Throwback Saturday

Good Morning! If you have been following along, I have been writing on the subject of prayer this week. I have had an editorial calendar planned until the end of July of what I was going to write each day, and am usually a week ahead on my writing. However, life has caught up to me. We are moving this weekend, and I have been knee deep in moving boxes. I really want to finish strong and do the last two sections of prayer justice, but I need some time, so here is the new plan:

Friday and Saturday (26th and 27th, today and tomorrow) – I will be posting some of my favorite “throwback” posts from the past couple of months.

Sunday the 28th – Song of Sunday as usual.

Monday-Thursday, 29th-2nd – I will be posting some of my favorite “throwback” posts from the past couple of months.

Friday and Saturday, 3rd-4th – I will be finishing up prayer.

Sunday the 5th – Song of Sunday as usual.

Then hopefully I will be returning on Monday, July 6, with new content.

Thanks for your support!

Sicut Christus – Putting on the New Man

Sicut Christus = Christlike in Latin

SEE’koot ˈkrɪs.tʏs

PART FOUR OF SIX

Paul talks about putting off the old man and putting on the new man in Ephesians 4:20-24, “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

We are to put off the old man and put on the new man. This has the same idea as changing clothes. We are to change into a different kind of conduct.

Let me ask you this…..If a man is released from prison, what is the first thing he does? He changes clothes. Why? So people do not mistake him as a prisoner still. He is a free man now and his clothes reflect it.

This is where the “As-If” principle comes into play. If the prisoner has been out of prison for one minute, nothing about him has really yet changed. But putting on different clothes changes the way he thinks of himself and sees himself. He dresses “as-if” he were a free man, and a different conduct is also put on which starts to change his attitudes. He should not wait until he feels like the new man to put on the new man. It would be foolish of him to remain in his old clothes.

Jesus is not just merely added to our old life. He becomes our new life as the old life dies. There has to be a clean break from our past.

In Romans 13:14, Paul tells us to “clothe ourselves in Christ.” This metaphor of putting on clothing implies not just imitating the character of Christ, but being in close fellowship with Him. Even though as a believer we have new life, we must constantly renounce the flesh.

Every morning, we have a decision. You can decide to clothe yourself in Christ, or you can walk around in your old prison clothes. Everyone cannot see the old clothes, but you, you know what you are wearing. Therefore, we must clothes ourselves in Christ daily.

In verse 20, Paul says, “But you have not so learned Christ.” There is a characteristic of being a student to putting on the new man.

Charles Spurgeon said, “So, if you want to know the Lord Jesus Christ, you must live with him. First he must himself speak to you, and afterwards you must abide in him. He must be your choice Companion of your morning hours, he must be with you throughout the day, and with him you must also close the night; and as often as you may wake during the night, you must say, ‘When I awake, I am still with thee.'”

Verse 23 says to “be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” This transformation of our mind happens when believers begin to think in different, new, and right ways as they meditate on the truths of Scripture. Let the Lord teach you. Let the Lord transform you. This is a process; not just a one time thing. We must put off the old man and put on the new man each and every day.

Just for today, clothe yourself in Christ.

Throwback Friday

Good Morning! If you have been following along, I have been writing on the subject of prayer this week. I have had an editorial calendar planned until the end of July of what I was going to write each day, and am usually a week ahead on my writing. However, life has caught up to me. We are moving this weekend, and I have been knee deep in moving boxes. I really want to finish strong and do the last two sections of prayer justice, but I need some time, so here is the new plan:

Friday and Saturday (26th and 27th, today and tomorrow) – I will be posting some of my favorite “throwback” posts from the past couple of months.

Sunday the 28th – Song of Sunday as usual.

Monday-Thursday, 29th-2nd – I will be posting some of my favorite “throwback” posts from the past couple of months.

Friday and Saturday, 3rd-4th – I will be finishing up prayer.

Sunday the 5th – Song of Sunday as usual.

Then hopefully I will be returning on Monday, July 6, with new content.

Thanks for your support!

Timor Domini – The Beginning of Wisdom

Timor Domini = Fear of the Lord in Latin

PART ONE OF SIX

Charles Spurgeon said this about Proverbs:

“You have here before you the advice of King Solomon, rightly considered one of the wisest of men. It is worthwhile to listen to what Solomon has to say; it must be good for the most intelligent young person to listen; and to listen carefully, to what so experienced a man as Solomon has to say to young men. But I must remind you that One greater than Solomon is here, for the Spirit of God inspired the Proverbs! They are not merely jewels from earthly mines, but they are also precious treasures from the heavenly hills, so that the advice we have here is not only the counsel of a wise man, but the advice of that Incarnate wisdom who speaks to us out of the Word of God! Would you become the sons of wisdom? Come sit at the feet of Solomon! Would you become spiritually wise? Come and hear what the Spirit of God has to say by the mouth of this wise man!

Therefore, if you are seeking wisdom, Proverbs is one of the best places to find it. I wrote last week about my inclusion of Proverbs daily in my own personal Bible study (https://cotidie.blog/2020/04/16/the-power-of-imago-dei-4/). There is so much the Lord reveals through Proverbs; but first, we must deal with Proverbs 1:7 and understand what it means, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Forms of the words fear and afraid are found over 700 times in the Bible. I counted this myself-the term “fear of the Lord” is used 19 times in Proverbs alone. This should cause us to see the importance of fear of the Lord in our lives.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, the author tells of two girls, Susan and Lucy, preparing to meet Aslan the Lion, who represents Christ. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, a talking beaver couple, get the children ready for the encounter.

“Oh,” says Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will deary,” said Mrs. Beaver. “And make no mistake. If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then isn’t he safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you!”

Following God is not safe, but it is good. He is good.

And fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Praying with Paul

Orate = Praying with Paul

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART FOUR OF SIX

As he wrapped up his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul wrote the words, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Praying without ceasing is the theme of this week. What exactly does it mean? Oswald Chambers said of this verse (pray without ceasing), “We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect joint with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life.”

Prayer is most often thought of as a spiritual discipline; I know I have defined it as such. But here, Chambers basically calls it our lifeline, as valuable as the air in our lungs and the blood in our veins. And he is correct.

Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.” This does not mean to pray repetitiously or without a break, but persistently and regularly; to be in a spirit of prayer all day long. This tells us that it does not matter where we pray, what prayer posture we take, whether we speak aloud or silently, or when we pray: we can pray anytime, anywhere. It is the heart of worship and spirit of prayer that is most important.

We are to pray continuously. We are to always have the attitude of prayer and awareness of God’s presence in our life. Continuous prayer means continuous fellowship with God, and that is right where He wants us to be. Not only does a spirit of ceaseless prayer keep us in fellowship with God, this gives us peace in our soul. It is really difficult for the devil to get a foothold in our lives if we are in constant fellowship with the Lord through ceaseless prayer.

I can recall several great prayer days in my life. You know what my attitude was? A ceaseless attitude of prayer. I woke up, immediately praying to the Lord, rejoicing with a spirit of thanksgiving, regardless of the circumstances in my life. I kept my prayer “open-ended,” meaning I did not say “Amen” as is our custom, I kept the line open to God all day. I would make eye contact with someone on the street or see a car passing me, and would lift that person up in prayer. I would thank God often and ask for guidance when needed. I admit, I do not do this every day, but you know what, I am going to start!

Will you do it with me? Right now, where you are, begin to pray without ceasing. Open your prayer and fellowship with God through rejoicing in Him and thanksgiving, but do not say “Amen.” Keep the line open all day, remain in a spirit of prayer, praying often for those who cross your path and praying for His will in every circumstance that comes your way. Make eye contact with people (strangers and non-strangers), and silently say to yourself, “Jesus loves you and so do I,” and pray for God to draw them near. Ask for His will to be done in your life and around you over and over throughout the day. Then when you lay down for sleep, finish your prayer and say Amen. Try it. Who knows? It might even become a habit as important as the air you breathe.

Just for today, pray without ceasing.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Five…..

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour, 1963.

Praying the Psalms

Orate = Praying the Psalms

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART THREE OF SIX

One of the most underutilized tools we have are the Psalms. They were designed to be prayed through and sung as worship. They teach us how to rejoice and how to lament when we do not understand God’s ways, and everything in between.

In Mark 15:34, Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If we look back to Psalm 22:1, it reads, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus prayed a Psalm in His darkest hour. If we are a follower of Jesus, and He prayed the Psalms, should not we as well?

“Lord, teach us to pray!” is our cry this week. The Lord’s Prayer is the obvious first stop, but I say Psalms is the second. Luther said of the Psalms, “It penetrates the Lord’s Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer penetrates it, so that it is possible to understand one on the basis of the other and to bring them into joyful harmony” (Bonhoeffer).

Gordon Wenham wrote an excellent book on praying and praising with the Psalms called The Psalter Reclaimed. If you would like to read more on the subject of praying the Psalms, I would start here, as this book helped me see the Psalms in a completely different light. Here are a few things from the book that I would like to share:

Wenham shares a Bonhoeffer quote regarding the Psalms, “The only way to understand the Psalms is on your knees, the whole congregation praying the words of the Psalms with all its strength.”

Wenham says, “The gist of the letter (speaking of a letter from church father Athanasius to Marcellinus) is that the Psalms are the best part of the Bible, and we should use them for our prayers whatever our situation may be because there is a psalm that suits our every need.”

He goes on to list reasons we should pray the psalms including praise. But he shares two very practical reasons for praying the laments: “1. Not everyone who comes to church is full of joy and happiness. 2. By praying these psalms those who have no problems or difficulties in their lives can learn to sympathize with those in trouble and pray for those who are suffering or persecuted.”

Wenham also says, “This is how we should use the Psalms: read them out loud or recite them to ourselves. But we should also use them in family worship, with our spouse, and with our children.”

Here is my challenge to you: There are 150 total Psalms. For the next 30 days, pray 5 Psalms aloud each day and see how it transforms your prayer life.

Just for today, pray Psalms 1-5.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, and Eberhard Bethge. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1974.

Wenham, Gordon J. 2013. The Psalter Reclaimed. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway.

Image: Courtesy of wikipedia, Gerard van Honthorst, King David Playing the Harp, 1622

Our Model Prayer

Orate = Our Model Prayer

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART TWO OF SIX

We asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He answered, “When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins,

For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4).

This is no magic formula for prayer, but as Jesus taught us the model way to pray, we must take serious note. We must pay attention to the content of the Lord’s Prayer, the special “ingredients,” and align our hearts with it. We can look at the address and the six petitions that follow for guidance.

THE ADDRESS: We are to pray to our Father in heaven as Jesus did. Note that we are also instructed to pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14) and to lean on the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, 27). We are to address our prayers to the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all-loving, One True God.

PETITION #1: “Hallowed be your name.” This begins the prayer with adoration, recognizing that the name of God is holy. This ties in with having a healthy fear of God, and we should acknowledge it verbally. If we look back at my favorite definition of fear of the Lord, “a reverential awe for His power and glory and proper respect for His wrath and anger,” (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/cotidie.blog/174) it fits in with the word hallowed, which means holy, or greatly revered.

PETITION #2: “Your kingdom come.” Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and we should long for and eagerly await His Kingdom. As I wrote previously, The Kingdom of God can also be thought of as the “reign of God.” The reign of God began to take place in the life and ministry of Jesus, but was not fully manifested then and will not until Jesus returns (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/cotidie.blog/237). We see an “already-not yet” tension here, as theologian R.T. France calls it. The coming of the Kingdom began when Jesus was here on earth, and will be fulfilled when He returns. We must keep a Kingdom mindset at all times, fighting the worldly thoughts and deeds that come natural to us.

PETITION #3: “Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” David Guzik says, “Jesus wanted us to pray with the desire that the will of God would be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is no disobedience and there are no obstacles to God’s will; on earth there is disobedience and there are at least apparent obstacles to His will. The citizens of Jesus’ kingdom will want to see His will done as freely on earth as it is in heaven.” Charles Spurgeon said, “He that taught us this prayer used it himself in the most unrestricted sense. When the bloody sweat stood on his face, and all the fear and trembling of a man in anguish were upon him, he did not dispute the decree of the Father, but bowed his head and cried. ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’” Jesus will show us what the full extent of this portion of the model prayer means as He prepares to face the cross.

PETITION #4: “Give us this day our daily bread.” He is the supplier of everything we need and we are not to worry for His provision for our daily necessities. Not our wants, but our needs, according to His will and His purpose for us. This also reminds us the power of focusing on today, cotidie, not looking back or looking ahead.

PETITION #5: “And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” As we have been forgiven by the blood of Christ, we are to quickly forgive as well. This is a reminder that we are all equals in this regard.

PETITION #6: “And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.” We must remember our weakness in the flesh, but also remember when we are weak, then we are strong. We must ever require the grace and strength of Jesus to make it through each day.

Father, I adore you. Help me to keep a Kingdom mindset as I await your return. Not my will be done, but your will. Give me what I need for today. Help me to forgive and see everyone as equals; sinners who need Jesus. I need your help today and every day.

I constructed my own prayer, based on the model prayer above, to show that the model prayer is that, a model. God does not want repetition of the same prayer over and over. He wants relationship. He wants our heart to be aligned with this prayer. He wants our adoration. He wants us to be not of this world. He wants us to seek His perfect will. He wants us to rely on His provision. He wants us to easily forgive. And He wants us to require the strength only He can give, each and every day.

Just for today, meditate on the model prayer and sincerely pray it when you are ready.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Three…

France, R.T. The Gospel of Matthew. Eerdmans, 2007.

Guzik, David. enduringword.com

Teach Us To Pray

Orate = Teach Us to Pray

Orate = Pray in Latin (Pray without ceasing)

ōrāte

PART ONE OF SIX

“Lord, teach us to pray.” These sincere words were spoken by an unnamed disciple in Luke 11:1. Many days, some of us might feel the same way.

One thing we have to understand is that in the Old Testament world, the rabbis were looked to for prayer. Many people relied on the prayers of the rabbis and repeated them. The people did not pray as freely as they do now; most did not know how. However, John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray, and here in Luke we see the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how as well.

So this week, we will be asking humbly to the Lord, “Lord teach us to pray.” Several topics will be examined: the model prayer, praying through the Psalms, praying with Paul, and the power of prayer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We can pray only in Jesus Christ, with whom we shall also be heard. Therefore we must learn to pray. The child learns to speak because the parent speaks to the child. The child learns the language of the parent. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken and speaks to us.”

Oswald Chambers said, “As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.”

Let us this week admit that we are not self-sufficient. We need God desperately and the channel He has given us to reach Him is prayer. Let us meekly approach the King of Kings as a child and ask the same question the original disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” I believe it is time for us to go back to the basics individually, as a nation, as the world; and this has to begin with prayer. We must say, “Lord teach me to pray. Teach us to pray.”

Just for today, ask the Lord, “Teach me to pray.”

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, and Clifford J. Green. The Bonhoeffer Reader. Fortress Press, 2014.

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour, 1963.

The Power of Imago Dei……

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART SIX OF SIX

If we truly understand Imago Dei, it changes the way we see ourselves, the way we see people, the way we speak to people, and the way we love people.

Now here is the hard part…I have to walk away from this keyboard and “practice what I have preached.” You have to leave your seat and do so as well. There are going to be days that we fail, but that does not mean we stop striving to be Christlike. Do you know what we as believers should all be working towards? For someone to meet us and feel like they just met Jesus.

We must be different. When Jesus came, He was not the king they were expecting. They were expecting a lion, a warrior (He is still to come, Faithful and True!). He came as the Lamb that would lay his life down for us. The people expected the Kingdom of God to be much different. They were expecting justice by force. Our King rules by love. Yet Jesus welcomed confrontation, he did not avoid it. He just handled it much differently that what is our natural proclivity. He handled confrontation with a sword all right, the Sword of the Spirit-the Holy Word of God. His arsenal was love and ours must be the same, for we are all created in the image of God.

I challenge you today to meditate on Genesis 1:26-27 and what it means to you. Look at yourself in the mirror and believe you were made in the image of God. In your home, and when you go out, see others, speak to others, and love others as if they were made in the image of God. Because they are.

There is power in Imago Dei.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for the Song of Sunday.

The Power of Imago Dei…..

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART FIVE OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

In Bob Goff’s best selling book, Everybody Always, he wrote this, “In high school, someone asked me if I had ‘met Jesus.’ I thought he was kidding. ‘Of course not,” I answered literally. I still haven’t. I don’t have any friends who have either. From what I’ve read, very few people on this side of heaven have actually met God. Adam and Eve did. Joseph and Mary did. Moses did on top of a mountain. Some shepherds and a few wise men make the list. A boatful of fishermen, a couple of thieves on a hill. There were plenty of others, but not as many as you think. By contrast, there were a lot of people who watched Jesus from a distance. He walked their streets and went to their parties. He stood before leaders, and a few even saw Him raised up on a cross. I suppose they could say they met him, but at best, they probably just got a glimpse of Him. For a long time, I saw Jesus from a distance and thought we’d met. It still happens to me every time I avoid people God made in His own image just because I don’t understand them. My fear of them leaves me only with glimpses of Jesus. What I’ve come to realize is if I really want to “meet Jesus,” then I have to get a lot closer to the people He created. All of them, not just some of them. I think His plan all along has been for us to meet the people He made and feel like we just met Him.”

We are to love His people, the one’s made in His image. What is the definition of love? God. God is. So to love the others that He loves so much we must be Christlike in the way we see others, speak to others, and love others. I might define someone as a difficult person and have the tendency to avoid them. God defines them as a son or a daughter made in His image. Or, like my good friend Brannon once said speaking of someone’s behavior, “If they don’t know Jesus, what do you expect?”

In Luke 6, Jesus tells us, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” He goes on to command us to love our enemies. Yes, we are commanded to do so. Who is talking about? Is it the former Soviet Union or Communist China? The Taliban? Is it Thanos (for you Avengers fans)? That’s what we tend to think of.

He meant we should love those we don’t understand. Those we don’t see eye to eye with. Those who might just be unkind and unloving to us. You know, normally the people we try to avoid. And we can’t just say, “Yes, I agree with you Jesus., we should love our enemy.” We actually have to be doers of the word, which honestly can be not fun sometimes. But Jesus did not fun things, didn’t he? Like dying on the cross for our sake.

So okay-we are to love everyone, including our enemies. God said so. What does this mean? How do we do this? Again, God is love. We are to be Jesus to them right where they are, offering kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes love is tough. It is biblical to rebuke a brother in love and hold them accountable. But remember, the key is, in love.

Jesus Himself said we would identify ourselves simply by how we loved people. And what better way to love someone than to be the gospel to them (this includes kindness, encouragement, grace, and forgiveness); to speak the gospel to them. For someone to meet us and feel like they just met Jesus.

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we love people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……

The Power of Imago Dei….

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART FOUR OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we talk to people.

I have a short story I want to share about the influence of what we say to people and the power of our words:

“A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, the rest of the dismayed group agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead. Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless, and that the two frogs wouldn’t be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead. The two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellows. Spent and disheartened, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. The other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he had, although his body was wracked with pain and he was completely exhausted. His companions began anew, yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and — wonder of wonders! Finally leapt so high that he sprang from the pit. Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his miraculous freedom and then gathering around him asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?” Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds. This simple story contains a powerful lesson. There is life and death in the power of the tongue. Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone’s desire to continue trying. Speak life to (and about) those who cross your path. There is enormous power in words. If you have words of kindness, praise or encouragement — speak them now to, and about, others. Listen to your heart and respond. Someone, somewhere, is waiting for your words (cybersalt.org/illustrations/the-power-of-your-words).”

We need to be encouragers and watch what we say as our words have much power. For years now, I try to read the Proverbs on a daily basis. There are 31 Proverbs, so whatever date it is, I try to read that Proverb during my quiet time. For instance, today is April 16, so I read Proverbs 16 this morning. A recurring theme and one of the greatest traits of wisdom is to know how to bridle our tongue. What we learned as children, we should practice as adults, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If we see the people we meet and talk to as made in the Image of God, it changes the way we speak to people. Or at least allows us to keep our lip buttoned sometimes! The next time you lash out at your spouse or children, or even a stranger on the street, I want you to ask yourself, “If he or she were Jesus, would I have said that?”

We have to remember that there is power in Imago Dei in the way we speak to people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Five…..

The Power of Imago Dei…

This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.

PART THREE OF SIX

There is power in Imago Dei in the way we see other people.

My bride Sarah and I did a bit of traveling last summer. We took one of our girls Kloe to nursing camp at Auburn University and stayed a night in Montgomery, Alabama, on the way. While we were there we went and saw the church Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor of from 1954-1960, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as well as the parsonage he lived in down the street. A week later, we saw a friend in Memphis on the way back. While in Memphis, we stopped at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, which is where Dr. King was assassinated.

It is heartbreaking to go through the Civil Rights Museum and see how we treat each other; how people were abused and killed because they were perceived as different. I was reading about the parsonage where Dr. King and his family lived in Montgomery. In 1956, while he was across town speaking, his house was bombed. Upon hearing the news, he rushed home, along with many of his supporters. Thankfully, his family was uninjured. His supporters were fired up and ready to exact revenge on the perpetrators. This is what Dr. King said to them:

“Take your weapons home. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. Be good to them. That is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.” I believe Dr. King understood better than most the meaning of Imago Dei.

One of the very first things we learn in Sunday School as a child is the song Jesus Loves the Little Children. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” Every person you meet on the street-guess what? Imago Dei. They are made in the Image of God. The guy who cusses me out? Imago Dei. The Dallas Cowboys fan? Imago Dei (this is for my good friends Melvin and Rodney). The guy who cuts me off in traffic? Imago Dei (and this one is a reminder for myself!). God loves them just as much as He loves me.

The crazy thing to me is that some of the most hateful people can be proclaiming followers of Christ. We cannot see others through the eyes of Christ and hate. We must love our enemy and those that may be difficult or different than us.

As believers, we need to train ourselves to see everyone we encounter as made in the Image of God because it is biblical truth. God does not discriminate and neither should we. I know that if we live our lives this way it will change everything.

Because there is power in Imago Dei in the way we see other people.

Just for today, meditate on this truth.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….