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Jesus Among Us

Over the past week, I’ve heard Brandon Heath’s song “Jesus in Disguise” on the radio exactly twice. I don’t know any of the lyrics except the title line from the chorus. I’ve never paid attention to what the song was about. So why am I talking about it?

The two times that I’ve heard it were connected by prayer. Both times, I was in my car. Both times, I was praying – about the same topic. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’ve set out on a journey to live a life of unsullied holiness. So my prayers have been centered on how I can get more involved at church and less involved in things that distract me from God’s purpose.

In a place like DC, there are all kinds of groups and meet-ups. I’ve attended many meetings, events and socials trying to find a good group of like-minded individuals that are interested in a similar type of spiritual growth. Some groups are great, some are not so much. Some groups just don’t seem like a fit.

One such group was in my mind and on my heart because I suspected that even though it was a bit out of my element, I thought there might be something I could learn from it. So I added it to my prayer list. And that’s what I was praying about both times the “Jesus in Disguise” song came on the radio. I’m not one to look for signs from God or even to believe in them – until He hits me upside the head with one.

Through that one phrase on the radio, I reconsidered my attitude and hang ups about this group. I realized again that God does not fit in a box that I create. He is God. He can work through anyone. At any time. In any way He deems necessary. Even if I don’t agree or understand with every tenant of a person or group, that does not mean that God can’t use them in my life or me in theirs.

I also realized that it doesn’t just apply to church or Christian groups. I think of Matthew 25 when Jesus talked about what we do to the least of these we do to Him (verses 35-40). I can choose to let Jesus be my hands and feet. I can choose to let Him be my words. And I can look for Him in my interactions with others and in daily activities that I previously might not have thought about in a spiritual way.

I certainly feel that God is leading me to this particular group because it is a place where He can meet me, and maybe I’ll grow by learning to find Him in a place where I’m out of my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll learn something new about myself. Maybe I’ll find a deeper place in Him. I surely will not be disappointed in following Our Lord.

Where is He calling you to step out of your norm and into a new place with Him? To what strange land, near or far, is He beckoning you? Where can you find “Jesus in Disguise”?


Forgive Us as We Forgive

Sometimes when I feel a need to pray but I don’t know what to say, I turn to the Lord’s Prayer. After all, it came from Jesus himself. It’s part of His instruction to keep it simple and not try to impress God or others with some long, rambling prayer (not that there aren’t times when we need to pour out our whole heart to Him). I think the simplicity is part of what attracts me to it when I’m not sure what else to say.

It’s not an easy prayer. Many churches of all denominations pray this prayer corporately on a regular basis. It’s one of the first parts of the Bible that I memorized as a child. So it’s easy to skim through it without catching the gravity of the promise. However, if you look closely, it’s a major commitment. One that challenges us to be holy.

Just a few verses earlier at the end of Matthew 5, Jesus is tell us to be perfect as the Father is perfect (Matt 5:48 KJV). Then He immediately launches into instructions on how to pray. Prayer and holiness are closely linked. You cannot grow in holiness without an active prayer life. Look at the pledge Jesus directs us to make in the prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
Matt 6:9-13 (KJV)

The part that gets me these days is verse 12: forgive us as we forgive others. Wow. Do we really want God to forgive us as we forgive others? If we want to follow the example of Jesus, then the answer must be: yes.

One thing I’ve noticed is that often the more I need mercy, the harder it is for me to give it. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It reminds us of our common state of being humans, fallen creatures redeemed because of His grace and mercy. And it reminds us of our required cooperation with His grace.

I have a temper and am not always patient, especially with the public at large. Usually, I catch the thoughts in my head and call them into line before they escape my lips or become actions. When I start slipping and getting angry over things which I can’t control, or when my level of reaction is too great for the crime, I know that I should probably check my conscience. Usually, I find there’s something going on with me. I’m clogged up by unconfessed sin, apathy or some other internal issue. Once I clear that blockage, I’m once again able to allow God’s mercy to flow not only to me, but through me to others.

Verse of the Week: Be Perfect

You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

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