My Baby’s Birthday!!

Verse of the Day 2020-08-08

Daily Prayer for August 9

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20, NIV

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.

 

Today’s Daily Dig

The most precious things of life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door.… So, on a large scale, the student and lover of nature has this advantage over people who gad up and down the world seeking some novelty or excitement: he has only to stay at home and see the procession pass. The great globe swings around to him like a revolving showcase; the change of the seasons is like the passage of strange and new countries; the zones of the earth, with all their beauties and marvels, pass one’s door and linger long in the passing.

Source: John Burrough’s America

 

 

 

Go to Homepage

US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

A new survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.

As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings — exploring perceptions of sin and salvation — from George Barna, the group’s director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns.

Sixty-eight percent who embrace that notion identify as Christians, including 56% of self-described evangelicals and 62% of those who identify as Pentecostals. Sixty-seven percent of mainline Protestants and 77% of Catholics also embraced that idea, the findings show.

Slightly over half of Christian respondents said they believe someone can attain salvation by “being or doing good,” a figure that includes, 46% of Pentecostals, 44% of mainline Protestants, 41% of evangelicals, and 70% of Catholics.

In addition to the viewpoint that eternal salvation can be earned, survey results show that 58% of Americans believe that no absolute moral truth exists and that the basis of truth are factors or sources other than God. Seventy-seven percent said that right and wrong is determined by factors other than the Bible. Fifty-nine percent said that the Bible is not God’s authoritative and true Word and 69% said people are basically good.

“If you look at some of the dominant elements in the American mind and heart today, as illuminated by the Inventory, most people believe that the purpose of life is feeling good about yourself,” Barna said in a statement sent to The Christian Post.

“Most people contend that all faiths are of equal value, that entry into God’s eternal presence is determined by one’s personal means of choice and that there are no absolutes to guide or grow us morally.

“That philosophy of life contradicts a fundamental basis of what may be the two most significant documents to the longevity and success of America – the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. Those documents agree that this nation will only be healthy and fruitful if it is populated by moral people. By abandoning our moral standards and traditions, and replacing them with inclusive and conditional preferences, we’re losing the foundations that have enabled the ‘American experiment’ to succeed for more than two centuries. We can only hope that our critical moral institutions — particularly the family and the church — will wake up and help the nation to get back on track.”

The results are from a January 2020 survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, with a maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus 2 percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval.

 

 

          ~~~Dion Todd

A Healthy Body

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I’m not the hand, I’m not part of the body,’ it is not therefore not part of the body. If the ear would say, ‘Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body,’ it’s not therefore not part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 1 Corinthians 12:14 WEB

The human body is made up of many parts, and each part is made up of many cells, and each cell is made of even smaller parts like chromosomes. All of it works together in harmony to maintain a healthy body, and every part has its own job to do. It’s an amazing creation and balance.

If you could interview them, different parts of the body would never agree on which job is the most important, because they fully believe it is what they are called to do. For example, the heart pumps blood, while the lungs pump oxygen. To each of them, their job is the most important part of existence, and thankfully they do not try and do the other’s job. If the heart started pumping air, or the lungs started pumping blood, the body would die. We need both the heart and lungs doing their own job for the body to live.

Many times in our walk with Jesus we meet other Christians that just don’t think like we do. One is deep into politics and government, another is an intercessor, another is into mission work, another is a chaplain, while another is focused on prison ministry, others are involved in music, or something else entirely. The list is diverse and unending. It is supposed to be this way. It takes all of us to make the body of Christ work.

When we attend our local church, the welcome team greets us at the door, people work at the coffee counter, in the children’s church, in the nursery, in the praise team, some run the sound, lighting, projectors, recordings, cameras, another speaks a message, others are on the prayer team. It takes everyone working together to build a healthy community.

As Paul told us, we are all a part of the body of Christ and one part is not more important than another. There is no top or bottom in God’s eyes, as we are all His children. Jesus told us that the greatest among you, will be your servant (Mark 10:43, Matthew 23:11). Wherever you find yourself, work like you are working directly for God and you will be rewarded (Colossians 3:23).

Do not get sidetracked by people that try to turn you away from following your own calling, so you can follow theirs. People will live your life for you if you let them, but they are most likely from another part of the body. They cannot do the job that God created for you, nor will they understand your desire to do it. I grew up in the country and people never understood my fascination with computers, but God had a plan later that required it. You will never be satisfied doing what they are meant to do for each of us are unique in our own gifts and our calling in life.

Find what you are passionate about, that seems to come naturally, and follow that. Don’t strive to be like someone else. The greatest thing you can do, is to truly be yourself. Serve your heart out wherever you are, and God will raise you up in due time. If you are washing dishes, be the best dish washer the world has ever seen, and God may make you the manager.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please put me where I need to be and help me to recognize the gifts that You have placed in my life. Stir me up and wake me up. Guide me onto the path that You have laid out for me and make it so clear that I know that it can only be You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: The middle verse in the Bible: Psalm 103:2-3.

 

 

IMG_8619.JPG

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Worship and Honor in the Real World’

Then [the disciples] brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.

Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

— Mark 11:7-8 NLT

Key Thought

While an unknown owner supplied the colt on which Jesus rode (see Mark 11:1-6), many in the crowd offered their coats to welcome and honor Jesus as he came into town. Others spread branches showing their honor and respect for the Christ. It is a great moment of worship, celebration, and joy. However, the real test of the crowd’s loyalty came in the days that lay ahead for Jesus. Like Christians who celebrate God’s grace, Jesus’ love, and the Spirit’s power only on Sundays, the real heart of worship was not found in the crowds who looked on Jesus with joyous admiration as he rode the colt into Jerusalem but then wanted him crucified a few days later. Likewise, the real test for us is not in Christian assemblies on Sundays but in the dark hours of trial when our faith is confronted by another, more hostile, crowd. Should we share in the joy of Jesus’ glory with those who share our faith? Absolutely! However, we must realize the real test of that faith and the authenticity of our worship will be determined by what we do when confronted by the darkness and the hostile crowd!

Today’s Prayer

O LORD God Almighty, may my life during the week match my worship words on Sunday. Help me in my heart to realize that what I do each day is an integral part of my worship. I want to honor you with my heart, soul, mind, and strength every day of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Matthew 6:19-21 — "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 145:5-7 — I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Wouldn’t It Be Better?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Today’s verses are from 1 Corinthians. Paul had begun to address the sin and division damaging the holiness and fellowship in the house churches in Corinth. In yesterday’s verses, he wrote about dealing with the problems of illicit sexual relations and the Christians’ boasting about their open-mindedness at allowing it to go on in their fellowship. In today’s verses, Paul addresses the problem of lawsuits that believers were bringing against each other before unbelievers. He emphasizes the embarrassment that such lawsuits were bringing on My spiritual family due to the way that outsiders viewed the church.

Paul tells the Christians why they should prefer to be “ripped off or defrauded” by a fellow believer rather than go to court before unbelievers. He makes some important points about why there shouldn’t be lawsuits between Christians:

  1. Any disagreement believers cannot settle between themselves should be decided by using wise believers in the church family to resolve the issue. Christians should have more wisdom and better values on which to make such a decision. After all, the Father will have Christians judge “heavenly messengers” or angels at the end of time.
  2. Going to unbelievers to decide a legal matter is an embarrassment to the church.
  3. This legal action also places Christians under the authority of those “who have no allegiance to” Me or to My standards of morality and integrity.

The ultimate question you face in these matters is really pretty simple. Are you seeking My kingdom and My righteousness (Matthew 6:33) or are you trying to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)? When a person’s heart is more concerned about keeping what he or she has than it is about the good of My kingdom, then that person is living in darkness, and My following words of warning are relevant:

The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray — that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.
(Matthew 6:22-23)

I want to encourage you, as Paul does, to find a way to solve your differences and not go to court (Luke 12:57-59). Paul said it well:

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded?

If you cannot work out a disagreement between yourselves, seek the help of wise brothers and sisters in Christ to help you come to a fair understanding (Matthew 18:16). Remember that there are more important things than your getting what you believe is fair in such matters. One of those more important things is the reputation of the Christian community among unbelievers, and another is not placing yourself under the authority of someone who does not live by My values of truth, honesty, and integrity.

Verses to Live

There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree, disappoint each other, or even sin against each other. To help resolve these disputes, seek the wisdom of wise believers. Don’t go to court with each other before unbelievers and embarrass the church!

Here’s another troubling issue. If you have a grievance against another follower of Jesus, do you have the audacity to bring that brother or sister into the civil courts rather than submitting yourselves to the authority of God’s people? Don’t you know that His people are destined to judge the world? If you have the authority to judge the world, can’t you handle these small matters and render a better judgment than the civil courts? Further, don’t you know that we are destined to judge the heavenly messengers? So if we are to exercise authority in the heavenly realms, can’t we take care of the conflicts that arise in this life? To put it another way, if you are asking the courts to adjudicate your mundane conflicts, aren’t you placing your problems under the authority of judges who have no standing within the church? My words should embarrass you. Is it possible that you have no one among you with the wisdom to mediate between two siblings? So one brother sues another brother in public and drags the dispute before outsiders who have no allegiance to Jesus?

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded? In fact, you are guilty of ripping off and defrauding your own brothers and sisters, not the other way around.
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8)

Response in Prayer

Father, help me as I work on my heart to love You, Your people, and the reputation of Your people. I want to care about the reputation of Your people in the eyes of the world more than I love myself and my stuff. Help me, please dear LORD, for the world pulls at my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Plough Weekly

What can the Radical Reformation tradition teach about faith and politics in an election year? The heart of Plough’s spring issue was on just this question. Between the day it went to press and the day it launched online, the pandemic changed everything, and we quickly turned our attention to walking alongside readers through this new reality. And yet, in terms of the essential question of faith and politics, the pandemic changed nothing at all. As we close in on the US election, with the two major party conventions later this month, the moment has arrived to deeply consider how to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

“Questions of public justice should matter deeply to Christians,” writes Peter Mommsen, but there’s an essential incompatibility between politics and faithful witness. Emperor Constantine, the first ruler to embrace Christianity, straddled this divide by postponing his baptism till his deathbed. In the centuries that followed, the meaning of this incompatibility was revealed in the extreme: Christians killed other Christians under the church-blessed laws of Christian states. The Anabaptist movement was and is an effort to recover the tradition of the first Christians, who understood that “the church, not the state, embodies God’s will for history.”

“The church community as a practical manifestation of the coming kingdom of God is what speaks most loudly in the world.” In “The Bruderhof and the State,” the community’s General Counsel, John Huleatt, very practically lays out its beliefs – what civic functions members take part in, what are matters of reasoned disagreement and what are nonnegotiables, what their stand has cost them under various political regimes, and how each one of these convictions is driven by “active love of God and neighbor.”

Anabaptists almost never seek power, as this history by John D. Roth explains, but in 1990s Paraguay, a good-faith exception was made. The new government earnestly invited Mennonites to help shape the future of the country, even contribute to the new constitution. How could anyone turn down such an opportunity, with all the good that could be done? And good was done indeed . . . but within a few years, the mixed results of this experiment reaffirmed the wisdom of engaging in political witness from the outside, “not primarily as citizens, or as representatives of political parties, or as a lobby group shouting to be heard, but as ambassadors of the Prince of Peace who came as a servant, welcomed children and foreigners into his circle, and taught us to love our enemies.”

For a non-Anabaptist take on faith and politics, read Michael Wear’s piece over at Breaking Ground: “In politics, as in all things, our call is to be faithful. To stay awake. To walk with those who face injustice.”

Sneak a peek of our autumn issue on solidarity, out next week, with Rosalind Stevenson’s explanation of the cover design, which “signifies a willingness to come together, to change, and to learn from one another. What’s also important is that the different components are bound together by something beyond themselves – a golden cord that comes down and encircles them, and keeps moving, the ongoing work of God.”

If you’re enjoying Plough (we hope you are!), we have a special offer for you. New subscribers to the magazine will receive a free print copy of our new graphic novel of The Grand Inquisitor, as well as free access to all our ebooks. Learn more here, and thanks so much for reading.

Till next week,
Caitrin
P.S. Mom, how do you make friends with a bird? This whimsical question from Aarik Danielsen’s son leads into the world of a young Flannery O’Connor and her assorted fowl. But this innocent exploration opens into more complicated questions about how she spoke of black Americans – and how they spoke of her.

When the Other Has Wings

“There’s a woman I love, she’s really hostile, Flannery O’Connor, she’s really really good,” said Toni Morrison, who devotes an essay in The Origin of Others to a race-centered story in which “O’Connor exhibits with honesty and profound perception her understanding of the stranger, the outcast, the Other.”

This understanding of the Other is the first step toward an ideal described by the late writer Brennan Manning, who called Christians to mature “in tenderness to the extent that we are for others – all others – to the extent that no human flesh is strange to us, to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love, to the extent that for us there are no ‘others.’”

It isn’t that O’Connor’s sin of racism is absolved by her art. But in her art there are the clues to repentance and redemption. O’Connor, unfazed by the blemishes she saw in other people, would be the first to admit that her own blemishes must be reckoned with as well. Like chickens, she seized us by the neck and trained us to stare – at our neighbors and ourselves in the mirror. She wrote in an essay, “Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction.”

 

 

Five Ways to Make Hard Times Better

When the hard times of life descend, leaving a trail of destruction, how do you deal with them? No matter who you are: parent, grandparent, single or senior,  writer or teacher, blue collar or white collar, here are five ways to make hard times better:

1. Give thanks for what you still have.

Job knew about hard times. He lost his possessions (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 599 female donkeys)and all His children (10 of them) in one day. Soon after that, he was struck with incurable boils from head to toe. (Job 1-2). What could he possibly give thanks for?

His wife? Well, that’s debatable, considering how she reacted to all of it: “Curse God and die!” Friends? Um, maybe not. Their advice would not encourage a grateful heart. But Job did have God on his side, the One who considered him as a man of integrity. He refused to blame God for anything.

2. Give thanks for what you can still do.

I’m still amazed at Nick Vujicic’s life and story. This man, born without limbs, will more than inspire you and stir up a heart of gratitude for the things you can still do, even in hard times. Sort of makes our circumstances or complaints fade, huh?

Just a note of thanks here, too, for all who have pitched in to help during the coronavirus pandemic. In a thousand different ways, you have sewn, you have given, you have cared, you have baked, and you have prayed..and so much more. Be thankful for what God has allowed you to do and what you still can do to make a difference in these hard times.

3. Trust God to do what you cannot do.

The secret lies not in our strength, but in God’s. That’s true in Nick’s life, and it will be true for us. Looking to Jesus for our strength takes our eyes off our own weaknesses and difficulties. The apostle Paul learned that same truth: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

4. Pray for others you know who are also enduring hard times.

It’s not always easy to think about others when we’re hurting, because we can always find someone in a worse condition than ourselves. And we don’t always want to consider that–right now. But hard times are not occasions for a pity party, but an opportunity for an empathy party. In these pandemic times, we are all being affected with loss in one way or another. Praying for others focuses our attention upward and outward, rather than inward.

5. Rest in the Lord.

I know, easy for me to say. I haven’t walked in your shoes. But you haven’t walked in mine, either. Pain is pain. And we’ve all been there or will be, someday. It never helps to compare ourselves to others using a “my situation is worse than yours,” kind of mentality. What does help is to celebrate that God is still in charge; He still loves us; and He wants us to cast all our cares on Him. In other words, to rest in Him and in His Word (Psalm 37:7).

Like He did for Job, God may restore what we lost in this life, or He may wait until eternity to do that. But one day, the temporary will pass away. No more hard times. No more sadness. No more pain. But until then, we can contribute to making the hard times better. Both in this life and the next, Psalm 16:11 says in God’s presence, there is joy, fullness of joy. What a beautiful promise!

I love this translation of a verse I mentioned earlier, Philippians 4:13 (MSG):

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Because if we have Jesus, we have everything.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, You hold the keys to this world, to these times, and to our hearts. We cast all our cares on You, because You do care for us. Forgive us for trying to make it through hard times by ourselves, or for not turning to You for the help we need. You are the only One who can truly heal us from the disasters that befall our lives and our world. And we bow before You, seeking Your face and admitting our weakness.

In You we find strength, rest, and renewal. You are our only Hope. Thank You for the things we still have, and the things we can still do. No matter how hard or how tough the times, we are blessed knowing and loving You.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? What has helped to make hard times better for you? How do you get through tough times? How are you coping in this pandemic? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

Share This Post with Others

 

 

ChristNOW

Puppet Master or Chess Master?

How Does King Jesus Reveal His Reign in Your Life?

 

Like Christians everywhere, I’m sure you find great comfort in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ when you read these words of promise about Jesus in Romans 14 (emphasis added):

To their own master, servants stand or fall.
And they will stand,
for the master is able to make them stand.

Clearly, for all of us who have been brought out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13), Jesus is our “master”—in fact, he’s the one and only true “Master of the Universe.” Now and forever.

What’s more, Christians agree a day is coming when every knee in all of creation will bow before Jesus, as every tongue in heaven and earth declares him to be Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11).

Redeemed by the Lamb of God, the Church confesses that both this day and on that glorious day, we have

but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came
and through whom we live.
(1 Corinthians 8, emphasis added)

However, there is one facet concerning the lordship of Christ about which there remains considerable debate—and even serious division—among believers. It concerns this question:

HOW FULLY does Jesus exercise his supremacy
in all of life?

Even more specifically, we might ask this:

HOW FULLY does he display his reign
and involve himself in my daily life with him?

Stated more broadly: How much of the history of the world has been determined by the decisions and actions of the human race and how much has been determined by God’s decisive, dominant discharging of his sovereign plan for the ages through the person, work, and reign of his Son, Christ Jesus?

Stated more narrowly: How much of my life is determined by my own choices and responses? On the other hand, how much is shaped by the way God takes charge of my life to advance through Christ his prior purposes for my life that were set in place ages ago?

Essentially, such questions suggest two options to choose from—two perspectives over which the Church has debated for centuries and, unfortunately, sometimes split apart. Sometimes violently.

However, as we go forward into more of Christ, we each must decide. Every person must render a verdict that brings significant implications for how one loves Jesus, trusts him, follows him, serves him, and proclaims him.

My goal in this blog post is to simplify these two options for you by exploring them as two metaphors: PUPPET MASTER vs. CHESS MASTER.

As I do, ask yourself: Which one comes closest to how I currently view and value the supremacy of Christ in my own walk with him?

OPTION #1

The reigning Son of God acts as your

PUPPET MASTER

Throughout Church history, one camp of sincere Christians has held to the conclusion that Jesus displays his supremacy most fully in the lives of his followers—and in the course of the entire world—by an approach that most resembles a puppeteer.

This metaphor pictures the reign of King Jesus as comprehensively engaged with, in command of, and dominate over every detail of every facet of every bit of human existence and experience. He is thoroughly in charge. Nothing lies outside what he wills.

One passage, among many, that leans toward this image is Ephesians 1:20-23, which says:

God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (emphasis added).

That is to say, God has chosen to display the absolute nature of his power by appointing his Son to be sovereign Lord, given all authority in heaven and earth. The Son embodies and invokes God’s final say, demonstrating divine omnipotence as his reign overrules and overrides everything and everyone.

In other words, unbounded in grace and mercy, with superior wisdom and insight, claiming unmitigated omnipotence and unyielding righteous resolve—in keeping with God’s redemptive purposes sealed from all eternity—Jesus continually “pulls the strings” (as it were) in terms of how we and all earth’s peoples live and move and have our beings—past, present, and future.

Therefore, whatever unfolds in my life and yours—including every decision, every action, every word out of our mouths, and every direction and outcome of our daily journeys—comes to pass under his sweeping jurisdiction, his undistracted supervision, and his unabated control.

Despite how “free” we may think we are, Jesus rules from his throne every minute, ordaining and orchestrating in innumerable ways, most of which we are unaware.

Option #1 suggests that the best image to capture this phenomenon is to envision a puppet on a stage. The little guy seems to be acting on its own. But what the audience doesn’t see are the strings that an invisible puppeteer behind the curtain is tugging to make the figurine look alive.

In somewhat the same style, our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills his kingly role as a master decider, composer, and conductor of whatever is going on anywhere at any time with anyone—including what is transpiring around me as well as inside me.

Just as he does throughout the whole earth, the Son of God exercises his supremacy in my sphere of existence so fully that nothing happens to me or with me except by his desire, his design, his decree, and with his direct, “hands-on” involvement.

Moment by moment, all peoples and nations, all the animations in creation, all events large and small in human enterprises, the flow of history as well as its culmination—ALL THINGS, whether personal or cosmic in nature—take their cue from a divinely predetermined, predesigned, and preordained script written with our Redeemer as the main theme and the central character.

Many would point to these verses in Colossians 1 to back up that conclusion:

We look at this Son and see . . . God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment . . . He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. (Colossians 1:15-18, The Message, emphasis added).

In other words, the entire storyline was laid out by the triune God before anything was ever made. Now, in time and space, God’s program is being implemented perfectly and unrelentingly under the sovereign sway of the Son of God—page by page, word for word, according to the sacred, ages-old playbook.

Reflective of the way a puppet master can make a marionette dance a particular jig by how he raises and lowers the strings attached to its limbs, even so, Jesus, as the Lord of your life, is the real explanation for how you end up “dancing before the Lord.”

The Puppet Master in Scripture

Let’s look at some additional biblical support. Paul confessed to the Corinthians:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10, emphasis added).

In Ephesians 2, Paul writes this about all of us:

God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved . . . and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (vs. 4-9, emphasis added).

Or again, in Romans 8:28-32 (Phillips, emphasis added), it says:

Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons. In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The show of all-inclusive sovereignty expressed in these passages seems to be the kind Jesus frequently highlights in the book of Revelation—such as his sweeping claim to operate currently and actively as the ruler of all the kings of the earth (1:5) or when he wraps up the drama of the consummation of history by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13). He’s there at the start, he’s there at the finish line, and he’s there to ensure the outcome by managing every moment in between.

As Jesus informed his disciples in the upper room, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added). That appears to be an indisputable word on the subject, doesn’t it?

Scores of other such passages in the Old and New Testaments suggest a similar interpretation of how God displays his sovereignty through the lordship of Jesus—verses that cause some to liken Jesus’ reign to something akin to a puppet master.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “puppet master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

On the other hand, you might want to consider this:

OPTION #2

The reigning Son of God acts as your

Chess Master

Other Christians choose to live out their walk with Jesus in the security of trusting him to be for them a chess master rather than a puppet master.

In other words, for many Jesus followers, the reality of his supremacy is revealed for them most often by how he is able to combine a measure of their own freedom of choice and action with his ultimate claim to hold unswerving sway in all things, assuring that his intended outcome for all peoples will prevail in the end.

When our lives or our world starts to get off track, they are sure Jesus knows how to “recalculate” an alternative, like your car’s GPS does for you all the time, in order to get life back on the road so that all things end up at their ordained destination—set at his feet for final disposal.

They believe that as Lord of all, Jesus is perfectly able to anticipate and then strategically engage for his own glory every action we take. In fact, in his supremacy, he has the inexhaustible capacity to do so in the face of the countless motives and moves made by people worldwide minute by minute.

Those who hold to Option #2 envision Jesus taking charge across the earth the way a world champion chess master takes charge of a chess game—and gradually takes mastery over his opponent in the process and defeats him.

It is a known fact that a world-class chess player reaches his or her superior level of expertise over many years as they become more and more proficient in the ability to foresee and then outfox their opponent’s game plan—incredibly within the opening gambits of the match.

Furthermore, most champions can predict their opponent’s intended moves as far as ten moves or more past where the game rests at any given moment. This is due to the champ’s incisive intelligence plus decades of study, preparation, and experience.

A chess master comes to the game confident that before long he will be able to compel the other player to move his chessman precisely where the champ intended them to wind up from the beginning—even though his opponent was free to place his pieces where he thought best all along the way.

If such an extraordinary talent can be achieved by frail, finite human minds, consider this:

  • How much more should this be true for the Son of God who is exalted to the throne of heaven, given all authority in heaven and on earth, in whom everything finds its ultimate place in his forcefully advancing kingdom?
  • How much more is our Lord Jesus supremely capable of foreknowing and preplanning and outmaneuvering everything and everyone at every moment, in order to achieve a perfect outcome of every good plan and purpose God established in his Son from eternity past—never threatened in the least by the liberty he gives us to make choices and take actions for a time?
  • How much more will the King of kings gain the victory, in matters large or small, simply by foreseeing and outwitting every real and potential action and reaction in the universe—including all desires of every heart, all decisions of every will, and all actions of every being?
  • How much more, in his infinite, omnipotent wisdom, should the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” established on his cosmic throne, be able to stay ahead of and on top of the combined sum of every desire, decision, and deed in every part of the earth—doing so while simultaneously outthinking, outflanking, and outsmarting every “play” from the other side thus causing creation and history—and me!—to keep flowing toward the fulfillment of his everlasting blueprint?

Don’t miss this core assumption about the “chess master” view of Jesus’ lordship: Those who hold to Option #2 believe all of his non-negotiable engagements with us are going on while at the same time God allows those made in his image—believers and unbelievers alike, sinners that we all are—to retain a measure of freedom to think, choose, and act according to the dictates of our hearts and consciences.

Of course, I state this with the caveat that “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)—which means our fallen human race has only a measure of “freedom”—no more than the limited prerogatives any slave has who must ultimately give an account to their owner at the end of the day.

The Chess Master in Scripture

Again, there are scores of passages to buttress this position. Let’s look at two Old Testament passages that the New Testament quotes as fulfilled in the reign of Christ today. They seem to point to the “chess master” metaphor.

In Psalm 2, we read about rulers and nations “freely” choosing to rebel against God’s sovereignty. But God laughs at their efforts because he knows he has other “moves” up his sleeves (so to speak) that will outmaneuver these sinners and finalize things just as he wants them to be under the reign of his Son—the Chess Master. Here’s a portion (emphasis added):

The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs . . .
saying, “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain” . . .
I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron . . .
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction . . .
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Notice the combination: There’s a measure of free choice—to rebel or to return—on one side of the “chessboard” combined with the confidence in heaven that finally everything will come out exactly as God has intended through and for his Son.

Or, look at Psalm 110, the most frequently quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It says in part (emphasis added):

The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The LORD will extend your mighty
scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.

Here we see the balance between Jesus’ sovereignty (as the one God has set at his right hand to reign, which began with Jesus’ ascension) and the ability of others to make choices on their own—whether to resist the king or to “willingly” join his army.

Notice, at the same time, how competently and confidently the King prevails. There’s a process in motion that ultimately will make his enemies fully submit (footstool). Until that process has worked its way through, our Lord Jesus sustains its forward movement every day, not by dominating or manipulating the multitude of moves by the opposition but rather by carrying out his kingdom’s purpose “in the midst” of an active revolt that he allows to freely continue for a season.

Finally, observe that those who see the winning side of the battle, rally to the king, freely choosing to sign up and get involved with him—the Chess Master.

As with Option #1, there are many other passages that would seem to suggest that Option #2, the metaphor of a chess master, provides a credible biblical view of the supremacy of Christ worth carefully weighing. Here’s one more, found in Philippians 3:12-15 (emphasis added):

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus . . . And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “chess master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

Would you like to know
which option I chose and why?

For sure, these two perspectives create genuine tension for Jesus followers. Eventually, here’s how I resolved that tension for myself.

As best as I can determine—after carefully weighing the wealth of Bible passages for both options—for me, it comes down to one major issue:

Which view of the supremacy of Christ
appears from my perspective to bring
the GREATEST POSSIBLE GLORY to God’s Son?

Is it that Jesus can and does control everything in unchallenged totality—with nothing transpiring over which he does not retain the final say every day, over which he is not in absolute, unimpeded, all-encompassing control—in order to activate and complete God’s eternal purposes, down to every last detail?

Or does Jesus gain even greater glory because

  • In exercising the full extent of his supremacy, our Lord Jesus can and does outthink, outwit, outmaneuver, and outplay the actions and even the secret intentions of every resident in heaven and on earth?
  • He does this while at the same time honoring the dignity of those created in God’s image by allowing them to fully and freely express themselves to whatever limits fallen sinners can as well as to whatever limits redeemed believers are permitted?
  • Ultimately, he prevails simply by creatively pursuing and achieving every single desire and design and decree of God’s heart, securing every triumph of his kingdom-focused purposes, prophecies, and promises—while also honoring those created in God’s image to exercise a level of freedom (dead in sin as we are) that expresses some of the wonders of that image that remain?
  • He does all of this not only for the whole of creation but also, in fullest measure, for every facet of a believer’s life and destiny in him?

Many years ago, given that alternate outlook, I concluded that Option #2—Jesus as our chess master—brings the GREATEST GLORY to him.

The very thought of that image fills me with wholehearted praise to the living God! I’m called to adore and serve an awesomely majestic, yet unconditionally compassionate Savior, who takes me (and all humankind) so seriously that he refuses to regard our relationship as something “robotic”!

Instead, he chooses a relationship to us where he works for us and with us—and at times around us and ahead of us, and even, as needed, against us.

Freely he engages with us each day with an eye to where the “chess match” will come out for the whole creation (Revelation 21-22). Just as it will be in the Consummation, he wants his interactions with us even now to exhibit a significant measure of respect, reciprocity, cordiality, cooperation, collaboration, and community.

Yet, through it all, we must never forget: At no time, then or now, will the Lord Jesus Christ forfeit one inch of his permanent position as supreme redeemer, heir, and ruler of all things, who never ceases to execute universal authority over a dominion of which there will be no end (Isaiah 9).

So now, it’s over to YOU!

Have you made a choice yet?  #1 or #2? Puppet master or chess master?

To be candid, I have dear Christian friends who would choose Option #1 and do so because they believe that conclusion is the one that will bring the greatest glory to Jesus. Maybe you are one of them. If so, please know that I honor and value that conclusion as well.

Yet, for all of us, let me restate the truth I expressed earlier:

In the end, in order to go forward into more of Christ, each of us must render a verdict. The fact is that how you define the way Christ exercises his supremacy in all things carries significant, lifelong ramifications for how you respond to him day by day—for how you go about loving him, trusting him, following him, serving him, and sharing him with others.

Happily, both “camps” do agree about one major response we can share in together: We always can unite to exult in and praise our glorious Savior King while we work hand in hand to exalt his name and spread his fame throughout a world that desperately needs to submit to his redeeming reign—today more than ever.

As you weigh the options for yourself, take a look at this 11-minute video clip from The Christ Institutes here, where I share my thoughts on “What does the supremacy of Christ really involve?”

In this short video clip, I define a high view of Jesus in fresh ways that I’m certain every Jesus follower—whichever option they choose—will want to celebrate. Together let’s shout “Hallelujah!” to our reigning King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives daily to him!

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

 

 

Personal…

Char Delia Carys1

This is my baby boy, my youngest child, with his two beautiful daughters, Delia and Carys.  His name is Charles and today is his 34th birthday.  He lives in Pennsylvania and I’m in Oklahoma and we haven’t seen each other for a few years, but I’ll share my favorite memory of him with you.  He was about four years old and I awoke one morning to find his crib empty.  He was nowhere in the house, either!  So I went outside to look for him.  At the end of the block was a sort-of cul de sac and that’s where I found him.  He had dressed himself— long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and his Dad’s work boots!  He was so funny looking!!  And, to this day, I still laugh at this memory and it warms my heart…. Happy Birthday, Baby boy of mine!!!!

 

 

 

Humor—

Aunty Acid for 8/9/2020

https://www.facebook.com/maxine/photos/a.167331877944.118063 ...

 

 

Happy Sunday Love Quotes, Images and Funny Meme - Quotes Square

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s