The Art of Adding by Subtracting


I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! ~ Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

What was Paul’s seeming obsession with death? “Dying daily” and “Crucified with Christ” are very descriptive, and honestly, a little depressing if read out of context. But Paul discovered an important principle of growth and advancement of God’s divine purpose in our lives; in order to bring certain things to life, one must allow a part of themselves to die.

Think about what Christ’s death on Calvary provided the world. Jesus came to “bring life more abundantly” (John 10:10). The only way for this abundant life to come to pass was through His death. We can look at this from a variety of angles, but for the purpose of this post, when we’re willing to let something die, it makes room for God to bring something to life. Jesus vividly illustrated this point when he taught His disciples:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24 KJV)

I don’t pretend to understand exactly how this works, but I know about the law of saturation. Our lives can only handle so much. We juggle priorities, or what we think are priorities, we shift responsibilities, and we struggle to keep up. We lack margin in our lives but margin is where we get rest. Margin is where we create. Margin is where we can add new habits, new discoveries, new insight, and even new relationships. One such relationship that continuously requires cultivating is our relationship with God. But God is not content to dwell in just the margins of our lives.

God refuses to compete with any-ONE or any-THING. This means something has to give; something must die. If you re-read Paul’s first quote above, you’ll find he made this a daily discipline. He “died daily.” Something must be sacrificed daily. It was true in Old Testament days, and still rings true in our personal devotions to God. A part of ourselves must die daily that more of God can be revealed. This is a discipline devoted and devout followers of Christ know well. Like John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase.”

So, my question is, what are you willing to allow to die in order to give life to a fresh relationship with God? What part of yourself are you willing to crucify to allow the reality of Christ’s love to flourish and abound in your life? What will you sacrifice daily to make room for more of God in your life?

The beauty of this is, when we allow something to die, God brings something more meaningful and powerful to life in us. And, this my friend, is the art of adding by subtracting. 

Blessed or Blissed?

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22

It is a gross misconception when we equate God’s blessings with God’s sanctioning. Even Jesus decried this delusion when he said, “For he (God) maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).

False teachers presume to preach a gospel of prosperity and mislead millions into believing if you’re blessed you must be pleasing to God and conversely, if you’re not blessed, you must not have enough faith. This is a miscarriage of the Gospel that Jesus taught…Blessed are the poor, the mournful, the meek, the merciful, and the persecuted! (Matthew 5)

This list reads like a “who’s who” of mistreated, brokenhearted, and the socially outcast of our day. What the world views as weakness, God sees as a trust in His Strength that is made perfect in weakness. What the world sees as poverty, God sees as being an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Paul warned Timothy, “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Again, quite contrary to what’s being preached by counterfeit Christians. Jesus even warned we’d be hated by men for His name’s sake. So much for that popularity contest!

Don’t be sold a bill of goods that touts if things are rosy in your life you’re on easy street with the Lord. The very things Satan used to tempt Christ were the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Had Christ taken those invitations to mean there was a “cushy” alternative to Calvary, He never would have been crucified, resurrected, and given us salvation and eternal life.

God does indeed bless His people in so many ways, but if we’re so infatuated with the blessings rather than the “Source” from whom all blessings flow, we’re in extreme peril of being “blissed” rather than “blessed!”

The Answer is Still Hope

Daily we’re bombarded in the media with disturbing headlines…

  • Gradually, the freedoms of our nation are being chiseled away in the name of security.
  • Our unemployment rate is at an all-time high, while the value of our dollar is at an all-time low.
  • Consumer confidence is at an all-time low, while prices for things are at an all-time high.
  • The divorce rate is at an all-time high.
  • The murders, shootings, and stabbings, litter the front page of every morning paper.
  • Abortion continues to be legal.
  • Political corruption is rampant in our government officials.
  • The Muslims have declared war on the western world
  • The US has declared war on terrorist countries
  • Iran wants to bomb Israel off the map
  • There’s genocide being committed in the Dar Fur region
  • Every day we hear about famines and droughts taking lives
  • Natural disasters, rather than bringing out the best in people, have brought out the worst, with looting, pillaging, price gouging, and hidden political agendas.
  • Every day another drug deal goes bad
  • Every day another child dies in a drive-by shooting
  • Every day another school or place of business gets shot-up
  • Every day another terrorist threat is discovered
  • The children and the elderly in our country continue to get the short end of the stick
  • Justice seems to favor the criminal
  • Our prisons are over-crowded
  • People are losing their homes
  • Banks are going out of business

Yet, everyday people get up and do their dead-level best to keep their chin up. The odds never seem to be in their favor. What on earth (or in Heaven) could ever breath hope back into people’s lives? What if anything could remedy the pain of feeling of being violated?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” I Co. 15:19.

  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political figure…
  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political system…
  • This world doesn’t need more money, more programs, or more tax breaks…
  • This world doesn’t need more change, just for the sake of change, what this world needs is HOPE!

Peter said in his first epistle (3:15) – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The answer is hope! Let’s point people to the real hope that spans beyond this world – it’s the hope that drew Christ to the Cross at Calvary…YOU!

As long as there are “YOU’s” in this world, there is hope…

  • People whose lives have been forever changed
  • People who have been given a reason to carry on
  • People who have drank from the freely from the well and now have living water flowing from their own souls
  • People who have everlasting joy and peace
  • People who have hope

While hope is one of the greatest of all commodities on the planet it’s futile if it’s not shared with others. People everywhere are waiting, knowingly or unknowingly, to hear a message of hope.

If you’re born again of the water and of the Spirit, you contain the hope that humanity needs in earthen vessels. Let’s not withhold this hope from mankind.

Jesus read a passage in Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Jesus was the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy, but today, the Spirit of the Lord is not just “upon” us…He’s in us; reaching out to a lost and hurting world through us! It’s up to us to complete the mission Jesus started, until the day of His return!

Behold Thy Mother

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:26 – 27

The battered and bruised body of Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth; a grim picture, too grim for the other 11 disciples, but not so for John and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Yes, there are other stories of heroic women throughout the bible, but Mary stood at the foot of the cross and watched her promised son, the prophesied “Savior of the World” draw his last breath. But, just moments before his death, Christ would lay aside the burden of sin for the world, lay aside the shame, pain, and agony of the cross, ignoring the piercing of the nails, the crown of thorns, and the pending battle with Death, Hell, and the Grave, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his beloved mother.

On this Mother’s Day, and every day, it would behoove sons and daughters everywhere to set aside the tanked economy, the war on terror, the latest political scandals, the rising gas prices, and the sheer stress of life, to ensure the women who are responsible for our births into this world are acknowledged, thanked, and appreciated for their selfless sacrifice and dedication. In this passage it’s as if Jesus was saying, “Mom, you’re gonna be alright.” If Jesus took the time while carrying the weight of the world’s salvation on his battered shoulders to entrust the care of his mother to one of his most trusted disciples, surely we could take the time to daily entrust the care of our mothers to our Heavenly Father through prayer, love, and support. May all our lives as sons and daughter pay fitting tribute to the precious lady we call, “Mom.”