faith

In what is your identity?  

1Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; “

Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Ask yourself this question, “In what is your identity?”
Is it in an experience, a tragedy, an upbringing, a culture, the color of your skin or the community you are in? Is it in your achievements or your failures, your name or in your looks? Is your identity in a sports team or your school, a club or the car you drive? Is your identity in your hobby, your work, your friendships? Is your identity attached to your clothing or music style or if you are liked and accepted? Maybe it is one of these or many of these. 
I ask the question because God wants us to see ourselves as he does and identify ourselves as he does. All these earthly identities will vanish when the Lord returns for us or if we were to die before that. When you and I stand before the lord in his glorious presence we will not be dressed in that identifying clothing we wear so proudly nor be attached any more to that group or club or team. We will not enter boasting of our earthly accomplishments or achievements nor our failures and weaknesses we once were labeled as by others. 
No, none of these will be seen on us because none of them are who we are as believers and followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. So why are they so seriously held to while on the earth since they are as temporal as a passing cloud and hold no real value to life?  
Through Peter God has communicated that those who come to him (1Pet 2 vs. 4), are royal, holy, and special. Not because of us but because of him. 
Royal - as in kingly or regal because we have become the the adopted children of God 
Holy - as in set apart as he, our holy God, is from all things and not attached to Him. 
Special - here the Greek refers to that which is possessed or owned. Consider that which you own and how those things are special to you. We are God’s possessions therefore being special to Him. 
These all speak of a new identity attached to Him who saved us. They speak of transformation that is intended by God for us to see and live out. But the verse also communicates purpose and direction. We are royal, holy and his special possession so to proclaim Him and that he has delivered us from darkness, a life absent of his presence, to light, a life eternal with Him. 

So now ask the question again. What is your identity? 

Blessings 
pBob

Greater, a surprise find of a film for the family.

GreaterTrailer.jpg

Christian based movies are regularly hitting our theaters these days and often the producers send information and flyers to our church to support by encouraging the congregation to buy a ticket.  Those I appreciate the most and am more likely to go see, are about real Christians living out their real faith.  The first such film I saw was the Hiding Place, the story of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, two women who with their father hide Jews during WW2, are caught by Nazis and sent to a death camp.  Wonderfully filmed and acted this true story of faith and perseverance  became the bench mark of Christian films for me and impacted me immensely as a young Christian.

While buzzing around Netflix I came across the movie Greater (2016), the story of Brandon Burlsworth, an Arkansas Razorback walk-on who trusted God as he filled his dream to attend and play for the University of Arkansas.  He earned a scholarship and became an All-America offensive lineman during the late 1990s.  His Christian faith not only filled his life but impacted many fellow players and coaches until his life was taken in a car accident before he started his first year in the NFL.  Although it did not rise to the story and quality of Hiding Place it was very inspiring and moving. 

While Greater was a surprise find what was even a greater surprise was discovering the faith of actor Neal McDonough.  Holding major roles in many Hollywood films you will know him as the partner of Tom Cruise in Minority Report and as Lieutenant Lynn "Buck" Compton in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.  I have always admired his acting and was happy to find him playing Marty Burlsworth, Brandon Burlsworth's older brother who is Brandon's biggest fan and has filled the gap where their alcoholic father has failed.  But what even more rocked my boots was to learn of Neal McDonough's personal faith and his honest conviction "not to use God's name in vain or kiss another woman on screen."  His true commitment to God with his quality of acting caries the movie as a man struggling and questioning God after the tragic death of his brother.  In fact, though the movie was centered on the life of Brandon Burlsworth I'd say McDonough's character nearly takes the spotlight and fills the movie with emotion every believer can relate to. 

Greater is a great find and worth watching with your family.  Be sue to have your tissue ready.

Blessings

Pastor Bob

 

My discussion with an Iranian doctor 

Me - I heard someone say you are Armenian? ( I had an Armenian professor in college I really liked).

Dr - Oh no (chuckled), I'm Iranian

Me - I'm sorry (spoken nervously for the mistake).  I heard someone speaking to another commenting you were Armenian. There are differences.

Dr -  Oh, but there are really similarities, in features

Me - Yes, but big differences in cultures. 

Dr - That is true. Did you know that there is a very large population of Armenians in Iran? 

Me - I didn't realize that. 

Dr - Yes, centuries ago they migrated south to Iran and today there are over 150,000 in Iran. They are Christian and are a happy people. They follow the Muslim requirements publicly, their women cover with the hijab. But when they are together or have their own events they don't.  Their events,  likeweddings, are so wonderful, so happy. You know, young Iranian people always want to know the Armenians because they enjoy life and are so happy.  

Our discussion was then interrupted and I was not able to continue my inquiry or to interject my faith. But consider the simple witness of these Armenian Christians. "They are happy people." Even in Iran.  

Reminds me of the words of the psalmist, "Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!"  Psalms 144:15

Jesus also said: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."  John 15:11

Be happy, be joyful, for your God is the LORD! You just don't know who is watching.

pastor Bob

Iron Sharpens Iron - Sparks that are Good

Photo credited to Charlie Kellog https://www.flickr.com/photos/papa_charliegeorge/

Photo credited to Charlie Kellog https://www.flickr.com/photos/papa_charliegeorge/

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

When hearing this proverb what may be envisioned are two swords clashing with sparks flying.  But the author likely was imagining the local farmer sharpening his tools.  It didn't cause sparks as that would heat the metal to much but there would be friction as the sharpening wheel turns and the tool is methodically and purposefully held against the sharpening wheel.

Why the need to be sharpened?  The tool has become dull, the edge is uneven or worse damaged.  This hinders the tool's ability to do its job well.  So the sharpening is favorable and for the benefit of the tool.  It is a slow caring process meant to improve the tool to be its best.  The final result is a tool ready for service and to fulfill its purpose.

So how does this pertain to you and I as believers, as members of the Body of Christ, as disciples of Christ?  When we engage with one another, get close to one another, joining arms in service with one another, it is inevitable that we will have opportunity and circumstances that will cause friction between one another.  Sound uncomfortable?  of course.  Is this a bad thing?  Not at all.  It is an needed thing?  Yes it is.  But is it for the better?  You bet ya.  For end result is a stronger character, a spiritual maturing, an improved servant and a more perfected tool for the Lord.

The sad thing I find is that many are afraid of experiencing sharpening. It's actually seen as a negative, something to avoid, even an offense. The love of the friend is somehow forgotten and an adverse response follows.  The result?  No strengthening of character, no growth in maturity and the servant goes no further in his service for the Lord.  There may occur a ending of the friendship.  Maybe even a resentment and turning from the faith.  I believe you can not strengthen, mature or better what isn't there in the first place. Just like the tool being flawed beyond repair or sharpening because the metal wasn't well made in the first place. So it is that the person who's life does not rest on the Lord, or his truth, or his spirit, will not respond well to the sharpening.

I have come to appreciate those who have been instruments of the Lord to sharpen me.  Those dear friends that have shown me grace like an ocean breeze but  have also played the sharpening wheel in my life to produce a better me.  Because I know their love an commitment to the Lord and to me I assured they intend good and not evil and know they are God's instrument.  May we receive the sharpening wheel of the Lord as easily and openly  as we receive his generous blessings and kind touch.  May we see its benefits and respond with anticipation of being better than we were and ready for service.

Blessings

pBob

 

Emerson Fittapaldi Man of Faith & a Champion

You may or may not know that I am an auto racing enthusiast.  Primarily open wheel like Formula 1 or Indy Car.  Emerson Fittapaldi is a 2 times Formula 1 champion and a 2 time Indy 500 winner.  Incredible driver to watch.  But what I love and admire about the man is not his being a winner on the race track or his having what it takes to drive all out  but more his sincere faith in Jesus Christ.  Here is a wonderful video and encouraging words to believe and follow Jesus.

Be encourage.

pBob

Why Xmas is not a Bad thing.

There is a common view that Xmas is an attempt by secular critiques of the Christian faith to remove Christ from the Christmas holiday.  I have personally heard many Christians express this view over the years and then be surprised at the truth of the Christmas abreviation. 

Xmas is an accepted abreviation of Christmas with 'X' coming from the Greek latter "chi," that happens to be the first letter of the Greek word "Χριστός"  that is translated "Christ.  "Mas" comes from the Old English word Mass.  So Christ-mas.  

 There are simlar uses as in XP or Chi-Rho that was another sympol for Christ and one of the most early symbols used by Christians.

XP or Chi-Rho

So don't be offended by the use of Xmas but instead use it as a topic to witness you faith in Christ this Christmas.  

pBob

Great Challenge to Men

I received an email from a friend who was led of the Lord to send out an exhortation to the men he knows, to pursure a love for God.  I was so blessed by it and asked if I could post his email on my blog.  So here it is. 

pBob

Hello Men,

    If you could give me a few seconds of your time, I'd like to share with you a positive exhortation I received from the Lord  this morning.

    There is a song written and played by Warren Barfield named "Love Is Not a Fight, But It's Something Worth Fighting For" made popular by the movie Fireproof. The premise of the song is both beautiful and assertive in it's challenge to us all to fight for our relationships with our wives or future wives in an active manner.

    The context suggests that we must actively pursue a right relationship with our spouse; we must conscientiously make a continuous effort to love her, cherish her, and please her daily. This takes a selfless attitude; we must sacrifice our own wants and desires daily and replace them with the desire to take care of her needs, encourage her, and put her first. This also means that we must be on guard in an active form; we must be aware of the incoming attacks that come in on a daily basis from external sources that wish to destroy our love for one another and from internal sources, lust, envy, pride etc that threaten our relationship with our spouse.

As I pondered this, the Lord asked me another question.

Do I fight for my love and relationship I have with Jesus? I know that He fights for me this way. I realized that I do not.  

    The application from this song also challenges us to love Christ in this way as well. We [believers] are the bride of Christ and have a relationship with Him. We must actively pursue a right relationship with Him and make a conscientious effort to love Him, cherish Him, and please Him daily. Our one purpose in life is to glorify Him. We must put Him first and be on guard of the attacks, both external and internal, that threaten our love and relationship with Jesus.  

The last chorus of the song is as follows: 

"I will fight for you, Would you fight for me? It's worth fighting for."

My challenge to all of us is that we would hear those words coming from the mouth of Jesus and except the challenge. 

Brother in Christ

Chris Whaley

"For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will
also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." 
Tim 2:11-13