Investing Life!

TonyEaster2016This year’s Easter celebration reminded me of so much. Jesus’ resurrection was the seal on the deal: this Kingdom life stuff that Jesus preached about was real.

Four words describe what resurrection is for believers in Jesus.

  • Foundational – Everything that we believe rests on the fact that Jesus death was temporary. Everything that I do stems from this basis: Jesus offers us life so that my words and my actions spread that life. Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 1 Corinthians 15:1
  • Tranformative – Once you’ve encountered the Living Lord, you won’t be the same. Your speech will be different, as will your crew, your attitude will change, and you will find your true destiny. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. 1 Corinthians 15:10
  • Possible – Nothing seems impossible like somebody who has died coming back to life! Jesus’ resurrection is a loud proclamation that with God all things are possible. We would be in a sad state if we lived our lives based on what we can’t do, what we don’t have, and what seems impossible. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1 Corinthians 15:13,14
  • Hopeful – As bad as your experiences may have been, the promised abundant life from Jesus gives us hope that our future is better. Not just our eternal afterlife, but here and now, we can participate in the breath of Heaven. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that
your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 
1 Corinthians 15:58

 

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The Silent Day

Wednesday is winding down. During Jesus’ last week, this was a silent day. The Bible doesn’t record any activity by Jesus. We know he spent the day and night in Bethany. I suspect I would have done the same. Think about it. Jesus knew his death was imminent, so he probably spent his last full day of freedom with his closest friends: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Aren’t there times you want to just hide away for a minute with people who know and love you?

It’s important in dark times to expose yourself to hope, to people who will show you the light at the end of the tunnel. No doubt, Jesus purposely laid low, and who else could keep hope alive the way a man who had already experienced the sting of death and the breath of new life. I can imagine Jesus sitting up late by the fire listening to Lazarus talk about the tomb, the grave clothes, the dark, the smell, and the unexpected thrill of hearing his name, “Lazarus, come forth.”

I wonder if Jesus got any sleep on Wednesday night.

If you are facing a dark time in your life, where are you finding hope? It’s ok to hide away, just don’t do it alone. Take hope into the darkness with you.

Investing in Gen Next

50649969_sThe next generation has a monumental task. Just as our generation has had and the previous generations.

When I speak with young people, I am inspired by their curiosity and their depth of knowledge on most any subject. I suppose carrying around a device that can answer any question in seconds must give them an advantage over the old days when I had to use a card catalog or our set of Encyclopedia Britannica at home.

There is still something that they lack that the older generation can give them: support and encouragement. There’s nothing quite like having an elder say, “I’m proud of you. I can see you’re going to accomplish great things.”

In Numbers 27, Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

How we could change our communities if we praised our young people publicly rather than ridiculing them, if we included them in our councils and board rooms, if we made a way for them to serve alongside us.

Who made a way for you? Whose life are you affecting, leading them to their destiny?

Breathe In Breathe Out

img_3245At Transformation House this past Sunday, we had a great time of worship together. The band was in sync, our hearts were united, and our focus was on Jesus. At one point in the service, our worship leader made this statement, “We breathe in God’s love and breathe out praise.” I started thinking about what this really means.

  1. It’s reciprocal. We praise because He loves. The more we praise, the more we realize His love.
  2. It’s continual. He never stops loving. It is His very nature. We never stop praising. It’s who we are, a reflection of His character.
  3. It’s easy. Breathe in, breathe out. That’s how easy it is to receive His love and how easy it is to express His greatness.

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:1‬ ‭

Shipwreck or Success?

21013830_sRegarding your dreams, there is no middle ground. You will either have success or you will fail. You will fulfill your destiny or you will aimlessly float through life que sera sera.

Nobody that I know has ever raised their hand and said, “I’ll take shipwreck please. I don’t care about succeeding, I’d rather end up a loser.”

Rather, we all have the good intention of accomplishing our goals. I will be a millionaire by age 40, or I will whip this body into shape or die trying. I will start my own business and be my own boss, or I will get back into school and finish that degree. Whatever the goal, you probably know the routine. Are you still making those determined statements that you were making 5 years ago but seeing no progress?

Paul wrote to his protege about a way to determine whether he would succeed or shipwreck. “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” 1 Timothy 1:18,19

Paul told him to recall the prophecies, or rehearse the plan, the goals. Keep prophesying your dream: I WILL do this! These prophecies are postive speaking, words of faith. “I don’t see it yet, but I believe it will happen.”  

There is a difference in speaking in faith and lying to yourself. That’s why Paul told Timothy to hold on to faith and a good conscience. If you know where you’re headed and you keep talking yourself forward in that direction, you will get there successfully. Otherwise, you’re headed for shipwreck. I’m not saying those are the only two requirements to reach your goal, but you will never get there apart from these.

Keep pressing on and encouraging yourself as much as you need to. You’ll get there!

All In

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Judy and Tony Moore with their children, Kristen, Jonathan, Lisa, and Amy

While we have our own dream and that should be our focus, we are also called to invest in the dreams of others. All the “one another” verses call us to live to invest, beginning with what Jesus called the GREATEST COMMANDMENTS: Love God with all and love others as if you were loving yourself.

We read,Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. Love one another. Accept one another. Stop passing judgment on one another. Encourage, serve, be humble, gentle, and patient with one another. Forgive, teach, admonish one another.

In fact…

Ephesians 6:7-8 Serve (invest) wholeheartedly (with determined commitment, in it for the long haul, come hell or high water), as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that (you will get a good return on your investment) the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do. (NIV)

It does not say just to give lip-service, but we’re told to dive in to the other person’s life and dreams. My investment in others, my family and my church family, is a commitment. I’m determined to do my part to help others succeed.

Are you living selfishly or for others?

In His Hands

41651720You really are a masterpiece! God sent the prophet, Jeremiah, to the potter’s house for a visual demonstration of this fact. In Jeremiah 18, the prophet wrote, “I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.” There is so much encouragement in this!

The lesson the prophet learned had to do with God (the potter) shaping Israel (the clay), but it also can be applied to us.

Have you ever watched a potter? It takes skill, care, and moldable clay to create a useful piece of pottery. Does God have the skill? Let the church say Amen. Does God have the care? Amen. Then only one question remains. Are you moldable? You should say Amen here again.

I think it’s safe to say that ANY piece of clay that God has molded into anything has at one time been hard. No one is perfectly pliable all the time. We all have our moments of rebellion or selfishness or times when our hearts have been hardened by hurt or fear. We often resist the gentle, skillful, careful hands of the Master Potter. But it’s important to note Jeremiah’s observation that the clay was marred in the hand of the the potter.

Here’s the encouragement: Even on your worst day, the day when you rebel the loudest or hurt the most, you are still in God’s hands. He’s still gently using the circumstances of your life to shape you into something useful.

Can I tell you a secret? It’s quicker and easier if you yield right away. It’s going to take longer and hurt worse the longer you resist. He’s not going to let you go nor will he crush you just because you crack. He just says, “Let’s go around the wheel a few more times. Let my hands hold you until you’re ready.” You may have noticed that the harder the clay, the more firm the potter’s hands must be. Another turn of the wheel, another loving touch from his hands, another chance for you to yield.

In view of God’s desire to create a masterpiece in us, Paul writes in Romans 8, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”