To Live is Christ

Happy Thursday to you all. Last Sunday we wrapped up our journey with Paul through the book of Acts, and this week I’ve been mulling over Paul’s statement in Philippians 1, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

I think the “die” part gets a bit overemphasized in that short statement. Here’s the “die” part. Paul knows when he dies it will be rad to be with Jesus. Ok, we’re done with “die” part.

The “live” part is more important for most of us, and through out journey with Paul I have been struck by how true this statement was for him. His ministry was a catch-as-catch-can kind of affair. The only consistent strategy he seems to use is going to the Jews first, then the gentiles. Other than that, he talks to whomever, whenever, wherever.

I’ve known some people who do this without much skill. Those folks tend to not listen, just talk to whomever, whenever, and wherever. Paul, however, puts a great deal of effort to have the appropriate (not always non-confrontational) conversation based on the background and story of the individual or group.

Jesus is the answer. To live is Christ. Jesus is the central character to all the stories, but they are different and varied stories.

I love Paul’s answer to Agrippa when he asked if Paul was trying to convert him in such a short time. “Short time or long-I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

To live is Christ. We want more for us, jealous and covetous for more intimacy with Jesus. To live is Christ. Every relationship around us is a story in which we have a role to play.

That’s all I have to say about that,


Old Christian Cartoons

I was looking at some interesting cartoons this week that took a pretty stark but honest look at the world, and there were a handful I had to save.

This one made me think of too many folks I care about who stop discovering the amazing things God has put in their life because they have judged other’s treasures to be better or more spiritual or important.

Dayn loves to quote Ephesians 2:10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Within that statement is an intimate a personal thing. Our creation is personal, God’s gift in Christ is specific, not general, and the things He has set you up for within that creation had you specifically in mind. No one can do what you do. They can do IT perhaps, but then it’s what they would do and not what you would do. It’s missing the vital ingredient of God’s Spirit working through YOU.

Please don’t take this as a nice softball make you feel better kind of thought for the morning. You know I can’t handle being thought of as nice like that. It’s a clarion call. Honor God’s love and grace as it is expressed in your life and salvation. Dig your own hole and find that diamond.


This Just In: Loving Enemies is Hard

John 5:44 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and I find that inconvenient.

This morning your coach team is even at this moment walking through an issue that makes us feel like certain forces are working against us, and there are names attached to those forces. Personally, I am not feeling love or motivation to pray.

The difficulty in this verse is that personal connection. Praying for politicians I disagree with, or groups I find offensive is hard, but doable. This verse is calling me to pray for those that are directly messing with me. I love justice. I have a deep desire for the bad guys to get their due. Jesus’ call to love and prayer feels like I am betraying my own heart. And I am.

Jesus calls us to betray our hearts of flesh every day. Jesus calls us to surrender and let Him be Lord and judge. Jesus asks me to remember that I only want the bad guy to get his due when the bad guy isn’t me…because then I’m hoping for grace.

It is necessary for me to keep my blinders fixed firmly in place to maintain obstinate opposition to Jesus’ words. Please write back with stronger justification than I can find to ignore Jesus or pretend He didn’t mean what He said, I’m totally open to suggestions.