Friday, July 31, 2009

The Gospel driven Church

Yesterday I spent some time engaged in a discussion about worship.
What it is and what it most certainly is not. Worship is not ONLY
singing when the church is gathered.

We worship when we glorify God at work.
We worship when we exalt the Name of Jesus in our lives.
We worship the Lord when we pray and study the Word.
We worship when we witness.

Brethren, if your worship of the almighty only takes place in the
chapel (church building) then you need to spend some time at the
Master's feet.


(Sent from a mobile device... sorry about the spelling.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No news is . . .

There is a saying, "no news is good news." That is now always true.  When you take your car to the mechanic, no news can be good news. When you go to the doctor, no news can be good news. 

But when it comes to the gospel... No News Is Not Good News. 

That is why Paul was chained in Rome. 

That is why the underground churches around the world face the pursecution they do. 

That is why Jesus came to the world... for the Gospel.

Paul said:

 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18) 

Who are you going to share the Gospel with today?


(Sent from a mobile device... sorry about the spelling.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to climb a staircase in three easy steps.

There are three simple steps to climbing a staircase…


  1. Arrive at the base of the stairs.
  2. Remembering that climbing up is the goal… starts climbing up.
  3. Do not look down.

Now, a flight of stairs may not seem like a huge obstacle to most adults but imagine for a moment that you are 2 feet tall.  Imagine you are a small child with no real concept of, "It's just a flight of stairs."  What do you see?  A MOUNTAIN!


I noticed that when my kids started climbing stairs they were extremely timid to climb up.  Understandable.  But the fact of the matter is that if they do not conquer this task, life will prove to be really interesting for them.  There are stairs everywhere!


Now… these steps might seem rather silly, but let's look at them again.


  1. Arrive at the base of the stairs. (Avoiding the problem will NEVER result in victory.)
  2. Remembering that climbing up is the goal… up! (If you know where your goal is, it is easier to stay focused.)
  3. Do not look down.  (A slight variation of the second step, but more than a call to stay focused.  This is a plea not to retreat.)


Now… maybe we understand Paul's words a little better?


Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


Remember… press on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Yesterday my son and I took a walk to the local library.  It’s only .33 miles away so it was long enough to enjoy the sun and not tire my 2 year old too much.  


On the way, Sam pointed out every single car, truck, motorcycle, van, and bicycle he saw.  He knows that a truck looks like a truck and a van looks like a van.  Cars are his weak spot.  Some cars look like vans and some look like… well… they just look silly.  Sam pointed out a van, that was actually a car (Nissan makes some interesting van-car look a likes).  I told him, “No Sam.  That is just a plain car.”  I looked at him as he looked at the plain car.  He was clearly puzzled.


It took me a while but I finally figured out what he was thinking.  He has no comprehension of the word “plain”.  So naturally he thought I called that Nissan a “plane car”.  While Hollywood has produced a few of these, I have yet to see any auto manufacturer produce a consumer version of the, often times coveted, plane car.


I am so thankful that God the Father does not use words that we can not understand.  That though He is God, He chose to reveal much about Himself and did so in ways we can comprehend.


As you go throughout the day, think of all that the Lord has taught you about Him.




Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cost

"By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean."

-- Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

You gotta love Mark Twain.  The guy was a genius.  (I know, I know… his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  I use Google too.)


Praise the Lord that Jesus not only endured what was rightfully ours, but offers spiritual riches for those who trust Him.


As you go through the rest of the day, think of all that things that Jesus has done for you and give Him the praise.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Praise God for His Grace

I once worked at a credit union in South West Miami. People are interesting, especially when they are trying to make small talk. One day a member came to my window and we exchanged the standard pleasantries… "Hello."… "It sure is hot." I began to do the deposit or withdrawal he asked me to do. (I can't remember what the action was… but I know he was talking to me the whole time.) The conversation soon took a different turn when he noticed my Bible. So we talked… and talked… and talked… which was not a problem because it was a slow business day. He talked about religion and I talked about Jesus. The last thing I ever heard this man say was:

Religion is like a sense of humor… some people just don't get it.

He was honestly asking honest questions about who I thought Jesus was (is).

Several years later the Lord moved my family to Columbus, GA, a town nestled in the buckle of the "Bible Belt" where we first faced extremely legalistic churches. Legalism is the natural tendency to become religious. There are two main types of legalism:

1. Those who say you must look and act and do things a certain way BEFORE you can be saved. People who believe this believe solely in a works based salvation.

2. Those who say that a Christian dresses and acts a certain way. This is a far more common form. It was this second type that Paul combats in the Book of Galatians and was the catalyst for the The Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15.

Now to be fair, everyone struggles with legalism to some degree. I found myself falling into that trap… "a Christian should be ________". Then the Lord brought Romans 14 to my mind along with a variation of what an acquaintance of mine said in Miami:

"Grace is a lot like a sense of humor... some people just don't get it."

Jesus died to free us from everything that would hinder a thriving relationship with Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life. If you have Him, you have all you need.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He holds the future

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." ~Thomas Jefferson

I am a dreamer.  One day after reading a book on being a supportive wife (Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl) my wife came to me and apologized for not supporting some of my dreams.  That's ok.  Some of them would have sent us to the poorhouse at light speed.  But truth be known, I am somewhat of a dreamer.


But you know what, I very rarely dream of what could have happened if such and such happened.  Often times when Daniela catches me wondering off into dream world it is visions of tomorrow or the year after that. 


It is so comforting to me to know that God has all things under His control.  He is just as sovereign over history as He is the future.  That is something we can all rejoice in: God's will shall be accomplished.


Until next time… shalom.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Communication Part 6

This week we have looked at five reasons people will not come to us as leaders.  The first two are perception the last three, more than the others, are matters of the heart.

1.  They don't think we can help. (Ability)

2.  They don't think we care. (Fellowship)
3.  They do not want to be challenged to change their thinking.  (Exhortation)
4.  They do not want to end the news feed. (Gossip)
5.  They do not want a solution or unity, only destruction. (Rebellion)


What should someone do if they are the "they" in the list above.
What should one do if they find themselves in the first category?  Well… I trust that you find someone who has a tried and proven relationship with the Lord and seek their counsel.


For those who may find themselves in the second category, Scripture commands us to seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  If there is broken fellowship between you and another Christian seek to be restored.


Those who, after asking the Lord to search their hearts, find themselves to be one of those described in the third group need to honestly and humble repent of their pride.  The Lord wants to condition us to seek after godliness and this comes about through repentance and humility.


Gossip is destructive and Scripture commands us not only to abstain from participating in it, but to avoid it.  If the Lord reveals to the reader that this is a reality in their life (and we are all guilty to varying degrees) then the command is to repent of this sin and ask forgiveness from the offended.  Yes… even if they don't know they are the victims of gossip.


The fifth category of person is the most dangerous.  When someone has a desire to destroy and not to edify, to deconstruct what the Lord is building, this is a major issue.  If someone is reading this and the Holy Spirit indicates to them that this is indeed the motive behind what they say and do then nothing short of public repentance is called for. 


As you read through Scripture it becomes evident that God desired holiness from His people.  This was not written with anyone in mind, but if you feel like maybe I am writing about you, then the Spirit just might be telling you that it was intended for you.  Seek Jesus and His pleasure, and the rest will take care of itself. 



Friday, July 17, 2009

Communication Part 5

This week we have been looking at five reasons people do not come to leaders when they have a problem.  Maybe you are a leader at work, in the church you serve, or in your home.  All of us need to be approachable and trustworthy. So far in this short series we have seen four possibilities:

1.  They don't think we can help. (Ability)

2.  They don't think we care. (Fellowship)

3.  They do not want to be challenged to change their thinking.  (Exhortation)

4.  They do not want to end the news feed. (Gossip)

Finally, there are some men and women that have a demonic desire to cause division.  God calls this abominable in Proverbs 6:19.


5.  They do not want a solution or unity, only destruction. (Rebellion)

That is a tough pill to swallow, but it is none the less true.  Some people do not want reconciliation or unity.  They simply want, as someone has said, to build a house just to watch it burn.  Be careful around these people... you will get burned too.
Tomorrow we will look at the ins and outs of these five reasons and what to do if you find yourself, or someone else, is an example.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Communication Part 4

Next is a principle that runs through the book of Proverbs, the life of Jesus, and the writings of Paul and James. 


4.  They do not want to end the news feed. (Gossip)

Some people simply have a "need" to gossip.   We all do this to various degrees... but in the end; it is like a drug to some.  While it is a stretch to say that gossip is an addiction, the flesh feeds off it in much the same way.  The problem with gossip is, much like an addiction, the gossiper may not think they "have a problem". This is not to belittle real addictions, but gossip is not one of them.  It is a sin and must be stopped.  Fortunately, Jesus died for this sin as well.  It must be repented of and stopped as soon as possible, because gossip can be extremely contagious.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
Proverbs 16:28

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Communication Part 3

We have seen that the first two reasons why someone may not approach us in a time of need have a lot to do with their perception of us. The last three deal more intimately with matters of the heart.
3.  They do not want to be challenged to change their thinking.  (Exhortation)
The Book of Proverbs (and elsewhere in Scripture) speaks of the bend inside everyone to resist being told that they are wrong.  Nobody likes that.  The foolish shun rebuke and the wise are wiser because of it. (Proverbs 9:7-9)  It is an attack against the prideful heart of man.  This is one of the reasons people look for sympathetic ears... because they know they will not (usually) be challenged to change their thinking or called to repentance.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Communication Part 2

This week, we are looking at some of the reasons that people may not come to us for help in time of need. If you are a leader in any capacity, this can make or break your leadership. The first reason was a perceived lack of ability or They don't think you can help. The second is also an interpersonal issue:
2. They don't think we care. (Fellowship)

If someone thinks we don't care or worse yet, are antagonistic towards them or the things they value, they will not likely come to us for help. We must be careful not to give the impression that the feelings of others are not important. (Proverbs 12:25) While it is true that we may not feel the same way about something or feel it with the same passion as some one else, if a brother or sister is hurting, we aught to be that friend who sticks close. (Proverbs 18:24)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Communication Part 1

Life is busy and we are pulled in a million different directions everyday, or at least that's the way it seems. Scripture is very clear that we need to seek the counsel (advice) of those who have not only proven themselves to us, but have proven themselves to be faithful in what the Lord has called them to do. As far as I can tell, there are at least five reasons people do not seek our advisement. This week we will examine these five and ask ourselves some rather tough, but necessary, questions. At the end of the week (Saturday) we will take one last look at all five and assess ourselves. It may not be the most enjoyable ride you take, but when you see what he Lord can do through a heart that is sensitive to His correction, the trip will be worth it. Let's begin . . .

  1. They don't think we can help. (Ability)

Maybe it's the way we carry ourselves. Maybe it's our demeanor. Maybe it's . . . well it really doesn't matter. If someone thinks we can not help them with their problem they are not likely to ask for our help. Be on guard that we give the impression that we are capable of doing what we are capable of doing and at the same time, do not seem to have abilities that we most certainly do not have.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's that up ahead?

"The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn."

Do you remember when you came to a crossroads in your life where you clearly had to choose between two (or more) somethings that would shape your life?  Maybe it was something positive like becoming a Christian.  Maybe it was leaving a really negative friend?  Maybe it was a career path choice?  There is something comforting about being able to have the choice… the power to have some influence over the direction your history is headed.


(DISCLAIMER: To my Calvinist brethren, that's not a theological statement. I am fully aware that Jesus is taking history where He pleases.  That, however, does not remove human responsibility from the equation… hence the Conditional Covenants.)


But what do you do when the path you are on, the one you KNOW you are supposed to be on, takes a turn that you didn't see coming?  What do you do?  Really, there are only a handful of options:

1.     Turn around and head back the way you came.

2.     Stay put and make no more progress.

3.     Press on and take what comes because you KNOW you are on the right road.


Often times we come to these bends in the road and want to retreat.  Let me tell you something… you will be limited by the bends in the road and not the road you are on if you choose option one.  
The same goes for the second option.  Stagnation may be ok for some, but we should be growing everyday.  A day that has not produced growth, even slight, is a day that could have been better lived.


Option three is the scariest.  It is the one that shows our character.  Option three is the one that separates those who desire what God wants for them and those who are content with being less than what Jesus has called them to.


Jesus never said life would be easy… just rewarding.


"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Thursday, July 9, 2009

All alone?

"You'll never know that God is all you need until God is all you've got."

-- A friend of mine.


Oftentimes life can seem lonely.  As a pastor and a husband, I can tell you that even though you may be surrounded by people most of the day there are times when you can feel all alone.  The business manager can feel the same way.  The stay at home mom can feel the same way.  The factory worker can feel the same way.  Anyone can experience loneliness, which is ironic: Loneliness is the one emotion that can be felt by many, but never shared. 


I once had the opportunity to work for a HVAC (heating and air) supply house.  There were not that many of us working at this particular location.  In fact, there was only one warehouse worker for a long time… me.  Ten hours a day, five days a week.  Just me and the near deafening sound of a badly tuned forklift.  Don't get me wrong, that job had two major pluses:


1.  It provided for the needs of my growing family.


2.  It provided me with an amazing opportunity to study the Word of God for ten hours a day, five days a week.


I had an iPod and asked my boss if I could listen to sermons and Bible teaching while I worked.  He said, "Sure.  Just make sure that your work gets done."  Well, I made sure all my work was done and in the process I gained a deeper understanding of the Word of God.  What in the world does that story have to do with loneliness?


There were times when I felt like it was only me, but a great portion of the time I could not escape the truth that there were two persons in that warehouse… the Holy Spirit with me.  Sometimes, all we need is a gentle reminder that we are not alone.  And when we have that confidence it makes a real difference.


Joshua was set and ready to tackle the world… or so we think.  In the first chapter of the book that bears his name our hero is told four times, "Be strong and courageous."  You only tell someone that if they are not being strong and courageous or if they are looking at what seems like insurmountable odds.  There was something going on in Joshua… something that only the Lord could see and in that peaceful and loving way He says:


"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5


We are given the same promise in Mathew 28… Jesus will never leave us not forsake us.


If you are a believer and feel all alone today, let me encourage you with this truth: You only feel alone, for Jesus is with you.


And that is something to rejoice over!



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Bug

Ha. Looks like my plan to begin the series on time didn't turn out like I had hoped.

So... Next week we'll tackle some of the reasons people do not come to you and me for advice. Yep, that's what I said. There are at least 5 reasons. Can you figure them out? If you do, then maybe your level of influence will increase. But until then, let me share a quick thought.

I had the flu all day yesterday (which felt like a few days) and was pretty much laid up in the bed. Since I felt yucky every time i moved, I figured "I'm just going to stay put" and I did. There are two things that happened when i woke up this morning:

1. I felt better.

2. I really missed my family.

I didn't seen them all day with the minor exception of coming downstairs to get a cup of Ginger Ale. I missed them.

This is the thought though that consumed my mind this morning:

Being sick and needing to recooperate is one thing, but does the Lord feel the same way when His children do not spend any time with Him all day?

I venture to say... yes.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Next Week's Series

Greetings all.
I am going to try something here.
I will be systematically posting series of posts that reflect some of the "side items" that I have been studying.  So there will be more consistency.
for now, I trust that all my American readers are enjoying their freedom and remembering those who purchased that freedom.  And for my readers from other countries, I trust that you are enjoying the freedom(s) you have as well.
Remember, the ultimate freedom comes from trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Half empty or half full?

So... is the glass half empty or half full? I know that this is almost a cliche, but it reveals a very significant aspect of the Christian life.
  • If you answer, "half empty", you may be the type of person who is less grateful than you should be. God has provided you with so much and the very least we can do is be thankful for it.
  • If your answer was, "half full", then you may be the type of thankful Christian Paul exhorts us all to be in 2 Corinthians 9:11, and elsewhere:
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
May we all learn to be thankful in all things and see every "glass" in our lives as, at least, half full.