A Life Marked by His True Colors

Here is a seven year old "journal entry", still filled with simple yet saving Truth:I was talking with my son this morning about the basic beliefs of Christianity. The conversation got started because we were kindly talking about a friend of his that thinks he's a Christian. I told him that he should gently and respectfully challenge his friend with the fact that he can know he's a Christian, not just think he's one. It was a delight to review the fundamentals of faith with my maturing 17 year-old son by using ...legos. You're never too old to play with legos, especially when they illustrate the beautiful simplicity of the gospel! Here is a review of the familiar "Colors of Salvation" method of sharing one's faith, usually portrayed with a beaded bracelet:

BLACK represents sin. Humans are born in sin; thus, we cannot reach God on our own--no matter how hard we try. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

RED represents God's love found in Christ's blood that was shed for us. Jesus, the perfect God-man paid the price for every sin, past, present, and future, when He was nailed to the cross. He chose to die for us. God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

WHITE represents the forgiveness of sin. When we confess our sin and believe in the truth of Christ's death and resurrection, we can then stand fully forgiven in the presence of God. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

BLUE represents the Holy Spirit, given to us, alive in us... an amazing thought... a life-changing truth! We are buried with him in baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by he glory of the Father, we too might to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

GREEN represents growth. Because of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, we have the ability to understand and obey God's word. A beautiful relationship begins! Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

GOLD represents God's eternal kingdom that we as believers in Christ will inherit. For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).I think many people "casually" believe in the concept of the first three colors  (black, red, and white). First of all, can someone really be casual in their faith? If so, I think that's why this person may never experience a life marked by all of God's "colors", possibly making the Christian life hard and unattractive. He misses out in knowing that he has the capacity to house the living God, the Helper, in his own soul (blue). And he doesn't get to experience the awesome reality that he can talk to Him and walk with Him each and every day (green). And THEN...there's the daily hope-filled anticipation of ETERNAL life (gold)!

I challenge you, as I did my son, (and myself!),  to grab some legos, markers, or colored beads and share your faith with a friend sometime in the near future. Who has God put on your heart while reading this?

But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims. "A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!" Romans 10:14-15, The Message

May your life and mine, and the friends we tell, be lives that are marked by His true colors.

Read More >
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Forty Days of Peace--An On-line Study

Do you need peace--the kind of peace that passes all understanding? (Phil. 4:7)

Soul Sisters Ministry is an on-line group of women who come together daily (M-F) to be encouraged in God's word. We are starting a new study called Forty Days of Peace. (For more detail on this study, see my previous post entitled "The Order of Peace").

If you are interested, please join us in reading these daily devotions. We would love for you to be a part of this journey!Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/752566431555141/?ref=share

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:11

Read More >
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
By Chris Baxter

The Order of Peace

What brings peace? Where does it originate? Where can I find it?

Over the last month or so, I've asked these questions in order to put together a curriculum that I'm currently working on. I've gathered a large number of peace related bible verses and they've accumulated like a mass of puzzle pieces (or should I say, peaces), waiting to be put in a specific spot in order to create a meaningful picture. This may not be new news, but what I found in my organization process, is that each verse fell into three different places. Soon, the order of peace was clear:

  1. Peace WITH God. This is where true peace originates. It's the "vertical" relationship between God and man. We cannot experience true peace within our own hearts or peace with others without first experiencing the gift of God's peace with Him. God sent His Son to the world to take away our sin so that we can have a One-on-one relationship with Him. When that happens, peace enters and we gain...
  2. Peace WITHIN. When we accept Christ as our Savior, then the Prince of Peace enters into our hearts. His Spirit settles us, transforms us, helps us, and then moves us to pursue...
  3. Peace WITH others. We cannot have peace with others until we have peace WITHIN our own hearts first. We cannot give away what we do not posses. We so often do this peace-thing backwards, don't we? We try to gain peace with others first, when truly, our own hearts are restless and misguided. Could that be what is happening today? It seems that chaos is winning. We need Christ!

First things first, peace with God, a magnificent and ETERNAL gift offered at the cross--nowhere else. All your mess will be wiped away by the only One who can do it, Jesus. Next, let His peace flood and flow within. Allow the Lord to calm you, teach you, and redirect you. Then, and only then, go and give God's peace to others. Brothers and sisters, the world needs this order of peace.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:13-14

Read More >
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
By Chris Baxter

The Habit of Casting

Are you carrying an unwanted burden at the moment? Maybe you have an armful, or I should say, a heart full of worries that are weighing you down.

Because I tend to hold onto anxious thoughts, a bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:

...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.   (I Peter 5:7)

And this one:

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)

The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all of our anxieties and burdens off of ourselves, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself for our benefit. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannot control? Why do I think I am stronger or wiser or more able than the God who made me, knows me, and loves me?

Casting is a choice, and it takes practice. And just like everything else in life, the more you do something the better you get at it.

Let's you and I choose to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. Let's name each worry that we naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). Decide today to hurl with hope. Throw your worries faithfully and fervently into the direction of your Savior. In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

Read More >
Monday, July 20, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Three Words to Live By

I was talking with a friend who had questions about what a daily walk with the Lord looks like. I know each faith walk varies person to person, and even season to season, but in a broad way, here are three words to live by: seek, pray, trust.

Seek. Seek God in His word, every day. Daily is key. Don't we live life every day? Then, let's seek Him every day! His word is truly the lamp to our feet, and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). God's word teaches us truths about who He is, and His great love for us. His word also gives us guidance for the smallest and biggest decisions we make, or the vast range of emotions we feel. He promises if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Pray. Where seeking is God talking to us, praying is us talking to God. God tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we talk to God all the time in our heart, it leaves little room for other negative or self-defeating thoughts. In prayer, we can turn anxiety to peace. We can release anger or bitterness. We can actually help others by simply talking to God! The more we pray, the stronger our relationship with the Lord becomes.

Trust. Trusting God is crucial. If we seek Him daily, and pray to Him all the time, but we don't trust Him, and then choose to go our own way because we think it's better, then our faith walk is really "all for naught." Why seek and pray when we don't really trust? However, if we fully believe God hears our prayers, then our souls can rest, knowing He is at work, doing things we could never do in and of our own power. And if we trust Him in His word, we will confidently follow Him down His paths, believing His way is the best route, even if it's not fully revealed. A simple example: when driving into an unknown destination, we type the address into Google Maps or Waze. Isn't the next logical step to follow its directions? Trusting God is obeying God. It is faith-in-Him winning over the feelings-in-you. I've lived long enough to know that feelings are NOT trustworthy. So friend, every day, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Seek. Pray. Trust. A habitual, yet divinely exhilarating way to live.

Read More >
Thursday, July 9, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Three Wedding Photos and Three Wedding Thoughts

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words". Well, I have chosen to share three pictures from my daughter Emmy's wedding this past weekend. She was privileged to marry her "best friend Kyle." I could have picked several dozen different pictures, but these three are the ones I hope will speak to your heart in a deeper way.

THE CELEBRATION. Due to planning a wedding during a pandemic, the guest list fluctuated week to week to week. To say the least, the drama involved around the wedding date was incredibly weighty. It saddened us that due to a virus, many people were unable to attend. Often I thought of the deeper reality of a better day ahead of us: In the end of time, the true Bridegroom is coming to claim his bride once and for all. At THIS wedding feast our Lord promises there will be "no more death, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain" (see Revelation 21:1-6). The Bridegroom, Jesus, Savior of all mankind, is inviting YOU to be present with HIm, forever. My friend, it's going to be ETERNALLY GREAT, like no other wedding feast on this planet. Don't miss it! The question is, will you come?

Until that day...we grow as a FAMILY. I now have two more sons in the mix! And... how could I leave my precious granddaughter out of this post?! If I can give anything to this growing family, it would be the same thing I've given all along: prayer. I pray for many things, one main thing being that the love of Christ would be present within each heart and that this love would then pour out to the people around them, including each other. As you well know, being unified is not a "given", it's a choice. Differences can divide us if we allow it. My daily prayer is that we would recognize that we are all uniquely created and that each God-designed-person is worth celebrating, together. "And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Colossians 3:14).

ABUNDANT JOY. When Emmy got engaged, I asked her what word I could pray over her and Kyle's wedding day. She quickly responded, "JOY!" Let me emphatically say that God delivered in abundance! Joy resonated within the wedding party as well as throughout the entire celebration, all the way to the bubbly night time exit of the bride and groom. In saying this, my deeper heart's desire for you is to look at this particular picture of Emmy and Kyle and believe with all your heart that Jesus is just as EXCITED AND DELIGHTED with you as Kyle is with Emmy. IT'S TRUE (and even more so!). If we really lived with assurance that Christ LOVES AND CHERISHES US, I think we would be a more confident people of God, spreading the good news with excited fervor.With the last picture in mind I will close with these two complimentary verses. Believe in and walk (or skip) in these truths today:As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and a sound of a melody. Isaiah 51:3

Read More >
Thursday, June 25, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Extravagant

Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 36:5

Dear Lord, We praise you for the amazing love that was demonstrated at the cross. It is higher than the heavens! You, King of heaven and earth, King of kings past, present and future, gave up everything to gain us as your people. May we never belittle your extravagant love. Amen.