How big is a Mustard Seed?

Moses grew up as a prince in the then world power of Egypt. He ran away after he killed an Egyptian slave master in defense of a Hebrew slave. Moses settled in Midian, became a shepherd, and started a family. One day he was called by God to go back to Egypt and lead his fellow Hebrews to freedom in Canaan. Moses came up with several excuses why he couldn’t do what God had asked: “they won’t believe me”, “they won’t listen to me”, “I’m not a good public speaker”, and so on. But a question Moses asked God is interesting. He asked, “Who am I?” It seems that Moses didn’t think he had what it would take to do what God called him to do. He lacked faith in himself, he lacked self-esteem, he seemed to feel like he wasn’t worthy to take on the task. But mostly, he lacked faith in God.

But look at Elijah. Elijah took on 450 so called prophets of the false god Baal in a battle of faith on Mount Carmel. He was so bold and courageous that he mocked the prophets, and their god, when they were unable to bring supernatural fire down to burn their sacrifice. When it came to Elijah’s turn, he prayed to God to bring fire from heaven and show who the one true God was. He didn’t just hope or think that God would respond, he knew it. He knew it and believed it with every fiber of his being! He had a mountain of faith in God’s power, and God delivered in a spectacular way.

Who do you feel like most days? Do you feel like you can’t do what Jesus asks of us and share his good news? Do you lack the faith to change the world?

When some followers of Jesus couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy, they asked Him why. He told them they lacked faith. Then He said that if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains. Did you read that, they could move mountains!

We don’t need to lead a nation to freedom, face down idolatrous hordes, slay a giant, or build a boat to change the world. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed.

How do we grow our faith? Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome that faith is built by hearing God’s Word preached. We need to worship and study to grow our faith. Solomon prayed for wisdom, we also need to spend time in prayer and be asking for the Spirit to strengthen our faith. Pray for ourselves, pray for each other, pray for the church, just pray!

What could you do with faith the size of a mustard seed?

Get up, Bambi!

get_up_bambi

There’s a scene from Walt Disney’s 1942 classic, Bambi, where the titular young deer is laying down tired, wounded, and alone as a wildfire races toward him. The Great Prince of the Forest, and Bambi’s father, calls out to him, “Get up, Bambi! Get up! You must get up!” Bambi’s father could see what he couldn’t see for himself, the imminent danger he was in and that he would certainly die if he didn’t pick himself up off the ground and move.

1 Kings 19 shows us a picture of the prophet Elijah. He had just won a great victory in a spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal, a false Canaanite god. Queen Jezebel, the evil wife of King Ahab, heard about the defeat of her prophets and chased after Elijah to kill him! Tired, scared, and seemingly alone, Elijah took up residence in a cave in the wilderness and laid down, for good. God came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah explained that he was tired and that he was the only person in Israel that was still loyal to him. God told Elijah that there were at least 7,000 Israelites who were still loyal to their God, and he gave Elijah a list of things to do, including to train Elisha, his replacement. God basically said get up, Elijah! Get up!

We as Christians are also warned of dangers around us. Paul warns us of false teachers, who want to destroy us from the inside. Peter warns us about the devil, who stalks us, hunting to find a person who he can devour! We may want lay down under the pressure and strain of spiritual battle, feeling wounded, lost, and alone. But we are never alone. Just like Elijah, there are those who are loyal to our God, our Christian family who we can lean on and they can lean on us. We have Jesus who we can cast our cares onto, we have the Spirit who guides us and makes intercession for us, and we have the Father who forgives us and watches over us.

So get up, Christian! Get up! You must get up! There is work to do, let’s go together and do it!

The F-Stop Blues

If you look closely at the lens of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, you’ll see a ring near the base of lens that controls the F-Stop. The F-Stop represents the size of the aperture, or opening, in the lens.  The lower the number, the more light is allowed to enter the camera to create a bright and vivid image.  The higher the F-Stop, the slower the shutter needs to be to get enough light for a full exposure.  If the shutter is too slow the image will be blurry.

Our hearts can act like an F-Stop to God’s light.  If you open it wide, you will be bathed in God’s goodness and can absorb more love and knowledge and grow as a Christian.  But if you close your heart, you open yourself to blurry images of God, leaving yourself vulnerable to underexposure, leading to Satan’s darkness.

James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

1 John 1:5 – “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

The Son of Man

Ok, my math skills are kinda weak, so I need some help here.  0.5 + 0.5 = 1?  Got it!  1 + 1 = 2?  Alright, on a roll!  So when does 1 + 1 ever equal 1?  When Jesus Christ was both human and God at the same time.

This isn’t a study about the divinity of Jesus, I think that most people visiting this blog already believe that Jesus was indeed God the Son in the flesh on this earth (John 1:1-2), if not, then shoot me an email and we’ll talk.  But, rather I want to take a look at Jesus, the Son of Man.

1. He was born just like you and me, though not under the same circumstances.  You, like me, we’re most likely born in a hospital.  A hospital that was clean and sterile, (mostly) free from germs.  Also, there was probably a nurse tending to your mother and a doctor that specializes in childbirth there to care for you when you were finally born.  Not Jesus, He was born in a stable, His first bed was a food trough that a horse probably ate out of minutes before He was born.  But still, He was brought into this world through a human birth (Luke 2:6-7).

2. He lived a normal life just like you and me.  Well, maybe not normal, I don’t remember teaching the elders of my congregation anything new when I was only 12 years old (Luke 2:41-51).  But what I mean to say is that Jesus worked for a living.  Mark 6:3  tells us that He was a carpenter, not an easy job even on the best of days.  His hands were calloused and he worked in the hot sun.  The average July temperature in Bethlehem today is 86° / 60% humidity, with a “nice” desert breeze.

3. He was tempted just like us in every way (Hebrews 4:15).  That really speaks for itself, you know yourself and you know the things that tempt you on a daily basis.  Try smashing your thumb with a hammer, like you know Jesus probably did given His profession, and not wanting to say something inappropriate.  But more than that, His God side (if you will) was tempted as well (Luke 4:1-12).

4. He had emotions just like you and me.  In Matthew 21:12-13 He was angered by the buying/selling and money changing going on in the temple where it shouldn’t have been.  And He cried when His friend Lazarus died, even though He knew beforehand that Lazarus would be raised from the dead (John 11:35).

5. He died, not at all like you and me.  He died FOR you and me.

And why did God the Son leave His Father’s side in Heaven to live and die for us?  So that He could mediate the difference in God’s expectations and our human failings (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 2:17-18).  The God of the Old Testament is the same God that we worship today, He has not changed.  His law was perfect, but humans are not.  When God would have destroyed us time and time again for sinning against him like he has done in the past (Genesis 6:17, Genesis 19:24-25, Numbers 16:31-35, etc), Jesus can say, stop!  And tell the Father that He has been there Himself, and that we as humans are doing the best that we can (Hebrews 2:17-18).  And if we continue to do the best we can and try to live a sinless life God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:5-10), all thanks to Jesus Christ, our mediator.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

We’ve all seen the movie or read the story of Snow White.  The wicked queen asks the mirror who the fairest of them all is and she doesn’t like the answer!  Well folks, a mirror doesn’t lie, but sometimes we do lie to ourselves.

James 1:23-25 tells us of just that same idea.  If you look into the mirror and see the person you ought to be, but then go about your day being the opposite person, you are lying to yourself.  Just because you look the part, doesn’t mean you will get the role in the school play.

The same goes for our Christian lives!  We may look good to the world by attending services and by being a “good person”, but until we match our hearts to the image we are portraying we are on that wide path that leads to destruction.

Or maybe your reflection is just the opposite, you don’t like what you see in the mirror and you want to change it.  Acts 2:38 suggests a good place to start: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Be careful little ears what you hear!

Its impossible for us to control the words the people around us use, but sometimes we are able to control the people who are around us.  Unfortunately we can’t control who our employers hire to work with us or who is admitted to the schools we attend.

For those of us who work in or study in a harsh environment language wise, Jesus has good news for us!  In Matthew 15:11 He says, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person”.  Or, its not the things that we hear and see that make us bad people, its what we say and do that define us.

This does not mean the we can surround ourselves with un-Godly things intentionally and not repeat what we see or hear and be ok.  Paul addresses something similar in Romans 6:1-2.  Paul asks, ” Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”  In other words, do you intentionally commit sins because we know that God will forgive us?  In verse two Paul answers his own question, “By no means!”  This same principal can be applied to who and what we expose ourselves to.

One area that Christians fail in, myself included, is music.  The radio can be a horrible thing for you and your children to listen too.  Good news is there are some wonderful musicians out there that are great to listen to.  Two of my favorites are Acappella, and Faulkner University’s Cornerstone.