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Image of Christ Appears! (Video link included)

Playing “Where’s Waldo” with Jesus…
     But, first, a little teaser… No, this isn’t about a picture of Jesus appearing on a wall in South America or in someone’s latte. Just trust me on this for a moment and read on.

     “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:6-7, NIV

     Some people get really geeked out on the Old Testament prophecies that foretold the coming of the Messiah. Even more get wide-eyed about the prophetic scriptures that foretell the Apocalypse. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of prophecy – one that will encourage you today, where you are, in which Jesus “appears” in the Old Testament. Understanding this old story gives us an encouraging picture of our current standing “in Christ”.

     Saul, chosen by God as first king over Israel, rebelled against God in disobedience and God rejected him as king. God then chose David (outside Saul’s family) to succeed him. Saul’s son, Jonathan became great friends with David and entered into covenant with him. Then, when Saul and Jonathan died in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, the nurse who cared for Jonathan’s infant son, Mephibosheth, dropped the infant as she fled for her life, crippling the child. Years later, when David became king:

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'” (2 Samuel 9:1)


     Subsequent to that request, Mephibosheth, crippled since infancy, had all his grandfather’s lands restored to him and ate at the King’s table daily.

     Whoopee, right?

     Wrong.

     This is one of the coolest images of Christ in the entire Old Testament!!!

Here, in history, we have a picture (or, “type”) of Saul, depicting Satan:

  1. Chosen by God to lead (worship in Satan’s case, Israel in Saul’s)
  2. Rebelling against the Creator
  3. Rejected by the Creator
  4. Replaced by another (David)
  5. His position and possessions passed on to another (Mephibosheth)


Additionally, we have a picture of man in Mephibosheth:

  1. Broken and literally “fallen”
  2. He did nothing to receive the “curse” of being crippled, practically “born that way”.
  3. Unable to “walk with God”, both literally and figuratively, without the help of another.
  4. Descended from the rebel whose fall brought about his own. 
  5. “Raised up and seated with the King…”


We also have a picture of Christ in David (from whose line the Messiah must come):

  1. King and agent of God
  2. Cutting a covenant (by blood) with the son of disobedience.
  3. Powerful enough to track down the descendents of the deposed/defeated king and kill them, yet showing restraint in not doing so.
  4. Showing mercy and kindness where he could have shown judgment
  5. Essentially “adopting” the broken and crippled (sitting at one’s table regularly was a big deal in that time and culture, even more so when it is the table of the king)
  6. Giving man regular and free access to the King.


Find Jesus, Find Grace
     If you’re reading this and you get chills – you understand grace. If you get really geeked out by Ephesians 2:6-7, you understand grace. If you suddenly begin practicing how to say “Mephibosheth” so you can thank God for this story, you understand grace. 

     May you understand what you’ve lost through the fall. May you understand who God is despite the fall. May you grasp the truth about grace: regardless of how you were born and in spite of who you’ve descended from, Christ came to give grace to you. May you eat at the King’s table daily and know you are restored by the King to the place Satan was initially appointed: to lead worship of God forever!

in Christ,

AP

How to Calm the Seas Like Jesus – Cristine’s Story

Are You in This Kind of Storm?

“Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. (Jonah 1:13, NIV)”


     Jesus calmed the seas by merely speaking to them. Did you know that you and I at times have the power to do the same? Perhaps not by speaking to the storm, but by actions consistent with God’s mission for our lives.

     Even since we were courting, Cristine approached the thought motherhood with great trepidation and insecurity. I’ve always known her capability to be an outstanding mom. But, I’m her husband, it’s hard for her to take my word for it when the soundtrack of doubt in her head is so loud, vivid and familiar. So, between work, projects, and a wide variety of other ventures, she’s done her best to hold the calling of motherhood at arm’s length, even borrowing a few arms to lengthen the distance.

     I’ve tried pretty successfully to remain an objective observer as she’s wrestled with God over His call for her to not only be a mom, but a stay at home and (gasp!) homeschooling mom. As she comments below – “I’m not the academic in the family! You’re [Aarron] always correcting my grammar, punctuation, and spelling and I HATE math! And, God wants me to unleash that on our children?” 

     I’d just shake my head, remind her that if we ever need to put them on a bus and send them to public school, I’ll be there with her to wave and take pictures of their first day(s), and I’ll support her decision. “Don’t drag me into a fight between you and God. If you’re wrestling with Him on this, I’m not getting in the middle of the brawl. I’d rather not have a busted hip like Jacob… mmkay?”

     As she’s played Jonah [I’ve privately nicknamed her “Jonette”] running from God’s call, He has done many things to encourage her forward, trap her in the belly of a fish, and teach her how beautiful and precious she is to Him and how vital her calling to motherhood and homeschooling is. Of all the ways men try to “fix” their wives, God has kept me from forcing His hand and His will and He’s turned out to be far better at “being God” with her in this area. Glory to Him.


     Below, are a few realizations she’s come to with a touch of my own commentary along the way. She’s had great opportunity as God has changed her perspective, to watch others fall and fail at the tasks of motherhood but knows He is leading them, and her, to win at the calling of motherhood. Through these observations and much self reflection and prayer, here’s where she’s landed for now on encouraging those who’ve struggled likewise in their calling, their work, and storms they’ve brought on themselves.

Cristine’s Point of View:
     If we excel at everything under the sun from reaching our educational goals to going after those great careers to mastering sports to exercising until we reach that awesome fit body, etc, etc- but neglect our most important roles as Godly wives & mothers, we lose in this thing called life. It is my belief that if wife and mother do not come first, we will not reach all God has for us here on earth because we have rejected the very gifts He gave us to care for in the first place as HIS number one priority. We become Jonah sleeping through the storm – comfortable, oblivious, and disengaged from fulfilling our calling.

     Can we have it all? Possibly… in time. Is this a salvation thing, an issue of top theological importance? No. Will we still receive reward in Heaven for what we did do for the Lord while here on earth. But, that’s not what this is about. Paul prays for the Ephesian church that they may “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” While others may think becoming mature in their walk with the Lord means taking classes to learn more about the Bible or attending conferences to learn life application or going to retreats to learn your identity in Christ, etc, (And yes, while all of those things are important & have there place) I contend that the maturation process really doesn’t take off in those places. They’re catalysts, but not the meat and potatoes of the faith walk.

My Boat to Tarshish
     For me, it’s happened in the home. It has happened in suffering, in failing daily & in being put in situations where, had the Lord Himself not shown up, I would not have been able to go on that day. This is where muscles of faith are shredded to grow stronger, where intimacy with Jesus is front & center, where prayer is not a pretty rendition of some memorized Bible passage – rather more of a screaming out to God in anger or just barely being able to whisper the Name Jesus because of mere exhaustion. 
 
     I ran from this type of growth. “One way to Tarshish, please… Below third class with a pillow.”

     I tried to go back out & “work in the ministry full time”, get a part-time job, spend a lot of time out with my girlfriends, the list goes on- ALL in order to be away, (to “run away” is more like it). I was trying to outrun the very thing my Divine Creator designed me for in life! My husband even renamed me “Jonette” after Jonah in the Bible! I was too afraid of letting my husband down, letting my children down & most of all- letting God down! Ever been there?

     Through a series of circumstances that continued to bring me to broken places, humble me & soften my heart toward God & my relationships with others- my Heavenly Father grew me up in Him tremendously. He showed me (& continues to show me) how it’s impossible to “let Him down” if I have accepted His Son Jesus because “He will never leave us nor forsake us”. Then the Spirit did His work in me so I would have the God-confidence to walk out my calling in the first place. 

     So here I am. Pleading with the other “Jonettes” out there… 

     Scripture urges us to “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God (Titus 2:4-5).” If something you are involved in causes you to 

  • not be an available “helpmeet” to your husband 
  • neglect your children in the areas of nurturing & training them up in the Lord and/or 
  • run from what God called you to 
  • or live counter to Titus 2:4-5

     … then, stop. Pray. Reprioritize. And finally, set on the True North course the Spirit is leading you towards! 

     Nothing the men on deck did could calm the storm God had ordained in Jonah chapter 1. Because on that boat was a man running from God’s call on His life (or at least, a direct order for that specific season of his life!) No amount of good education, time spent with others outside your family, time serving in church/in service projects, etc will EVER replace the important role of protecting our husband’s hearts & shepherding our children in this world! 

     Listen, as a woman who has done it all backwards once upon a time, trust me: there are consequences to not doing things God’s way & in God’s timing. Jonah’s disobedience impacted the sailors, their families’ livelihood, and the economy of the city where that ship was bound. You can lose those very ones the Lord entrusted to your care and make a far reaching negative impact! Been there. Done that. 

    BUT… I have also been given an opportunity now (many an opportunities, actually) through Christ’s redeeming power & in God’s loving kindness to follow the way that is best for me because it’s my Abba Father’s way. His plan will 

  1. ALWAYS work out for our good & 
  2. ALWAYS turn out for His Glory! 

Cristine’s Prayer:
     Ladies, Daughters of the Most High God, Women after God’s own ♥: 
“Let us be good stewards over the souls with which we’ve been entrusted before any other activity or duty beckons our time, strength & giftings. Almighty God, this is Your master plan for us as wives & mothers. Scripture makes it clear. Experiences vouch for that as well. But more than those two things, Daddy, You have shown me and others how to respond in love & thankfulness of heart & obedience because of Your amazing love given to us through Jesus. Bless us and keep us in Your perfect will.

     Father, if all we do is supposed to point back to Your glory, then why do we so easily allow, or even run after distractions that take us away from the very thing that will do just that? Let us then receive the most high calling a woman can be given in this life as wife & mother with the joy that Jesus died to give us, by trusting in the Holy Spirit for the instruction needed for the mission & embracing God’s love for us so we can then shower our husbands & children with that same love!!!”

Amen!

     So, when the seas are raging – don’t apply half measures, alternate routes, and God’s-will-lite to your course of action. Return to what you know God has called you to in the first place, eliminating all other distractions. Calm seas are sure to follow. At least for a time.

God bless and Monday Morning Momentum to you all.

AP

4 Math Mistakes Your Faith Must Avoid

The Love/Hate of Math:
     You either love math or you hate it, right?
 
     Most of us never pay any attention to how much math is really involved with our lives. In any decision, we’re doing math – something is more important than “>” something else. Simple math. “If these three things don’t get completed by noon, they will add up to trouble with my supervisor and impact my annual review and subsequent raise…” Complex math. If I tell Tom the whole truth about this, he’ll think x which means he’ll do y and tell Renee z and then she’ll never call me again… Relationship algebra.

     I’ve met a lot of people who say they hate math, but I don’t think I’ve met more than a handful that don’t like to make good decisions. Math is the process by which we get to any desired result through weighing priorities, predicting outcomes, hoping for the best, etc. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a certain love for math. Always calculating something, planning the next thing, dreaming, wishing, praying… Math, math, mathing away.

     Recently, I was thinking about “commit your way” and “He who called you is faithful and He will bring it to pass”…

     There’s math there. Did you spot it? It’s like what happens when we add a hundred complex numbers together but multiply them by zero: everything we did before the zero is wiped away, or impacted by the zero. In math, the zero is called a factor. In life God is the factor that impacts all of our busy work, calculating, and… mathing around.

We all run the risk of making four critical mistakes as we make our figuring:

  1. We assume we have more time, resources, talent, influence… (presuming on God)
  2. We assign too much value to the power evil instead of the power of God to accomplish His plans (fear & worry).
  3. We assign too little value to the consequences and implications of the evil inherent in a Genesis 3 world and get angry or disappointed with God when things don’t work out. (blind faith/prosperity gospel)
    3a. We rely too heavily on the result looking like our picture rather than God’s. (outcome management)
  4. We spend too much effort avoiding pain or gaining pleasure, resulting in white knuckle gripping the wheel to arrive at our destination… (walking by the flesh instead of the spirit)


     In all of these mistakes, we commit one debilitating sin: factoring out God.

Three A’s on the Next Math Test:
Authority – If God is truly sovereign, here’s the impact:
     God is painting on a canvas the size of the universe stretched across eternity and is sovereign over it all, eternally. Therefore, our perspective is vastly limited and we must constantly factor in His authority over it all: Job was keen to accept both good and bad from God’s hand, more importantly he recognized it as God’s hand. (See Job 2:10)

     However, considering that power and authority are only given for purposes of the giver and those in our authority helps us to hold on to outcomes a bit more loosely. Deciding and acting with this factor in mind can self correct our math throughout the process. In Charles Stanley’s words: “God takes full responsibility for the life fully surrendered to Him.” Minimizing or maximizing what time we do/don’t have, resources, talents, etc., ceases to be an issue, freeing us to exist in the zone of relying on God to provide resources, influence, and “sun stood still” moments (see Joshua 10:13). 

     Further, keeping God’s sovereignty front and center keeps us focused on the fact that He is our prize, He is our judge and will ultimately reward us for all we have done, regardless of temporal outcomes. See 2 Cor. 5:10. God is not limited by time, will not be defined by temporal victories/defeats, and ultimately assigns the absolute value to all things done “under the sun” whether they appear good or bad in the eyes of man.

     Consider right now the impact this has on all of our worrying, complaining, and anger and outcome management. No, I’m not going to expand on that – this is your assignment. Go, do it. 🙂

Abiding – If we are truly surrendered to Him, full time, here’s the impact:
     Remaining in God effectively means we’re safe from the lures of the sinful nature. That’s it. If we’re connected to Jesus, we’re by default not gratifying the flesh (as in #4 above). This is a crucial factor in every decision we make. A friend and mentor of mine tells me that all business will naturally reach the same conclusion as long as ego, greed, and agenda are kept out of the room. Abiding in Christ is like Febreeze for the stench of these three. God becomes less a factor and more the math itself.
 
Availability – If our plans are guided by the Spirit, here’s how the math flows:
     God presents a project or outcome and we set out for it. Circumstances as we see them change and that outcome is no longer possible. When we’re available to God (via abiding) we not only hear the “audible” that God called after the huddle, we’re able to recognize that the outcome we were chasing was not the point… the process was the point. God is not a god of events – He is our sanctifier. Thus, He is a god of processes. Being available to God’s purposes, plans, and processes vs. outcomes saves us from shame, guilt, regret, and disappointment.

Homework:
     Where are you in most danger of making these critical math mistakes? Which are your pet math mess ups?



The Grace of the Speeding Ticket

Pull OVER!

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7 NASB)”

     “Do you know how fast you were going?”

     Of course I wanted to say “At the moment, Sir, I didn’t even remember my van even had a speedometer. But, I’m sure I was going fast enough to warrant you pulling me over.” But, I restricted my response to “No, sir.”

     “64 in a 45.”

     That was a kick in the gut.

Are You Sorry?
     Two kinds of sorrow: worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow says “I’m mad I got caught. It ignores the sin and blames the cop or the person who pointed out the fault. It is impotent and devoid of transformative power. Godly sorrow recognizes there was sin involved and deals with it. It says I’m mad that I sinned.” Inherent in godly sorrow is the vital power to affect change. 

     Deputy Parker made a point of giving me an epilogue after he gave me my citation: “Mr. Pina, you were very polite. Most people are belligerent and argumentative when I pull them over, but you were very decent… if that makes any difference to you.”

     Funny, at the moment, it was a flimsy, cheap, second place trophy. It didn’t make a difference to me I wanted a verbal warning. But, God loves me too much for that. He loves you too much for that. I can’t say that it was me, Mr. I’m-So-Holy who was so polite. I’m rejoicing now in the fact that I could see this evidence of the Holy Spirit doing what my weak flesh wanted nothing to do with: enduring hardship in the knowledge that through this deputy’s actions, I was being chastened by the Father who loves and disciplines me as a dearly loved son. It could have been an accident. It could have been the death of my three toddlers in the backseats or even someone else’s…

“…God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will…
(2 Tim 2:25-26 NASB)”

     We’ve had this talk before, haven’t we? “Trials are necessary.” But, every once in a while, don’t we all find ourselves “out of our senses”, doing what is contrary to God’s design for us, and in need of a grant of repentance that leads to the knowledge of truth?

The Pause That Refreshes
     Sometimes bad things happen just because we live in a Genesis 3 world and are stalked by an enemy who hates us because of his hatred for Him who created us in His image. But, for the blood bought, born again believer in Christ, abiding in Christ will have its challenges, hardships, and curve balls. Today, consider something you’re doing that would make you sorry if you got caught and ask this: “would I be angry if I got caught… or thankful?”

     Sin is heavy and its consequences are a great burden. The knowledge of truth helps us experience the relief of its weight. It can set us free from an enemy who holds us captive to do his will. It is only by grace given. Godly sorrow is the thumbprint of God on our souls. A right attitude toward God and proper perspective that He truly wants good for us changes our attitude toward sin and leads us away from weak, worldly sorrow.

     Pause for a moment in your next or current affliction. Pray today that God catches you in whatever sin has you snared and beg for a shift away from worldly sorrow and toward godly sorrow. It is available. It is necessary, fruitful, and it is… a gift… by grace

Blessing:
     May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He open your eyes to the places where you are being held captive by the enemy and set you free by the knowledge of truth.