Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Little Brown Cardboard Box

Recently, I settled back into my recliner with TV dinner and milk in hand, to watch a movie on the tube. The blurb for The Skeleton Key was innocent enough so I clicked on the appropriate channel, squirming to get comfortable and dive into my meal.

The storyline was about a young woman who, disenfranchised by a common apathy toward patients at a hospice ward, leaves to take a position as a caretaker at a private residence in the Louisiana Bayou.

The movie opens with the lead, Kate Hudson, a nurse, sitting at the bedside of a male patient reading a book to him. One minute his eyes are open. The next minute, they shut. She closes the book, puts it on the chair, then reaches down, and checks the man’s vitals. Another nurse stops at the open door.

“He’s gone,” Kate says, shaking her head.

Later, Kate leaves the building with a little brown cardboard box in her arms, a label identifying the box as belonging to the man who passed away. Near the back door sits a large top-loaded trash container. Kate lifts the lid and prepares to throw away the box, but first she looks inside the bin and notices half a dozen other boxes with a label on each one identifying its owner. Following that scene, I don’t remember anything that happened.

I sat there in my recliner thinking about the old man’s box. The sum total of this man’s life was able to fit inside of a small box. There were no family members at his side when he passed, just a nurse who cared enough to perform a simple act of kindness by reading to him as he slipped away.

I couldn’t help wondering about what keepsakes were in the box. Perhaps some pictures or a few personal letters, a cross at the end of a chain, or maybe a woman’s wedding band. Now they sat in a trash bin in an alley.


Just like the trash container consumed the man’s box, so will the refiner’s fire consume all hay, grass, and straw on that Day of Judgment. Everything that is not pure will burn in that fire just as the dross rises to the top and discarded when refining Gold.

That little brown cardboard box is a metaphor for our lives and as such is a gift from God. The contents of our life, or what we do with our lives, are a gift back to Him. What will Christ find in our little brown cardboard box before He throws it into the refiner’s fire? What in our lives is pure enough that will survive the fire?


1 Corinthians 3:11-16 says that Christ is the foundation. It also says that some men will build on that foundation with a pure Christian life, which is gold, silver, and costly stones, while others will build on it with hay, grass, and straw and is symbolic of a weak and impure life.

In that Day, the Bible says, “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames[1].”

That scene at the trash bin had a huge impact on my spiritual life. I thought to myself, Lord, what will be the sum total of my spiritual life when you come to collect my spirit? Will there be anything in my little brown cardboard box after the fire?


I asked the Lord, “How do you define gold, silver, and costly stones? With what do I fill up my little brown cardboard box?”

The Lord said to me, Son, “These are things that are likened unto gold, silver, and costly stones: ‘. . .Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself[2].’”

God put many verses on my heart that day as He defined those things likened unto gold, silver, and costly stones. I learned that Luke 10:27 was, and still is, the most important to Him. (For your own personal study, you can find the rest of the Scriptures that the Lord gave to me, in the endnotes[3].)


Then the Holy Spirit put everything into perspective for me, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory[4].”

When I read, “When Christ, who is (y)our life. . .” that hit me. How many times have I read that passage and just skimmed over it? We are His body and Christ is the head of that body[5]. He is the foundation of the temple and we are the temple of God[6]. Hallelujah!

The Lord was telling me that we should constantly be aware that we are an extension of Him and because the body connects to the head, it can only do what the head tells it. When people interact with us. . .will they see Christ in us? What will be in our little brown cardboard boxes when Christ requires our Spirits? Will we just squeak into heaven like the thief on the Cross?

By filling our little brown cardboard boxes with a pure Christian life, by encouraging others, and by representing Christ here on Earth we will garner our rewards for a job well done, thou good and faithful servants[7], and will appear with Him in glory[8].


[1] 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15
[2] Luke 10:27
[3] Deuteronomy 11:27; Exodus 20:2-17;Mark 11:25; Philippians 4:8; Galatians 5:22, 23; 1 Peter 1:16; Mark 16:15; Proverbs 6:17-19; Colossians 3:2-17
[4] Colossians 3:1-4
[5] Colossians 1:18
[6] 1 Corinthians 3:16
[7] Mathew 25:21
[8] Colossians 3:4

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Who We Are In Christ

Late one evening, when I was a young man, my sister and I were walking home from a dance late at night. We frequented this weekly event every Saturday night because sis loved to dance. At the time, I had just turned sixteen and Judy was only thirteen and in the eighth grade. She was very mature and beautiful for her age. We were (and still are) the best of friends, and she is still very beautiful.

Suddenly, from the shadows, a young man in uniform materialized, which startled us. Judging solely by his looks, I figured him to be about nineteen or twenty. His catcalls and childish demeanor brought that down to about eleven. However, because of the uniform, I knew this not to be true.

His whistles and remarks, most of which I can’t even remember, were innocent at first, like, "Hey babe. . .how about you and I go out. . ." Soon his comments began to escalate to a more confrontational demeanor. Remarks like, “Hey sweet thing, what are you doing with that dork? Let a real man walk you home.” He closed the distance between us. I finally asked the guy to back off. He didn’t. By the time we got to our front yard, the soldier and I were in full hand-to-hand combat.

Dad must have heard my sister screaming because he ran outside, grabbed the soldier with one hand and me with the other, and held us both out at arm’s length. It was all over.

I thought to myself, I can take this guy dad. I was winning the battle but maybe dad was a little uncertain as to whether I could have won the war especially with a trained soldier. (He didn't feel trained in my head lock.) Nonetheless, dad loved me enough to jump into the middle of things thinking I was in danger no matter the consequences to his own safety. I am proud to have called him Dad and to be a part of his family.

Through faith in Christ we are all brothers and sisters in God’s family [1]. Every person saved in the past, present, and future will be in Christ by what He did on the Cross. Christ loved us enough to come down out of His home, not worrying about His safety, and jumped into the middle of our troubles to die for us.

When I was just a kid and one of my siblings or I had a tough challenge ahead, I’d always ask them, “What’s your last name?” I was proud of my last name and wanted to pass it on to my sons in as good as shape as when I received it. If Dad taught me one thing, he taught me perseverance and that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. He’d always say, “What’s your last name, boy?”

When we are in Christ, what is there that we cannot do through Christ? His Word says that we can do all things through Him that strengthens us [2]. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir [3]. This proclaims that all of the privileges that belong to Christ now belong to us, as well. God is our Abba Father or as a term of endearment, our daddy [4].

Who are we in Christ? We are sons and daughters of God and heirs to His Kingdom. The same Spirit that is in Jesus is in us. Therefore, I ask you, "What's your last name?" In whose family do you belong?

My dad not only taught me to be a man but he also taught me to be a father. My family did everything together while growing up. We went camping, fishing, to the beach together and even played games at home like, 500 Rummy, Monopoly, and picture puzzles. We always had food on the table, a roof over our head, and much love and affection to go around. We wanted for nothing.

It is God the Father’s good pleasure to give us everything. As a point of fact, God's Word says that it is the Father's good pleasure to give us His Kingdom [5]. If we give our kids good gifts, how much more will God in heaven give better gifts to us [6]. However, there is one catch: we need to have faith “In Christ.” We need to belong to His family.

I remember when I first asked Christ into my heart. I was in a little Baptist Church two blocks from our house. I can close my eyes and still see the pastor leading me in the prayer of salvation. I was now in Christ and redeemed. That was 54 years ago.

We can see people healed and even rise from the dead, but the biggest miracle and gift of all is salvation. We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [7]. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law when He hung on the Cross.

Although both my parents are with Jesus now, I am still proud to be in their family and to have their last name. So, what are the benefits of being in God's family?

In Christ, we have redemption [8], sanctification [9], wisdom, and righteousness [10]. In Christ, we are wise, strong, and honorable [11]. In Christ, we have eternal life [12] and can always be triumphant [13]. There is an anointing [14] in Christ and we are all a new creature [15]. In Christ, we have liberty [16] and have justification through faith [17]. We are children of the living God [18] in Christ. We have hope [19], grace [20], and salvation [21] in Christ. In Christ, we have reconciliation [22] and are partakers of the promise [23].

Dad is reaping those benefits first hand now with the Lord in glory. Even in Dad’s last days, he was still protecting us kids with his prayers. His physical body gave out and he could no longer pick up two men at arm’s length but his prayers protected us all just the same.

To acquire the grace of God [24], His love for us [25], and all the privileges of “In Christ”[26] here on earth, we first need to come to faith in Christ [27]. Once we join God’s family through the prayer of salvation, then faith in Christ is nothing more than trusting in God’s Word [28] and not wavering, as James warns us in chapter 1:2-8. I am proud to be in God's family.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. [29]

In Christ footnotes
[1] Galatians 3:24 [2] Philippians 4:13 [3] Galatians 4:7
[4] Galatians 4:6 [5] Luke 12:32 [6] Matthew 7:11
[7] Romans 3:24 [8] Romans 3:24 [9 ] 1 Corinthians 1:2
[10] 1 Corinthians 1:20 [11] 1 Corinthians 4:10
[12] 1 Corinthians 15:22 [13] 2 Corinthians 2:14
[14] 2 Corinthians 1:21 [15] 2 Corinthians 5:17
[16] Galatians 2:4 [17] Romans 5:1 [18 ] Galatians 3:26
[19] 1 Corinthians 15:19 [20] 2 Timothy 2:1 [21] 2 Timothy 2:10
[22] 2 Corinthians 5:19 [23] Ephesians 3:6
[24] Titus 2:11; 1 Peter 4:10 [25] Romans 8:35-39
[26] Galatians 4:7 [27] Galatians 2:16, 20; Galatians 3:26;
Ephesians 3:17; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:9
[28] Proverbs 3:5, 6 [29] 2 Corinthians 13:14


Next week: We the Jury. The Spirit of Guilt is one of the most devastating spirits in the arsenal of Satan. It can bring us down quicker than anything. Satan has spiritually indicted and prosecuted everybody that has ever lived, but the verdict is in. . .“Not guilty – on all counts.”

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author: James Lindquist

Check my first blog “Welcome” for explanation of my names.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Christian - Twelve Step Program

There is probably a 99% chance that your spouse has verbally attacked you at some point in your relationship. As you stand there looking at them in their rage, the veins popping out of their neck, their face as red as a beet, you can know in your spirit what the driving force is behind them.

Knowing from where the outburst is coming permits you to have compassion on them and keeps you from acting in an un-scriptural manner because we know that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.

How many times have you reacted with a defensive posture and retaliated, quip for quip? I confess to you that I have retaliated many times in just such a fashion. The enemy influenced my thought process and I fell for it. The sooner that we can stop reacting to them, but instead, respond, the quicker and better things will be in our marriage and all other relationships.

Satan uses our values, our needs, and our expectations to create emotions during heated marital (and relational) discussions. When we do not get our own way, he uses those emotions to create dissension among us. If this trend continues and we do not remedy the situation, Satan will have succeeded in, minimum, putting another relationship at odds and quite possibly on the rocks. His ultimate goal, however, is separation and divorce. Are we going to let Satan manipulate us? It is imperative that we know who the enemy is.

However, during those discussions, there are rules of engagement. Here are some rules that you can use but are not all necessarily inclusive.

1. Discuss and define the problem, but work on the solution. Before starting the discussion wait for the heat of the moment to pass.
2. Do not at any time; attack your spouse’s character or integrity. Do not personalize the attack. Instead, attack the problem.
3. Unless you have a good memory, you might take some notes when it is your turn to speak. An old counselor's trick is to use an inanimate object (it matters not what it is) for your discussions and whom ever is holding it is the only one allowed to talk.
4. Watch your pronouns. The quickest way to build an immediate wall is to use “you” statements. When you use “you” statements people’s receiving mechanism will shut down. It is a wall that you can physically see manifest right before your eyes. They will go into a defensive mode and any constructive conversation, for all intent and purposes, will be over.
5. Try not to spend more than twenty minutes discussing a hot button issue. Agree to disagree and go have a sundae. . .together.
6. Lastly, but by no means lesser in value, if you are angry, don’t sin by nursing a grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry – get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the enemy.

Again, don’t go to bed angry at each other. Men, this is where we need to step up to the plate. As the spiritual leader of the home sometimes we just need to bite the bullet and acquiesce. God calls us to peace. The bottom line is. . .know who the enemy is.

If there are problems in your marriage, I can guarantee you that the Lord was not at the center of that relationship or at least during those times of unrest and trouble. Therefore, with all due respect, before we start playing the blame game with God or with each other for our problems, we need to ask ourselves some very important questions. I wonder how many Christian’s homes are in trouble today because they have answered “no” to any of the following questions:

1. Are you praying for each other daily?
2. Are you praying together, daily?
3. Do you go to a local church and worship God, together?
4. Do you read God’s Word together, daily?
5. Have you made it a daily practice to participate in a devotional reading, together?
6. Is the day started and finished with Jesus Christ alone, and when possible, together. Because of jobs, this is the hard one.

The operative word in this list is “together.” There is something very edifying about hearing someone you love, lifting your name up to the Lord. Remember that a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ec 4:12).


Next week: In Christ. No less than 64 times does the New Testament mention the phrase, “In Christ.” What does it mean to be “In Christ?” I’ll touch on this subject next week. The limited space on this blog hinders me from a thorough and complete study of what it means to be, "In Christ." This posting is not an all inclusive study. However, I'll give you plenty of Scriptures to start you out and take off on the study of "In Christ" yourself. Have fun and be blessed by God and His Word.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next Monday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Host: James Warren
Christian Author

Check my archive or my Web page for explanation of my names.