Good is good…

Part 2 from a previous post “God is great…”

We know God is great. We believe it. We claim it. Great means God is better than everything. His ways are higher. His thoughts are higher. His plans are better. He is an impossible-doing, miracle-working God. He is omniscient. He is omnipresent.

So then, why would we ever say simply, “God is good?” I mean isn’t good a step down from great? Isn’t good just good and great is GREAT?

I think there I more to it than that. I think this word GOOD encapsulates the greatness of God in a way that we must have in our life. You see, that GREAT God is big and powerful but at the same time that GREAT God, while he is worthy to be worshipped, because of how GREAT He actually is – He is hard to get to know. He is holy, we are not. He is big, we are not.

SO…

God – the One who is GREAT, shrunk Himself down, put on human skin, and became GOOD. He came close. He came near. HE BECAME PERSONAL. I love how the Message Bible describes this in John 1:14. “The Word became flesh and blood, and MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”

God didn’t have to do this. He didn’t need to do this for Himself. But remember back in Genesis how we are told that He loved His creation and looked at the humans he created and said, “This is very good.”

Even though He didn’t need us, WE NEEDED HIM. We needed Him to come close. We needed Him to put on skin and “move into the neighborhood.” We needed Him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We needed a perfect sacrifice for our sins. He knew we needed Him because He loved us!

Philippians 2 describes the attitude of Christ as that of a servant. That is what a servant is – GOOD. That is what a servant does – GOOD.

Philippians 2:5-8

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.[a]
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.

He went from GREAT to GOOD for you and me! Now we can have a PERSONAL relationship with that GREAT God. We can know the holiness of God because through Christ we are made holy.

So God is GOOD. In Christ, God is close. In Christ, God is accessible. In Christ, God is relational.

So feel that today. Don’t just concentrate on a God who is big and mighty even though He is. Also concentrate on a God who is close and knowable. The more you KNOW Him as GOOD, the more you will worship Him as GREAT!

Live on Purpose!

God is great…

DISCLAIMER: THIS ONE WILL BE A TWO-PARTER…

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to say that little prayer over your lunch? It went something like this…

“God is great – God is good – Let us thank Him for our food…”

Did you ever really think about what this is saying?

God is GREAT. Great means a lot. The literal definition is something or someone who is “above average.” Well, that is certainly true about God, right?

God is GREAT. I think this also can mean greater in size. Greater in performance. Our God is certainly that.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

God is the creator of all things. He is the miracle worker. God caused the great flood that covered the entire world. He turned Lot’s wife into a block of salt. He opened the womb of a 90 year old woman. HE IS GREAT.

God parted the Red Sea. God made water come out of a rock. God made the sun and moon stand still in the sky. He made an axehead float. He delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. HE IS GREAT.

God turned water into wine. He calmed the storm with a single word. He healed the sick. He fed thousands with a sack lunch. God walked on the water. Our GREAT God raised people from dead – not to mention raised Himself from the dead.

WE KNOW THIS. WE BELIEVE THIS. WE HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS.

My question for you is DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS GREAT GOD IS THIS GREAT IN YOUR LIFE? Do you stifle His greatness with your unbelief? I think, for me, a lot times I now it with my head but I don’t live like I serve a great God. I don’t believe the impossible. I don’t live like I believe God is greater than the average.

There is story recorded by Mark of a man who brought his son who was possessed by an evil spirit to Jesus to be healed. This man knows Jesus is GREAT. He says, “If you can do anything to help him, please do it.” Jesus answers him “IF YOU CAN BELIEVE, then all things are possible.” Mark 9:24 then records the man’s words back to Jesus.

 “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”

Now this dad obviously believed in the GREATNESS of Jesus and that he could help his son – after all, why else would he bring him to Jesus? But, in this moment, he also recognized his doubts. So, he tearfully plead with Jesus: “I believe, help my unbelief!”

Maybe that is the prayer you and I need to pray more often. We serve a God who not only does great things, but quite simply, IS GREAT! We know it. We believe it. But do we REALLY?

If I could encourage you as a believer today. Don’t let your faith be stifled by laziness or an overwhelming situation or just life in general. Know today that you have a miracle-working, impossible-doing God in your life and He wants to unleash that power IN and THROUGH your life, according to His will and for His glory!

Believe it. Live it! HE IS GREAT!

Stay tuned for Part 2…

She’s Pretty (Great)

She would tell you that she is not a good mom. I would tell you that she is the best. I am sure many men feel like I do about their wife, but I am here to tell you that I could not be more blessed to have Nichole Crim in my life and in the lives of my children and grandchildren.

POSITION. She puts herself last. She is the most giving, generous person I know. She has and continues to give of herself to serve her family on a daily basis. She is a servant. Her heart is to put herself last and everyone else first. The rub in that is that many times she gets taken for granted. She often comes last. That is how she wants it but it is not right. She should be honored.

Philippians 2:3-4 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

PROTECTOR. She is a mama bear for sure. I have seen it come out of her. If you know how sweet and gentle my beautiful wife is, to see this side of her, it is something to behold. I have seen it displayed at PeeWee football coaches, elementary and Junior High Teachers. Nobody messes with her kids. Now, I know what you are thinking, but she is not one to protect her kids from their own mistakes. She lets them suffer consequences, but if there is an injustice done toward them, she is the first at their defense. It is a sight to behold. It makes me proud (and a little frightened. Haha). Does she honor God in this? Well, when God was describing his own protection of his people this is how he describes it…

Hosea 13:8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs,  I will attack them and rip them open;

PROVIDER. She provides a home. She provides a home full of love. She provides moments of joy. She provides comfort, acceptance – a safe place. She provides spontaneity. She is the ultimate provider. Her heart is her home. She not only provides a home filled with love and joy, but she works outside the home to provide the means for her family to grow and thrive.

Proverbs 31:27-28 She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.

PRAY-ER. She has spent countless hours (probably adds up to years) on her knees praying for her children and grandchildren. She prays selfishly for them because she wants the best for them, but she also prays according to God’s will BECAUSE SHE WANTS THE BEST FOR THEM. She prays hard prayers like, “God, whatever it takes to make them see you…” She prays honest prayers like, “God, I don’t get, I don’t like it…” She prays faithful prayers like, “God, use them for Your glory…”

1 Samuel 1:21 “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”

PRETTY. She is beautiful. Her smile – lights up a room. Her eyes – immediately make you feel at ease. She is beautiful in every external way that I can think. (I know my kids love to hear me talk like this!) She is pretty awesome. She is pretty on the inside too. She desires to be like Jesus. She desires to love like Jesus. She desires to lead like Jesus. She is amazing. I am amazed at her.

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.

I am blessed. My children are blessed. My grandchildren are blessed. Today I call her blessed!

Proverbs 31:28 28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her:

Nichole Crim is PRETTY (GREAT). I love you, honey.

A Mom’s Love

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and it will look and feel different than any other Mother’s Day we have ever had. No physical church. No passing out flowers. No getting all dressed up. Just weird. But we press on and still salute moms as best we can.

Did you know that by the time a child reaches 18 years old, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work? Crazy, right?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men are what their mothers make them.” I think in large part that is true. A mom’s influence on a life is so valuable and makes quite an impression.

I was fortunate to have a mom that invested in me in so many ways. I want to try to use her as an example that a mom who loves…instills!

Frances Crim – my Mom

Now, it would take too much of your time (I’d probably still be writing) if I told you all the ways my mom influenced and impacted my life so I have done my best to narrow it down to 3 of the most important.

A MOM WHO LOVES…INSTILLS A RESPECT FOR SCRIPTURE.

My mom did this for me in several ways. If you know my mom, then you know she is a fantastic teacher of the Word. She would rival, in my opinion, Beth Moore or Pricilla Shirer in her ability to teach. She studies long and hard to this day to draw out the truth that the Holy Spirit wants her to share.

She instilled this love for the Word in me simply by demonstrating her love for it. She spent tremendous amounts of time praying over it.

One of my favorite memories now is what she used to do for me every morning. She would make me breakfast and while I was eating, we would read a devotional and pray together. This happened as far back as I can remember until I graduated high school.

She truly embodied the part of Moses’ Law called the Shema.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

She has God Word in her heart and because she had internalized the truth in her life, she could impress it on me by talking about it every day.

Mom and Dad on the White River in Arkansas

I read this story called “Mom’s Version” one time and it stuck with me…

Four scholars were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beauty and eloquent old English. Another said he liked the New American Standard Version for its literalism and how it moves the reader from passage to passage with confident feelings of accuracy from the original text. The third scholar was sold on the New Living Translation for its use of contemporary phrases and idioms that capture the meaning of difficult ideas. After being quiet for a moment, the fourth scholar admitted: “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.” When the other scholars started laughing, he said, “Yes, she translated the Scriptures. My mom translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I have ever read.

A MOM WHO LOVES…INSTILLS AN AUTHENTIC FAITH

2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincerity faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Now, make no mistake. My faith is my own. But my faith is my own largely because of how mom lived her faith out in front of me. Faith is not hereditary. Faith, though, when modeled, often will be seen as something that has to be had!

Mom’s faith is real. If you know my mom – you know she is real. Sometimes to a fault. You tend to always know what she is thinking but you certainly always know where her confidence comes from!

Because faith has taken up residence in my mom’s life, it is now alive in my own. I never asked about going to church. I knew we were. I never doubted the devotion and commitment she had to the Lord. They were evident. That kind of authentic faith is not something you can fake. And I knew it! I saw her faith demonstrated in a consistency that I have always tried to emulate but probably will never duplicate. Her reading, studying, praying, serving, witnessing. This sent a strong message of the importance of faith to me.

The last thing I want to talk about here is

MOMS WHO LOVE…INSTILL A DESIRE TO SERVE

Once my faith was my own, it was never a question of whether I would exercise it or not. I would because that is what I saw. My mom not only served in the church but she invested in the lives of people. Especially young married adult couples. She discipled them, gave to them, met physical needs as well as spiritual. She served people. She washed other’s feet in a spiritual sense many times over.

My life’s purpose is to now invest in people to help make them into disciples who live out their God-given purpose. This was her life. And still is, if I am honest.

I am so grateful for her life. Like I said, I could go on for days. She was always there, she was my constant champion. She pushed me to be better. She did a lot of things for me, but these 3 things are the things for which I could never repay her.

She loves her Lord. She loves His Word. She loves others. Seems like I have heard that somewhere before! God, help me be more like her!

Mom and me

Who you love…

Who you love most determines how you love who else you love!

Nichole and I taught at a marriage retreat a couple of years ago and recently we had the opportunity to teach the same thing again to a young married LifeGroup.

The premise of the whole teaching reminded me of a principle in life that we, as believers, must remember and strive to live by. This premise was simple but not easy…

When you are pursuing the one you will marry, or when you actually do marry that person, you are NOT marrying your #1. Your spouse should always be your #2 because God should always be your #1. In other words, the real pursuit should begin with your relationship with God. God has to be your #1.

Me and my #2 🙂

Since that teaching the other night, I have been thinking about this principle and it began to fester a bit. We taught this as a response to Jesus’ answer to the question that the Pharisees posed to Him to “test” him. You all know the scripture and Jesus is actually quoting an Old Testament scripture from Deuteronomy.

Matthew 22:36-39 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 

God must be our #1. We should love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. The first two commandments of the Old Law spoke to this as well. Remember those? “Don’t have any other gods BEFORE me” and “Don’t make an idol for yourself.” So this is clear in our marriages, relationships and lives – GOD IS NUMBER 1. Period. If God is your number 1 (the teaching goes) then your spouse is your number 2. That makes sense. But it is the flip side of that phrase that has been bugging me.

If God IS NOT your number 1, then I guess you could make your spouse 1 or something else. You know, those idols. BUT – not so fast.

In reality, if God is not your number 1 – your “default” number 1 will always be yourself. You are your own idol.

You will be more important than your spouse. You will dominate your other relationships. As a matter of fact the way you view those relationships will be really and truly FOR you and how they affect you.

You see, we are a selfish people. At least I am. Just ask my wife. She knows better than anyone that there have been many times when God was certainly not my 1 because I certainly was my own 1. The old law and Jesus even alluded to this when it is said, “love your neighbor AS YOU LOVE YOURSELVES.”

In other words – you are always going to take care of yourself first and it is somewhat natural to do so. If, then, you love God first and he is your #1 then people can be your #2 and you will take care of them and treat them like you treat yourself.

If you are like me, though, I have a tough time keeping that in order. I often fall back to me being #1 which messes up not only my relationship with God, but it directly affects my relationship with others.

How I love God is directly related to how I will love others. I like to call it the “right angle” of Christianity.

If our vertical love for God is right, then our horizontal love for people will be right. This forms a 90 degree angle and the completer in that is a geometric term called the “hypotenuse.” Some of you who were good in geometry might remember that as the “longest side of a right triangle.” That is the LOVE that connects. The “hypotenuse of love” if you will.

LOVE GOD. LOVE PEOPLE. These two go together. Anything else points back to self. How do you love? Who is your #1? Do you need to get back to some basic geometry in the way you love?