A Cup, Made Just For Me

So I’m thinking of a little boy. Sitting in a small house, early in the morning, beside a fire. As he sits, his mother brings his breakfast and begins to pour his drink, into a small, wooden cup…and he begins to smile. His smile, comes not from the drink, but of his mother’s love and the wooden cup. The cup was handmade, by Joseph, his father, who is a poor man and carpenter. It was made from a piece of scrap wood, but carved and polished with great pride, love and adoration, for the boy.

As the boy grew, he always used that cup. He carried it with him to school and used it, because it was made, just for him. With some age, however, the other kids began to pick on him because it was, after all, a child’s cup. But it was made, just for him. None of his friends would use it, though he offered; they all said it just didn’t fit their mouth…”you’re the only one who can drink from that silly cup”, they would say.

Many years later, in a garden, as a grown man, the boy prayed. He was very anxious and worried and frightened. He thought about his mother, father and friends as he prayed. With tears flowing down his face, he held that little wooden cup in his hand, thinking of how he wanted to remain with his mother and father.

But he was praying to his father in heaven, this time…pleading with him, to take away THIS CUP, which was made, just for him. This cup, only he could drink from, it only fit his lips…and he recalled the children from school, making fun of him. He thought how cruel the world was, but he loved everyone. He loved them, but he prayed, three times…PLEASE, take this cup from me!! If it is possible, PLEASE!!

After many, many tears and much prayer, his heart, filled with such great love for mankind, gave in. Father, I know it is right to ask, but nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. This cup should not and cannot be taken away. For it was made, just for me, out of love and only I can drink from it. Fill my cup, Lord, that I may drink from it.

And the little boy set down the wooden cup, walked away from it, trading it for the one he would now have to drink from. It was quite full and it’s taste was bittersweet. But he drank it all. He finished the entire cup and said, “It is finished” as he closed his eyes, thinking of his little, wooden cup.

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Aside

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

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Responses from onlookers can be unrealistic, critical, misinformed and disingenuous, at best. Most people believe that the lives of those who follow Christ are lives of ignorance, conceit, self-absorption and/or delusional, holier-than-thou attitudes. People, often, consider it easy to follow our faith and live as we strive to live; they are misinformed and incorrect.

Folks also consider our faith to be one of giving up everything fun, becoming “boring” and having all things made off-limits or taboo; this too, is no so. Yes, there are certainly, portions of life which we may no longer partake of, but does that mean we have really “given up” anything valuable or of actual worth? I dare say, we have not. Not that such things are beneath us as we’ve become somehow superior or our royalty precludes us from stooping to the lows of mere paltry people, but that they are not blessed of God and are of the World. We are a “peculiar people” according to the Bible; Dr. Dan Hayden also wrote this explanation:

When the King James translators used the word “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9, identifying Christians as a “peculiar people”, this is not what they had in mind. According to A. T. Robertson, the word “peculiar” comes from the Latin word, “pecus” which means “flock”. The KJV translators were simply reflecting the idea that believers in Christ are the unique possession of God — they are His flock.

As followers, believers and children of Jesus Christ, as “Christians”, we are called to a life and held to standards which simply cannot be compromised. We are held accountable by God’s word, the commandments of God and of Jesus Christ and the convictions of the Holy Spirit. No person is excluded from these accountabilities, commandments and guidelines; many, simple decide and desire not to adhere to them. Judgment will be carried out, regardless of whether one accepts & believes or not; this is simply a fact and a rather unavoidable one at that.

What you may not understand about “Religion” is that it is not Christianity and the two have very little, if not nothing whatsoever to do with one another. According to James, this is the extent of religion and its practices and beliefs are observed as follows:

James 1:27

King James Version (KJV)

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world

One might also be misinformed as to the fact that Christians can be and do have, FUN! Often, in fact! We live a life that knows many smiles, laughs and happiness. But we also know one of constant struggles, battles and discomforts. We live a life of servitude, embellished by the constant need to decrease ourselves, so that God may increase and be glorified. We live a life that requires great humility, lacking the pleasures which others find in self-acknowledgment(s), giving all honor to our Father in Heaven.

There are both, wonderful and terrible examples of Christians all over the globe. Painted in so many lights, with countless opinions, views, concepts, disagreements and misunderstandings, Christians are portrayed as the thorn in everyone’s side. Because religion and religious people have marred, if not ruined, the very name of a great people of God. Without dismissing the additional truths, fellow Christians and those professing to be such, have done their disgrace to us, seriously causing all but irreparable damage.

Lest I continue with the chasing of rabbits, may I please submit, our faith is not an easy one to aspire to. We live difficult lives. Enduring, not only the hardships placed upon everyone else in the world (taxes, education, jobs, family life, marriage, unemployment, etc.) while then having the additional requirements of keeping the commandments given us by God. This life, it is not for the faint of heart and “those who endure to the end, shall be saved” is for sure, factual. We must endure, all things, and can, by the very grace of God.

We survive and manage to live an abundant life, if we strive to honor God, acknowledge Him in all things, keep His commandments, and act with compassion, mercy and love. If you really think it is so simple and easy to do as we do, try this requirement for a while:

King James Bible
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

King James Bible
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

Tradition Or Habit

Except from Wikipedia :

A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wigs or military officer spurs), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word “tradition” itself derives from the Latin tradere or traderer literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Certain scholarly fields, such as anthropology and biology, have adapted the term “tradition,” defining it more precisely than its conventional use in order to facilitate scholarly discourse.

The concept of tradition, as the notion of holding on to a previous time, is also found in political and philosophical discourse. For example, the political concept of traditionalism is based around it, as are strands of many world religions including traditional Catholicism. In artistic contexts, tradition is used to decide the correct display of an art form. For example, in the performance of traditional genres (such as traditional dance), adherence to guidelines dictating how an art form should be composed are given greater importance than the performer’s own preferences. A number of factors can exacerbate the loss of tradition, including industrialization, globalization, and the assimilation or marginalization of specific cultural groups. In response to this, tradition-preservation attempts have now been started in many countries around the world, focusing on aspects such as traditional languages. Tradition is usually contrasted with the goal of modernity and should be differentiated from customs, conventions, laws, norms, routines, rules and similar concepts.

Having considered this, what do you feel as though your traditional, Christian life is like? Have you observed enough traditional Sunday services and repeated them, thousands of times, have they become more of a habit than tradition? Where is this guy going with this? Traditions are wonderful and deeply-rooted portions of our life, right? Yes. But….

As we attend church, study the Bible, hear the word, we tend to grow. But so often is the case, many reach a stalemate or plateau. There comes a moment wherein, we simply lose forward momentum and the actions are nothing more than muscle memory. We continue a cycle of worship liken to brushing our teeth, making coffee or driving our car. They are so engrained as to require no effort, more from habit than tradition.

Is there anything in our relationship with God at this point, differentiating us from the world? We have grown complacently comfortable in our spiritual Snuggie. Cooled down, lukewarm and set apart from progress.

We must ever challenge ourselves to change! Breaking the bonds of normalcy, repetitive,  traditional approaches toward righteousness by understanding one shoe does not fit all. Yes, there are simple, plain truths in the Gospel; I dare not suggest we toss them out the window. What I do say is, if you have come to a point wherein your every trip to church is no different than the last or you are not witnessing, speaking and sharing that is a hint. The type of “Houston, we have a problem” smacked in the face with reality kind of hint that should keep you awake like a neon sign, flashing outside your bedroom window at night.

Never allow your traditional way of thinking, become a conventional way of learning. Push yourself, dig deep. To quote Tony Horton’s P90X motto “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” in that you must make a firm decision to challenge yourself. Commit to the task, by every means afforded you and succeed at what you set forth to do. Not excuses. No prisoners. No holds barred. Win.

I have seen services be as bland as plain, room-temperature oatmeal, on a rainy day. And weeks, months and years later, they are just as traditional as ever. Never veering from protocols, procedures and the “but we always do this at this time on this day” attitude. Order something vibrant! Something you have never had and not sure if you would ever eat or drink. Grow in spirit, in measure of faith in understanding and wisdom. The entire book of Proverbs is summed up as “Seek wisdom and knowledge” for a good reason; it requires perpetual effort and perpetual motion to attain.

Don’t let what you consider to be tradition, hinder you from new occasion, to develop a greater expectation. Never allow habit to preclude you from the daily renewal of spirit.

Thanks for you time and reading. God bless you.

Part the Skies, Prepare a Place for Me.

His name, fills my heart. And His voice, plays the part..

Of a father I’ve always longed for, in a home I’ve only dreamed of.

On His name, I believe. By His blood, I am, set free.

From a reminder of my failures. And a life I never wished for.

Part the skies, prepare a place for me!

For thirty pieces of silver, betrayed and delivered.

On a cross He gladly gave up, His holy ghost went straight up.

Part the skies, prepare a place for Me!

I believe, for all He died. And for relief, He must have cried!

To the Father that He longed for. To comfort and console Him.

In a home He always dreamed of. Leaving this life He never wished for.

I part the skies, a place prepared for Thee!

 

Thank You, blessed Lord, for that which I do not deserve. Your grace shall be my promise. Until that day when YOU part the skies and take me to the place You have assuredly, prepared for me.

 

Salvation Is From Jesus Christ

heart-shaped-cookie-cutter-dough-12513329Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a man or woman could grant us salvation? How simple and convenient that would be; just have a person to tell us “you are now saved”. In reality, salvation is through Jesus Christ and by no other means is it possible.

Sadly, how many people have gone to a revival, a youth gathering, some other spiritual gathering and been invited to “come down and pray” only to leave, lost. How many have been asked, during one of these events, to recite some prayer, followed by being informed, “you are now saved”? Who, among men, has this power? Nobody!

We cannot recite anything, expecting salvation to occur or be granted. No person is capable of doing this for us or by any means can they afford or confirm our reconciliation to the Father. Too many “cookie-cutter” preachers with false visions and false understandings of the process, pervert and hinder, true salvation.

Venturing to say that the vast majority of people that were “informed” of the new salvation left with the very same emptiness and feelings of discouragement as they entered in  with, is reasonable. For they never experienced what needed to take place.

The Holy Spirit draws us, not a man or woman. Man or woman can lead us and teach us, by the Word, but the Spirit convicts. Reciting someone else’s prayer is folly; salvation must be achieved through sincerity and recognition of our sins, followed by confession and repentance.

In Matthew, we learn the famous “Sermon of the Mount” and there are very clear indications of who is blessed and who is not. The many descriptions of the blessed are about all of us who truly follow Christ, believe upon Him and have found, true salvation. The descriptions are not given as one fits this person and another, this type of person. But they describe characteristics that should be realized, in full, by all who are Christians.

To be clear, you and I must have been drawn by the Holy Spirit, sincerely realized and understood that we were lost and been convicted of our sins. We must have confessed our sins as genuine faults and offenses to God and been genuinely sorry for them, to Him. We must have realized our need for Him, asked forgiveness of Him and accepted Grace from Him, through Jesus Christ. Finally, we are born again are become a new creature, turning from our sinful ways and seeking the Father in all our new ways.

There should be very, self-evident-proofs of our change. Our lives, the manner in which we live and the disdain for things past should be obvious professions of faith. There cannot be re-birth without ensuing change, for it is not possible for Jesus to reside, or the Spirit to dwell within, without clear change of our nature.

If you have discovered that you remained lost, for days after you were told of your salvation and just felt deeply upset or empty…that is the Holy Spirit, still convicting you. One should experience and know peace and filling after salvation, never loss or emptiness.

Are you able to say that you are one of the “Blessed” according to Jesus’ word on the Mount of Olives? Do those descriptions really apply and relate to you? Inwardly and outwardly, are you changed and filled? If not, I beseech and implore you, discard the cookie-cutter and pray to Him, for yourself, right now. There is no magical formula, but there is a necessity for truthfulness. Seek Him and you shall find Him.

Don’t get your salvation out of a box or from another human being…it is as worthless as any of those cheap, plastic toys of which, we were always disappointed. True salvation comes through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 says it plainly and in truth “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Peace, grace and mercy to you.

Not For My Deeds

Wishing the “duality of man” were better understood; how great are our abilities, so terrible our actions can be, likewise. We’ve an innate kindness nested with selfishness. Are we aware of which master we choose to serve, each day? Can we overcome one and dispose of the other? Should we? Or should we keep both to better appreciate the need and benefits gained, one from the other? Do they compliment each other or are they simply detrimental to us?

We cannot serve two masters, for we shall love the one and hate the other, right? How does one properly wrestle this? How best to select one or the other seem left up to the individual. But that is not the case. We shall always struggle against sin and our sinful ways, for that is the nature, by default, of mankind. The Holy Spirit, which abides in us, helps; it is the “Helper” and the “Comforter” for many great reasons.

To be more like Christ in our daily walk, we must allow the indwelling Spirit to do its job. Without resistance, given to supplication, humility and profound knowledge of our very need for its presence, we must be willing to be directed. The more of Christ which is within us, the less of things unlike Christ, can remain. For instance, one cannot completely fill a jar with more than one material at that same time. Different matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If the jar is completely filled with water, it cannot then by filled with sand also, while retaining the same amount of water. One will cause the other to be displaced. In this way, if we are filled with flaw, but allow ourselves to be filled with perfection, one will displace the other. Imperfection will be removed by displacement and occupation of perfection, in its place.

Always, there shall remain choice; we can affect the balances of the “fillers”. But when we maintain our desire to serve the Lord, knowing He is an endless, flowing fountain of Living Water, we learn and benefit. This fountain, continues to flow and whatever sand we allow into our life, it is easily and constantly being washed away {displaced} by the water.

Your faith shall always prevail, if you maintain your desire upon the Kingdom and the Father, to whom your heart belongs. Be of good cheer and strong. Grace will ever, surpass wrath when we make ourselves subject to the Lord.

Greater Is He That Was In The World

greater

Now the first thing arriving in your mind is what? This guy just misspoke, because the scripture reads “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”. That passage reads “He that IS IN the world, not “was in”. But afford me a luxury this morning.

Early, as I had coffee and pondered upon the thought, I began to first consider myself and how that scripture related to me, personally. Afterward, I considered King Saul, who would become the Apostle Paul.

My mind perused pages, articles, reams of sins that I have committed. Marveling over the thought of what poor-quality of man, monstrously-behaved, deplorable and despicable sinner was I. No wonder people may have such difficulty understanding how, even I, now speak of the Gospel.

My friends, this is truly the grace of our Lord! This is the measure of our hope, in Christ! Change. That power to create man as demonstrated in Genesis, is re-emerged in God’s mighty ability, through Jesus Christ, to re-create man, once again. A new creation, a new creature.

Speaking of myself, it became clear, “Greater is He that is in me, than he (myself) that was in the world”. For Jesus, showed mercy and grace to that man, and was greater than that man of old! In an instant, that which was, was overcome, recreated and reborn!

Yes, certainly, He is greater than he that IS in the world also. Able to do all things, able to overcome all obstacles and more powerful than all the “peoples” inhabiting the world. But let us truly consider what is most beneficial, for salvation is, at the very basic level, perfectly, personal. For salvation is given to each one of us; at the end of the day, our own, personal salvation is the greatest gift He will have ever granted each one of us.

My point this day is, try to consider the almost mystifying, magical, personal, catered-to, tailored-to, specifics of God’s grace to you! He was able to be greater than all things, even you, who once, was in the world.

Enduring Our Loss – Keeping Our Hope

So often, it’s been said of me, that I should’ve been born in another time. People often suggest a time, perhaps, like the early 1900’s; I tend to agree.

Upon reflection, my meager length of life has provided such an awe. Greatly, has our nation and its peoples changed; I do not say progressed. Once, we were a people of good cheer, kindness, morals, ethics. Consideration for others was simply a way of life; there was a natural, instinctual, respect for one another.

Such disdain, dissatisfaction…an utter reproach toward the manner in which our once, great nation, has run itself into the reef. We are taking on water and seemingly, in desperate fear of the possibilities of hopelessness.

Hard times come with realization – priorities change, understanding unfolds – what we must do now, what we have done in order to achieve this situation, etc. Eventually, it will come down to survival, hinged upon absolute necessity.

What hopelessness might await our people? Will there come a time wherein, we fully, insightfully and with humility, measure our failure before the Lord? As a nation, as a people, merely as children of our beloved Creator, we will find ourselves before Him. Either in wrath, pleading for mercy or in awe, thankful for additional grace…we will certainly come to an ends.

Gratitude affords me hope, in that, we have solemn promise from the Lord. If we seek Him with all our heart, we shall find Him. God is not hidden from us, and He has not yet turned His back upon us. God is able to have patience, for a time. Nevertheless, God awaits us to present ourselves before Him, not the other way around.

For the people that will continue to walk in God’s ways, remaining in God’s will, we shall know His grace, mercy and love. People who refuse Him, will assuredly know His wrath. Yes, believers shall see times of severe difficulty, but we shall face it with perfect clarity that God loves us and provides a means, a way and an end.

Prayer is a byproduct of faith, which comes from patience. Without faith, we cannot speak prayers to the Father; it would be completely futile and senseless. We must have the genuine faith He exists, that He is the only, true God, as well as hope that our promises shall be rewarded us for our good, faithfulness.

What I hope to convey and trust to assure, is that we shall never be completely without hope. We, His children, shall never be cut off from Him, cannot be removed from His will or cast out. Salvation is secured, hope is constant, faith is required.

Look always unto the Father, seek Him in all your way. Let there be no questions, debates or confusions about a complete certainty; God answers when we speak to Him. God ALWAYS listens and inclines His ear to us.

Testimony – Strayed and Returned to the Lord

Once, there were two families which were joyous in the Lord, my own and the family of the Pipkins. Our families became as closely-knitted as if to be one of the same. We shared fellowship, friendship, love and admirations for one another, completely.

The Pipkin family was made up of Bill & Claudia, (dad and mom) Louise (daughter) and Sammy….a most beloved son, whom the family revolved around. S…ammy was my very best and closest friend; he was a remarkable boy. Sammy was a vibrant, God-loving, energetic youth, that had a smile liken to that of an angel. Our families spent so much time together. If Sammy was somewhere, I was less than a stones-throw away and vice versa. We were absolutely inseparable. The Davis’, comprised of my mother Cheryl, brother Steve, sister Diane, and my Grandmother, Carolyn Clark were all God-loving, spiritual people and were completely intertwined with the Pipkin’s.

On one mid summer afternoon, their entire family had come to visit and pick me up to spend another countless weekend with them. It was a full house, with all their family, me, my mother, sister, grandmother and my sister’s friend. Everyone was doing their own thing. As Sammy and I waited and played in my bedroom, we passed the time as boys do. Talking and dreaming and cutting up, sharing everything we could think of and get our hands on. We loved to shoot and my mother had raised us all with STRICT gun safety and responsibility. This was a great thing which should never be talked about too much.

As I rummaged through the closet my brother Steve and I shared, I came across the brand new .22 rifle he was so happy about having received from his father. It was a semiautomatic, magazine fed rifle. First thing, I turned the weapon to its side and made sure there was no magazine, then, I pulled the bolt about a half dozen times to ensure the chamber was cleared. Just a s we were taught.

Turning to Sammy with the “cops and robbers” or “Indians and pioneers” laugh in our heads, we were joking about, the rife discharged. I knew this only because I heard an almost silent “pop” as I saw Sammy clasp his chest. I was still smiling at the thought of him acting out the silly part he was playing. Then, I realized, as he turned very starkly pale and blood ran between his fingers…it had happened. He collapsed and died, almost instantly at my feet, in my room, at my hand, in front of my face. I was not even yet a teenager nor was he.

It was not long after, at his funeral, his mother and father told me that they loved me and still welcomed and wanted me in their home. They loved ME??!! That was the moment when my heart really, truly…shattered.

I quit speaking for a long time, my friends at school called me names like “killer” “murderer” etc. Many joked that I did it purposely; kids can be very cruel, indeed. From those days, I no longer felt the love of God on my face. It went away and so did I. I resigned away to an existence (not a life) of all-consuming guilt and self-hatred beyond imagination.

His family left church, the dad became a drunk, the mother died of cancer, the sister a drug using prostitute. My family divided, all at my own hands. I could not bear it and simply just went away from everything. I joined the military to “get mine” and make certain that I would die. That I would be killed also. It never happened. I went out with the decision that I was going to hell and that I deserved nothing less and nothing better. I made a point to break every single commandment…many times over. I drank profusely, did drugs like candy and tried to find the ultimate, unforgivable sin, so I could commit it and guarantee myself an eternity in hell, where I belonged.

Now there is MUCH, MUCH more to this story as I have had a long life. But to this day, until Randall Taylor, I have never allowed myself to have a close friend. I refused to ever consider a “best friend” because I would not have their blood on my hands and deserved to suffer, all my life. I found new and creative ways to make myself suffer.

….And then came Jesus Christ, when I was so completely broken that I knew I was about to end my own life at my own hands. Enter a KING, into the life of a miserable pawn…but a pawn of heritage! I was also, His child and He, like the parents of my own and Sammy’s, told me that He loved me.

My heart surely burst, for I was given the understanding that guilt is not my own or His. I did not own it and it did NOT own me…but He did. I truly knew that this burden could be taken from me and I could, actually, mean something to someone one day. I mattered to one individual…GOD!

I wrote a song about it one day as well, and accepted both the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and that of my own. Sammy was never angry and never hated me. Jesus spoke to me and said, “In the great things you will do with the life I have given you, I will be pleased. You have survived all this to know, your very name, John. You are not here without anything else but John….John, means “God is Gracious” and He allowed you to come to this place, alive and spared you. I open your mouth, do not any longer, remain quiet.”

If you think you have issues with self-worth, esteem, value depression, etc. I TELL YOU A SOLEMN TRUTH….GOD shall overcome all things! Jesus Christ is the worker of miracles…even for someone like ME.

How is defeat an option? Why do you not CLAIM the very same empowerment you are given as every king, disciple, apostle, priest, servant, etc. in the Bible??? You HAVE been given the same Holy Spirit, granted by the same God, by the complete authority of Jesus Christ. You are, after all….ALL those things; each title above is also yours!

Let me share with you a simple thought which seems to evade many people while praying. NEVER simply ask something from God or conclude with “if it be Your will”. I tell you this because ALL things are granted when we ask and it IS HIS WILL that we should be given what we need.

Do not doubt or give questions to God. Why try to cause God to debate His promise, for He will not! He will honor His word to you, always. Has anyone read the book of James? Hebrews? The majority of the Bible? Receive what you ask for, without doubt!!

If you woke up tomorrow, as a king or queen…would you act differently? If you knew you now had such an important position and responsibility, would you not step up to the expectations? My point?  If you truly understood what was expected of you, what you were capable of and the position you now hold – you were, after all, reborn and baptized, right – why would you continue to live as a servant to denial?  We are kings! We are “new creatures” with awesome abilities! Do not deny your heritage, position or the empowerment of your faith. Go forth and DO what you have been given, by your “re-birth rights” to do!