Legally Bound?

Free to Fly
Free to Fly

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible

Isn’t this a beautiful portrait of how He wants our life to be with Him? So often we get bound up in legalistic do’s and don’ts that were never a part of His plan. We feel like we’re living in a religious cage, rather than basking in our position in His family.  (See John 1:10-13) When we allow Him to take His role as heavenly Father in our lives,  He leads, guides, helps, works with, talks to and builds our relationship on grace. Our lives are meant to be joyful and thriving because of Him in our hearts. We can FLURISH without limitation if we stay close to Him and follow His lead.

How that looks in each of our lives will be beautifully different because each of us has a distinct relationship with Him. This is how He meant it to be and even though it’s difficult for our minds to fathom, He can easily have a UNIQUE relationship with each of His children throughout history because He is the Almighty God with no limits on His power! Think about the awesomeness of that.

“Legalism” simply is the wrong use of laws or rules. It’s not from Jesus.
“Yes,'” said Jesus, “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Luke 11:46 New Living translation

Break the chains
Break the chains

We must free and guard ourselves against the foul spirit of legalism. It can be so subtle that we often do not recognize it in ourselves. It sours our spirit and can sour others around us. Legalism is wrong because it emphasizes the external without encouraging the internal. God is all about the heart and its motivations. He offers love, forgiveness and grace in abundance for our lives. Some examples (certainly not an exhaustive list because it truly would be exhausting to write it) of modern day legalism that are all too alive and well are:

Type of Attire?
Devotions—When? How long?
Hairstyle?
Observing Sabbath? (see Leisure Update post)
Make-up?
Women working outside the home?
Smoking pipe, cigars, cigarettes?
Drinking? (Not to be confused with drunkenness)
Going to movies?
Upbeat worship music?
Using instruments in worship music?
Watching tv?
How often to attend corporate worship?
To spank children or not?
Dancing?
Bible versions?

Etcetera etcetera etcetera

Have you developed any convictions of your own? For instance, some people feel you should never write in your Bible. I personally write and highlight in my Bible to track my special times talking with and learning from Jesus. As a result, my Bible is full of marked up memories. I do handle my Bible as sacred in other ways by not setting things on top of it and using it regularly. These are personal convictions not commands, demands or “less thans” in God’s eyes.

If you face a biblical gray area, talk to God about it. Reason with Him over what is right for you and make that your standard but do not expect others to hold to your standard. Where gray areas are concerned, our loving Lord provides freedom and invites each of us to find our personal convictions with His Spirit’s direction.

time and effort equals cultivation
time and effort equals cultivation

“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—-then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” Romans 14:22-23 The Message Bible
FLURISH in His freedom and grace!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Wayfarers Welcome

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“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—-His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 New Living translation

So we are traveling around in southern California for ten glorious days. Each day is a new adventure as we explore a different section of my husband’s favorite piece of land on earth. Today we happen to be at a place I have wanted to see for several years. It’s called Wayfarers Chapel. It’s a place welcoming weary travelers to stop and rest. To meditate on the beauty of God and His creation of which we are all a part.
Wayfarers Chapel sits high above the Pacific ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Built in 1951 it’s essentially a modern glass chapel designed and built by Lloyd Wright, son of American architect and innovator Frank Lloyd Wright.

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The chapel overlooks the ocean and was built into a grove of young Redwood trees. It’s an example of organic architecture where the trees grow to become part of the sanctuary and help display the sacredness of the Almighty architect.

A solemn experience awaits as I quietly sit down on a narrow bench inside the chapel. Calming waters trickle down a rock formation fountain off to my left. Stone steps engraved with the Lord’s prayer guide the eye upward toward the expansive circular glass window and ceiling. Through the ceiling a wooden cross cleverly looms in sight above the tower next to the chapel. A modern marvel built for the Makers glory.

I could spend hours reclining on the soft carpet like grass surrounding the chapel,  just contemplating the goodness of God. Reflecting on the Bird of Paradise and other exotic flowers flourishing and adorning the grounds as the ocean rolls ceaselessly below. Unfortunately, many seem to visit this gorgeous place only as tourists taking selfies, not that I am above that, but there is so much more here if we look a little closer. Even if you are not able to experience Wayfarers Chapel, the Lords beauty is all around you. Take a careful, conscious look and drink in the divine wherever you are! His glory commands attention.

Tower chimes ring every quarter
Tower chimes ring every quarter

“I wanted particularly to allow those trees and those trunks to be seen and the space beyond and into infinity to be observed, so those who sat in the sanctuary would perceive the grandeur of space out beyond and around them.”
Lloyd Wright

Shine on. . .
karan k

Pass the Buck

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“Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other.” Romans 13:8a Common English Bible

Call me crazy, but I love bill paying day. Yesterday I was gathering all my bills and paying each one ahead of time in preparation for an upcoming trip. Still VERY old school, I wrote out a check for each one. And then euphoria set in. I cannot tell you how freeing it is to know all the monthly financial obligations have been met and I am not in the red! It’s a bit of a thrill every time. I know, insane right?

You see, I’ve trained myself since I began working full-time to give back to God His tithe and then pay any and all debts I incur monthly. Whatever is left after that is mine to spend. Of course some months are more exciting than others depending what’s left! 🙂 The freedom I feel after the bills are paid is tremendous and so fulfilling that I have continued this practice from 1981 to the present. It simply works for me and I remain debt-free except for my mortgage. And now I am chipping away at that to pay it off early.

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Now don’t think for even a millisecond that all of this came easy or natural to me. It did not. I moved out on my own at eighteen so it was first born out of FEAR that I would not be able to provide for myself. After that, it was PRIDE that I would fail and have to move back home if I didn’t discipline my spending. So my motivation in the beginning was negative and sinful. But as I learned to trust God and give Him my finances, I began to develop His fruit of self control. HE is a kind, generous and easy Master (Matthew 11:29). Now my motivation for self control in my finances is positive and freeing.

Perhaps a different system works for you as far as HOW you pay your bills such as online banking, auto withdrawal, debit or credit cards etc.,? But the discipline of self control is the key to success. I told you way back in the beginning of our journey together that self discipline is a must for Christ followers. (See ‘God Gave Us What?’ post in Archives). The excellent news is HE will help us develop self discipline if we ask Him! Galatians 5:22— Self Control is one of the fruits of His Spirit.

If you feel you need help in the area of finances, check out Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps or Peace University at http://www.daveramsey.com or Crown Financial at http://www.crown.org;

Don't be in bondage to your spending habits...
Don’t be in bondage to your spending habits…

“The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” Proverbs 21:20 New Living translation

Financial Freedom is just another area to conquer on our journey of FLURISHING together. Spend wisely, my friends.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Hillbilly Faith?

 

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1 King James version or “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 New Living translation
One of the best definitions of faith I’ve ever heard is: Faith is believing something so strongly that you adjust your entire life to it. Not sure who said it or if I am misquoting it but I first heard Elisabeth Elliot say it on her radio program ‘Gateway to Joy’ many years ago. I never forgot it and believe in its truth.

 

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Remember the show, The Beverly Hillbillies? It ran on CBS tv from
1962-1971. It had an interesting premise about a poor family in the Ozarks who discovered oil on their land. “Black Gold or Texas Tea” as the theme song goes. Suddenly these poor people from the mountains believed or “had faith” that they were rich. They didn’t continue living in the Ozarks like poor mortals and tell people now and then that they were rich. Oh no, they packed up their old truck and moved across the country to California’s luxurious Beverly Hills, home to swimming pools and movie stars. They moved from a cabin to a mansion because they acted on the belief that they were now rich. That is a picture of faith. Acting on what you believe to be true. Adjusting your life; your mindset, your routines, your decisions, your values etc., to what you believe to be true.

From this. . .
From this. . .
To this
To this!

Concerning faith in God, it is not enough to say you believe only. Consider one of the strongest rebukes in the book of James;

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” James 2:19 New Living translation

I don’t know about you but I don’t want my faith to resemble that of a demon! I was concerned about someone very close to me who used to tell me they believed in God, but their life showed only apathy and at times ungodliness. I loved this person very much but I never saw them activate their belief. Belief must be acted upon to become true faith. Otherwise it is useless, just like a credit or debit card you get in the mail is useless unless activated. When my loved one’s life was tragically cut short, my spirit mourned for their soul because I feared their eternal destination. Only God consoles me over this sorrow.

Has your belief been activated to become a faith FLURISHING in the Spirit of the living God? All of us can have a strong vibrant faith if we choose to activate it. Don’t just admire someone else’s faith, build your own by trusting God with your whole self, body, soul, mind and spirit.

I want faith like Abraham who was counted righteous for his trusting faith and called a friend of God in II Chronicles 20:7. James further challenges us about Abraham:

“Don’t you remember our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.”
James 2:21 &22. New Living translation

You can read more about faith in Hebrews chapter 11 which is commonly referred to as the faith chapter if the Bible.

So have you activated your belief? Don’t delay, start FLURISHING in your faith as His friend today!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Least Lives Matter

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Lots of talk over the last few months about whose lives matter. I recorded a short video off the cuff concerning this topic according to the scripture below. Check it out and read the passage because you need to make sure you are aware of your choices. Someday it will matter more than you realize! Click here to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QEEpQ5SMPQ&sns=em

If you have trouble viewing; Go to Youtube and search:

Karan Klassen, Least Lives Matter

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left.

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 creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’

Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’

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Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’

Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’

And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’

And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Matthew 25: 31-46 New Living translation

These are the words of Jesus Himself. He is telling us about our future. It’s a long passage but I trust you took the time to read it. No matter who we are, these verses concern us. So pay close attention to them. Simply acting religious or doing good things will not cut it either. You must KNOW Him— {see Matthew 7:21-23 and Ephesians 2:8 &9} and then you will recognize Him as one of the Least Lives who matter most!

GOD saved you by His grace when you put your faith in HIm. HE empowers you now to serve the Least!
GOD saved you by His grace when you put your faith in HIm. HE empowers you now to serve the Least of These!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Kiss and Tell

Show the Love
Show the Love

“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15 New Living translation

I had the biggest crush on my first Pastor. His name was Reverend Mehle and every Sunday after service he stood near the exit to greet the people. As I stood in line I had the same special request. A kiss on the cheek. I suppose it was a bit precocious asking to kiss him but what does a three year old care? I wanted to express how I felt. I loved him and I wanted him to know. He graciously indulged me until I turned five. After that I settled for a grown up handshake like everyone else. Oh the innocence of childhood.

The point is I really did love my Pastor or Shepherd, as the Bible often refers to them. I think it remains an excellent practice to encourage our Pastors/Shepherds often. As part of a flock no matter the size, we sheep rarely think about what a Pastor/Shepherd manages.

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“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:12 New Living translation

What does a Pastor do?

They pray for us.

They lead us by example.

They teach, preach and interpret Scripture.

They oversee the mission of the church.

They equip us to serve.

They delegate responsibilities.

They help us see our sin.

They guard us from evil.

They encourage us.

They comfort us.

Furthermore, some may recognize things on this inexhaustive list; preparing weekly sermons, preaching and conducting worship services, collaborating with choir ministry, studying and interpreting scripture, counseling, giving spiritual support in crisis situations, visiting the sick and shut-ins, officiating at baptisms, weddings and funerals, attending meetings concerning church operating functions, evaluating congregational staff. . . the list is endless.

What you won’t see on any list of responsibilities and duties is: PLEASING EVERYONE. It cannot be done. It should not be expected. Pastors must learn this early or suffer physical ruin. We need to be understanding, loving and full of grace and not demand or expect perfection from our Pastors.  Each and every one of them is made of flesh and blood just like us. Please remember that when tempted to judge them. They have an enormous number of personalities to manage if their congregation numbers more than five. Think about it.

Every Pastor is a uniquely gifted individual. In addition to teaching and preaching Scripture, each excels in different ministry areas such as counseling, visitation, music, etc., Treat them and their position with respect and appreciation.
Our Pastors may not need to be kissed by their parishioners/congregation members but they certainly do need to feel our love. Here are just a few ways to convey brotherly or sisterly love and support to your Pastor besides staying awake during their sermons.

“In the same way, the Lord ordered those who preach the Good News to be supported by those who benefit from it.”
I Corinthians 9:14 New Living translation

  •  Support your Pastor in prayer
  • Support your Pastor with your giving financially.
  •  Support your Pastor with your encouragement; cards, gifts, affirming words etc.,
  •  Support your Pastor by guarding his reputation with grace not bashing.

Show the Love

If your Pastor is faithfully caring for you, do not take him for granted. Show him some love today!

Shine on. . .
karan k

Leisure Update

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What’s your take on the Sabbath? Only for worship and church? Or do you see it as a leisure day?  Or a combination of both?  Let’s look a bit more at this sometimes confusing subject.

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is Sabbath to God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made heaven, earth, and sea, and everything in them; He rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; He set it apart as a holy day.”  Exodus 20:8-11 The Message Bible

Hooray for small victories.  I have finished the book; “When I Relax I Feel Guilty”. Wonders never cease and goals with accountability prove to be motivational once again. So a BIG thank you to all who read STATIC INTERFERENCE where I publicly stated I would finish this book by August’s end. Now that I accomplished this summer goal as promised, I will share a few things with you from the latter part of Tim Hansel’s book, “When I Relax I Feel Guilty” :

MINI VACATIONS
“Most of us fail to realize we have built into our calendars fifty-two miniature vacations every year. . . The principle of one day out of seven for worship and rest has been true since creation, but I know very few people who take that commandment seriously. I still struggle with it.

Again and again William McNamara’s comments about learning how to ‘waste’ that time for God’s sake come back to haunt me. ‘There is only one way to truly celebrate the Sabbath —and that is to waste it prodigiously. Until I can waste time prodigiously I do not take God seriously. If Christ is real, he must be able to hold me and captivate me.’ It is my acknowledgment of his sovereignty.

There must be a reason why rest was included in Creation, in the Ten Commandments, and why Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man. There must be a reason why the Sabbath is fifty-two times more important than any other ‘holy-day.’ ” Tim Hansel

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So the overall message of the book for me is God wants me to relax because  He knows I need it.  He knows it will enhance my life in every aspect if I observe His Sabbath. I should not allow guilt to overcome me when I  attempt to relax. I say attempt because it takes effort for me to relax which sounds like a complete oxymoron but it is reality for me. Busyness seems more natural but busyness is really something circumstances taught me. I fell prey to the busyness equals Godliness deception. Now after years of fast paced productivity for Jesus, I am tired and unable to relax.

 

But I am commanded to relax. If I don’t regularly set aside relaxing time, I will implode. That is in no way glorifying to God. In fact, I need to learn to be idle or still at least once a week. For a whole day. I definitely need prayer to accomplish this.  Our societal demands make it next to impossible but we should not give up in despair. Our Father will show each of us how to honor Him and His Sabbath according to how He wired us. See the need and ask for His help.

How about you? Are you a whirling dervish of activity? Do you labor for the Lord and ignore the fourth commandment? I secretly wonder at times if illness is brought on by failing to slow down? When I am sick I am forced to slow down. Just a crumb for thought.

 

What about “wasting time prodigiously” ? Never heard that in Sunday School. I can barely bring myself to say I need to learn to WASTE TIME in a big way!!! That thought is completely foreign to me and seems so wrong. And yet Jesus did say the Sabbath was made for man. So I need my mind renewed in this area.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of the people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.’ ” Mark 2:27 New Living translation

We all need to be set apart to rest. To balance productivity with purposeful rest  is a command from our heavenly Father, but how many of us honor that command?  Six days of productivity, one day of rest. Sounds doable. Why is it so hard? I am too far on the productivity side expecting much more from myself than God does. Sounds like I think I know better than God. Sounds like I need to cease and desist from that practice! Lord, renew my mind in this area so I may better serve You during the productive times. Show me how to observe Your Sabbath and set it apart to enjoy You and FLURISH more.  Rest, relaxation and time wasting, here I come!   Just prayed and napped for an hour. Gotta start somewhere.

May you find the value of rest and refocus in your life as well. Time spent resting in Him in whatever way He directs you in your relationship with Him is priceless! And probably much more precious to Him than years of frenzied productivity.

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Rest on. . .
karan k