Category Archives: TRUST AND OBEY

BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS (REINFORCEMENTS).080916

Young Boy With DogHave you heard that line, “If you want to teach a dog or a kid, you’ve got to say it over and over.”  I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Whatever it is you want ’em to learn; if you say it enough, if you demonstrate it enough, it will finally soak in. You create those neural links in their heads and their bodies. You can bet on it.  I think God had that same policy in mind when He dictated the Bible to the writers.  One subject I’ve noticed lately (over and over) is about HEARING AND DOING.  I don’t know how many times my momma said it, but I finally got it, “YOU’VE GOT TO DO WHAT I SAY!”  (whether you like it or not; if you want to live long and do good.)

Jesus said it almost that loud and that strong in Matthew 7:24-26, when He said, “If you hear My words and do what I say, I’ll think you’re a wise man . . . but if you hear My words and you don’t do them, you’re a fool. . .” (my paraphrase).  And in James 1:22, God says, through James, “Be a DOER of the Word, and not just a hearer; deceiving yourselves.”  If we don’t do what Jesus says, we’re fools, and we’re lying to ourselves.  In Luke 11:27-28, a woman said, “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you . . .” and Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep (guard, defend) it.”

And it’s not just about “don’t do this and don’t do that”.  It’s about what you DO as a positive act, an act of your will.  It’s like in John 5:24, He says, “If you pay attention (heed, do) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life.”  Trusting in God is not easy; but it’s the only thing that works in this life.  You have to DO IT as an act of your will.  Over and over, until it starts to feel easy (or at least easier.)  That’s the only way you’re ever going to have the peace that passes understanding is when you trust Jesus as an act of your will.

That’s what He’s talking about when He says, “If you follow God’s commands, you will live!”  See Luke 10:28.

“The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it’s about making dead people alive!” David Crowder
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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

PRESENT YOUR BODIES (as a living sacrifice).051016

Salt and LightRomans 12:1 says, “I beg you, brothers and sisters, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice ….”

Romans 12 is a great message about “If you’re going to claim to be a Christian, act like it.”  For me, ‘present your body’ means to show up, be available, be willing to be obedient to serve and to do what God tells you to, one moment at a time.

So here’s my revelation for today: If you are a ‘true’ believer in Jesus, one who is steadily focusing on God, trusting Him and obeying Him, seeking His Face, surrendering to Him on a daily basis; you have the Spirit of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY living in your own personal heart.  That is what it means to ‘be a Christian’.  Now, if you have God’s Holy Spirit in you, and you show up anywhere, work, school, a kid’s soccer game, a band concert, a walk in the park, a flood rescue effort, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice, for God to use to touch other peoples lives.  You are making yourself available to do and to say exactly what God wants you to do and say.

Are y’all ready for this?  You know where it says, “You are the salt of the earth.”  “You are the light of the world.”  If you have God’s Spirit in your own heart, then you ARE doing what salt does.  You are flavoring and keeping the world from corruption and decay, just like salt flavors food and keeps it from decay.  You ARE God’s shining Light in the world, to show people the way, to comfort them, to keep them safe and sound.  You don’t even have to try; or plan; or prepare; or get a special education; or have a special degree, or ordination, or anointing.  You already ARE anointed.  You have the Spirit of the Living God in your own little heart.  You just can’t get any more anointed than that.  All you have to do is SHOW UP!

So I’ve been reading the whole 12th chapter of Romans, and bringing those things back to the first sentence of the chapter.  In verses 3-8 it talks about how God has given each of us a special gift (or gifts) to help the Body of Christ.  There’s a lot of talk about learning what your gift is, so you can do a better job of using it for God’s honor and glory.  I think it’s great to focus some attention on understanding what God’s plan is for your life, so you can do a better job of serving Him and others; but you know what I really think?  I think if you really trust God, and you surrender your whole self to Him on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter whether you know what your specific gift is or not.  If you SHOW UP when God tells you to, He will use you and your gift(s) in miraculous ways, even if you don’t know exactly what they are. Continue reading

WHO DO YOU TRUST? (REALLY) 042716

Eroded beach with house, Pititinga, Natal (Brazil)

So we were talking about obedience; and we were talking about ‘building your house on the sand’ as a metaphor for ‘basing our lives on principles and practices that shift and change’.   We should touch on another aspect of this obedience.  If, as we alluded to earlier, obedience is about doing what God tells us to do; then what about the First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) Me.”  We’re back to that question about who or what do we worship (or serve)?  Who do we really trust?  Who do we really turn to when we’re in dire straits with nowhere to turn?

Well, I’m good about saying that ultimately I trust God; not my job, nor my employer, nor my network of friends and relatives, nor my piddly bank account or my credit cards.  But do I really?  I say that; but every time I get in a bind, I’m steadily calculating where I’m going to go to stay afloat for another few days or weeks.  Funny thing is; usually something “falls out of the sky” that I was completely not expecting, so clearly that it just had to be God.  It’s happened over and over so often that I just can’t deny that God really has delivered me from evil or destruction or punishment when I didn’t deserve to be delivered.  God’s mercy.  (You know ‘mercy’: that’s when God loves you and takes care of you, even when you deserve to be punished.)

Problem is, we all have been in that position, when to our logical mind it looks like there is a logical man-made explanation for how we got out of that trap; and we don’t give the credit to God.  Somebody comes by and says, “You know that just couldn’t be God; that was your boss, or your rich uncle, or just the luck of the draw.”  And the sad thing is we let it slide and agree by omission.  We don’t say, “You may think that, but I know it was God.”  Just so you’ll know, nobody else may think a thing about it, but God didn’t miss it.  The true miracle is that God still loves me (and you) anyway.  Some people go for years, running in the bushes, worshipping those idols of ‘other stuff’ taking care of them, growing more and more calcified in their position of trusting something else besides God, acknowledging something else besides God is our real god.  (Often it’s our selves.)  The really sad part is that we’re not only worshipping idols, but we’re getting more and more used to trusting in “the house on the sand”; getting closer and closer to the time of ‘great was the fall of it”.  That’s dis-obedience and the fruits (the results) of disobedience all rolled into one.

In case somebody didn’t get it; trusting in something else besides God to take care of you is not only 1] building your house on the sand (basing your life on shifting, shaky stuff); but it’s also  2] worshipping idols; serving other gods than the One True God.  That’s disobedience of the first order.   That’s the exact definition of what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Everyone who hears My words, and does NOT do them is like a foolish man . . .” Only an idiot would do that.  I guess if you want you can join me as a ‘recovering’ idiot.  You know, like members of AA talk about being a ‘recovering alcoholic’.  We never completely grow out of it.  We have to get up every morning, turn ourselves over to God and say, “One more time Lord, I’m turning myself over to You; I’m dying to myself so You can live Your eternal life in me.  I love You.”  From Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy

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.

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!

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