How does one “Spot The Cross”? Should he spot the wooden cross that is at the front of the sanctuary in a church displaying the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, or is it a shiny golden necklace dangling around a lady’s neck? Moreover, is it a huge bumper sticker easily visible on the car in front of you at the traffic light, or is it on the muscular arm of the man sitting next to you on the airplane intertwined with other colorful tattoos? While it is quite common to optically SPOT THE CROSS with one’s eyes, it is my hope that this post will help people SPOT THE CROSS inside of you.
Although The Holy Spirit can be seen in many ways, this post will focus on three characteristics that will illuminate the bright, imaginary, neon arrow-shaped light in you that points to our Savior.
1. Spirit of Truth – When we speak the truth, people will see the cross. “Honestly is the best policy” may be a secular saying; however, the Bible is quite clear why the truth is so important. (ex: Proverbs 19:5, Psalms 101:7). Specifically, a lie destroys relationships and creates a path of deception where more lies are needed to hide the first one. Thankfully, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) is more than Biblical words on paper, it is a promise that when obeyed creates a lifestyle of Christ-honoring integrity. A believer who is reliable and trustworthy reflects their Savior. A person will sense that if he can rely on you, then he can rely on the God whom you worship. Hence, encouraging him to SPOT THE CROSS!
2. Spirit of Grace – This may be the toughest area for Christians to display the cross. We want God’s grace for ourselves; yet, we have a difficult time extending it to people who upset us, aggravate us, test our patience, or even intentionally hurt us. Once again, Biblical truths can be found throughout His word (ex: Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:6). Justly, God requires us to extend grace to others regardless of the infraction. Since, He is our example, true unmerited grace becomes a bright beacon on a foggy night by the beach that ultimately dissipates evil and creates a moon-glowing path to SPOT THE CROSS!
3. Spirit of Love – Love never fails. . . Never gives up. . . Never runs out. . . (Song: “One thing Remains” by Passion). When we show Christ love, we are reflecting His image (1 John 4:8). This type of love is not just done with words, but it is displayed in action. Be the person who helps the neighbor with her three young boys when she needs to run to the store; sit and have coffee with someone who is struggling with personal issues and just listen; buy a meal for the military personal who sitting in the same restaurant; or be the person who gives up his seat on the bus for women, children or the elderly. Remember, although words are valuable, it is our actions that are a priceless way to SPOT THE CROSS!
As the Holy Spirit dwells in you, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Grace, and the Spirit of Love are ALL available and make it possible for people to SPOT THE CROSS in you!
Look for three more characteristics of the Holy Spirit in my next post.
To Be Continued. . .
As I mentioned before, a writer has the freedom to create words that do not exist. This is probably my favorite part of writing, especially, if I think I can make a reader smile over my new, made-up silly word. Simultaneously, my ultimate goal would be to discover that my cleverly unique word is being used in everyday conversations. For example, I am still patiently waiting for Christ-A-Tarian to hit the social media frenzy and receive millions of views that cause people to use it as a way to describe themselves and their need to feed on God’s word daily. Maybe, one day while in a coffee shop, I will overhear another patron talking to her friend about how she has decided to become a Christ-A-Tarian!
Anyways, to continue with my point, I recently heard a new word: Christ-Esteem¹, and although I did not create it, I immediately liked it and knew it was worth mentioning. Now, we have all heard of the word, Self-Esteem² which according to Vocabulary.com is:
“How you feel about yourself — your self-worth or your pride in yourself . . .The "esteem" part of self-esteem comes from the Latin verb aestimare, meaning to value. The "self" part is self- explanatory, referring to you, yourself. So think of self-esteem as how you value yourself”.
Thus, Christ-Esteem is how Christ values you. How awesome is that! This use of the word is incredibly freeing. To think, I can view my worth through how Christ values me. My Christ-Esteem comes from knowing who I am in Christ. It is not my job, my money, my family, my home, my car, my children, my education, or even my writing ability that can define my value or self-worth. Nothing can replace how My Savior views and loves me. Notably, Psalms 139:13-14 (ESV) states:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well”.
Now, pay attention to the last part of this scripture, “My Soul Knows It Very Well”. If we stop for a moment and realize that this truth is deep inside of us, we will remember to not let the things of this world tell us otherwise. Therefore, while I patiently wait for a representative from Vocabulary.com to contact me and request my permission to put my new, God-honoring word, Christ-A-Tarian on their website, I will continue to remind my Self-Esteem that it comes from my Christ-Esteem, and I am worth it!
1. LifeChurch: Pastor Craig Groeshel, “Playlist: Scars to your Beautiful”.
2. Vocabulary.com: Self-Esteem. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/self-esteem
With today’s technology and social media frenzy, it is important that we stay up to date with the lingo. For example, when posting, texting, or even talking the youth will use abbreviations such as LOL, OMG, SMH (Mike Bongo used this one during last weekend’s sermon – LOL!), TBH, and the reason for this blog – BFF.
LOL –Laughing Out Loud.
OMG – Oh, My God.
SMH - Shaking My Head.
TBH – To Be Honest.
BFF – Best Friend Forever.
Now, since I like the number three (once again a plug for a previous written blog, “Three Times a Charm”), I found it interesting that Jesus had three close friends. Although, He had twelve disciples and many more whom He loved, Jesus had three people who were His special friends.
To explain, several times in the Bible, one can find Jesus choosing the same three men to be with Him a part from the rest. Can you guess who they were? It was Peter, James, and John who are what we would call in today’s era, Jesus’ BFFs.
Of course, I found three different scripture accounts that show Jesus had a special relationship with these men. One example is found in Luke 8:51, when Jesus went to heal Jairus’ little girl. “When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother” (NIV).
Next, we can find Jesus taking the same three with Him up a high mountain to pray (Luke 9:28). These three men had the privilege of being chosen to see the Transfiguration of our Lord and witness a conversation between Jesus and two icons of the Bible, Moses and Elijah. Talk about back stage passes with bragging rights (OMG)!
Finally, Jesus illustrated that these three men were definitely within His inner circle for on the night He was betrayed, even though He took all His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, it was Peter, James, and John who He took farther into the Garden to keep watch over Him while he prayed (Mark 14:32-33).
Jesus was a popular guy, and if He was on Facebook today, the site would probably crash due to all the friend’s requests on His page. While having lots of friends can be fun, it is important to have a few close friends who truly know you and are going to by your side. Our friends will not be perfect or without flaws just as Peter, James, and John disappointed Christ too (TBH – for example, they fell asleep in the Garden twice when Jesus needed them the most); yet, they did love Him and know Him the best.
Ultimately, my prayer is for ALL who read this blog to choose a few BFFs who will walk along side of you during the good times and the bad. God in His infinite wisdom designed us for relationships - our relationships with others (our BFFs) and our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who are our SFFs (Spiritual Friend Forever)!
ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT
By Keith Snow
We were born in Paris,
or near Corpus Christi.
Raised in Harrisburg,
or even New York City.
All types of skin shades
with many different faces.
We’re from diverse cultures
and represent various races.
ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT!
Some folks are poor.
A few have riches.
Plenty push papers,
others dig ditches.
Humbly and patiently,
we walk towards unity.
Giving each other love,
to bind our community.
Come together in our faith.
Put our differences aside.
We must always reconcile,
seeking truth, not lies.
Supporting each other
and grow to be like Christ.
Each person does their job,
showing grace and sacrifice.
This poetry piece was written for and read to Living Water’s Congregation.
** Keith Snow is a Central Sterile Technician and Poet who is a member of our church. He is a husband to Barb Snow, and father to Greg Snow. As a member of LWCC’s Creative Worship Team, he uses his talents to build the body of Christ.
Who Do You Say that I Am?
Recently, while watching "God’s Not Dead 2", Grace, the main character in the movie shared her testimony with Tom, her lawyer on what led her to become a Christian. She told him she saw a sign outside a church that said, “Who do you say that I am?” I had already seen the movie for this was my second time watching it, and I had remembered that particular scene; however, this time it seemed to reach further down into my soul for I felt the question being directed at me too. “Who do you say that I am?”
My obvious first answers spoke about my relationship with Christ for He is my Comforter, my Rock, my Strength, and my Advocate, my Shield, moreover, He also represents the Word, the Bridegroom, the Vine, the Foundation, and the Light (these are just a few from an endless list of all names, titles, and characteristics that all exemplify our Lord). Yet, these initial responses did not seem to satisfy my pondering soul. Even though at the end of the movie, Grace gave her answer in a court of law, I wanted to seek Him and discover how does He want me to answer that particular question?
The best place to find answers is of course our Bible, and believe it or not, this same question is found in three of the gospels, Matthew (16:13-16), Mark (8:27-30), and Luke (9:18-20). I love the message of three (read my other blog entitled, “Three Times a Charm”) because when God wants to get a message across, or in this case A Cross (Holy Pun intended!), He repeats it at least three times. See, Jesus is “The Christ”, He came as the Messiah-the living Son of God to be the Savior of the world (Spoiler alert if you did not see the movie-Grace testifies at the end that He is the Christ).
Although all those other names listed above represent Him, I believe this is Who He wants me to declare to all who will listen: “He is My Christ, My Messiah, My Savior, He is My Christ, My Messiah, My Savior, He is My Christ, My Messiah, My Savior”. Say it three times!
**Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20 ESV)
God’s Not Dead 2 (2014). Directed by Harold Cronk; Pure Flix Entertainment.
Several months ago, in the introduction of this blog, I gave a quick explanation for the witty title, “Christ-a-tarian”. To recap, a vegetarian eats only veggies, a fruitarian only eats fruit, a lacto-vegetarian is a vegetarian who includes dairy in his diet, thus, a Christ-a-tarian is a person who feeds on God’s word (spiritual food) to nourish his soul.
One of the perks of being a writer is the ability to create words that do not exist. Obviously, Christ-a-tarian is not a real word; (at least not yet-but, if enough people use it, then, it just might make it into the dictionary) but, “Flexitarian” a word I recently heard is real. To explain, while listening to Kyle Idleman’s book (on tape), Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, I heard him say this word that sounded similar to my make-believe word. He described a “Flexitarian”, as a person who is mainly a vegetarian; however, he will once in a while incorporate meat products into his diet like a juicy hamburger, a spicy meatball, a small bite of steak, or a thinly, smoked slice of ham. This person claims to be a vegetarian because 90% of the time he adheres to the “no meat” rule; yet, will have moments when he chooses to be flexible about it.
As I pondered this word and what it meant, I wanted to make sure that I was not a "flex-a-tarian" (change of spelling for effectiveness) when it came to my faith. Being 100% committed to following Christ means accepting everything He says as truth which is something I did not always choose to do. For example, I can remember standing firm on God’s Biblical truth that husbands are head of the households (Ephesians 5:23); while at the same time, I personally struggled with the verse right before it that instructs wives “to submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22). My thoughts were that Paul (my husband) could be head of our house as long as I said he could; and the part about submit –well, let’s just say that I believed that part did not apply to me because things were different in Biblical times. Moreover, this is America, and I was a modern gal who did not need to submit to anyone. I guess I was being a bit flexible or (let’s call it what it truly was) stubborn in deciding what I wanted to Biblically embrace and what I chose to ignore. Interestingly, I was a Christian feeding on God’s Holy spiritual food while adding a dash of my own secular choices and becoming more of a "flex-a-tarian vs a Christ-a-tarian".
Thankfully, I now understand how to be a devoted "Christ-a-tarian". I want my belief in God and His word to be 100% not 95, 97, or even 99.9%. The Bible is His book given to us, and although my current copy has a “flexible” soft cover, my faith in it – is as solid as a rock!
*Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Kyle Idlemann; Zondervan (2011).
A human plus droid equals humanoid. Recently, I came across this word while reading a devotional from the YouVersion Bible App. The author used this word to refer to our robotic state as we go through life. I realized that I could be classified as a humanoid because I wake-up; go to work (some days); come home; cook dinner; eat; clean-up; drive my children to soccer practice; come back home; clean-up again (because teenage boys eat before and after practice); shower; go to bed; and wake-up the next day to do it all over again. There are days when I feel like I am just going through the motions with a motionless attitude and a stale reflection.
Having a routine in and of itself is not wrong; however, having a robotic attitude about the things in life that seem mundane is definitely not honoring to God. It is important to reach out to God each morning, even if for 5 minutes and prayerfully ask Him to help you face the day with a Christ-like passion. By asking God to renew my mind, I can even view the dishes as a blessing. Specifically, I have food, and people in my life to make the dishes dirty. Moreover, through a Holy Lens (a plug for previous blog I posted on 11/24/16; –you have my permission to stop reading this post and go back and read it if you missed it), driving to practice four days a week allows me more time to talk uninterrupted with my sons in the car; I can exercise while I wait for them to finish practice; I can write more blogs and post them; and/or I can call a friend to remind her to read my blog.
Matthew West has a song entitled, Motions, where he fervently declares he does not want to live one more day without God’s all consuming passion inside of him. When I listen to this song, I am reminded to live each day with this same attitude and give Him my everything even in the mundane moments. Thus, my humanoid disposition, oiled by Christ, changes to a powerful, human-anointed belief that will bring glory to God.
Ephesians 4:23 - And be renewed the spirit of your mind.
Check out Motions by Matthew West
Download YouVersion App and choose a devotional to do today. Info:
Do you talk to yourself? I do. And, I have since I was a little girl. Whether I was talking to myself to keep out of trouble or because I was my own best friend (I could tell myself anything), it is a pastime that did not stop as I grew older. Now, my mono-conversations are ways to keep my thoughts and actions organized. To explain, I will talk aloud when I need to remember what I am doing. I must be an audible learner since I need to hear myself say it again, and again, and again. Plus, I have full conversations in my head all the time. I love to people watch and often ask myself, “What do you think is going on with that family over there or is that couple on a date or just friends?” It is a good thing I like myself, and that I am easily entertained.
Recently, I was challenged to take that voice inside my head and capture it for Christ. Specifically, I was to think of some negative internal comments that I would like to change. After writing it down, I needed to find scriptural promises that aligned with how God wants me to speak to myself. To overcome any counterproductive thoughts, I had to change the way I think so that my attitude would reflect Christ’s image.
My Inner Voice Statement:
I have a habit of frequently saying and/or thinking, “I am tired, I am busy, and I am overwhelmed”, and although I am tired, busy, and overwhelmed a lot, I want to change my perspective so that when I am tired, I ask for Holy Spirit Energy. Or when I my life is busy, I can lean on God for His Biblical Balance, and finally, when I feel overwhelmed, I can turn to my Lord for a Christly Calm.
My Scriptural Promises:
1. Tired - To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29
2. Busy - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Mathew 6:33
3. Overwhelmed - Refresh my heart in Christ. Philemon 1:20
Our thoughts and inner voices have more of a role in our spiritual lives than we realize. Thus, for 2017, take your thoughts captured for Christ write your statement and repeat His promises in your mind over, and over, and over again. It will be the best conversation you have with yourself.
The old adage, “The eyes are the windows to a person’s soul” is something that I use to think was a way of reading a person’s intentions. For example, if one would look deep into another person’s eyes, he could tell if that person was honest, humble, or horrible. Yet, when I rethink about this famous quote with a Biblical view, I believe Christians are to use their eyes to see through the windows of others and discover their needs not just their personality.
To illustrate this concept, I recently watched a Christmas special entitled, Christmas Angel (2009), which showed a rich man who dedicated his life to helping others. Previously, he had lived a life of luxury, and although he acquired success in the business and financial world, he lost what was truly important…relationships. Therefore, in his latter days of life, he was finding ways to spend his wealth in helping others. In one particular scene, he tells his neighbor to look around a watch people because everyone has a story and a need. The need was not always financial for many recipients of his kindness were emotionally hurting too.
In addition, Brandon Heath (July, 2008) who is a Christian artist sings, “Give me Your Eyes”. In this song, he is asking God to give him the eyes to see people’s needs. By using his eyes, he wants to see the brokenhearted, the forgotten, and the one’s out of our reach.
Since, the New Year is almost upon us, my hope and prayer is that I will look around and See the needs of those around me with Christ’s eyes.
Job 34:21 ESV “For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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When a family member, friend, co-worker, spouse and/or child repeats himself, it should cause a person to stop and think, “I better pay attention, this could be important.” Therefore, when God sends a message or a point from three different venues, a Christian’s first thought should be, “Oh my, He must really be trying to tell me something.” There are several catch phrases about things happening in threes, for example: Three Strikes and You are Out; Three Times a Lady (for all those Lionel Richie Fans); Three’s a Crowd; Three Blind Mice; and of course, my favorite - Three Times a Charm. We hear it once, but it just floats over our heads; we hear it twice, and we get a “Déjà vu” feeling; then, when we hear it for the third time, it finally clicks.
Recently, I experienced my own three-in-a-row messages from God all within the same week. On three separate occasions, the theme that everything I say and do should bring glory to my Father in Heaven echoed in my head.
To explain, the first “pay attention” moment came from Bob Sjogren, the guest speaker who spoke at our church in November. As he shared his Cat/Dog Theology message, he explained that we often focus on our relationship with our Creator from a God loves “Me” point of view (which is a cat’s mentality). Instead, we need to remember that we were created for the purpose to bring glory to God because we love Him (which is the dog mentality) - 1 Corinthians 10:31.
The next encounter came from my women’s community group. We were studying a book by Cynthia Heald on how to love your husband (I know, after 25 years of marriage, I could be the author, but I’m not . . . yet) and the next chapter revealed that when we love and honor our husbands, we are glorifying God - Philippians 1:9-11.
Lastly, the third reiteration came during my daily devotionals from the YouVersion Holy Bible App. I read several different topical devotionals, and I noticed that several of the scripture references all exemplified giving Glory to God – Isaiah 43:7, Psalms 50:23, and 1 Peter 4:11, just to name three!
Since, it is well-known that many things come in threes, as believers, let’s give Three Cheers (praise, honor, and glory) to the greatest Trinity: God the Father, Christ His Son, and The Holy Spirit – Amen, Amen, Amen! ! !