JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING

Coffee is just not the same without a splash of cream! I’m sitting here with my coffee, a candle and my Bible open to Psalm 18. As I study and pray over this chapter in preparation for Fully Alive at Five next Tuesday, I am minimally distracted by the bitter taste in my mouth; having forgotten the Half n Half yesterday!  That Half n Half would have made for a perfect fall morning spent in meditation and prayer!

The truth of the matter is, I will drink my coffee today without the delicious luxury of cream that an extra trip to Publix would bring. Some longings can wait. But, as I sit here staggered by the massive, heart-throbbing truths of Psalm 18. I cannot tolerate living today without encountering, touching, knowing, experiencing the presence of the very great and living God who so dramatically COMES TO US and changes everything! Everything in my life takes on a different flavor when God comes! You have to meditate on it for yourself, but here is just a taste:

The cords of death encompassed me…in my distress I called upon the LORD…my cry to him reached his ears…then the earth reeled and rocked…He bowed the heavens and came down…He came swiftly on the wings of the wind…He rescued me from my strong enemy …for they were too mighty for me… (You just have to read the entire chapter!)

Let’s stop right there. Friend, do you have any strong enemies today that are just too much for you? I sure do! For starters, I am filled with pride, selfishness, fear and a lack of love more often than I want to admit. I need help in the battle against my own horrendous sin and pathetic weaknesses!  Furthermore, I am deeply concerned for several folks I love very much.  People who are very close to me, whose eternal life hangs in the balance. Other dear friends and family members are being confronted today by devastating circumstances that threaten their life of faith.

The Almighty’s action on behalf of those who call upon Him blows my mind!  When God comes, devastation gets overthrown by the One who enables me to leap insurmountable obstacles and do battle against my adversaries with supernatural, bronze-bending strength!

I am shouting at this point, with a full heart and an empty coffee cup, “Who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (v. 21)!  And I am expecting our wonderful King to “ ride on a cherub” and fly to join us this Tuesday morning at 5am!  But, until then, I will not live today without crying out for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ!

Fully Alive at Five Info:

When: Every other Tuesday morning. See full calendar here.

Time: 5:00a.m.- 7:00a.m.

Where: Christ Church of Knoxville (Click here for a map)

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Dear Friend,

Dear Friend,

I assume that you, like me, are facing some form of difficulty or hardship in your life.  Whether your current challenge is a circumstance outside your control, a relationship in pain or your own struggle with temptation and sin, you crave a spiritual oasis where your soul can find refreshment. You crave God!   Friend, I know how you feel.

Through a recent trial, I found the shaken places of my own heart crying out in need for three things: peace, hope and joy.  Now, I know that Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, has promised these blessings to believers, but I needed these grace gifts to “happen” in my own heart! In desperate need, I turned to Psalm 16.  What I found there is so precious!

Psalm 16 is a video clip of David in one of his intimate moments in prayer. We get to see him up-close in relationship with God in a time of crisis.  We don’t know specifically what David was facing.  In the inspired writing of Scripture the Holy Spirit saw to it that the historical context is unmentioned.  I’m so glad!   Whatever David’s context, the crisis in David’s life can readily be applied to our situation, whatever it may be.  What we do know is how the man after God’s heart responded.

Oh, how I love the Lord!  How I love the Bible! I have been greatly helped and wonderfully instructed by Psalm 16!  I can’t wait to be with you Tuesday morning at Alive at Five and share what I have seen and heard!  God has met me in a profound way and I am asking Him to meet with you as we all come together….in desperate need of Him!

Fully Alive at Five Info:

When: Every other Tuesday morning. See full calendar here.

Time: 5:00a.m.- 7:00a.m.

Where: Christ Church of Knoxville (Click here for a map)

 

 

Jesus the Cosmic Champion

FA- Bible“This morning my entire life suddenly made sense! Why did it take me so long to see this?” My enlightened friend had been struggling with frustrating issues at work, multiple ongoing health issues, frightening financial strain and the devastation of relational pain among family members and friends that seemed beyond repair.  Where is victory in all of this? Why is everything so hard?

These were some of the questions that ruthlessly pummeled her heart and her faith.  She was stuck in the muddy marsh of unbelief. Tuesday morning at Alive at Five, the Holy Spirit graciously opened her eyes to see the invisible realm that is dramatically unveiled in Psalm 2.  She saw, in the words of C.S. Lewis. . . “this universe is at war!”  More importantly, she saw the living Christ installed as King over every other power and authority!  Suddenly, the personal battles all made sense.

The banner verse for Fully Alive Ministry is from John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  It’s true. The wonderful news of the gospel is that Jesus came to make us fully alive! However, we make a big mistake when we skip over the first half of that verse. Jesus gives the context of His redemptive mission to earth like this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Did you hear a clarion call to battle? Did you hear the guarantee of victory?

Psalm 2 pulls back the celestial veil between heaven and earth so we can see. What we see is not only the battle but how the battle ends.  The Holy Spirit reveals to us an incredible sight through David’s inspired song, the very throne room of God! There we hear the intimate conversation between the eternal Father and His cherished Son as Jesus is crowned uncontested King of the universe!  That’s great news for us!

In the midst of universal chaos and rebellion, Psalm 2:2-4 portrays the Father sitting in heaven unmoved and unshaken.  The decree is irrevocable, His Son, the cosmic champion of the whole earth, has won!  “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” ( Ps. 2:4).  Every strategy against the King’s edict is laughable vanity from the Father’s perspective!  His divine heart of joy is unaffected.

We can have this same unaffected joy, confidence and peace, even in the heat of battle, if Christ is allowed to live His invincible life in us; if we bow down on the battlefield of life and let Him have His way.  This is what the Bible calls faith. This is what it means to be truly Christian.

The universe is at war, but for Christians, the war has been won! All glory to King Jesus!! The warning to all outliers is clear in verse 10-12: Worship the One true King!  Fall at His feet! Obey Him!  Reverence Him! Rejoice in Him! Stay close to Him!

In the kingdom of heaven, Jesus rules!  In the kingdoms of this world, rebels attempt to throw off His life-giving restraints.  But, “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our LORD and of His Christ.”  Therefore, the real struggle in our daily skirmishes is:  In which kingdom do I live?  In other words, am I allowing Jesus to live His life and exert His rule in me?  The vicious but vain rebellion that rages “against the Lord and against his Anointed” (Ps 2:3) creates war zones in our lives every single day.

The battles are too fierce for me, but Jesus has destroyed the destroyer!  We must surrender to the power of His indestructible life within!  This is the only way we will ever be fully alive! If we don’t see this, we have no chance of victory.  I’m so glad the Lord opened my friend’s eyes to seeI  All praise to “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation!” (Eph. 1:17)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Cor 10:3-4).

 

Fully Alive Book Giveaway

Updated// Ashley Butler was randomly selected as the winner of the In Love with Christ book giveaway!!! Congrats Ashley!

I love this book! And you will too, if you are passionate to learn what it means to be a woman who is fully alive in Jesus!

in love

In Love with Christ: The Narrative of Sarah Edwards

“I could not put this book down!” is the common exclamation describing a compelling and riveting book! Personally, In Love with Christ goes beyond that category to, “I cannot stop re-reading this book!” I keep it beside my Bible and journal always!

Reading the life of Sarah Edwards, wife of America’s renowned theologian, Jonathan Edwards led me into the presence of God! Her voracious hunger to encounter and enjoy Jesus Christ resulted in visions of Him that took my breath away. Her commitment to live to the glory of God provoked me to holy jealousy that my own earthly desires would be “swallowed up,” like hers were. Her joyful surrender to Jesus in the face of deep suffering infused fiber into my spirit like few books ever have! Read, and re-read this book!

Because I love this book so much I am giving away one copy of In Love With Christ!

Enter below using the Rafflecopter.

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FINDING SOUL-DELIGHT: TREASURING JESUS IN THE PSALMS

The enjoyment of him (Jesus) is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” Jonathan Edwards

Every human being on earth is desperate for delight. The idea that we were created for joy is as ancient as, well, creation. From the first chapter of Genesis, to the reveling shouts of the saints in Revelation, the Word of God teaches that we were designed for invincible joy; created to be captivated; given life and meant to live our one and only life passionately . . . for the glory of God!

Our problem is not that we are desperate to feel rapturously alive on the inside.  Our problem is that our unreasonable quest to be soul-satisfied leads us into disappointing wastelands of unrelieved dullness rather than savory realms of abundant joy. Most of us live in the shadows of true happiness, without true substance.

I love the way Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan lover of God said it:

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied . . . These (temporal pleasures) are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.

Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733

Jesus declares in John 10:10, that His global mission in coming to earth was to rescue fractured folks like us, who are dreary with the mundane, desperate for soul-satisfying joy and prone to wander into wastelands seeking wonder.  His extravagant offer is, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). In Edwards’ words, “I came to be “the only happiness with which (your) soul can be satisfied.”

Yet, most of us continue to demand soul-satisfaction from family, friendships, fit bodies or finances when “these are but drops, but God is the ocean”?  Oh, we crave the superior fullness Jesus has promised, but, how do we find such soul-satisfaction?

The Psalms offer a pathway to ultimate joy in the nitty-gritty of life.  The Holy Spirit spoke through David and others to instruct the people of God in how to live a life of God-glorifying delight, in the midst of various triumphs and trials. The God-breathed words of the Psalms gives us words to express a full range of emotions to God; as well as, words that shape our emotions for God.  Psalms is a prayer manual for believers desperate for soul-delight!

Join us for Fully Alive at Five this fall, as we worship, study and pray through the Psalms every other Tuesday morning. By the grace of God, we will find soul-delight as we grow in our capacity to enjoy Jesus Christ.

Details for Fall Semester Below:  

 Place:  Christ Church of Knoxville, 3108 Basswood Rd. Knoxville, 37921

Dates:  Sept 10,24; Oct 8,22; Nov 5,19

Time:    5am – 7am  (No make-up required; PJ’s and bed-head welcome!)

To register for Fully Alive at Five  or ask questions contact Natalie: fullyaliveministry@icloud.com

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