Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Is The Gospel Set Free?

Some years ago, after he was released from prison, Jim Baker wrote a book titled, “I Was Wrong”. It was a BIG book. When I saw it in the store I commented to Rhonda, my wife, “He must have been wrong about a lot.” As I said, it was a BIG book.

My friend Eric asked me last week after "
Don’t Back Down", “How can I objectively know whether I'm really "dedicated" to standing up for God and when I'm being "stubborn" with my misunderstanding of Him?”

The risk we run when we take a stand that is unyielding is that down the road we will see that we were wrong. Sometimes it is not our stand that is wrong as much as it is our hearts. What does my heart display while I am standing firm? If we display an attitude that contradicts the character of Jesus Christ we can be sure that, while our position may be right, our heart is not. Our Master is not well served by those whose spirit is controlled by their flesh. (see Luke 9:54-56)

Christians have been guilty of being right in a wrong way far too many times. I may know a thing is wrong in my inner man. But if my outer man, the flesh, is in control, then my actions and attitudes will be seen as fleshly not spiritual. If, on the other hand, my outer man is no longer the controlling part of my character, then my actions and attitudes will reflect the heart and character of my Master.

Galatians 2:20 says in part, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.” To live by faith means, (in part) we will stand for what is godly and right, without apology or backing down. That same passage begins in the KJV “I am crucified with Christ”. Remember that those who do not know God will not be won by the brute force of our godly stand, but by receiving and accepting the Gospel within their spirits. If our flesh interferes with the righteousness that is within our hearts, then the Gospel is hindered.

When we are crucified with Christ and living by faith in him, our outer man will reflect the redeemed inner man that belongs to Christ and the Gospel within us will be set free.

Michael Taylor

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dont Back Down

Last week our whole family took a rare outing to a movie. We saw “Glory Road”. Yes, do go see it. I loved the movie, but I really loved coach Don Haskins. At one place in the movie he yells at his team, “We do not back down… Ever!” Oh man, do I love that. I love people who know what they believe and have set their hearts to it.

Luke 9:51 says, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” The King James says, “He set his face.” He knew that he had to go there. He knew what would happen there, and he went there anyway. His example to us is that of a noble heart that makes up the mind and compels the body to follow.

There are areas of life where God has clearly spoken. When that is the case, all who belong to Christ should make up their minds to stand with Him come what may. It may mean personal loss. If you make up your mind to follow God, you will not be liked by everyone. If you stand on the principles of God and His word and refuse to back down, you will be painted as stubborn, arrogant, opinionated and judgmental. Stand firm. Your conviction is yours. Do not require anyone to hold your convictions.

The cause of righteousness is not served by those who would capitulate and waver in order to give people comfort or “room to grow”. I’m reminded of the line by Tom Petty, “You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.” This is not a call to hard headedness. The servant of God should be strong, but gentle. We’ve all met hard headed Christians who were dead wrong. It isn’t necessary for godly people to be jerks.

The time will come when we need to take a stand. When it comes follow the example of our Master. First, know your destiny. Second, make up your mind. Finally, compel your flesh to walk out your conviction. And don’t back down…Ever!

Michael Taylor

Author's Note: Next week I will discuss the problem of being wrong when we take a stand and how to respond to that realization.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

No Longer Thirsty

In the song “Better Days” by Bruce (no last name required), he says this, “Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening to the hours and minutes tickin’ away. Yeah, just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin while it was all just slippin’ away. I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come or that train to come roarin’ ’round the bend.” It’s the expression of a man frustrated by waiting and wanting to see better days.

My remarks last week were not to hammer on us for not doing what we should. But I wanted us to consider the perspective of the woman at the well and that of Jesus. The woman’s perspective was a desire to avoid the work of coming and drawing. But Jesus was not offering what she thought. His perspective was that of offering life. His purpose was for her life to offer life to others.

That is why, when she said, “Sir, give me this water.” that he asked her to go get her husband. It was all about perspective. Jesus was looking at her need from God’s point of view. He didn’t see a Samaritan woman but a person that God loved.

You see, when I look at the circumstances of my life and I say, “Give me this water.” I’m wanting better days. I must admit that I haven’t a clue what God’s perspective is other than it is broader than mine and that calls me to ruthless trust. I’m not very good at ruthless trust, but it’s the call nonetheless. Jesus offers us life with the intention that through that life we will offer living water to others.

When we drink the living water it becomes obvious to others. They see it, desire it and are drawn to it. We refresh and inspire others by living above the circumstances of our lives. You will meet someone today who is longing for living water and better days. It’s only through Christ that we can say, “I’m no longer thirsty and these are better days.” Let me know what you think.

Michael Taylor

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Give Me This Water

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John chapter 4, the conversation they had contains several interesting phrases. One of them came to mind recently as I read and reflected on this passage.

Jesus offers the woman water, but not normal water. He said, “…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) These little phrases are full of interesting nuances.

Jesus said, “the water I will give him…” This water can come only from him. When we look for something to give us life that is not centered on, sustained through and directed toward Christ, we will remain thirsty. The thirst of life is only satisfied by living water. All our attempts to quench the thirsts of our souls with anything other than living water, will sentence us to return to the “wells” of the world over and over again.

The woman said, “Give me this water”. But she did not want the water of life. She didn’t even know there was a water of life. Her focus was on her self. Her expressed reason for wanting “this water” was to ease her own life. She said, “…so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” Thirst was natural, it was the “coming” and “drawing” that she wanted to avoid.

I know we love our Lord and we know him to be living water for us. But do we sometimes make the demand, “Give me this water”, on the basis of avoiding the work of the walk to the well and the drawing of the water? Do we sit in church like baby birds chirping, “feed me, feed me”, never realizing that there are true babies in Christ that we could feed. Do we ask Jesus for peace instead of presence? No! Don’t ask me to minister to others. Don’t ask me to read God’s word. Don’t ask me to serve someone else. I got the living water so I could avoid all those “works”.

Jesus offered living water for a purpose. He said, “Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” We will talk about this next week.

Michael Taylor