Glimpses or Wellspring

Sunrise on the farm

One of our security cameras caught a picture of the sunrise as Mandee left to take Mia to school yesterday. I was talking with a vendor at work who commented on how beautiful it is here where we live, and I had to agree. We have beautiful sunrises, beautiful mountain views, and we see surprises of new beauty from nature every day. We also saw a new resident on the farm that we have named “Charlie”, or “Chuck” for short. We were sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch, and Mandee exclaimed, “What is that?! Is that an animal?” So I grabbed my “good camera” and snapped on a zoom lens and was able to get a quick picture of Charlie.

Charlie the Woodchuck

Since my wife was getting ready and putting on her makeup this morning, I read our family devotional with Mia, Olive, Pompom, and I all snuggled up in our bed. And as I began reading, Mandee chuckled to herself about the fact that it started out “Man looks at the outward appearance but I look at the heart” while she was putting on her makeup.

Jesus Always – Feb 26

But this morning’s devotional wasn’t just about the outward display of God’s handiwork, or just about glimpses of His glory in nature, or just about warnings about letting ourselves get hung up on outward appearances.

No, the most important piece of the devotion that we needed to hear was to “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” And in case we were too sleepy eyed, or distracted, or foolish to realize that was the most important thing — like a good teacher laying hints during review for a test — the Word of God clearly emphasizes this by starting out “Above all else”.

A Wellspring in Nature

“Above all else” seems pretty important, don’t you think?

My mom and I talked about the state of the church in America on the phone last night, and how instead of ” guarding their own hearts” and insisting it is a “wellspring of life” — it seems like much of mainstream conservatism has become complacent and primarily focused on telling people what they should be “afraid of”, what they should be “offended by”, what they should be “loudly opposed to”. Outward appearance and loud demonstration “against things” seems to have grown to be the keynote for too many religious discussions — while too few focus on asking:

“What is the source of this fear? What is flooding fear into our hearts, and therefore flooding words of fear from our mouths and fearful posts from our social media influence?”

“What is the source of this offense? What is flooding offense into our hearts,  and therefore flooding words of fear from our mouths and offended and offensive posts in our social media influence?”

“What is the source of this opposition and divisiveness? What is flooding divisiveness into our hearts,  and therefore flooding words of exclusivity from our mouths and divisive posts in our social media influence?”

Polluted Waters

Some might say with pointed fingers that “What THEY are doing is causing us to act this way!” But Jesus explains how defilement happens quite clearly:

After He called the people to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen [carefully] to Me, all of you, [hear] and understand [what I am saying]: there is nothing outside a man [such as food] which by going into him can defile him [morally or spiritually]; but the things which come out of [the heart of] a man are what defile and dishonor him. [ If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” ] When Jesus had left the crowd and gone into the house, His disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you, too, so foolish and lacking in understanding? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile and dishonor him, since it does not enter his heart, but [only] his stomach, and [from there it] is eliminated?” ( By this, He declared all foods ceremonially clean.) And He said, “Whatever comes from [the heart of] a man, that is what defiles and dishonors him. For from within, [that is] out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment). All these evil things [schemes and desires] come from within and defile and dishonor the man.”
Mark 7:14‭-‬23 AMP

Yes, He is talking about physical food not defiling us, but we “consume” more from television and the Internet these days than we could ever consume with our mouths to fill our newly expanded quarantine bellies. Do we fear that TV show or website or vaccine or implant because we think that it might “defile us” and that it is the “mark of the beast”? Or is the real fear that the real source of the “wellspring of our heart” might be those things Jesus described as the true mark of the beast, the true means of discerning whose are children of a very different Father. Those things that rise up from within the ravenous wolves to be visible beyond the white washed outward imitation of sheep.

Let’s contrast what comes out of the heart of men:

out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment).” – Mark 7:

Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 AMP

To what springs forth from the Holy Spirit of God:

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬26 AMP

First, we must ask, “Does His pure life flow through me, or is my wellspring from something polluted and impure?”

If you see the need for change… for a new wellspring inside, beloved…

Do you believe with your heart in Christ as Savior, and confess your faith in Jesus openly with your life?

because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. For the Scripture says, “W hoever believes in H im [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”
Romans 10:9‭-‬11 AM

Do you ask Him for the Holy Spirit, this wellspring of life, an abundant supply of His character, nature, and presence in your life?

So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!
Luke 11:9‭-‬13 AMP

Thank you, Lord, for being our wellspring. Amen.

[Mia Daddy & Friends] “Stripped Naked by Betrayal”

 

 

Mark 14:43-52 (NLT)

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

[Mia, Daddy & Friends] Serious Prayer

 

 

Mark 14:32-42 (NLT)

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,”[a] he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before.40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Footnotes:

  1. 14:36 Abba is an Aramaic term for “father.”

[Mia, Daddy & Friends] “Annointed”

annoint

Mia leads us through “Jesus is Annointed at Bethany”, and we look into questions like – What does “annointed” mean? Who annointed him? And how? And – What can we learn from the reactions of the people? And what can we learn from Jesus’ reaction? Come join us as we dig into the Word of God together as a family.

Mark 14 (NLT)

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

14 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating,[a] a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages[b]and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.

But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

The Gospel of Mark – Chapter 1

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
Q: Who is this section of scripture talking about?
A: John the Baptist
Q: Where was John the Baptist?
A: Out in the wilderness
Q: What was he doing there?
A: Preaching and Baptizing
Q: What did the people need to do to be baptized?
A: Repent of their sins.
Q: What does “repented of their sins mean”?
A: That they have turned back to God, and confessed they are sorry for their sins, and decided to change their way and walk in obedience instead of disobedience.
Q: Who did John tell the people was coming?
A: Jesus, the Messiah.
Q: John baptized with water, but he said that Jesus would baptize with what?
A: The Holy Spirit (like a dove).
Q: And what is the Holy Spirit?
A: The Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit of God come to live in us and to guide us, teach us, and lead us in the way.
The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Q: Where did John baptize Jesus?
A: In the Jordan River.
Q: What happened right as Jesus was baptized?
A: The sky opened split apart
Q: What came down from the sky after it was parted?
A: The Holy Spirit descended
Q: Why was John arrested?
A: He was speaking against sin
Q: What did the voice from heaven say?
A: God acknowledged Jesus Christ as His son and that He was pleased with Him.
Q: What did Jesus then go and preach, telling the people to do?
A: Repent of their sins and believe.
Q: What does God call us when we repent of our sins and confess Him as our Lord and Savior?
A: He calls us His children.

A really Good Friday

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Revelation 5:12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.5.12.ESV

Today we remember Jesus Christ at the cross. We remember some of the many foreshadowing prophecies of His coming that were brought through the nation of Israel –

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?  All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;  “He trusts in the Lord ; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.  But you, O Lord , do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 18-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.22.1-19.ESV

And we remember the testimony of those who lived and walked alongside this man whose life tore our calendar in two, just like the vail was torn in the temple, symbolizing the veil that once separated us from your Holy Spirit. We remember this Son of Man – who even unbelievers can marvel at His teaching,  His life example, His miracles, and His impact upon History. And we remember this Son of God who believers praise and worship in grattitude for His life that teaches us His life and His way, and that fulfills the blameless and perfect sacrifice that bought our freedom. We remember His body, broken for me and you. We remember His blood purred out as evidence of this new covenant.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Mark 15:25-27, 29-39 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mrk.15.25-39.NLT

Crucified Savior, on this dark day, it seems crass and opportunistic to think of your death as an advantage to me. And yet, we call this Friday good because through your death, my old self is crucified, put to death, buried with you, and no longer rules. Today, I dedicate my life as an offering to you – as the unworthy, filthy rags that I have to offer a righteous and holy God. Thank you for seeing our heart and knowing or humble intentions of gratitude, and for providing the only worthy sacrifice. Amen.

Costly? Valuable.

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mrk.8.34-38.NKJV

Deny ourselves.
Take up our cross.
Follow Christ.
Die to self.

In a world of nominal and worldly “Christians” – where the capitalist dream of wealth,  comfort,  security,  and pleasure rules people’s hearts and desires – this call seems quite contrary to to the cheap and easy grace of a Roman’s Road Sinner’s Prayer splashed on a television screen as the evangelist asks for money to be sent in to buy his latest merchandise. In fact, it seems quite contrary to the altar calls and spontaneous baptisms of the mega-churches of our day.

Christ is talking to us about a costly type of discipleship that doesn’t just ask for intellectual ascent by thinking that we believe – but He tells us about a sacrificial life lived following Him that proves that we believe.

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it —  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Luke 14:26-35 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.14.26-35.NKJV

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;  and ‘a man’s enemies  will be  those of his  own  household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.10.34-39.NKJV

Come… and rest a while.

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
Mark 6:30-32 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mrk.6.30-32.NKJV

These few verses are encouraging when we find ourselves overwhelmed by the demands of the world – but seeing them in the greater passage of the whole chapter reminds me that there is little time for rest and that Christ will provide the strength, He will be the source of our strength to continue in the work that He has in store for us. It reminds me that we can find comfort in our trials by opening our eyes to the circumstances of others and comforting them.

The beattitudes in Matthew 5 tell us the recipe for receiving the “for they shall” by being “those who”. Verse after verse, we are reminded to look out upon those around us and offer them what they need – even before we realize the treasures of doing so. These verses are asking us to “just trust me I’m the Lord, I know a better way than yours”.

If you’ve ever been mourning and fretting and concerned over your own troubles – can’t you look out onto those around you and find someone else that is greatly troubled and hurting? And when you do something to help them, or when you just mourn along with them, doesn’t it give you a new perspective of freedom from the chains that were binding you? Doesn’t it open your eyes?

It’s only when we bottle it up inside and keep it to ourselves, when we cling to it that we become imprisoned by it. Let it go by letting others in to help you – bless them with the opportunity to listen and to stand with you. And look for others in need and stand along with them. It is hard to be tired and sad when there is work to be done helping others.

Yes, this is the way of Christ – not religious practice once in a while – but a life lived following His example step by step, day by day. And this is the abundant life with blessings poured out onto those you serve and love – and onto your own life as your purpose becomes about more than self.

Will we choose peace?

We can have the peace that God wants us to find in His guidance and example, or we can participate in the evil rebellion that hurts us and others around us. He offers us delivery from the traps of our old ways, and the strength to overcome and be set free, it is our choice that remains and that will determine the fruit of our lives.

The old way of the flesh:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Mark 7:21-23 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mrk.7.21-23.NKJV

The promise of peace:

Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.
Psalms 119:165 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/psa.119.165.NKJV

The strength offered:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/php.4.13.NKJV

The fruit to be born in our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/gal.5.22-25.NKJV

Lord, we imagine how much brighter this world would be if filled with lives bearing your fruit abundantly. And even as we hope for a move of your Holy Spirit across our city, our state, our nation, our continent, our earth – even as we pray for and lay claim to your territory – we realize that we are the vessels carrying your Good News, your nourishing fruit, out to serve the world around us. Let our lives shine brightly reflecting your glory, Lord. Let us continue loving each small opportunity to show your love to others, not to just talk about you, but to live like you, too follow in your footsteps, sharing our life as a testimony, walking with you, and not loving our own lives even unto death. Rescue us, Lord, from that old man, that flesh, that enemy of your ways that wants to cling to us like burdensome chains of sin, death, guilt, shame, bitterness, unforgiveness, or unbelief. Free the captives, Lord, starting with us – equipping us, and guiding us, and using us for your glory and honor, forever and ever, Amen.