That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of His return – 2 Timothy 1:12

Though you may feel you are suffering and serving a prison term in your relationship right now, understand that He is able to guard everything you entrust to Him. So entrust your relationship to Him and watch as He keeps it and guards it. With God as the guard, no enemy can penetrate. So let go of it and release it into His hands for safeguard. You will not regret it.

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What Does It Mean To “Work Out Your Salvation”?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure – Philippians 2:12-13

The first time I ran across these verses, I scratched my head for I found them both contradictory and confusing.

Contradictory because it seemed to go against everything I knew about salvation. “I thought salvation was a free gift, so what is this verse talking about“, I murmured to myself.

Confusing because it seemed to suggest at first that we are working, and then it goes on to suggest that God is working. “Who is working here“, I pondered. “Is it me, Is it God, Is it both?“.

As I sought out an explanation from others, I quickly came to understand that this is a passage that divides the church into doctrinal factions. Moreover, depending on the faction, these verses are either used as pillars, wholly ignored, or only spoken about in private.

If like me you are a little bamboozled by this passage, I hope the next few abbreviated sections helps to shed some light. If it only persists in confusing you further, I apologize in advance.

Quick context: First, Paul wrote the his letter to the body of believers in Philippi (not unbelievers) as a thank you and encouraging letter. Second, these two verses complete a passage where Paul speaks about us having the mind of Christ – mind of humility and obedience – which ultimately led to Jesus’ name being exalted (read verses 5-11

What It Means To Work

There are multiple words for the word work in Greek. The Greek word translated as work in the line that says “work out your own salvation” is NOT the Greek word for toil and labor. The word work here means to cause or to effect (as in a change). In other words, it means to trigger.

The Greek word translated as works in the line that says “it is God who works in you” is the Greek word that means active.

So we see that it our job to trigger, and it is His job to be active in us.

What Own Salvation Means

Context reminder: This is written to a body of believers as encouragement and thank you.

No matter how you view Philippians 2:12-13, it is safe to say that all believers have triggered salvation by choosing to put their faith in Jesus Christ. This being the case, the question that lingers is this: What is Apostle Paul talking about when  he speaks of triggering (working out) our own salvation.

Context reminder: The preceding versus speak to Jesus the man having the mind of humility and obedience.

The word salvation simply means safety or to be delivered.

We (believers) have been delivered from the penalty of sin (God’s mercy), we presently have been given the ability to be delivered from the power of sin (God’s grace), and we will be taken away from the presence of sin (God’s final victory).

By this we see that salvation is three-fold – encompassing the past, present, and future. All of it is done out of the Father’s love and accomplished by Him through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, a triune God accomplishes a triune salvation where our spirit is saved (past), our soul is being saved (present), and our body will be saved (future).

Our soul consists of our mind, will, and emotion. It will either conform to this world, thereby causing us or triggering us (working) to experience hell on earth in the kingdom of this world, or it will be conformed to the guidance of the Spirit of God, thereby causing us to experience heaven on earth in the kingdom of God. The choice is ours – choose a hellish life outside of the influence of the Spirit of God or choose a heavenly life inside of the influence of the Spirit of God.

While on earth, Jesus triggered the Kingdom of God to be manifested by having a mind set on humility and obedience. By so doing, God was active (worked) in Him to will and to do His good pleasure (compare this to Philippians 2:12-13). The pleasure of God was for Jesus to be the solution to people’s spiritual, psychological, and physical ailments, as detailed in miracle after miracle. Awesome!!!

Therefore, we see that these verses are an encouragement and admonition for us all – like Jesus – to trigger (work) our own deliverance (own salvation) from the kingdom of this world and to be delivered into the kingdom of God (which Jesus said was at hand and made available to us) by having a mind set on humility and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, we see that Philippians 2:12-13 is speaking of our present salvation while on earth from the craziness sin will cause in our lives if we do not bend our mind, will, emotions to humility and obedience to the Spirit of God.

Why is it we have to do it? It is because Jesus the man is gone from the earth. He has already made the Kingdom available to us. Just as He won’t force us to accept Him, He won’t force us to live in the Kingdom He has already made available to us.

What Fear and Trembling Means

Looking up the original meaning of Greek word translated as fear in the passage reveals two words. One translates as possession or hold, while the other translates as awe or reverence. Hence the part that says “with fear” translates into with a possession of reverence or holding onto awe.  

Now if the question is awe of what? The answer is awe of what God has made available for such a man who operates in humility and obedience. Nothing should awe us more than what God did for His Son when He lived a life of unmatchable humility and obedience (see Philippians 2:8 -11)

The word trembling translates into quaking with dread. If the question is the dread of what? The answer is dread of missing out on the life that God paid for through the sacrifice of His Son. Is that encouraging?

Summary

God desires that we trigger a life of living in His kingdom (which has been delivered to us) by establishing a mindset of humility and obedience through taking a hold of the awe of what God has in store for us and a dread of missing out on it.

In the kingdom of God abides love, joy, peace, self-control, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, patience and more regardless of our circumstance. Why would we not trigger that? I hope you agree that indeed good for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling

 

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