Category Archives: PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

Have You Made Peace with God? 040518

All my life I’ve struggled with how to start a conversation with someone about their relationship with God.  I’ve longed to find some way to get started without offending them or making them mad, or driving them away.  It’s a very personal subject, one that many people are uncomfortable talking about.

One time 3-4 years ago, I had a friend named Evelyn, who was dying of pancreatic cancer.  She worked part-time for the same guy I worked for.  She was about my age.  She was in the hospital, fading fast and I went to visit her.  I didn’t know whether she had a relationship with God or not, but I wanted to talk to her about it.  I didn’t know how to start or what to say.

I don’t know if it mattered, but I took her a prayer blanket that had been made by ladies at our church.  They even prayed over it and anointed it with oil, especially for her.  Now that I think about it, maybe God used that prayer blanket to touch Evelyn and me both.

Anyway, I was standing there beside her bed, trying to think of something to say, when God says, “Ask her if she’s made peace with God.”

So I did.  Right out of the blue I said, “Well, have you made peace with God?”

She thought about it a minute and said the most amazing thing, “Since my husband died about 9 years ago, me and God haven’t had much to say to each other.”

After I thought a second I said, “Evelyn, God loves you; and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or failed to do, He forgives you; and all you have to do to get right with God is to trust Him and accept His forgiveness.”  She said she’d think about it.

She must have done it though, because after she died, her daughter told me that after we talked, she was at peace, happy and thankful; free of all the fear and anxiety she’d had before.

Praise the Lord!

Advertisements

DISCIPLINE VS SURRENDER.062016

A girl and her daddy with apple backgroundDiscipline is one of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’, as in Galatians 5:22-23.  But there it’s called ‘self-control.’ Discipline (as in self-control) is extolled as a virtue, almost without equal.  If you can be self-disciplined, then you can achieve almost any goal known to man.  Wars are won by armies who have the most self-disciplined soldiers, from top to bottom.  Their officers not only give good orders, but their troops respond well to orders, and they always fulfill their orders.  Of such are great men and great events made.

But wait!  What about that line that Jesus said?  If you don’t come as a little child, you won’t get into heaven.”  And “let the kids come to Me, for of such as these are the kingdom of heaven.” [Heaven is filled with people who are like children].  And how do you like, “Thank you Father, that you have hidden these things [things of God?] from the wise and prudent and you have revealed them unto babes.”  Babes have a lot in common with children, especially little children.  Who is disciplined; the wise and the prudent, or the little children?  I don’t know about you, but a lot of days I feel more akin to the babes than to the wise and prudent.  Often I just can’t manage to keep my life in order like it says to, either in the world or in the Bible.  And my observations over six decades plus indicate there are a lot of people out there who are a lot like me.  So what are we undisciplined cotton-pickers supposed to do?  Continue reading

THE PRAYER OF FAITH-2. 041116

There Are Miracles All Around You card with sky backgroundJames 5:15 “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;”

The “prayer of faith” is a prayer that is spoken by a person who has God’s Spirit dwelling in her; it’s not something she has to “work up”; it’s something that is already happening in her heart, soul, and spirit because of the presence of God’s Spirit in her. It’s one of those “rivers of living water” that flows out of her because she trusts in Jesus as a condition of her very being; it’s not just a momentary act of her will. I’m 66 years old, and I’m just now beginning to get that concept.

What does an apple tree do during the process of bearing fruit? It sits there and waits, but while it’s sitting there it takes in the ingredients it uses to make fruit—water, nutrients from the soil, sun and rain from the sky. Then one day, when the time is right, it puts out leaves and begins to develop the chlorophyll that is its food, it puts out buds and blossoms and bees come along and help with the pollination, and in due time, while the tree is still waiting, the blossoms turn into little, tiny apples. Eventually, the apples grow big and ripen and get ready to be picked and eaten.

But here’s the version that we would envision if we were comparing most of us to an apple tree. The apple tree gets up every morning and starts worrying about how it is going to bear fruit. It knows there must be fruit down in there somewhere, so it grunts, pushes, strains, gets tired and frustrated, and develops ulcers waiting for something to happen. It grunts and pushes, expecting I guess, for the apples to just pop out of the ends of the branches. One day no apples; the next day ‘pop!’, and there are big, fully developed, fully ripened apples. It just doesn’t work that way, does it?

In Spanish, wait and hope are the same word, esperar, and sometimes I think trust could be a part of those same active verbs. While we’re waiting and hoping, we’re also trusting that God is going to bring it to pass, because there’s not a way in the world that we’re ever going to push hard enough or grunt hard enough to make those apples pop out on our tree. We’re got to trust that God, by His Spirit, is going to use what He’s put in us to fulfill His purposes in the world. That’s the service of trust, and that is the same action verb we need to have when we pray, which is down deep knowing that God is going to bring it to pass.

THE PRAYER OF FAITH. 041016

 

Miracles HappenJames 5:14-15, 18:  14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. . . .18 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Back to that “prayer of faith,” it definitely sounds like the person doing the praying has some special ability, some special anointing from God; that he is a “righteous” man, so his prayers will be powerful and effective (just like it says later in this very passage). I used to read that line, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (KJV) and I’d think, “Must be a really holy guy.” Like Elijah, mentioned in verses 17-18, who prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t rain for 3-1/2 years. Well, Elijah was a righteous man, a holy man, a prophet, and he prayed for many truly wondrous miracles. He also trained Elisha, who prayed for people and they were healed, including one lady’s son who came back from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). What I want to know is, what did Elijah and Elisha have that any regular old, normal, believer (truster) in Jesus doesn’t have?”

The answer is nothing. In the Old Testament, God picked out certain people and “anointed them with His Spirit,” such as kings, prophets, and priests. Elijah was one of those people, but in those days not everybody was anointed. Most people, if they wanted to find out what God said, what He wanted, or what He was going to do, had to ask one of the people who were anointed with God’s Spirit. Today, since Jesus came to the earth, made the final sacrifice to reconcile us to God, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent His Spirit to be with us and to be in us, we have the same anointing that Elijah had. If we surrender ourselves to Jesus, and line ourselves up with Him and His teachings and His Spirit, we have the same direct line to God that Elijah had. It’s not just that we can have what Elijah had, we do have what Elijah had. All we have to do to fully realize God’s power in us is to do what Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” It’s simple but it’s not easy. It takes daily surrender and daily dying to yourself, but the results are just incomparable. You get to know the one true God for your very own self. No intermediaries; just direct contact with God through His Spirit present inside of your heart, soul, mind, and body, every minute, every second. Just like Elijah.

So if we’re talking about service, what does that mean? It means that we really are God’s lights in the world. It means that we really are the “salt of the earth,” whereby it is flavored, “cured,” saved from corruption. All we’ve got to do is surrender to Him and let His Spirit use us to fulfill His purposes in the world.

Who is a “righteous” person? A righteous person is one who has Jesus’s righteousness in him because he has surrendered his whole self to Jesus. (See 1 Corin. 1:30) Not my righteousness but His righteousness is the only thing that is going to save me, the only thing that is going to make me holy, as God is holy. So if you want to have a prayer life that is powerful and effective, what do you have to do? You have to surrender; not just once, but every single day, every hour, every minute. Most of the time we’re too busy to do that; to think about that, to even consider that. But if you try to do it, and you keep on trying, eventually it gets to be a habit; you enter a zone where you’re in constant contact with the Spirit that is in you, and you begin to “pray without ceasing,” you begin to “rejoice evermore,” you begin to “give thanks in all things,” because that really is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). That’s where “righteous” comes from, and that’s what it takes to be a servant in the biblical sense—it’s all about God; “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. (Colossians 1:27)  from Out o’th’ Bushes © 2016 by Tex Tonroy

 

 

BORN AGAIN: 031716 (John 3:3)

bible

KJ21    Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

This seems like a relatively simple verse.  It says that you can’t SEE God;  you can’t SEE the kingdom of God (KJV); you can’t GET into the Kingdom of God (TLB); you cannot BE in God’s kingdom (NCV) unless you are born again.  Other expressions for knowing God, such as ‘get saved’, ‘have eternal life’, ‘go to heaven’, ‘have righteousness’, ‘be converted’, ‘have a relationship with God’; you can’t do any of those things, unless you are spiritually transformed.  [Changed on the inside]

The word translated as ‘again’ means ‘from above’ in Greek.  ‘From above’ means by God, by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

‘Born’ means what you’d think it means; that you’re the child of your father and mother; you have their substance residing in you.  So you can’t be ‘born again’, ‘born from above’, have God as your Father, unless you are spiritually transformed from your natural self to God’s own child.

So ‘Born again’ means ‘spiritually transformed’.

So it IS simple.  Jesus wasn’t making some ethereal, mystic statement.  He was just telling a truth.  He was just stating a fact.  You just CAN’T have a relationship with God unless you die to yourself, trust Him and let His Spirit come to live in you.  As long as you are holding on to control of your life instead of surrendering and letting God run your life, you can’t even SEE the kingdom of God, much less be a part of it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ROLES NOT GOALS. PURPOSE.022916

stone faced            “God has a purpose for your life.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what it is.”            [This is from a letter to my ‘young-adult’ kids in 1995]  “I used to wonder what I was doing here.  Sometimes I even wondered what you were doing here.  I finally got the message.  God has a plan for my life.  Actually, I think He has a plan for every person’s life, but some folks never figure out what it is.

“When I was a kid I bought into the idea that goal setting and goal pursuing and goal orientation were the way to achieve everything I wanted in life, and happiness too!  When I was 15 I wanted $1 million by the time I was 30.  I focused a lot of attention on it.  I read the right books and tried to practice what they preached.  But somehow it never worked for me.  I guess I just didn’t want it bad enough.  I just couldn’t get motivated enough.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.  Looking back, maybe God didn’t want me to be a millionaire.

“After I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, I started seeing differently.  I decided that God had a purpose for my life, a destiny.  Somehow, I got the message that God has a role (really a bunch of roles) for me to play in my life.  In fact each of us is given a number of readymade roles to play when we’re born.  Like the role of a son or a daughter, the role of brother or sister.  Then pretty soon you get the role of student, then later employee, then girlfriend or boyfriend, then husband or wife, then father or mother, then maybe employer, or doctor or lawyer, or teacher, or preacher, or seeker or finder.  What fulfills your destiny, and God’s purpose, is for you to be the very best you can at whatever role God has given you for that time.  And what’s really neat is that this will make you happy.  Seems to me that chasing a goal is not very fulfilling, but being best in your role is very fulfilling, and with your role you fit into God’s plan perfectly.  Just remember when you can’t figure out what you’re doing here, or where you’re going, or why; focus on being that person, that character, the very best you possibly can.  You’ll be surprised how happy it will make you.

“The thing that separates the exceptional people in the world, the 2-3%, and the rest of the folks, is that the 2-3% have realized that God has a grand design for their lives.  (Here again, a lot of people call it a lifetime goal, which is OK with me.)  Many people spend all their time just living from day to day, so they never have time to fulfill that grand design.  Eating and sleeping, working and raising kids may be enough for most folks, but it’s not enough for me.  I may never amount to a hill of beans, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.  Oh, and by the way, I still think that grand design is about the role you play in your life with other people; not so much about making a million dollars, or being the President, or climbing the highest mountain, or building the biggest building, even though those are perfectly OK things to aspire to.  (Heck, if you don’t aspire to something, you’ll never amount to anything.)

“But in the end, the best way to help other people is to get in tune with God’s purpose for our lives, and focus our attention on fulfilling His grand design for us. In the meantime we will still have time to eat and sleep and play and have fun and raise kids, just like everybody else. And we may do something truly memorable.”

POLLY AND CHLOE.022216

A life raft floats in mid ocean awaiting rescue            For several years I’ve been writing this book, and after many ups and downs, God let it be published.  It’s about discipleship, but it’s not your standard book on the subject.  The other day I was at the bank talking to them about opening a new bank account for marketing and promotion of the book, and I was talking to the bank manager and one of the cashiers named Polly.  I showed them a copy I just happened to have handy (Ha!).  I told them a little about it, and I mentioned that it was available on the Barnes and Noble website on the ‘Net’.  I said I had been looking at their website and they had the first 29 pages of the book as a ‘reading sample’.  I thought that was pretty cool.  They were nice and said they thought it was really neat that I had actually gotten a book published!  I said, “Thanks.”

The very next day I was back in the bank, with all my paperwork in hand, to open that new account.  I was sitting at the manager’s desk, talking about the particulars, when Polly came up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders, leaned down and whispered in my ear, “I read the first 29 pages of your book, and I really like it.  I’ve been thinking for a long time that God wants me to be a missionary, and your book really inspired me.”  She walked away.  I sat there thinking, “Even if this book never amounts to a hill of beans, God has used it to touch someone’s life.” Praise the Lord! Continue reading