Christian life

new birthFor me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). My main resolution for 2009 is to die. Die to self. To become a total new person, a person in the image of Christ. I need to learn how to be a more faithful cross-bearer, not a better person. If I don’t let go of my life this year and let the Spirit do his work, I’m going to crash and burn hard. I’m sure of it, that is why my part is not to strive and make it happen, but to get out of His way and let Him do what He needs to do, make me who He wants me to be, and do with me what He wants me to do..

In 2009 Dennis Muse will die, come to an end, whom I once was I wish to be no more, the life I have lead must come to an end, a new everything is the only acceptable outcome of 2009 (read my blog on Jan 1). I will ether become and finish the year as a completely new person, someone in the image of Christ, with a total new life, a life in Christ for His purposes. A new career, married, new church and in a new place, or I will physical die and become a new person in Christ. Those are the only two acceptable and really only two options for me. There are no other acceptable out comes for 2009 for me. Ether as Paul sad, For to me to live is Christ (live for Christ), and to die is gain (have more Christ), I will not accept being who I have been or the life I now live. I will not settle for lukewarm, or cold, will not be a Sunday Christian, or status quo, but rather an overcomer, a new creations in Christ, I will not live in the world or the wilderness. All things must be new.

God did not hand fashion us breathing His life giving breath into our nostrils for us to life a dead life.

I’m tired of life as a ‘dead end’ street. I want my life to have purpose and meaning…I want my life to be fashioned and carried out in His likeness. Image is great… but it’s His likeness that defines who we are. We were created to bring Him glory and honor. So that our lives would show forth His likeness… let’s show the world who he really is! Let’s show them by the life we live. Let’s show them through His likeness.

463066766 be1e63030b“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matt 6:25

It’s amazing that scattered through our everyday lives are strategically placed ’scarecrows’. They are not placed by God, but rather by satan to rob us of God’s best. If the birds could figure out that a ’scarecrow’ was really a ‘tip-off’ to the best location of corn- would they really allow themselves to be scared away? Scarecrows only possess the image of harm. They are completely unable to inflict any degree of harm.

One such ’scarecrow’ in our lives is worry. Worry is a powerful tool that satan parades to rob us of God’s best. It not only will effect us spiritually but physically. The harm it can bring upon the human body is endless…..never mind the fact of how it can destroy relationships and our ability to fully trust God.

Worry is the sin of distrusting the power and promises of God upon our lives. It will never add anything to us- only rapidly diminish and steal away. God promises that He will take care of us. God specifically tells us not to worry, but only to trust.

So often that is easier said than done. But He is either able or not! He is able to sustain us and bring us through. Look out for ’scarecrows’. Identify their source and don’t allow them to rob you from God’s best. Look for the ‘tip-off’ to the promises God has for your life. TRUST GOD!

The next King of Israel anointed, the choice of God and not of man, surely his life would be plain sailing and all effortlessly lock into place- running for his life, and having to flee without even time to grab a weapon, no time to spare. Acting like a madman in the face of his enemies, finding himself all alone in a dark, damp, depressive cave…..this surely wasn’t God’s scripted plan? (Psalms 142:5-7)

The reality of life can sometimes catch us off guard. We find ourselves in places we didn’t even think possible; places where we didn’t even have time to prepare for….this wasn’t what we were expecting in life? I’m sure David felt exactly like that. All he had done was to give his best. Every task King Saul sent him on, he fulfilled in an excellent manner. He should have been the hero of the kingdom….but now he’s the hunted.

Have you ever heard the saying- ‘when it rains, it pours’! Well, I think David could have been the author of such sayings. He’s fleeing for his life and ends up in a cave. Once as a young man I had the opportunity to go ‘caving’ – apart from the (occasional) stalagmites and stalactites there wasn’t much else to see in that dark and damp environment. It certainly wasn’t a place you would want to stay in….and add the fact you were all alone to that too, it certainly doesn’t paint a very appealing picture.

In that ‘place’- one out of control to David, he decides to take control. He couldn’t change the circumstance naturally, so he changed the moment spiritually. David turned to God in his despair. So often, unlike David we try to do it all on our own- we think we can make the difference, but all we do is make it worse. David began to confess that God was his refuge (his dwelling place) – no matter what he saw around him – he knew what was in him. He began to claim that God was his reason for living and that God would be his rescuer and restorer.

Life is never fair – but God is always good. There will be times we feel all alone, and that no one cares….but like David we need to remind ourselves how wrong that way of thinking really is. The temporary ‘happening’ around us should not alter the permanent knowing (faith, belief) within us. With God we are never alone

322914038 beae642d9cThe New Year always offers hope for a new start, hope for change, a new beginning. So on Dec. 31, many people make daring resolutions to do things like run 20 miles a day, from the first day, stop smoking, change they way the talk, find the perfect person and get married, watch TV less and read the bible more. With 90% failing to accomplish even one thing, change for good, finish the new year being the new person the set out to be.

Yet I hope to change, archive my resolutions, goals. Is it because I have an iron will and incredible self-discipline? No, not at all. My only hope for change is Christ.

We all love the idea of self-improvement, don’t we? The next year to be better than the last year!

People start off with good intentions with goals such as no more eating junk food for me! I’m going to eat healthy, organic only, exercise more. I’m going to rise with the dawn and conquer the entire Bible by Dec. 31, 2009. I will end world hunger, and memorize at least 100 scriptures. Launch an evangelism blitzkrieg and the devil better get out of my way! I will be a new, better person, not be negative, be an encourager to all, will not lose my temper at the other, even those bad drivers. And from now on I’m reaching out to every person I meet. Look out world, because there’s a new me this year!

And so we’ll begin the year with a bang, with the intent of kicking down spiritual doors and taking names to boot. But we know the story. Our Blog entries for January 31st begin with words like, “I fell off the wagon today…” or “I just don’t know what happened!” By February most of our lofty spiritual goals have been dropped like an old Barry Manilow CD, and we resign ourselves to another year of spiritual mediocrity. And we’re still only in the tenth chapter of Genesis.

But I have one resolution, only one, yes just one, and it is a major one, “Every thing must Change”! And I mean everything, who I am, my life, everything about me. I no longer want to be me, who I am, what I do, where I live. I wish to retain nothing of who I am. I want a new personality, character, mind, attributes, abilities, gifting’s, heart, body, career, everything must go. I want to be a totally new person. A person conformed to the image of Christ. A completely new life. Who I have been, I wish to no longer be.

This is my only New Years Resolution, my only goal for 2009, that “everything must change”, become a totally new person, become the image of Christ. I do not wish to be on this earth January 1, 2010 as the same person in anyway as I was January 1, 2009.

And there is no way I can archive it myself, this is something completely on God. So how and when does true change begin?

From God, By God

Every goal for spiritual growth this year must be approached with the following mindset: Jesus has already secured my perfect standing with God, and now He’s the one who will continue to change me. And it is Jesus will for us to become His image, for the old man to die, for us to become a new person in His image. To have His mind.

So do you want to grow this year? Really grow? Start every day with Christ and Him crucified.

We start with Jesus Christ. The one who faithfully kept every spiritual goal. Our forgiveness. Our power for change. Our hope for a new year.

We should use all God’s means of grace to grow, reading and meditating on Scripture daily, prayer as a way of life, fellowship as a way of life, worship as a way of life, communion daily. But our hope for change is our mighty Savior Jesus, not ourselves. I am asking for a monumental task, one that only God can do, but I know it is His will that we become the image of Christ, a new creation in Christ. So I am trusting in Him to change everything about me, but to death who I once was.

I am Looking in 2009 for a Unstoppable church to be part of, the church seen in the book of Acts. I am looking for a church filled with passionate people, a people who are passionate about God. Passionately in love with Jesus, who’s love can not be contained.

A people, a church that says and lives like you can reticule me, imprison me, stone me, torture me, kill me, nail me to a cross, do what ever you want, I will hot stop. Even in the mist of doing these things to me I will praise and worship the Lord, I will still proclaim His word to you, announcing the Kingdom of God, we will not be stopped. Because we found a love greater than life its self and we will not be stopped, for us to live is to live for Christ alone.

I want to be part of a people who are striving side by side to proclaim the gospel. Nothing can cause them to shut up, keep them from talking about Jesus, they do not care if they get beat up, thrown in prison, fired, or killed. Like Paul they are unstoppable, like the first church they are a unstoppable force. A people who are striving together for the gospel, for the kingdom of God, for Jesus. A people that says I would rather be tortured and put to death for the cause of Christ, spreading the gospel than retire at an old age with a fat 401K.

A people who says I must be like, live like Jesus. I must be in a church like the one in the book of Acts, have church like they did, live like they did, turn the world upside down like they did.

A people who believe Jesus when He said unless you are willing to pick up a cross and be crucified together, if you can do that then you can follow me. If you are not willing to do that you are not worthy to be my disciples.( Mat 10:38, Mat 16:24, Luke 14:27 )

I burn to be part of a unstoppable church like the first century church, the underground china church today. I want to be part of something like that, a people like that.

A church that knows what Paul said is true that it has been granted, given to us that we are to suffer just as Jesus did, live with the same conflict Paul did. (Php 1:29-30)

Frances Chan has the same passion for this kind of church, life, he explains it very well, listen to his message, download it here .

I so desire to find such a church this year, be part of a people like that.

bad boy 2 womenLooking back over my life I can not help but wounder why is it that the best women, the most incredible women I ever met, I met during my “Bad Boy” years. And why is it the only women worthy of marrying, that I would want to be the mother of my children, I have meet outside of the Church. Why is it I have never found the proverbs 31 woman, a women I wanted to marry in a church. This is a great mystery to me. I can honestly say I have not even meet a girl at a church in the last 19 years I would have married. I could count on one hand and have fingers left over ones that I even would have asked out on a date. But yet I meet women outside the church daily that are incredible that I would ask out on a date, and that is a said testimony for the church, for Christian women.

Why is this I ask?

1951-xmas-ignorance-wantWhen watching A Christmas Carol, the 1984 version with Gorge C. Scott, one of the scene that really grabbed me was Scrooge’s dead business partner Jacob Marley said to him about His life.

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

How true this statement is and should be at the heart of everyone who claims to be a Christian. That is according to Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 when He tells us

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?…………..And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

And Jesus says of those who do not do such things, take mankind as their business as Marley said;

“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

A plight much worse than Jacob’s Marley’s eternity dragging a chain with weights on it.

As well I like the scene with the ghost of Christmas present under the bridge when he opens his robe and reviles the two starting children and says to Scrooge:

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Christian take note of the words of Jacob Marley, they are Charles Dickens rendering, life application of the words of Jesus, His warning just as the ghost of Jacob and Christmas present, take head before it is too late.

Read my Post on Another Day, it very much relates to business of mankind what Jacob Marley referring to and who the boy of Ignorance and the girl of want are the ghost wae referring to, read it here.

boy hunger 250xIt is just another day:

Another day in which 6000 children will become orphans due to AIDS
Another day in which over 123,278,670 people died of abortions.
Another day in which more than 8000 people will die due to HIV.
Another day in which 1.4 billion people lived in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 per day.
Another day in which 840 million people in the world are malnourished.
Another day in which 2,700 will be children taken to be used in sex trafficking
Another day in which Every 10 minutes, one person is trafficked, taken as a slave for sex or labor usage.
Another day in which over 27 million people will live is some kind of slavery.
Another day in which 165 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 will work as child labors.

It is just another day:

Another day with over 15,111 people died of hunger in the world. Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger
Another day with over 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes–one child every five seconds
Another day in which while you are sleeping tonight another 6000 children will die of hunger.
Another day in which 137,287 people died from water related diseases
Another day in which 1,465,843,978 people with no access to safe drinking water
Another day with 4,292 babies will be born to teenage moms
Another day with one child dying every minute from HIV.
Another day with 11,667 Americans will loss their jobs in this economy.

It is just another day:

Another day in which 25 churches will close their doors in the US.
Another day in which church attendance in the US will decline.
Another day in which the fields are ripe but the workers are few.

It is time to change these statistics.

Another day you and I have a chance to make a difference.

A friend made a comment on a recent post saying “Are you sure you didn’t miss your calling!!” but the fact is we cannot miss our calling from God. This is why God gave us the story of Jonah to show us that we cannot escape God’s calling on our lives, even if you run and try to hide, He will accomplish what He has willed for each of our lives. And you can add in God’s statement in Isa 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” That is to say God’s words over someone when they are born (actual before you are born), what God specks over you, His purpose for you will be done, accomplished, no matter what you do or try to do in life, He will accomplish, use you for His preordained purpose for you, your life. And of course there is Rom 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” these verses He is even telling us God Himself will not remove, detour from His calling on your life, change His mind about what calling He has placed on your life from the beginning. What He has called you to, will be done. We cannot escape it, and He will not resend it.

So I do not believe according to scripture and the attributes of God that it is possible for someone to “miss” their calling. It has been preordained by God for your life, it is inescapable, just ask Jonah or even Peter, when Peter even messed up and denied knowing Jesus and being a disciple, but God still completed His will despite Paul’s actions, His purpose for Peter was carried out, just as Jesus said it would be accomplished.

So we never have to live a life of regret as to having missed God’s calling on us, for our life, if He has one for us, we will fulfill it, accomplish it. We may try to run and hide from it but like Jonah we will find that is impossible to do.

I find myself having to remind myself continually that I was not the one who signed up for this adventure with God, He chose me, came to me in my youth with a vision reveling Himself. Not only did He choose me, He appointed / assigned / expects me to fulfill a job for Him. This life in Christ, my job description, and duties where not a union negotiate contract where I got to say what is in it for me, my job title, duties, job task, pay benefits or rewards where not set by me. The only choices I have is death and surrender. And the way He puts it, this doesn’t sound optional. He expects me to bear not just fruit but everlasting fruit, and even not fruit of my choosing, but Christ fruit. How often in life I am side-tracked with the most foolish of pursuits, self satisfying things, acquiring stuff, looking good, happiness, keeping busy with good activities. I so need to be reminded daily of my real purpose: to bear lasting fruit that will bring glory to God’s name, glorify Jesus. See my prior blog on a fruitful life.

Mat 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Joh 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Joh 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.