…the narrow gate

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

I came to Jesus and He answered. He beckoned me and I answered after many years of deafness. I became a follower and a believer in Jesus eleven years ago when I was in seeking a power higher than myself. I loathed the ‘born-again’ paradigm; I sought a beautiful and personal, wisdom-filled relationship with something greater than myself. My ‘self’ was reaching it’s end.

As I sought a god, I tried to intersect my life with Eastern philosophy but the personal aspect was absent. I was drawn to but never could get drawn in. I wrestled for a solution and the solution was fleeting. The attempt at finding God was frustrating to the point that I begged in prayer just to believe in something. Prayer to whom and what something?

In my marriage, and therefore my life, the Lord had a plan for me. My wife and I were not Christian, however, we made attempts at spirituality courting Catholicism and some Buddhism. She came home one Sunday night after a weekend visit with a friend. She announced that she had given her life to Christ. The pronouncement was infuriating to me. She suggested we start spending our Sunday mornings at a local church – an idea I agreed to try because although I carried abhorrence for Jesus, I still sought the wisdom and personality of a god. We attended a church that taught the Bible in an induction format and the day we first attended, the pastor’s sermon began: “In the beginning…” I wondered if this was coincidence. I patiently listened through eight months of Old Testament teaching. I particularly was interested when Jacob wrestled with God and God disjointed a stubborn man at his hip. I related this story to my agonizing relationship with alcohol and I knew I was too a stubborn man. One day on an off-ramp, while listening to a sermon tape of one the Apostle’s gospel, I succumbed. Jesus spoke to me and said that the greatest of all commandments was love. Love was a prerogative I could embrace. Jesus was a person I could embrace and I believed He was God and Man. God surfaced in my consciousness. I had found wisdom and personality in God.

Since, I have seen how God works in my life each day. Not always in big ways, but subtly always imparting His wisdom and love to me daily. I studied the Bible and I now seek to see the image of God (James 1:24) as I look into the mirror. I see now just how narrow the gate is. I am so blessed that I persevered in my walk through despondency to reach and pass through the gate to God. So many will not.

Rick Stassi

October 2011

…demystifying our God


Polycarp 8:2
Let us therefore become imitators of His endurance; and if we should
suffer for His name's sake, let us glorify Him. For He gave this
example to us in His own person, and we believed this.

As we follow the Christian path, we seek the way through concise focus on our Father in heaven. How do we know Him and what is the method to seek Him?

God, in His utmost love for us, relieved the mystery and bewilderment of a lack of an understandable personality by sending His only Son to the world so that there is a tangent between the Utmost Being who is God, and God as man in the flesh bearing completion, perfection who we can touch, hear, see….

There is no longer just an invisible God available for us to bear our burdens that we pour onto Him in our prayers; but, rather, a man – Jesus – whose burden is light and will lovingly accept these burdens. We are on our knees asking Him to intercede in our lives because we ache for ourselves, we ache for others we know, and we ache for a tired and dying world. We are imitators of Jesus and we need not go further that His very words imploring us to seek the kingdom of God, walk a straight path, and be not anxious but courageous – girded in the armor of God.

We seek endurance because as followers of our personal God, we understand and have sympathy for His endurance. His death, and His blood spilled is our path to purity. In our imitation of the Living God, we know endurance.

In our endurance through our lives and in our trials that come and go, we are eager to glorify His name. For we have a path and a direction and a goal. We have hope because God gave us hope in Jesus. For this we are joyous and thankful. We seek His counsel, on our knees to an invisible God, but through a very real and relevant Intercessor in Jesus Christ. Jesus is Love and Jesus is God.

We have example and through this example we walk. The world around us shall see the Living God, therefore, He shall constantly walk in the world apparent through our bodies: the once empty vessels now filled. We believe this and we imitate Jesus because God has a perfect plan and we are commissioned to live within this plan. He loves, we love, and all in the world without Him shall remained mystified until they succumb  and see for themselves that Jesus died for our sins and gives us the example to live and love to completely – connecting with all persons in love. We can do this.

Rick

October 2011

…an “affectioned” love

Stand fast therefore in these things and follow the example of the Lord, being firm in the faith and immovable, in love of the brotherhood kindly affectioned one to another, partners with the truth, forestalling one another in the gentleness of the Lord, despising no man.

Polycarp 10.1

Letter to the Philippians

This verse is written by Polycarp between 110 AD and 140AD. It is an excerpt of his letter to the Philippians serving them in encouragement in the same spirit as Paul’s epistle. Polycarp was born in 70AD when the temple was destroyed and was a student of John.

Heed the words spoken for they are true. We desire to “stand fast” in our faith. Our example is in the Lord of which is immovable. The departure of our desire to remain steadfast in Jesus, is the creation of a man-made fissure between God and ourselves. This is sadness. This fissure is bleak and dark.

His words are endearing: we love our brothers and sisters “affectioned” to one another. This is a love that is deeper that a surface love can fathom. Remember this: we love those who are in one accord in the partnership of our lives together in Christ. We are knit together at our hearts to one another and physical distance is no hindrance. The world is small so seek out the beloved believers in our precious Jesus wherever they may be. It is the season in which we must encourage one another in His love. Peace today in Jesus.

Rick Stassi

October 28, 2011

…the sinner’s gospel

The World’s Bible

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way;
He has no tongue but our tongues to tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible the careless world will read;
We are the sinner’s gospel, we are the scoffer’s creed;
We are the Lord’s last message, given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?
What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him and hasten His return?

Annie Johnson Flint

Does the Lord need us?

Our commission is to go forth and be His ambassadors of the living Word. The true Good News conveyors. The miracle has happened and it cannot be erased. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected to His place next to our Father in heaven. All for us. When we ask if God needs us, the answer is probably no. If we ask if He desires us to walk in His way as He proposes to His saints, the answer is yes. Moreover, our desire should be just that: To follow in His steps and clarify a blurred print, be the Bible people will read, be the sinner’s gospel. 

It is in our straying walk that delays His love upon a darkened heart. We cannot stand in front of that. We cannot be obstructions. For we can do damage to God’s work here. However, He is in control and He will straighten us and then He will work on a world gone astray upon His return. We may delay or hasten His return, but it is important to know every step we take in the furtherance of His way, there is another soul appearing in our path with anguish and hopelessness. Lay your hand empowered by our loving God on his head and bless him in Jesus’ name. We are the vessels that emanate the Living God who resides within. Do not obstruct the shining Light – do not place a cover on the lamp of salvation. Be the Bible the aching, hopeless world will read. Begin today.

Rick

October 2011

Jesus, my rock and fortress

In You, O LORD, I put my trust;
Let me never be put to shame.
Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape;
Incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge,
To which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.
PSALM 71:1-3

In our trust in the Lord, there is not shame. We make a conscious decision to follow the Lord through our submission to Jesus Christ who is our Advocate to the Father. We need to trust that He is our Advocate and Savior and that we are set apart from the rest of the world in Him.

We are saved and take refuge from a harsh world and there is no shame in our commitment.

We are in a world that can hold tightly on our soul and mind. So much so, that escape is necessary as if in a prison. Being separated from God is being held captive to that which is fleeting. His ear hears our call as we plea for help, forgiveness, guidance, and salvation. He hears, He sees,

He is righteous – cry out for Him.

God is our Rock, our Cornerstone, and the foundation of our life. We have safety in His fortress. That is our trust and our hope. He came as a man and God so we would know – so we would have the chance to hear and see the living God. Not all will see or hear Him. Some will cause us to feel shame because of our commitment. Rise above all that is of the world and seek the treasures in heaven given by our Lord who has an ear to hear the bleating of we who are lambs who need not be sacrificed because Jesus already covers us all with His blood. He awaits us now.

LORD, You are my rock and foundation of my life. In You I put my trust. I resort to You continually – today and forever. I pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN

Rick Stassi

delivering God’s word…

I woke up this morning from a dream. This dream opened my day with a calming effect and caused me to seek God with a flurry of prayer. I do not necessarily believe dreams are specific omens for our futures; but maybe more of a mirror of our past experience or some subconscious Federico Fellini film of my own mind’s making. However, today I awoke with a calmness that can only be offered by God and accepted as God by an appreciative soul . I believe I am that soul.

I dreamt I was asked to give the sermon at a fairly large church only minutes prior to the beginning of the service. To my surprise, I was calm. I experienced the usual dream-angst: couldn’t find a microphone, lost my Bible, saw confusion among church staff etc. i was however prepared to lead with only what God gave me on a minute-by-minute basis.

“The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord….” – my beginning words and then I woke up. Rats! I wanted to see how this one ended. Actually now I am curious as to how this one will end. You see we are all capable of delivering the message from God because at the very least, we can be EZRAs (see Neh 8)and just stand in the presence of the willing and read God’s word. The power of the message is in God’s word and all else is the act of helping it become relevant to people by a Pastor who cares that what he sees in God’s word is good for that day for his congregation.

This is a day when we thank our pastors for doing this. More dear than money is the knowledge that what God has prepared us for has been successfully delivered in his instruction.

So, I was pastor at a large church for 1 minute and I was calm. To me that piques my curiosity and the direction of prayer – if only for this day. Read God’s word. Know every verse can be relevant in you life. Take solace in this.

For Pastor Hector

In His love,

Rick

assure our hearts…

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 1John 3:16-19 (NKJV)

The Gift of Goods
Know the meaning of love is in the act of Jesus laying His life for us. This is the ultimate love. He gave all of Himself so that we may know God, know love, and perpetuate a loving prerogative. Give away that which sustains you and you give away a part of yourself. It is our personal sacrifice.

Our Deeds and Good Intention
The evidence of the abiding Spirit in us and our open hearts, is in our deeds to others. It is the delivering of what sustains us to someone who needs help. Our good intention without the act fulfilled is our disobedience to God’s leading. Good intention will not sustain another without the following of an action. If we give with good intention, out of love, and to someone in need we indeed assure our hearts before Him. We have spiritual discernment so listen to the abiding Spirit to marry our good intention with God’s will. However know that simply acting with good faith rather than talking with good intention is the actual testimony of the abiding love of God in our heart.

Good intention without any action is hollow.

Rick