Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
- Move from hiding spot
- Safety zones
- Kick the can
- Tag out of jail
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
When Jesus was presented with temptation from the Devil in his weakest moments, he did not have this problem. A case could be made in light of certain experiences that because he was only 30 he would not have had this problem. Theologically, some would argue that because he was God he could not have sinned. Or, that because he did not have a biological father that the sin nature was not transferred. We must be careful not to drive so fast into His divinity that we leave his humanity in the dust. In fact, had Jesus not had the choice and chance to sin then the pure sacrifice would not have been so meaningful. Because Jesus could have sinned brings hope to us that do. It is possible! We could, if we continue to develop spiritually.
What is impressive is the simplicity in which he resisted the pleas of Satan. He was hungry and Satan prompted a physical appetite option. Turning stones to bread would be easy. A weak point for many people stems from physical appetites that consume us. From gorging at the buffet to gorging on the internet, we are driven by our desires, passions, and appetites. In addition, if we can do all of this in private we can justify the act because it is not hurting anyone. However, Jesus responded with scripture.
Jesus was starting a new ministry. He would need a lot capital, a fresh marketing plan, and the authority to speak to the leadership at large. How many times have we seen guys come through seminary and begin the self-promotion campaign. They create brochures, cards, email blasts, websites, and cool ministry names. It would seem that while all of this is done in the name of ministry it is also screaming "self" more than Spirit. We change our churches to capture the ever-allusive next generation and forget the Spirit. We change our organizations and conventions to streamline the work. Now, nobody knows what anyone is doing but it looks hip and cool and "leader-like". Jesus responded with scripture.
Jesus was trying to reach people. A spectacular show would entertain and drive people to himself. He could jump off the temple and instantly draw a crowd because he would land unharmed. It reminds me of a ministry leader in Tulsa that camped out on top of a tower and claimed he would not come down until a certain money figure was reached. He made the headlines and raised the money! Is this Biblical? We produce smoke and lights and concerts we call worship so that we can bring in the people. We reduce the message, remove the blood of the cross, and demand nothing in order to get more people into our building. Jesus responded with scripture. We clamor after the headlines and promotions. We deeply desire the awards and accolades. Jesus responded with scripture.
Simple. Clean. Powerful. Scripture.
Our lives hinge on placing faith in Jesus. Our journey of faith depends on knowing and living by the Word of God. When was the last time you could footnote a decision with scripture? Do we read for content or commands? Do I live by the Word of God or logical manipulations? Does the Bible direct my life? When we begin to read, study, and live by the word of God we won't have the same troubles with temptations as before. We won't have to stop in the middle of an issue and call up the preacher and ask for a good verse for the situation. Jesus just knew the right verse. Do you?
The transformation God demands comes from an intimate awareness and obedience to scripture. Get in the Book!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
In the words of my wife, "Stupid, stupid people!" In fact it was not the smart thing to do. We all knew it was coming. Why did we not prepare? Why did we act like it was a surprise? Those answers were apparently above our pay grade.
In Luke 4:1-2, we see that Jesus had just finished one of the greatest moments in life in baptism. As he rose from the water the heavens opened and the dove descended. The Father spoke to His Son in whom he was well pleased.
That same Spirit that landed on his shoulder now led Him to the wilderness. He fasted, prayed, and prepared. He was not shocked. He was not surprised. At the end of 40 days he was tested by the Devil.
Why am I so shocked in my own life? Why should I be surprised? After any "big" spiritual moment in my life the Devil hammers me in the weaknesses of my life. The Spirit of God leads us through different mountains and valleys in life. While always our light, He is most useful in the dark places of life. I am not speaking of the seedy spots to which we go. I speak of the desperate moments and experiences such as tragedy, death, loss of job, etc. I speak of those issues you thought were off limits. When we are led to a dark spot we need the light of God more than any other time. Not to say that we are not in need of Him in the good times. It is in those moments that we must praise, adore, and worship to prepare for the moments we encounter that are antithetical to the peace and prosperity gospel being sold to us.
I need God AT ALL TIMES! It is in the best of times that I must remember to study, read, and adhere to the Word of God. In this way, when the exam comes I will not have to pull a spiritual all-nighter. I can rest in the everlasting arms of Jesus because I have studied and shown myself approved. I have learned that dependency on the Word of God and power of the Spirit is like food and water. I cannot live without them and I certainly cannot thrive without them.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
21 "So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus—22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus' resurrection."
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.24 Then they all prayed, "O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs."26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.
How do we define those terms? What are we supposed to teach our children? What is a true American these days? Right now that is becoming harder and harder to define. We choose to tell the quaint stories of Washington not telling a lie and Franklin’s key and electricity. We choose to avoid the carnage and catastrophic loss families made to achieve what we call freedom. We have the freedom to speak, worship and pursue life and happiness all because of the bloodshed of many men and boys these past 234 years.
Freedom. It rolls off of our tongues without knowledge of the cost. Freedom is not in socialism. Freedom is not in persecution. My own lineage has preachers who sought religious freedom from the tyranny in other parts of the world, officers who fought in the revolution willing to sacrifice it all so that you and I could sit here today and worship the Creator. Freedom is not some politically correct speech. Freedom comes at a high cost.
It is hard to define what a true American is due to the seepage of socialism and relativism into our culture. It is hard to define when, in increasing numbers, people would choose to hyphenate their citizenship. It matter not what my heritage may be. I am an American. I choose to teach my children to honor the flag, say the pledge, remove your hats. All actions based on a respect for those who have come before that laid the pathway for freedom. Words like respect, honor, pride, and duty are being diluted with current philosophies and leadership. The freedoms we enjoy involve both the unalienable rights of humanity in concert with others that have been written down in the constitution. We have been given freedom. It is a gift to be cherished.
A true American respects and honors the freedoms for self and for others.
A true American takes pride in a job well done whether it be vocation, family, or community.
A true American pursues life for self and for others.
A true American pursues liberty for self and others.
A true American pursues happiness for self and others.
I am a follower of Christ. I am an American. One does not make the other. I have had two births. I had no involvement in the first but am grateful. I made a decision concerning the second and will be eternally grateful.
Thank God for America. Thank God for Jesus.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
In Fall of 2005 I spent a lot of time talking with God about the future and what our family needed to do. I had been contacted by FBC Perry about being their pastor. I was happy where God had placed us but couldn't shake the feeling that He was up to something. So we talked. As time moved on we interviewed with the committee and met at a neutral site where I was able to preach. My wife and I began to feel a strong pull toward this church and her people. God and I kept talking.
I needed wisdom.
The followers of Christ, numbering around 120, were baffled about their current satte of affairs. Jesus had risen to life only to leave 40 days later. Now what? What were they supposed to do? Jesus said their would be a comforter to follow. Who was this? Where is He? When is He coming? Is He already here? No one knew and everyone was frustrated, I am sure. This group of believers kept gathering together and kept talking to God. The Bible isn't clear about how long it was, just that it was later. it was during one of these moments that Peter stood up and laid out a plan.
God responded to my wife and I with a sense of wisdom about what to do because we kept asking, kept seeking, and kept knocking. God responded to the group of believers by giving Peter wisdom that He knew Peter would share with the group. You see, the first way we see God responding to the prayers of the people is to give wisdom. James 1:5 tells us, "If you need wisdom, if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you."
Monday, June 21, 2010
Giving and receiving is the basis for good communication. Without both you simply have extended monologues. God desires to communicate with each of us. Jesus tells us that we should keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. I could spend pages trying to decipher all the meanings and parsings of these words. I could hours putting together good hermeneutics. An interesting things keeps popping up in my mind. If effective communication requires both parties to be involved and I am supposed to continue to ask, seek, and knock, then when and how does God respond?
Recently there has been much discussion concerning the church and her viability. We are in desperate need of a movement of God. Almost instantly I was inspired to read Acts. As I began looking at it again from this perspective I noticed a pattern. The people kept pressing God in prayer, but in a humble fashion, and God began to respond in dramatic fashion. As I read I noticed 10 ways that God responded to the early church. It was not that God responded 10 times but in ten unique ways. God heard the people and responded to the situation in a unique and wonderful way.
- Ability to Choose
- Shared Ministry
Impressive. The God of the universe hears us and responds. Are you asking, seeking, and knocking? Maybe you should start. We'll look at the first one next time.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
What He says is completely antithetical to all I have been taught in life.
He opens with "God blesses". Who doesn't want that? I would kill for ultimate well-being, inner joy, and peace. The problem soon follows though that those God blesses are poor in spirit. Really? I have been taught by many and there are those who propagate it now that all I need is already within me I just have to get in touch with myself and unlock the power. Somewhere inside of each of us, we are told, is the power to overcome; the power to succeed; the power to find fulfillment. Jesus, however, says that if any of us want the fulfillment of God, the blessing of joy, we are to be poor in Spirit: desperate. I don't want desperation, do you? This means out of my control. Desperation is beyond our control. I must call on someone else to assist and manage the situation. Over the years I have challenged this concept. I, and you, might not have ever verbally challenged this idea, but our actions are voluminous.
It was a Wednesday. I had dropped off my daughter at school and headed back to the house to pick my wife and son. He had an endoscopy scheduled at 1pm. We drove the hour to the hospital, parked, and checked in. While we sat and waited, my son played his video game, and I read. It wasn't long and we were called back into the room for the pre-op process. He changed into the monkey pj's they had for him, which he really liked. They said he could keep his hat on if he wanted, which he also really liked. The nurses and doctors were kind and efficient. After we discussed the procedure and also his background a number of times it was time for the separation. We kissed and hugged him as they took him into the surgical room. Dulcie and I went downstairs and got a coke before returning to the waiting room. We had just down when we got the call that all was fine and the doctor was finished. He would be right out to talk with us. "How smooth was that?", I asked out loud. The doctor came and said all looked fine and we could go into recovery to help our son as we came out of the sleep. About an our later we returned to the room for post-op watch care and finalizing the process. I remember looking at the clock and thinking that this was sweet! We would be home before supper and could get little sis early from our friend. We had signed the discharge papers and been given our instructions. As we gathered up items I thought, "All was well. All was under control. I had this!"
Our son began to moan a little about his stomach, which was the reason we were having the procedure. We didn't think much of it. Then it became a loud moan and we paused to consider it. For the next two hours he writhed in pain and screamed.
During the two hours the nurses came. The intern came. The doctor came. We had no answers. We rolled him down to radiology and they had closed for the day. We rolled him down to the ER and quickly did x-rays. I held him up. I moved him. I laid him down. I rolled the bed. I was doing all I could.
All the while I discussed the situation with God. We had called the church and asked for prayer. My wife prayed. I prayed. I think everyone was praying! I watched for two hours as my son, my only son, writhed in pain and I could do nothing to stop it. I hugged him. I comforted him. In one of those moments he said, "Nothing will help! I can't take it anymore!!" I was powerless. I was in poverty. I was desperate. God was our only hope. As we prayed, God provided a peace.
Once our son was able to empty himself, he basically passed out and went to sleep. He was quiet. He was calm. He breathed easier. He rested. We rested. Soon we left and went home. The power of Heaven resolved the issue that day. The prayers of many, including ourselves, called upon the King of Kings. I acknowledge in my heart what I knew in my head. I am poor in Spirit. In those moments, the kingdom of Heaven became ours in its power and glory. We praised God for the relief and rest that early evening as we waited to go home. The prayers of desperation were the answer. So often, our prayers do not come out of desperation. Our prayers often come from want, or anger, but not desperation. We have been taught to be self-sufficient. We have been shaped into a mentality that those in need got there on their own and can get out of it as well if they only tried harder.
I will never forget what it felt to be desperate. It will forever mark our lives. I completely understand now...
God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
We were blessed that day! God gave us a strength, peace, and joy in a moment that called for everything else. I pray I never forget it. May I never challenge it again.