Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category

Three related thoughts which I’m noodling around:

1) If we feel guilty for not measuring up to God’s standards, we often try to ease this guilt by lowering Him to ours.

2) Don’t act in ways that justify your critics. A Spanish proverb suggests, “If one person calls you a donkey, think nothing of it. If three people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.” Will Rogers’s advice is worth remembering: Live in such a way that you can sell your family parrot to the town gossip.

3) Jesus noted, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” A country saying notes: “If you’re not running against the devil, you’re probably running with him.”

What to take from all this? I’m still learning (a life-long journey), but I think it’s summed up in this: The basis on which one makes choices matters. Choose wisely.

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holier-than-thouWhat comes to mind when you hear the word ‘holy?’  Or when you hear the exhortation that Christians should ‘be holy?’

If you’re like me, it conjures up images of rules, regulations, somberness, a removal of myself from the world’s activities.  Judgement/judgmental. Puritanical. Pharisaical.

But is this what being holy is all about?  Certainly, we are to be holy (see Hebrews 12:14). But is it really all about rules, regulations, and judgement?  Man, what a turnoff!?

But maybe, just maybe, that’s the totally wrong way of looking at holiness.  Take a look at these verses (in which Jesus is speaking):

Luke 2:49b (KJV) – ‘Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’ John 10:37 (KJV) – ‘If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.’       Matthew 26:39 (NIV) – ‘My Father, …, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’

From beginning to end, Jesus was focused on the one thing — doing the will of his Father.  The center of his life was this obedient relationship.

This, indeed is what holiness is about.  Matthew 6:33a puts it — “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…”

This may be hard for us to understand because in today’s culture obedience has negative connotations.  It implies an oppressive authority figure imposing their will against our desires — taking our freedom — hard tasks done under threat of punishment.

But that is NOT what Jesus’ holiness was about.  It was a total commitment to his LOVING Father.

When we begin to understand this about holiness, then we will begin to see how to be ‘in the world, but not of the world.’  We will also begin to see and live in such a way that the many things in our life should (and can) be rooted in the one thing — listening to the loving Father, seeking His kingdom, participating in the divine nature (2 Peter 2:3).

It is then that Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15-18, 21b becomes reality:  “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. … so that the world may believe ….

As believers in Christ, as God’s beloved children, may we indeed be holy!

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Getting Ready for the Wedding

Family History Jeff & Mary Wedding Day 1989My memory is not very good.  My wife will often ask me if I remember some event from our past, and very often I simply can’t recall it.

One thing I remember vividly, however, is the first time I saw my bride in her wedding dress.  She was perfect!  She was so beautiful, it took my breath away (she still is, and does).

Now my bride Mary had taken great pains to get ready for our wedding day.  She didn’t just pop out of bed that day and, “poof” was all ready.  Imagine if she had simply shown up in her flannel pajamas, with bedhead, makeup leftover from the night before, ……  What would the people present have thought?  What would I (the groom) have thought?  Namely, that she wasn’t particularly concerned about us or me or what our wedding would mean.

Pretty nonsensical, huh?  What bride would fail to be ready for her wedding?  What bride would be ignorant of the fact that preparation would be necessary?

Scripture tells us we, as the church, are the bride of Christ.  And yet, I wonder if we as individual Christians and as the church are going to “show up in our flannel pajamas” at the marriage of the Lamb (Rev 19:7)?

Ray Vander Laan, in his excellent book Echoes of His Presence, relates that in the Jewish custom of Jesus’ day, the groom (or groom’s father) would pay a bride price for the woman the groom desired.  The groom would then offer the betrothed a cup of wine.   The bride would choose to take the cup and drink, or she could refuse.  If she accepted, she was accepting his offer and committing her life to him.  She was betrothed — engaged!  She would then spend the time between the betrothal and the marriage ceremony preparing to be the bride and wife that would honor her husband. While she was doing that, the groom had left to prepare a place for his bride. When all the preparations had been made, he would return for his bride.

I hope you’re seeing the connection — Jesus has paid a bride price for us — His very life.  We accepted the cup when we repented and placed our faith in His death and resurrection.  Our responsibility is now the same as that of the Jewish bride.  We should be preparing ourselves for His return!

How do we prepare ourselves?  Take a look at Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:13-16.

What is the common theme?  Be holy.

More on this in subsequent blogs.  For now, I ask you — have you forgotten about the wedding?

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