Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

In the Throne Room of God

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I am blessed to be co-leading a Sunday school class on the Book of Revelation, and through it am seeing everything in an entirely new way. We have spent 2 months very slowly moving through the first five chapters, taking in and internalizing the history and the imagery to gain a deeper understanding of what this often misunderstood Revelation of Jesus Christ is saying to us today. Normally, I include an image or two in my writings to help you create a picture in your mind, but have decided it is far too important for you to “see” this image in your own mind, so I am including only text, and encourage you to read these two chapters, Revelation 4 and 5, to drink it in for yourself.


After the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 1-3, John is shown the throne room of God in layers…


each layer building upon the last, culminating, as the only one who is worthy to break the 7 seals on the scroll is revealed to be the Lion of Judah, but when John turns to see this lion, he sees a lamb as if slain, in the center of the throne – in the center of God upon the throne. Backing up to incorporate the verses that came before, we can take in the entire scene.

The scene is thunderously loud and emblazoned with brightly coloured lights, colourful precious stones, and a sea of glass. The throne room of God as described in chapters 4 and 5 has all of this noise, and color, and excitement, and at the center a throne, surrounded by four creatures – worshipping, encircled by the 24 elders – worshipping, and surrounded by all of creation – yes, worshiping. The lamb is not just on the throne, but in the center of the throne – in the center of God upon the throne.

The throne room – what an amazing place!


The ultimate worship service in the throne room of God, and we are all invited! Now I can imagine it so vividly… the sights, the sounds, the colours, the vibrations… and most importantly, if I can imagine it – this Revelation of Jesus Christ that John shares with us can be as real for me as it was for John. I can imagine myself there when I pray and when I worship, and the time I spend with Him becomes more tangible and more impactful. I have a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, and where Jesus is, and in my time of prayer and meditation I can imagine being there with Him. I can put my faith into action in a new way.

Hebrews 11:1-13

“1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.


7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.


13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

I imagine that this throne room I now envision so vividly, is in this city that God has “prepared for them”, and for us.


It provides focus, clarity, and perspective in day to day matters, and when I have a care or concern, I am not crying out to an empty sky, but taking my petition directly to His seat of justice and mercy. Someday I will be there, but for now it is enough to know that this is the wonderful home I will return to when I have fulfilled my calling here.


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


The Changing Face of Web Ministry

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Web Ministry –  The Humble Beginnings


Back in the day… well actually not that long ago, the internet was new and we marvelled at how cool it was to be able to email instead of snail mail. At first it was small businesses that kick started personal use of computers, but as personal computers became more affordable, everything began to change – and it changed very quickly.  I remember the very first email I sent. It was actually in 1980 something when the company I worked for set up inter-office email.  Back then, no one even considered that someday there would be such a thing as Web Ministry.


Fast forward a few years and the middle class yuppies had embraced email as their favorite way to stay in touch with friends and family. I suppose it was because of the speed at which the messages were delivered, that the nature of the message content also changed. This, I believe, was the birthing place of what came to be known as Web Ministry.  There was much concern about the content that would end up flowing through cyberspace, and with good reason. The devil was going pounce upon the opportunity to have a hand in anything that could reach so many people so quickly, and likewise God’s people would respond with something uplifting.  Instead of the long letters we used to write about our summer vacation or the what had been going on at work, play, and school, the masses were sending, and forwarding dirty jokes and inspirational stories at an alarmingly increasing rate.  As the web expanded with business and entertainment content, dirty jokes gave way to a booming porn industry and inspirational stories gave way to the first attempts at real Web Ministry. I am sad to say the the devil got the bigger foothold initially, and God’s people were not yet prepared to battle for souls in this unknown territory.

Web Ministry – Coming of Age


It was early in 2007 when I first began to really engage online for business reasons.  I took a course in web marketing, and started learning about building websites. At this time, most churches had some kind of website to make information about the church available to the seeking public, and most of the big name evangelists had websites that offered some spiritual educational content and sold their books. I suppose we could call that the second phase of Web Ministry.  At the same time however, many individuals, myself included, felt a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the web, and that is when Web Ministry really began to take hold.


The project I undertook for my web marketing course, which was in stark contrast to my classmate’s commercial websites and sales funnels, was a 31 day study in The Book of Proverbs, offered via email subscription. That site is still live today, and ranks in the top 200,000 websites in the US, and the top 1.5 million worldwide. Considering there are an estimated 182 million websites worldwide (according to Netcraft), and my novice attempt at web ministry is in the top 1% based on traffic, it seems pretty obvious that Web Ministry works. But how far can we, or should we take it?


Web MinistryWeb MinistryWeb Ministry

Web Ministry – To Fulfil the Great Commission


The United Methodist Church, firmly rooted in the style of John Wesley “going to where the spiritual hunger is” has committed to and meticulously researched the potential for Web Ministry, responding with websites, web content, e-newsletters, and even their own social networking platform at ReThinkChurch.org. I am currently taking their online training to equip leaders for Web Ministry for the future. Ideas being discussed are things like live discipleship webinars, interactive calendars that link to your Google calendar, webcast worship services for the homebound, prayer partners via live chat, facebook pages and groups, online committee meetings, and much, much more.


There is still some push back from the traditionalists that hear the words Web Ministry, and understand that to mean that static informational site, and that response is understandable – change can be hard, but… reality is that prayer chains, worship, study, counselling, spiritual warfare, meetings, small groups, even healing services are all going digital. The face of Web Ministry is evolving and expanding, and that gets me very excited!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


Stop Hunger Now

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

This past Saturday my church partnered with Stop Hunger Now

with the goal of packaging 10,000 nutritious meals for distribution to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  What an amazing experience it was!  Stop Hunger Now has developed a process of bringing raw materials and volunteers together to accomplish the “moving of the mountain” of hunger in a way that energizes a spirit of service among the participants.


Stop Hunger NowIn the weeks leading up to the big day we promoted the event in our neighborhood and raised the necessary funds to pay for the food we would be packaging.  We had hoped to have about 50 volunteers for the event.  When we gathered in the fellowship hall at Forest Hills United Methodist Church just before 10:00 am, we had over 100 volunteers!  Groups had come from Temple Terrace UMC, Lake Magdalene UMC, First UMC of Lutz, Saint Timothy Catholic Church, Lake Carroll Baptist Church, Oak Grove UMC, and neighbors from all around us.


Robert Samuels, the Stop Hunger Now program manager for Orlando, FL instructed us in forming teams to perform the necessary steps and we went to work.  It was like a perfectly orchestrated symphony of human effort striving toward a goal that was larger than life.


Stop Hunger Now


Stop Hunger Now

“Stop Hunger Now provides meals to support school feeding programs in schools and orphanages around the world.


This is a pivotal step because children in impoverished areas are often sent to school if they will be fed.  The education they receive is the turning point at which many negative factors such as infant mortality, disease, and gender inequality are impacted and communities can begin to heal themselves.”

Stop Hunger Now

Stop Hunger Now


Now here is something that doesn’t happen often…  About 40 minutes into the project, our pastor asked that some of the people who were working please take a break so that everyone who came could have an opportunity to participate!  After about an hour and a half we had packaged a total of 10,040 meals, and everyone was talking about when we might be able to do this again.


Stop Hunger Now

Stop Hunger Now

Our Stop Hunger Now event was a great success in every imaginable way!


It was fun and engaging, and it infused a new level of unifying energy into our church.  It was a corporate experience of being the hands and feet of Christ together, evidence that when the Church comes together with a unifying purpose, much prayer, and a willingness to pitch in, we can speak to that mountain and it will move!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


What is a Christian?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I have learned that the word Christian means different things to different observers.


The reason for this is that many who profess to be Christian do not reflect the true meaning of the word.  If you have followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I am not fond of denominations or any other kind of label we put on a group of people because people are individuals, and will align themselves with the doctrine of a group to different degrees, anywhere from cool,  to tepid,  to red hot fanatical.

The question “What is a Christian?” for me, first requires an exploration of the meaning of the word “Christian” and an assessment of  whether or not the doctrine is aligned with the meaning of the word.


In a sense, I am seeking to define what a Christian should be based on a pure definition.  So let’s look at the root word “Christ” and the suffix “ian”. Christ, according to the bible, is the Son of God who willingly came to join us in the flesh to reveal to us a living and loving God, and to be sacrificed  on our behalf.  The suffix”ian” or “an” indicates that someone or something belongs to a certain group. Thus, an Indian would be a resident of or someone who was born in India, a Faustian philosophy is one promoted by the character Faust, or one that reflects what Faust believed.  A Christian, then,  is a believer in or a follower of Christ, and a Christian philosophy would reflect what Christ believed.  More simply put, to be a Christian is to strive to be like Christ.  To be like Christ, we must first come to know Him.


Stop and think for a moment about the people you know.  We have acquaintances – people we know a little bit about, friends – people we know more about, family – people we have known all or most of our lives, spouses – people we are very intimate with.  The church is filled with the same degrees of relationship with Christ.  To some He is just an acquaintance, to others a friend,  but to succeed as Christians in becoming the bride of Christ as described in scripture, we will need to achieve a wide spread level of intimacy with Christ.


What is a Christian? What is a Christian?What is a Christian?

I recently studied a book by Richard Stearns titled “The Hole in Our Gospel“, which explores what Christ called the Church to be and do, and how the Church has fallen far short of that mark.  If we want to call ourselves Christians, the Truth is we need to raise the bar back up to where Christ set it.  If we are to achieve a level of intimacy with Him, it will be done His way, not ours.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and  there was light.  Genesis 1:1-3 (NKJV)

There was nothing but darkness until God called light into being.  Thus creation began, and the earth, and everything on it and in it, belonged to God, and still does.  He entrusted it to us, with instructions from Christ.

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:35-40 (NKJV)

If we profess to be Christian, like Christ, then we must acknowledge that all that we possess, in Christ’s reality belongs to God. He has entrusted us with it and called us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  When you love someone, you share what you have with them… you desire them to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and to have opportunities to be blessed and to share their blessings with others.


God created the world with such abundance there is enough for everyone to have it all, but the stewards entrusted with the greatest abundance seem to have a problem with distributing that wealth and investing it in the children of God who were unfortunately born into a less fortunate circumstance.  The distribution of wealth worldwide is becoming ever more disproportionate, and Christians who are at the upper end of the spectrum have fallen into the ways of the world rather than following Christ.


Global Wealth Pyramid

According to PrisonPlanet.com, “Figures for mid-2010 indicate that 24.2 million adults are above the threshold for dollar millionaires. While they make up less than 1% of the global adult population, they own more than a third of global household wealth. More specifically, individuals with wealth above USD 50 million are estimated to number 81,000 worldwide.”


I found more interesting statistics at www.pastorrickypowell.com.

  • Only one-third to one-half of U.S. church members financially support their churches.

  • Christians worldwide had personal income totaling more than $16 trillion in 2007 but gave only 2 percent, or $370 billion, to Christian causes.

  • Overall, only 3 to 5 percent of those who donate money to a church tithe (give 10 percent of) their incomes.

  • Giving by North American churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression (3.3 percent of per capita income in 1933) than it was after a half-century of unprecedented prosperity (2.5 percent in 2004).

  • Incomes have gone up nine to 10 times in the last 20 years while giving has gone down about 50 percent.

What is a Christian?What is a Christian?What is a Christian?

Based on those statistics, it is clear that those calling themselves Christians have taken the blessings of Christ for granted and sorely neglected His teachings.  They have taken what belongs to God and treated it as if it were theirs.  They hold on tightly to what they have, bottling up the abundance that would flow if only they would let go and allow God to fulfill His word.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.   Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)

Don’t get me wrong, this is not just about money.  It is about offering to Christ your time, your talent, and your treasure.  If those professing to be Christian were more Christ like, channeling their God given gifts, talents, and abundance, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and fight injustice, we would call down the mountain moving power of God and transform the world as Christ called us to do.


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


We cannot continue to call ourselves Christian while conforming to the world, and expect the world to come seeking God in our church.  We must first step out in faith, enter into an intimate relationship with Christ to become like Christ.  When we, as the body of Christ, lead by His example, then the  world will understand what it means to be Christian.

 

 

 

We Are The Battlefield!

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Battlefield reports on the news are a constant reminder that all is not well.

We Are The Battlefield!

We Are The Battlefield!

We Are The Battlefield!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In a time when so many of our young men and women are serving on battlefields far from home, it is still difficult for us to relate to the reasons and purposes being served.  It all seems so far away.  How can we begin to understand our place in a world filled with war when we do not physically see the battlefield?

I have heard preachers of many denominations speak about the battlefield being threefold.

They say it is in, around, and above us.  They say there is  a battle within, being our struggle with our sinful nature, a battle around us as we struggle against temptation, and a larger battlefield above us in the heavens where countless legions of those opposed to God and those loyal to Him battle to possess the souls of Christ’s church.   Some may simplify it and describe the struggle as being in mind, body, and spirit, but I have grown to see these as only three facets of a many faceted battlefield.

Our newscasters water it down for us, speaking of things like the “war in the middle east”,  but there are many wars in the middle east.  And there is not just  a war behind the war, but many wars behind and within each of these wars.   There are many dimensions to the struggle.  Nation against nation, power against power, riches against riches, politician against politician, religion against religion, race against race, even sect against sect and denomination against denomination!  Behind every concept of the battlefield we attempt to comprehend, there seems to lie another more sinister manipulation going on.  In truth, even those on foreign soil in the midst of the battlefield only glimpse at the surface of the real battle being fought.   How far we have wandered from the plans our God of peace (shalom) intended for us, but WHY?

The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians,We Are The Battlefield!

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

The notes in the Life Application Study Bible expand on this verse with this explanation.

We Are The Battlefield!These who are not “flesh-and-blood enemies” are demons over whom the devil has control. They are not mere fantasies—they are very real. We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, these beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from Him and back to sin. Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns, because Satan is constantly battling against all who are on the Lord’s side. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan, and God has provided this by giving us his Holy Spirit within us and his armor surrounding us. If you feel discouraged, remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it”

There has been an ever expanding allegory of countless struggles and wars since the fall of man in the garden of Eden.  Human history is riddled with countless battlefields and countless sinister plans, and we mere mortals have been the focal point of these struggles both as individuals like Job, Jonah, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, and Adolf Hitler, and entire communities, races, and nationalities of people like the blacks, Jews, Freemasons, Kurds, Palestinians, and Christians.  We have been used and abused, wined and dined, fooled, tricked, enticed, endangered, and played against one another, as part of Satan’s campaign to convince God that we will fear, worship, and follow him in defiance of our Creator.  The underlying purpose of the chaos that surrounds us is to prove who we truly belong to.

Kahlil Gibran wrote in his 1923 book, The Prophet,

“Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite.  Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody…

…Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows – then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”  And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, – then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.” And since you are a breath In God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.”

The battle that Gibran references is our struggle to find balance in a world of extremes, where the only true balance to be found is through faith that God has a plan and He is ultimately in control.

Prayer is our weapon, and yet prayer is our battle.  We are the battlefield, and yet we are also the prize.

Perhaps that is why faith can be so difficult for so many.  It often feels like we are in a no win situation.  Politicians will continue to lie, innocents will continue to die, injustice is evident all around us, the world economy is in utter chaos, personal relationships are abandoned in haste, and in spite of it all we are called by a holy God to look beyond all of that,  and to keep our eyes planted firmly on Jesus, knowing that we are victorious standing with Him.  When we are wearing the scars of the battlefield all over us, it is hard to believe God even though we profess to believe in Him, and the choice to do just that is the crucial differentiator that defines who we belong to.

If we belong to the world we will enter the battlefield with the weapons of the world, convinced that we are doing the will of God and fighting for His glory and honor.  But if we belong to Him, we will choose to believe God even when it seems absurd to do so.  We will do what He has instructed us to do.  We will study His word, strive to keep His commandments, and we will pray, even when we see no evidence that He has heard or answered.  We will confound the enemies of God by continuing to worship Him, giving all praise, honor, and glory to our Creator.

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

We are the battlefield, and the battlefield belongs to God.

Raised From the Dead!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

What does it mean to be raised from the dead? Is this something reserved solely for biblical characters like Jesus and Lazarus, or is it something that applies to our lives as well?

I believe that I, too, was raised from the dead, and I am not talking about a near death experience I had when I was 8 years old. I refer to the moment I accepted the promise of eternal life by listening to and following Jesus. Before that moment I was as good as dead, or already dead depending on how you want to look at it.  What I had, at best, was a potential for life. I drifted day to day seeking to fulfill the carnal desires that my unhappy shell of a body cried out for to create the illusion of a reason for being.

Moment of SalvationYes, I had gone astray, and I lusted for all kinds of things, but I loved nothing.  In one blessed moment I promised my life to Him, and He handed my life back to me, and for the first time in my life, I felt truly ALIVE!

I wonder sometimes how many others are trapped in that box, and have no idea that life truly awaits them.  I had no idea at the time that I was just going through the motions, putting on a show for the world, and professing to be something, when in reality my contribution to the world amounted to less than nothing.  But even in the state I was in, a slave to drugs and promiscuity, my life was of such value to the Creator of the universe, that He sought after me in the darkest of places to bring me home.  I had done nothing to deserve this honor, it was by grace alone.

I once heard it explained this way.  If I had a $100 bill in my shoe, all sweaty and nasty smelling, crusted up with dirt, and I offered it to you, would you take it?  Well you might hold it out at arms length, handle it with protective gloves, or or spray it with disinfectant, but at the end of the day, $100 is $100.  It still spends.  It has value even when it has been poorly treated, abused and walked on.

God sees us like that $100 bill.  He sees past the filth and stench, and values us.  By grace He understands that what is most valuable within us has no ability to function in this world, apart from His presence in our lives, and so He makes a way for us to find Him and be cleansed.  In that cleansing moment, we step out of a waking death and into living life.  In Jesus, we are raised from the dead.

Just in case you are having a skeptical moment and wondering if lynnibug went a little over the edge here, I decided to do just a little searching online to find the testimony of others who experienced a tangible, describable change in the moment they chose life over death.

Sarah D had this to say.

“It seemed that rivers of water were washing over me, and like I was being cleansed. I felt that God gave me this unique experience, because the Hound of Heaven had been after me for some time, and God wanted me to be able to hold on to this experience so that I would have it to cling to during times of doubt.”

Rob Conrad had never given a thought to what the bible was about and admits he was clueless just a week before his own salvation experience.  He responded when told of his mother’s salvation, “Saved from what?”  His salvation experience took place in the work place.  Upon retreating to his office and closing the door, he witnessed a brilliant light followed by a series of winds.  Below is but a tiny excerpt.  I highly recommend you follow the link in his name to the full version.

“God’s presence of  LIGHT  blasted my entire being as a  person might whip a  sheet  outside to shake off  the dust.   Instantly,  any trace of sin  or  guilt  in my concience  was  gone.    The intensity  and  reality of  this  incredible  blast  of  God’s  light  locked  me  into  place  as  I still  was  leaning  back in  my seat  and  with  my  eyes also  locked closed.   My  immediate  awareness of  Almighty  God  was  instantly  recognizable  to   me  as  was  His   unexplainable  nature  of   peace  and  comfort  which  overwhelmingly  saturated  me  in  an  instant….

…After all  of  this took place,  it was exactly 11:15AM  when  I  opened my  eyes.   Although  when  adding  up  the  total  time of  the  actual waves  of  glory  themselves  would  seem  to  be  maybe  10 minutes, somehow   45  minutes  had   passed.      After  just  sitting  perfectly calmly   in   my   chair  in   silence  and   in   total   awe  for  about  5 more  minutes  or  so,    I   finally stood   up  and    walked  back  into my  department,   aglow  and   a   brand   new  man  in  Christ  Jesus.”

Tazzee tells about how she sang in gospel choirs, not because she was a Christian, but because she liked to sing. Her testimony really struck a chord with me because her description of her existence prior to knowing Jesus was so much like mine.

“And when I say partying, I mean getting drunk, grinding, sexing – the whole 9. I was also quick to cuss a person out if they got in my way and my last real fight was my freshman year at Purdue.  My nickname after that was ‘Scrappy’ – so Scrappy was singing the Lord’s praises and cursing folks out on a regular basis.”

Her moment of salvation came later, not terribly dramatic until…

“I went to my first gospel choir rehearsal. We were singing this one song and I just felt overtaken! I mean I just started crying, I could barely stand up – looking back on it now, that was the moment that the Holy Spirit was truly awakened within me…   So that choir rehearsal was the point at which the Holy Spirit was awakened in me. And it was like an instant transformation.”

So I am not at all alone in having had a truly tangible transformation experience when I turned my life over to Jesus.  In fact, these three testimonies came from page 1 of the Google search results for the phrase “salvation experiences“.  There were about 10,500,000 results! I can’t wait to go read some more.

Blessings & Adventure

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

 

Along the Road

Friday, April 8th, 2011

along the road

I have struggled most of the week with the subject I am inspired to write about.  I felt the Spirit nudge me to discuss two key milestones we encounter on our Christian walk, benchmark occurrences we all have in common, though the timing and the circumstances are as varied and unique as we are.  As I wrestled with the structure and title for this piece, a song came to mind that actually expressed the spirit of what I set out to explore.

“Joy at the start, fear in the journey, joy in the coming home.  Part of the heart gets lost in the learning somewhere along the road.”

Dan Fogelberg

So what exactly is this road?  When speaking of our experience as believers, we often refer to our Christian walk, or as I prefer to express it, our journey.  The believer’s life is truly a process, with seasons of growth followed by seasons of rest and renewal.  We are challenged and tempted, we fall down and we get back up, but the larger framework of this process is defined by two pivotal events that define the journey and reveal to us our God given purpose.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that these two pivotal events are described in scripture, they both occurred along the road, and both are intimate interactions with the risen Lord.  If we can identify and contemplate the moments in our own walk when these events have occurred, we will surely gain a deeper understanding of who God made us to be, and what He has chosen us to do.

The Road to Damascus

Acts 9:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

along the road

It may not be quite as dramatic for us as it was for Paul, but before we became believers, we were all non believers.  Some event, or series of events, in some way brought us to our knees and made us aware that Jesus wanted our attention.  It caused us to examine what we had been doing, and how we had been living, and make the changes that would allow Jesus to influence our future actions and deeds.  And so our Christian journey begins.

As new Christians we are hungry for the word, and tireless to serve.  For a season we learn and we grow and we give as much as we can, but in time the excitement of our new found faith may become as routine and dreary as the old life we left behind.  We may talk the talk, and go through the motions of giving, but the passion that consumed us after that first mountaintop experience fades until we find ourselves on…

The Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-17 (NKJV)
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

The two of them are stunned that the stranger does not know of the events leading up to the crucifixion, and after, the mysterious disappearance of the body of Jesus.

Luke 24:25-27 (NKJV)
25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

So Jesus explains to them all of the prophecy that has been fulfilled.

Luke 24:28-31 (NKJV)
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.”

In the breaking of the bread, He defines the purpose for Holy Communion by revealing Himself to His hosts.

Luke 24:32 (NKJV)
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

This is the AHA! moment, they have recognized Him.  And that is the second benchmark event on our journey.  It is the moment when a deeper relationship begins.  It is when the Jesus you knew about becomes the Jesus you know, personal and intimate, one on one.

From that point forward, we will still have our ups and downs, but we weather the storms in a much different way.  Fear is replaced by confidence, timidity is replaced by boldness, and even though we may journey without a human companion, we are certain that we do not walk alone. We receive His peace that passes all understanding and begin to experience the thrill of the great adventure before us!

“Along the road your path may wander, a pilgrims faith may fail.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, darkness obscures the trail.

Cursing the quest, courting disaster, measureless nights forebode.  Moments of rest and glimpses of laughter are treasured along the road.

Along the road your steps may stumble, your thoughts may start to stray.  Through it all a heart held humble measures and lights your way.

Joy at the start, fear in the journey, joy in the coming home.  Part of the heart gets lost in the learning somewhere along the road.”

Dan Fogelberg

As we contemplate the circumstances in our lives when we reached these pivotal moments, and remember the pieces of our heart that were sacrificed to bring us to these benchmarks, we can not help but define who we have become, who God has molded us into along the road of our personal journey.  From this perspective we can and will find our God given purpose.


along the road

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

Temptation

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

With gratitude for the teaching and preaching of Pastor Dawn Anderson of Forest Hills United Methodist Church.  My inspiration today comes straight from Pastor Dawn’s  sermon this morning.

I have written often This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.that what it all comes down to in the end is one simple question.  Who do you belong to?  But I never really thought about it in the context of the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew until today.

The stage is set in Matthew chapter 3.  Jesus and John meet at the Jordan River.  John does not feel worthy to baptize Jesus, but Jesus instructs him to do so.  Now picture this scene in your mind from verses 16 – 17 “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.   And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 4:9 (NKJV)  9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." There is no question who Jesus belongs to as we read the last two verses of chapter 3, but the very first verse in chapter 4 lets us know that the enemy wants Him to falter and tempts Him in his weakest human moment. Matthew 4:1-3 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.   And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’”  Two more times the enemy tempted Jesus to turn away from the difficult mission of redemption the Father had set before Him, and take an easier path.  All three times Jesus met the temptation with God the Father’s word.

This is the example that Jesus set, to stand fast in the knowledge of who you are, and what God has called you to do.  Do not forget who you belong to, and do not falter and give yourself to another.  The human condition is rich with examples, from infidelity in a marriage to a sports figure throwing a match for a handsome payoff.  When we give in to this temptation we lose our identity and our direction in life.

Matthew 4:11 (NKJV)  11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

In the Gospel of Matthew 4:11, it ends there with angels coming to minister to a tired and hungry Jesus, but in the Gospel of Luke 4:13 it is not so final. Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”  You see it wasn’t over for Jesus, and likewise we will ever be tempted in this earthly life.

The way my Pastor said it this morning was as plain and simple as it gets.  “Whatever it is that will make you sell out, will one day be put in your path.”  Be prepared when that day comes, and be well grounded in who you are child of God.  Keep your spirit well fed on God’s word, and continue always to seek more wisdom and understanding, so that when faced with the trials and temptation that will come, you will stand firm on the word of God.

Blessings & Adventure

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios



A Simple Yet Profound Leadership Lesson

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

All I can say is WOW!  It has been a crazy busy week, with blessing upon blessing in my business life!  All week I have been trying to get a few minutes to share something I learned at a training event last weekend, so here I am, burning the midnight oil because it just can’t wait any longer.

Rev. Jeff Stiggins gave this telling presentation, that is so simple, yet so profound. I would also add that although this is directed at church leadership, the principals are valid for excelling as a leader in any profession or walk of life.

It begins, Once upon a time, church leadership wasn’t so challenging.  There weren’t a lot of options, and the options you did have were well marked.  Today there are choices, lots of choices, and the signs are sometimes confusing.  Today leadership isn’t so simple, to the point where things feel upside down.  So here is a formula to simplify leadership in 3 steps.

1. Be who you are

2. See what you have

3.  Do what matters to God.

Now let’s look at these a little closer…

Be Who You Are

Being who you are starts with asking purposeful questions to re-connect with who we are called to be and what we are called to do.  We are Christ’s disciples called to join Him in kingdom service – our mission is to join in God’s mission.  The role of spiritual leaders is not to have all the answers, but to keep asking people “What is God up to and how can we help?”  By engaging others in purposeful questions, and studying the word of God, we will be able to discern where God is already at work, so we can join Him with the resources He has given us for that very purpose (which brings us to step number 2).

See What You Have

We tend to focus on the things we don’t have and the reasons we can’t do the extravagant mission work we would like to think is of value.  If only we had more funding, more members, more contacts, better facilities, stronger leaders, better musicians…then we could… The truth is that God equips us for the service He calls us to, so from the biblical perspective, we have no more excuses!  As leaders we must help people to take inventory to see what they have, and encourage them to invest their best in God’s mission.  We need to learn to go with God’s momentum.   Seek out where God is at work changing lives, and ride that wave of God’s energy.

Do What Matters To God

Christ expects no less!  So what matters to God?

  • Making more and better disciples

  • Being ambassadors of reconciliation

  • Extending mercy

  • Working for justice

  • Promoting peace

  • Caring for the earth

“And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

Finally, these two questions will keep everything in perspective, so keep them at the forefront of everything you do.

What is causing God to smile?

What is breaking God’s heart?

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


Have I Told You That I Love You Yet Today?

Friday, December 10th, 2010

It had been a pretty long time since I really sat and thought about my mother.  It has been quite a few years since she passed away, and in all the busyness of life in the 21st century… well there is just not near enough time for quiet reflection anymore.

Mom in the 1980'sI have to thank my niece, Marcia, for leaving me a simple phone message that brought back a flood of memories that made me just STOP to enjoy a beautiful memory that has now been in the back of my mind for days. Yes, THANK YOU Marcia, I love you too, and you will never know just how much this has meant to me.

When I was a baby, back before I have any memories at all, I had a rash that would not go away.  As it was told to me years later, the doctor told my mother that maybe I just did not feel loved.  My mother began, and continued for as long as I lived at home, at least once a day to ask me, “Have I told you that I love you yet today?” It was often followed by, “Well I do!”  Sometimes she would just look at me and say “yet today?” and I knew exactly what she meant.

It was on the last day of Hanukkah this year, that Marcia was thinking of her grandmother, and left me a voicemail “Have I told you that I love you yet today?”  No one had asked me that for so long that I had completely forgotten I had ever heard it at all, and hearing those words again has brought the warmth of my mother’s love with them.  It has also reminded me just how much I miss her.

Mom when she was a young woman

It is a poignant reminder that when all is said and done, it is the littlest things that matter the most, and that an expression of true love holds the essence of the love within it long after the words are spoken.  And so I close this tribute to my mother with a few verses from my favorite poet…

“All of these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart,

Mom on the go!

and in that knowledge become a fragment of life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,

And weep, but not all of your tears.”  Kahlil Gibran

Have I told you that I love you yet today?  Well I do!

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


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