Thursday, May 26, 2022

One Question Every Person Must Answer Himself: Have You Answered It?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:13-16

“Who do you say that I am?” 

It’s the ultimate question every human being will have to answer for themselves.  

Just who is Jesus Christ to me?  

In fact, our destiny hinges on our response to this question.

The path of life we trod also hinges on it: one leads to a abundant life and fulness of joy; the other is a path to destruction - a path to be avoided at all costs.

Jesus eased into this question: He first asked His disciples what others thought of Him? 

That warranted an easy response.  

It’s always easier to answer for someone else!

Their answer didn’t surprise Jesus, He heard the undercurrent of rumblings.  

He simply used this question as a lead-in to the more personal question.  

"What about you," isn't quite as easy to answer...and, it's just so personal....
And, oh , my doesn't that question have the potential to offend!
So, if you're like me, you typically avoid it....but, NOT JESUS!
The risk of not asking it has far greater consequences...

The disciples quickly rattled off the names of some fairly well-known, and highly revered folks…men with fire and intensity, good men, prophets.  

Each of these men came preaching a highly-charged, volatile message that was pretty difficult for most people to swallow.  

These men were forerunners to the Messiah, but they were not the Messiah.  

The Jews were waiting, had been waiting, for hundreds of years, for the one who would come as Rescuing King, conquering deliverer, and essential High Priest.  

To the crowds, Jesus was just another prophet to be tolerated.

“BUT,” Jesus (again, not one to shy away from personal questions, when so much is at stake) asked.  “Who do you say that I am?”  

By this time, the disciples had spent about 2 ½ years traveling, talking, and being taught by the Master.  

The longer they were around Him, the more evidence He gave them that He wasn’t just an ordinary prophet.  

The more they observed His miracles, the more convinced they were that there was something of the DIVINE about Him.  

His life attested to His Messiah-ship.  

At the same time, there was something a bit confusing about Jesus.  

He wasn’t using His divine powers to overthrow the Roman-rule as they expected.  

He talked about going away, and coming back.  

He lived a life of servant-hood, not that of one who would be King; and He discussed with them the idea of “being lifted up,” which they all understood to be crucifixion.  

Would a Messiah subject Himself to such shame?  

So, there were doubts about Jesus they wrestled with, even while, at the same time, Jesus sought their allegiance.

I so love Peter!  Honest, vulnerable...impulsive.

He jumps right in, speaking for the group.  

His head knew the answer, even if His heart didn’t necessarily go along with it.  

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  

This was the first step Jesus’ disciples took toward a confession of faith; and, Jesus blessed the answer, stating that this response held the keys to the eternal Kingdom of God. 

His Kingdom without end... 

Later, following Jesus’ death, each of the disciples finally worked their faith from their heads to their hearts... 

As they "got it" (and wrapped their hearts around allegiance to Jesus), their lives forever changed...

All of us must come to the same Crisis of Belief, ultimately answering:
What will I do with Jesus?

What a reminder that we don’t have to have all the theological answers to surrender our allegiance to Jesus and confess Him as our Savior, finding salvation for our souls.  

Like the disciples, there may be many times we come face to face with a crisis of belief, but in the end, 

“He who begins a good work in us, will complete that work in the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”  

This, then, is our jumping off place, the point on the cliff where we dive into the ocean of Jesus' "I AM" statements, and begin our exploration.  “Who do you say that Jesus is?”  

Is He your Savior? 

Or, is He just a good man with a hard message?  

We can’t explore the depths, unless you jump.  

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this – I believe with all my heart, Jesus is who He says He is:  my deliverer, the One who sets me free.  

I jumped, and He changed my life, 51 years ago. 

He began a good work in me.

One day, I know, He will complete it.  

To see more of KNOW Him intimately, we all have to take that leap of faith! 

I highly recommend jumping, because I know the arms of Jesus will catch you, too – 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Who Do You Say I Am? Why Does It Matter?

Last January, as I sat contemplating a "word" from the Lord on which to focus in 2022, nothing seemed to register with me.  

I tried on different words like one might try on a new outfit for purchase at a favorite clothing store, but "notta"...nothing seemed quite right.

At the same time, it seemed like one little prefix kept presenting itself...

A simple little syllable that precedes a variety of different words.

Two little letters that, when squished together, mean: to do again,  or, to go back and do over that which you did in the beginning…” 


Because you weren’t doing it right…but for the purposes of doing “better”…or “perfecting”….or, my personal favorite, for the purpose of “MATURING…”

So, since the beginning of 2022, I zeroed in on "RE:"

Re-reading some meaningful books from years back, from authors who've inspired me along the way in ministry.

Re-visiting our ministry mission statement and why we do what we do.

Re-organizing old files...

Re-learning old lessons...



And, even some re-writing...

So, it is with this next series I'll be posting week-to-week on this blog site. 

It's a series, I started working on 11 years ago this month. 

(Back then, I still served as Dean of Women at Arizona Christian University...)

This series, I soon recognized as crucial for walking college women through a concrete understanding of their identity in Jesus...and, it's true for all of us: adults, college students, teens: 

until we know our Savior up-close and personal, we can't truly live out our identity in Christ. 

Out of who He is...I am.

So, over the next few weeks, my goal is to re-engage with just who Jesus says He is...and, with this, dig into the "I am" statements from the gospels. 

I have to admit, beginning a series, such as the one on which I'm about to embark, feels much like preparing to explore some deep oceanic waters.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love the ocean, having been raised in a little sea-side community.  

To this day, no place on earth brings me more of a sense of peace than sitting on a sandy shore.  

However, to be honest, I have a healthy fear of deep water.  

The vastness and dark depths overwhelm me and, sometimes, panic sets into my soul.  

So, this is a bit how I feel in regards to submerging myself into the “I Am” statements of Jesus (overwhelmed by the limitlessness).  


On the other hand, if I don’t truly know Him, I won’t trust Him.  
If I don’t know Him, I won’t believe what He tells me.  
If I don’t know Him, I can’t really love Him; and, it is love that drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).  
Knowing is the hinge on which everything turns in regards to the Christian journey.  
 Recently, as I’ve saturated myself in the Psalms (particularly the ones King David wrote), I’ve noticed a pattern (simply read one Psalm a day for the next month and I think you’ll see the same pattern).  
I love this man’s honesty – he shamelessly pours out the mess of his heart to God. 
He's familiar with lament...and does it well! 
Sometimes, he brutally accuses his Lord.  
Then, David starts talking to himself.  He reminds himself just who his God is and how faithful his God has been.  
Before you realize that David has placed a period at the end of a sentence, he’s going off in praise.  
His attitude has changed and you read the words of a confident, courageous, content man (who is able to sleep in peace in spite of his situation).  
Confident, courageous, content...In this fashion, I want to be just like David; and, intimately knowing the Lord is the key!
So while sandy beaches are safe, the real beauty is beneath the surface of the water – out in the scary depths of the sea.  
I might need a little practice learning to breathe (maybe in my bathtub first), but I’m ready to go diving!  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Final, Concluding Thought on My Story Matters...

Time to wrap up this idea of "MY STORY MATTERS!"  

As we say our farewells to some remarkable women from the Word, I want to recap what I’ve learned as I’ve pondered the stories of these amazing ladies...

·    Their stories are true stories – as sure as I live, so did they.  What they came through is a reminder that there is a season to everything I go through.

·    Their stories are stories of God’s grace at work...a reminder that God's grace is at work in my story, as well.

·    In each of their stories – God reveals His love in a myriad of ways:
Their stories remind me that He loves me no matter what I’ve done...
Their stories remind me that He could not love me more and He will never love me less.
God loves me, even though He knows me well, inside and out...

·    In each of their stories, these women are the focus of God, the center of His attention.  He celebrates their lives! The same is true of my story.  I am the focus of His attention...I am His celebration. Imagine!  God throws a party in heaven and, one day, I will be the guest of honor!

Write this final thought down in your Bible; and make this your final prayer!

I am a line in God’s story.  
May all that I write with my life bring Him glory!

Now...let’s start sharing our God-stories.  

They are an essential part of our community of believers. 

If nothing else, from these women I’ve learned that stories build our faith!  

My story...your story...these will increase someone else’s capacity to believe God.

Consequently, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God – the stories of God at work!  
Romans 10:17

Thursday, May 5, 2022

My Story Matters: Esther #4 (conclusion)

No matter the translation in which I read Esther 9:1, I find myself getting goose bumps.  

Read this verse, written out below, in several different versions:

The order the king had commanded was to be done on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar.  That was the day the enemies of the Jewish people had hoped to defeat them, but that was changed (NCV).
Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), on the thirteenth day when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the master over them, it was turned to the contrary…(NASB)
The thirteenth day of Adar came, the day on which the royal proclamation was to take effect, the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to take effect, the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to get them in their power.  But instead, the Jews triumphed over them (GNT).
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the king’s order came into effect.  This was the very day that the enemies of the Jews had planned to overpower them, but the tables were now turned (MSG).
Four translations should suffice.  
Did you feel it?  Did you sense the relief?  Hear the sighs?  Experience the joy?  Taste the sweetness of the words, “but the tables were turned…all that was changed…but instead…it was turned to the contrary?”  
There would be no chapter 9, verse 1, except for an insignificant orphan girl from a defeated country, named Esther.  
I hope that sinks into the very depths of your soul.  
Esther had no great qualities – she was simply God’s girl, in God’s place, during God’s time, fulfilling God’s dream for God’s people.  
There was a need.  
Esther stepped down (in humility), stepped up (in prayer and fasting), stepped out (of herself), and stepped forward (with courage).  
As a result, everything changed.  
The enemy was defeated.  
Salvation was delivered.  
Celebration was proclaimed.
We often find ourselves in situations where the tables need turning – wrongs need to be made right, children need to be protected, the unborn need to be fought for, the values we hold dear need to be embraced, marriages need help, and enemies need to be eliminated.  
Sometimes those things that we are most passionate about are the very things that God puts in front of our eyes so that we might be the one to stand in the gap.  
We might be His woman. or His guy.  
He might have us in this place, during this time, to fulfill his dream for His people in our day.  
He doesn’t ever seem to use those who are qualified.  
He only seems to use those who are available, surrendered, and willing to set self aside.  
Will that be me?  Oh, I pray so!  
I pray I’m trained to hear His sweet soft voice calling me forth.  
Will that be you?