The Bible is a LOVE story and a WAR story

As an author and an avid book reader, I am fascinated by the fact that God has written down His redemption story in a book that we can hold today in our hands. How amazing is that?

I freely admit that I don’t like romance novels or war stories. I’ve tried reading both, but I just can’t ever seem to get into them. And yet, the Bible is the greatest love story and the greatest war story ever told.

The Bible is a great love story from beginning to end. There is love within the unity of the Godhead. There is love between God and His creation. There is the relentless, unconditional love of God poured out to rescue sinful man by the death of His own Son, Jesus, in our place. This love story began in the garden of Eden and continues to present day.

The Bible is also a great war story from beginning to end. Satan and his fallen angels waging war against God’s surpreme creation, man. The battle within our own minds between selfishness and sacrifice. The battle between good and evil at the resurrection of Christ, Jesus triumphing over Satan, the prince of the air. This war story began in the garden of Eden and continues to present day.

Where do we fit in to this great love story and war story?

We are not the hero. God is. But we do have an important part to play in this great, true tale.

God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, making us not only His children, but His bride. (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10, John 1:12, Revelation 21:9)

God invites us to fight the good fight of faith, resisting the devil and forcing him to flee, taking up the sword of the Spirit to wage the righteous war. (1 Timothy 6:12, James 4:7, Ephesians 6:17)

Do you believe that you are an important part of the greatest love story and the greatest war story ever told? Or does it feel more like a children’s fairy tale?

Remember – what you believe impacts how you think and live. Believe rightly, that you may live rightly. Love on and Fight on. I’m with you.

TWIG

Different Ways of Cooking Fish and Potatoes

I like just about any way of preparing potatoes. Potato salad, baked potato loaded with toppings, au gratin potatoes, mashed potatoes, waffle fries from Chick-fil-a. I love them all.

But, fish … not so much. I’m picky about fish. I don’t like it raw or blackened or baked or smoked. I pretty much only like it battered and fried (with the exception of tuna salad sandwiches.)

And I’m picky about what kind of fish. I pretty much only like cod, like you find in McDonald’s fish sandwiches and Long John Silver’s fish fillets (with the exception of tuna salad sandwiches … and fresh red snapper fried and served in fish tacos.)

The other day the idea popped into my mind that our “pet sins” are kinda like fish and potatoes. There are some sins that appeal to me, while others don’t.

Wasting time watching hour upon hour of sports or blowing a afternoon shopping aimlessly at the neighborhood mall has no appeal to me.

Binging on Netflix documentaries and Facebook posts is calling my name. (Just one more …)

Getting in a fist fight or stealing from the neighborhood convenience store has absolutely no interest for me.

But, turning a cold shoulder on my husband to “teach him a lesson” or yelling at my kids when they’re moving too slow for my liking, will get me every time.

I need to be careful about judging other people’s “sins of choice” and remember that all of my good deeds are but filthy rags in comparison to God’s perfect glory.

I need to remember that any one of our sins are enough to separate us from a holy God.

Like the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18, the Pharisee’s greatest sin was the sin of pride. And the greatest answer to that sin is to humble myself before God, asking Him to have mercy on me, a sinner.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Of Authors and Authority

Have you ever really thought about the word “authority?”

When Jesus finished his great “Sermon on the Mount” (found in Matthew 5-7), which includes such oft-quoted passages as the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock, “the crowds were astonished at [Jesus’s] teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)

Jesus’s teaching had power. Jesus wasn’t just quoting somebody else. Jesus wasn’t just repeating other people’s rules. Jesus had authority to tell people what to do.

Like when other people’s children come over to my house, they have to follow my rules. Jesus, as the Almighty Creator-God, has total authority to tell us, His Creation, how we ought to live.

Then, in Matthew 28:18 (ESV), after Jesus has been resurrected and is about to ascend to heaven, we again find the word “authority.” Jesus told His followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

What an encouragement that is to me! Jesus has total authority over heaven and earth. Whether you or I recognize it or not, whether we submit to Him or not, God is in charge over heaven and earth. Jesus has complete authority over our lives.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), we are told to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love this passage. Really, I love all of Hebrews 12. (I give you permission to stop right now and go read all of Hebrews 12, then come right back!)

Looking at various translations of Hebrews 12:2, KJV and NKJV translates “founder and perfecter” as “author and finisher of our faith,” and NASB translates it “author and perfector of faith.”

In English I see a connection between Jesus having all authority in heaven and earth, and Jesus being the author and finisher of faith.

Jesus wrote our faith and Jesus finished our faith. He is our perfect example. He is both the main character and He is the author. All things were made through Him and for Him.

Because Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, so we must obey His commands and walk in His ways. And because He is the author and the finisher of our faith, we can place our complete trust in Him, looking towards Him as we run with endurance this race that He has set before us.

How does Jesus having all authority encourage you?

How does Jesus being the author and perfector of faith strengthen you to run with endurance the race God has set before you?

What is God calling you to do — or not do — today?

TWIG

About Apologies

After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.

For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.

I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.

  • Address Everyone Involved
  • Avoid If, But, and Maybe
  • Admit Specifically
  • Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
  • Accept the Consequence
  • Alter your Behavior
  • Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time

In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.

After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”

Eve replied,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?

  • Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
    Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
  • Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
    Child: “The dumpster was full.”
  • Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
    Child: “I forgot.”
  • Me: “Who made this mess?”
    Child: “He did.”

And the list goes on and on.

Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.

How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?

Who do you usually blame when you mess up?

How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?

Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

TWIG

By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.