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standing in peace.

i will have to admit, i tend to get angry at times. when certian things happen, i get frustrated and in turn, angry. while i strive not to "slander" of insult others, i do hold my ground and stand fast. i have been on the edge of calling people names, or attacking them on a personal level - but i know that will solve nothing - all it does is give the other party the right to pull out of the conversation. i have been on the attacked end, and truly felt the pains of "slander" - in his only recorded letter, jude [who is a "half-brother" to jesus and a brother of james] wrote, when dealing with personal attacks:
"The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, "No you don't. God will take care of you!"
michael was willing to go to the mat for a person who followed God, but he was not going to lower himself to a personal attack. the idea is that we can stand-up for each other, but we can not attack those who attack others - at best, and this truly is the best, we can say, "God will deal with this issue" and let it rest.

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the fine line

i have to admit, there is a fine line between confronting a person who is not doing right with God and judging a person for falling. it is a very fine line, but one we still need to stand on; but never cross. here is an example:

you know a friend is doing wrong - stealing, cheating, hurting someone, or other wrong as you know - what do you do? confront? but that seems so judgemental. let go? but then you are approving of the acts - so, what is one to do?

i think timothy had the same issue, because paul gives some very good advise. paul, in his first letter to timothy writes:
"if anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. those who are inclined that way will know right off they can't get by with it. [1 timothy 5:20]"
now, that does not mean "jump on the person" and "condem" them for what they have done. because, if you read what leads up to that you will know that paul spoke in love and that the "calling on the carpet" is not based on judgement, but love. so, we are to treat everyone like a brother and sister, and support them through the hurts of their lives and be ready to pick people up, and not kick them while they are down.

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sharing christ

i have always felt it important to share my understanding of jesus with others. the method used by me is not that used by many - i strive to live my faith and speak it openly with others. i do not hide my faith, nor do i "pocket" my faith in certian situations - i strive to live in chirst 24/7. this has given me the undestanding that God wants everyone to be in relationship with him - everyone.

as paul brings out in his first letter to timothy, "he wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we learned: ..." [1 timothy 2:4 - the message] today, think about how you live your faith. can people look at you and know you are different - not in dress, but in heart? can people see in you a difference from the world? are you striving to let everyone know, in words and actions, the message that changed your life? think about it, this could be the point of change :)

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the "fallen" excuse

i am amazed at the number of evangelicals that claim to follow christ, and then hurt someone so bad that the other person leaves the church, and the "excuse" of the one doing the hurting is "well, we live in a fallen world." - to me, that is the greatest of "christian cop outs." in john's first letter he writes:
Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. [1 john 5:4]
our faith brings change, but that change first starts with people - changed people - people who overcome the "fallen" line and simply love others. i think, and this is my personal view, that people do not love because they do not know God - they know the church, they know the bible, they know religion, but they do not know God and they do not follow christ. in my mind, the time for excuses is over, and the time to love is now. when we love others, we transend this world, and we get closer to God - but to love others means we need to go beyond oursleves, and into the lives of others. we need to get out of our houses and start to go into the houses of others. how can you love? what will be the guide to love this day?

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is "love" a big deal?

the simple answer, "yes." the more complexe answer. "yes." you see, loving someone is easy - the hard part is convincing your self that we have to love others.

God teaches us that loving others is not an option, not a "pick and choose" - it is how we are to live, how we are to relate to others - because the reality is, if we are not loving, we are not of God:
"My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love--so you can't know him if you don't love." [1 john 4:7-8 - the message]

notice i did not say "people would not know we are christians" - i said, "we are not of God." loving others is a test to see if we belong to the God of love - for me? today i will try very hard to show my love for others.

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actions speak volumes

when i was a child my father once told me to "do as he said, not as he did" - needless to say i was very confused. over time, it got me thinking that many in the church have the same idea, "do as we say, not as we do." because, wheile many speak of love, few show it; while many speak of caring, few do it; while many talk about frogiveness, few do it; and the list is endless. many call this "the fallen world" reality, but i just can't buy that pitch. you see, when we are in christ we desire strongly to "do" and not talk about out faith - we realize that being in faith is actually a verb, and action call. john knew this when he wrote:
"My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. 19This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. 20It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves." [1 john 3:18-20 - the message]

the idea is that we express love everyday, not just when it works for us. if we live in love, we show the world we live in christ. the key is to pick a time to just say, "from this point foward i desire to show love to all people" and then do it.

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what is the wattage of your light?

i would like to "back-track" a bit for a second. how bright is your light? how bright does your light shine? sometimes mine is very bright, but is i am honest i give off a faint glow - we are called to be light, and to live in light. one of the ways we know if we are doing this is how we speak about one another. here is how john put it in his first letter:
"Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness." [1 john 2:9-11]

when we hate others, and we are not sharing christ with them. when we hate others, we are not sharing christ with the world around us - we are sharing darkness. we are called to share light, and to bring a message of love, hope and grace to a hurting and confused world. but if we hate, we are confusing the message, with the world.

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where do we place our love?

what do love? what do you think you can't live without? when we think of the things we love, i'll be we think of things in the world, right? after all, what else is there? well, as i continue through 1st john i had to think hard about this, because i do love what is in the world - here is what john writes:
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. [1 john 2:15]

this woke me up to realizing that my life is to center on God - i need that wake-up call once and a while - and that my love for God should be greater then anything in this world - wow, a slap in the face to my reality :)

what about you? what do you love?

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it is simple

how can you tell you are a follower of jesus? because you claim him as your savior? because you read scripture? because you read this blog? what makes you a follower of jesus? what makes anyone a follower of jesus? i have been told that those are hard questions to answer, but i believe they are simple. here is what john says in one of his letters:
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. [1 john 2:3-5; the message]

simple, do as jesus commanded us; love, forgive, accept, welcome, and be gracefilled. once we do those things we are living in the light of jesus and we can claim to be a follower. none of that is impossible. i will admit it is hard, because we have to push ourselves aside and allow others to go before us; it can be done. the first step, is to realize that none of that is based on law and judgement, that's God area. our only concern on earth is to love others - it truly is that simple.

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what is being built?

how do you define the church? what is the center reality of what the church should be? if given an opportunity to define "church" what would it be? what would be the "core" or "foundation" of the church? i think, depending on who we are, the defination changes, but does the core? should the core? here are some words of jesus in matthew: [16:17-19]
Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

"And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven."

the "core" is that jesus is the christ - nothing mre then that is needed. many churches, people and demoninations desire to add so much to this reality, but it still boils down to christ. but, if we are "the church" should not our core be christ? everything we do needs to start with christ, end with christ and should be filtered through christ - not paul, not peter, not james, not our pastors - but through christ.

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