The Fifth Gospel

Intangibles: Views and Opinions“There are five gospels of Jesus Christ – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you, the Christian. Many people will never read the first four.” – Gipsy Smith, American Evangelist.

I was studying the other day and I came across this quote and it stopped me in my tracks. At first read, I misunderstood it and with subsequent readings I finally picked up it’s meaning. The message itself was not really a new one to me. I’ve been saying a phrase similar for quite some time, “You might be the only Jesus people ever come to know”. The thought has always strode with me into life. I can’t say everyday I’ve lived up to the idea, but there have been times I have when it was convenient and many times I have when it wasn’t convenient.

I guess for me the idea that my life is basically one of the gospels of Christ is astounding and scary. My life story is a story as told by Jesus and, just like the Holy Scriptures, can be a guiding light for someone in the dark. Now, I’ll insert my obligatory disclaimer, I’m not saying I’m anything like Jesus or that I am Jesus. I’m saying our lives lived as followers of Christ might be the thing that brings people to Christ. They may see our hearts full of love and compassion, our bottomless hope when things refuse to go our way. They will see how we respond to pain and doubt. These are the things people will see and these are the things that most people outside the faith just don’t have. All in all, we’re all beggars. We as Christians are just beggars who have found bread and dry beds to sleep in. I think sometimes we may make the Christian faith to be a bigger burden than it really is. I think maybe we see it as this proper upstanding life in front of others and somehow never showing our hurts. It’s not. The Christian walk is loving God in all we do and experience. It’s loving God when it hurts so bad we just want to die. It’s loving God when we get passed over for what we have worked very hard for. It’s loving God in all things, good and bad, and it’s loving God where all can see.

You are the fifth Gospel of Jesus Christ. How’s your book going to read?

~Brad

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#Encore: Eyes Closed

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is Eyes Closed from March 2014.

 

sofi___closed_eyes_by_eugene_kukulka-d5osxdgFacebook has become a glaring disposal of our insecurities. Recently, while scrolling through my feed, I couldn’t help but be made aware of how many people have the veil of deceit fully pulled over their eyes. I’m gonna share a weakness of mine that God has been refining (by the hottest ‘fire’ I’ve ever known).

I used to constantly seek the approval of everyone around me to validate who I was. I would go out of my way to be someone who others would dote on in order to feel good about myself. It manifested itself in my self-deprecating attitude (so others would brag on me) and my willingness to dress a little provocative to catch the eyes and approval of men and women alike.

Ultimately, my worth came from others compliments and attention. Now, I know that I was operating under Satan’s deceit. We are called to live a life of sacrifice to ultimately glorify The One who created us. Not a life doubting His workmanship. It’s time to wake up and take our inheritance as the children of God. We need to start living in His promises! The world promises Hell as a reward to be attained by a lifetime of fear and doubt. Yet, our Savior offers an eternity of everlasting peace and joy with Him in Paradise.

~Callie

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

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Broken Shackles

 

 

Namib_Desert-Deadvlei-Namib-Naukluft_National_Park-Namibia-SossusvleiThere once were two slaves shackled together in a desert. One slave had put the shackles on herself and the other slave, the shackles were placed upon her. Both slaves tired of their deprivation, cried out to the Lord for help. One day, a He came along with a cool breeze that refreshed them. They were amazed how his clothes were unstained by the desert dust and he looked as though the intense heat did not even touch him. He said to them, “You are free. Come and follow me.” The slave who had put her shackles on herself at once recognized who He was and saw that her chains were loosened from her ankles. She immediately jumped and shouted for joy and followed Him in her new found freedom. The other slave stood quiet and still looking on as they continued on. Watching until she could see no more of the dust there steps made, she looked down at her own feet. The shackles were laying on the dirt. They were not around her ankles anymore, but instead of following as the other slave had, she remained by her shackles. Having her shackles on for so long, she was afraid to believe that they were really off of her. Since she could remember, they have always held her back, but now nothing did. What, in her mind, was she supposed to do? How could she be sure? If she followed Him, what else would happen to her? How could the other slave be so free when she chose to put her shackles on? “It is different for me”, she told herself. “Nobody understands what this has been like. I didn’t ask for this. This happened to me. How can I ever truly be free?” Days turned into nights and nights to days as the slave stood by her shackles. Slowly she reached down and placed them back on her ankles. “This is all I know.”, she said. “This is all I have.”

As she stood there, she would see freed slaves passing her. Some were walking. Others running. All following the One who had freed them. Many would stop and say “Look, I am free! He freed me!” Again the slave would say to herself,”Sure, it was easy for them to be free, but how can I , after what has been done to me, ever be?”

More time passed and the slave grew restless. Her shackles did not feel secure like they once had. All that she had grown accustomed to  in order to survive, the desert heat, the isolation, the emptiness, the thirst…all seemed to grow intolerable. “There is no place for me!”, she cried out. “I have no place where I belong.” Broken, her tears began to wet the cracked dry dirt that she fell down upon. “God, where are you?”, she asked. As she was on her hands and knees, a familiar breeze came and blew on her the same cooling wind. As she stood up, she heard a whisper, “Whoever I have set free, is truly free.” As she heard this, she looked down and once again saw her shackles laying in the dust. She watched the freed slaves traveling past her as she did everyday only this day she did something different.

Her heart pounded as she made that first step past her shackles, and after that first step she quickly made another one. All at once a joy came over her that she had never known. Many slaves left their shackles behind, but she grabbed hers and went running. As she ran past slaves, she would ask “Have you seen the One that set you free?” They would joyfully point the way. When she came upon Him, she fell on her knees holding her shackles out to Him. “Thank you for freeing me.” she said. “Please take these and do what you desire with them.” The Lord told her to stand up. “I will take these and show the world the power of my love through them. Follow me.” And she did. All the days of her life. Some days she ran. Others she walked as though the shackles were still on her feet. Sometimes, she would wonder about the whereabouts of her shackles, but when she did she would here His voice saying “Whoever I have set free, are truly free.”  and she would stop worrying and place her focus back on the One she was following.

She spent the remainder of her days doing so and pointing the way to Him for others to see.

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35-36.

 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. Romans 6:17-19

Posted in deliverance, forgiveness, freedom, Healing, Janean, plan, power | 1 Comment

Serve


serve

He is powerful, almighty, strong tower and a force around us, but it is because He wants to serve. He wants to fulfill those needs in our lives.

Matt. 20:28- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Phillipians 2:7-rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Then when I woke up I started thinking about my servant hood. I’m I serving others like I should.  Am I showing the act of love to my neighbors?  Church family? Work family?  Extended family?  Strangers needing help?  Am I so busy that I am so focused on what I am to do next that I am blind to the needs of others?  How many times have I passed by an opportunity to do a kind deed for others?

So I did what so many do and I put it in the back of my mind and went on with my daily “focus” on what I am suppose to do next.  I came home for lunch and noticed my neighbor’s trash can had rolled down the road and the wind was still rolling it.  I turned my head and kept going inside when the Spirit stirred that dream again.  I chased the trash can down the road and placed it safely on the neighbor’s carport. And I thought to myself, wow, and any other day I would have ignored it and went on my way.

It has just got me thinking, has Christians in general lost their drive to be a servant?  I don’t know if it is because of the abuse some face when people have used them for a door mat and they were never taught the difference in being a door mat and being a servant and over extended themselves to the point of burn out.  Or, if like me, they are so busy focusing on their own life struggles that they forget to see others in need. No matter which is the situation, the fact remains WE are still responsible to show kindness, love and helpfulness by serving others.  Not just in church, but in life everyday to people God allows of paths to pass with.

There is song out now that hits this subject great.  Jason Gray….Every Act Of Love.

Oh – we bring the Kingdom come
Oh – with every act of love
Jesus help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come

God put a million, million doors in the world
For his love to walk through
One of those doors is you.

ONE OF THOSE DOORS IS Y-O-U !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in challenge, church, faith, inspire, Lisa, obedience, serve | 2 Comments

#Encore: On The Brink

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is On The Brink from March 2014.

 

photo 1Lately I’ve had nonstop calls, texts, emails, and read a ridiculous amount of Facebook messages about people who are ready to give up. They are ready to give up on their marriages, children, diets, jobs, schooling, goals, hopes, dreams, lives, and even God. Things don’t always happen the way we plan them out, and God doesn’t always answer our prayers when and how we want Him to. We compare ourselves to other people and want our lives to be like theirs. (Remember that people only post the good stuff on Facebook and Instagram. We all have our problems, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.)

People let us down and life doesn’t always meet our expectations, but for a Christian giving up just isn’t an option. We have the promise of salvation and eternal life through Jesus! What’s more amazing than that? This promise gives us hope that even when things don’t go our way, and we feel the pressure of life all around us it all turns out great in the end! We may not win every battle, but as Christians we win the war! We are victorious because Jesus is victorious. We are His and His power lives in us. We can overcome anything that the enemy throws our way! Our world can be a dark ugly place, but God made us new and we have to shine for Him even when we don’t feel like it.

As Christians we have a responsibility to know God and make Him known – to everyone all the time. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get down and out at times, but rather than wallow in our self pity we need to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ and allow them to remind us of the promises of God. Last week, after a rather intense phone call with a mom at her wits end, God reminded me of a very old song called “Don’t Give Up On the Brink of a Miracle”. Sometimes our answer, our miracle, is just around the corner and we give up right before it’s about to happen. We quit praying and give in to what we feel rather than what we know based on God’s word. The bible says that our heart will lead us astray. We can’t live life based on feelings, but by the word of The Lord. Remember to whom you belong. You’re a child of the King! Own the authority that comes with that heritage and don’t give up! ~ Farah

“Don’t Give Up On The Brink Of A Miracle”

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle Don’t give in, God is still on the throne Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle Don’t give up, remember you’re not alone

When Satan would have you look
At the trials of life that surround you
And he tries to appear, and bring doubt and fear All around you
Don’t look with the eye, or listen with your ear, Just cry out to God, He is always near
In your darkest hour, your miracle is here!

The devil is a thief, and he sends those troubles
To confound you
And he lies and says “This time,
There’s no way you can find to make it thru” Remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s Don’t give in to fear, think on things that are pure Praise the Lord, your miracle is here!

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Just a Little Note

5479336200_40d8b444fcLife can just be downright discouraging sometimes.  There are days where hope seems nonexistent, peace seems like only a myth, and joy is fleeting.  Everyone around seems to have one woe after another: financial woes, physical woes, relationship woes, employment woes, etc.   And then there’s the rapid deterioration of our society and the world as a whole: wars, disease,              corruption, destruction…need I go on?

Now, if I may offer up some encouragement from Jesus: “…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  This is truth.  Furthermore, He says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)  This, also, is truth.  All of God’s Word is truth, infallible and indestructible truth.  Do you believe it–really and truly?  Do you stand on these truths?  When the enemy comes at you with lies and deceit, do you counteract those with the truth of God’s Word?

Ephesians 6:17 refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.”  Wield it as such, as a weapon to pierce the lies of the enemy, to cut down the snares he sets.  Use the truth of His word as a light in those dark places. When you find yourself discouraged or dabbling in self-pity, lean hard on His promises.  When you have nothing else to stand on, stand on the truth of His goodness, His faithfulness, His immeasurable love and grace, His strength, and His sovereignty.  Cling to the truth that you are His beloved child and no one can snatch you from His grasp.  Hope appears when you choose to believe His word about who He says He is and what He says He’ll do.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:19-23

~ Alanna

Posted in Alanna, comfort, encouragement, faith, Faithfulness, hope, Insecurity, know | 4 Comments

I Don’t Believe in Serendipity

Sunset_2007-1

I feel I need to start with an apology. Only because I want you to understand my perspective and where my words and thoughts are coming from. I’m not sure exactly where on the spectrum I land, but I am grieving. Some days I am in denial, some days acceptance, but mostly I seem to have settled in around the place of anger and pity.

I’m grieving what I’ve never had. Maybe I feel cheated. Can you miss something you have never held in your hands?

I’m a doer my nature. Not one to sit idly by and wait for my life to happen to me. I constantly have my hands in something. Working, moving, going….. always, working towards the next goal. Please, don’t take this as a way to live at all times. I have humbly learned the art of rest through the passing years. Maybe it’s the way I am.

Maybe it’s what my life has taught me. Some of it is my nature and some of it the nurture. I don’t believe in chance, luck, or serendipity. I don’t believe things happen by accident. I am a believer in making your own way, working for it, getting your hands and knees dirty, and doing whatever it takes to make what you believe is yours, happen. What do you do when the things of life aren’t tangible, changeable?

Grief isn’t something I can fix. Healing doesn’t come with a formula or a perfect set of directions. And just when you think you have forgiven enough, talked it through enough, waited, rested, prayed enough….. it creeps in and brings me back to my knees.

Grief requires faith. The kind of faith that Jesus talks about. Faith that moves mountains. Faith believes in something you can’t see. It’s about believing in miracles. Miracles don’t fit in my box. They don’t meet my expectations or conform to my way of thinking. They are bigger than what I can grasp or hold on to. They are not serendipity or luck. They are the work of a Holy God who loves His people. A God that creates in me a pure heart, one of forgiveness and hope. A heart that lives in freedom, chains of disappointment broken. Healing is a promise. A promise from a faithful God. A promise to me, a hurting, often faithless believer.

And I will put my hope in the knowledge that He will make all things right in the end. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is believe. ~ Angela

Posted in Angela, belief, faith, focus, God, Healing, hope, pain, perspective, Promise | 2 Comments