Friday, October 30, 2009

Redeeming a Holiday

I want to start by saying that I do not believe that Halloween is beyond redeeming. Let me give you some background.

When we were kids we were not allowed to go trick or treating. It was kind of understood that we just didn't do it. This was during the time where people were reported to have put razor blades in apples, and drugs in candy to kill little kids. Not sure if these were urban legends, but it sure kept us from going trick or treating. We had the parties at church, but it still seemed like we were missing something. So one year we went trick or treating, without Dad's knowledge. It kind of seemed empty, and real shallow. We were not missing much. When I was in Bible College I was influenced by many well meaning people how "evil" it was, but I was taught how to redeem the holiday. I remember even preaching against Halloween in the 2nd church where we were Youth Pastors talk about stupid! Not because it wasn't bad, but because it wasn't my conviction; secondly there was another family in the church that was having a party at their house. They even gave me some candy! Here is what I believe.

Halloween is like any other thing in America it is an opportunity to share what we as Christians believe. Instead of cursing the darkness, let's light a candle. How about even opening your door to neighborhood kids and blessing them in Jesus name. Happy redeeming!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Evils

That title sounds a bit ominous doesn't it? No, this is not about the evils of Halloween or the evils of living in this world. This post is about what God considers two evils that His people have committed. Here they are:

1. "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters."
2. "(They have) hewn (made) themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water

What does it mean to forsake God? How about to forget Him or look over Him. So what have we overlooked? The fact that God is the source of living water. He is the only one that can quench our thirsting soul (John 4:10). What do we mean by living water? There is a lot of stuff out there today that promises satisfaction, but leaves you more miserable then when you started. Only Christ can satisfy the deepest longing of your heart. Why would anyone drink from the living water and then stop? Glad you asked.

The second thing that is evil is the making of "buckets" that will not hold water. The real issue is not the making of a new bucket, but rather ignoring the fact that the living water is leaking out the bottom.So, the question needs to be asked, why do we leak? Because the trials of this life will puncture our "bucket". What can I do to keep from leaking? Allow God to show me where the leaks are and prayerfully repair the leaks. It seems to me that to summarize this verse would be something like this.
It is an evil thing to forget God who is the only source of what we really need and then try to find buckets that are broken to hold water. Seems pretty foolish doesn't it? Why would anyone go to a well that is empty with a broken bucket? The only reason that I could think of would be pride. We are too proud to say that we need God, and we are too proud to acknowledge that our bucket has a hole in it.
Could I challenge you today to cry out to God and tell Him how much you need what He has? Further still could I ask you to confess (agree with) to God that you have a hole in your bucket and you can't fix it alone. Once you come back to a well that satisfies and have a bucket that holds water now you are in business.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For Conscience Sake

I was reading Romans 14 this morning and it occurred to me that we read this passage of scripture but we tend not to follow it in our relationships.

Let's be honest for a moment. There are all areas of our lives that we feel strongly. Sometimes these areas are described as preference. My preference is not your preference, and depending on the day it is my preference changes. As a matter of fact my preferences have changed over the years. But let me ask you a question? Do we really want to be disagreeable over preferences? If we are not careful we will alienate people close to us because we confuse our preferences with principles found in the Word of God. Whether I eat meat or don't eat meat should not be the litmus test as to whether you think I am spiritual. The Kingdom of God is not about meat or drink, but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Let's not devour one another over our preferences. One final thought.

The Bible makes it clear that we should not do anything that would cause another person to stumble. It seems as though we can enjoy our preferences as long as we are not causing others to stumble. Let me challenge you to remember your preferences must not be confused with the principles found in the Word of God. We should love one another for conscience sake.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We Can't See What God is Really Doing

Have you ever thought how Samuel in the Bible must have felt? We all now how God used Samuel mightily and how great things were ahead for him and his family. But we read in the Bible how that Samuel's sons were not living a godly lifestyle, and furthermore that the people didn't want him to rule over them anymore. The people of Israel wanted a king, just like the other nations. Samuel warned them about the dangers of having a king but they still wanted a king.

God told Samuel that they were not rejecting him but they were rejecting God's leadership on their lives. So God led him to Saul, and he became the first king of Israel. Saul started out well but ended very badly. But look a little further and we see a tiny shepherd boy who has probably been passed over before, this time God will use Samuel to bring about God's plan in David's life.

Here's the point. If we only look at our immediate situation we will miss what God is really doing. Samuel believed that God would bring about greatness through his sons. Nope. Maybe it was through King Saul? Wrong again. God was preparing things for the arrival of David who would become not the first king of Israel but definitely the greatest king of Israel.

Where are you today? Are you struggling with seeing what God is doing? Do you still believe that He has a plan for your life? Then be faithful, and you never know who God will bring into your life.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nineveh or Sodom and Gomorrah

I am studying the first two chapters of Jonah for my message Sunday. As I am studying I am learning about Nineveh and how evil they were. Their cruelty included torture, dismemberment and evil of all kind. It sounds like an episode of N.C.I.S. or one of those forensic crime shows. But here is the question that I want to pose to you my readers, is America more like Nineveh or Sodom and Gomorrah?

Think before you answer this question. Is God going to judge us or give us another chance? The wickedness in both places was equally disturbing, and the cry to Heaven was heard by God. The only difference that I see was that Nineveh was sent a prophet (albeit reluctant) to extend the mercy and grace of God to the Ninevehites. This is the amazing part, they heard the message and repented! On the other hand Sodom and Gomorrah did not repent before God, and they were destroyed. Here is my answer to the question.

I believe that America will repent and we should pray that God gives us a second chance. America is not so far gone yet, but we as Christians must cry out to the Lord. I am told that there are people from other countries who are sent to be missionaries to America, who knows what God will do when we pray.

America stands at a crossroads and it is our duty to pray that God will give us a second chance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Matters Most

Today I was thinking about some of the experiences of my life up until now. My life has been full of building relationships not knowing what would happen afterwards. To put it another way, in every place I have been we have made some dear friends and acquaintances. At the time I had no idea that we would cross paths again. Let me explain.

When I was a Youth Pastor in my 20's I was part of a church that was just starting. There was a family that took me in as a part of their family.I still remember thinking this is the good life, I had a family that thought I mattered, and cared for me.

There were kids in the church at the time that were never in my classes or a part of what I was doing but I treated them as though they were just that important. This is just how I was taught. Now fast forward many years I find that two of these "kids" are now planning on getting married, and guess who they asked to do the ceremony? I have accepted and I am honored to conduct the wedding. Why do I tell you all of this?

What matters most is that you mattered to a child in your lifetime. Here is the challenge, whether it is your kids or other children treat them like they are the most important dignitary. You will never regret that decision.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Accepted?

My brother and I were just talking on the phone. I love my brother always has a way of encouraging me in the things of the Lord. He was telling me of one time when he wanted to be accepted, and he wondered why people hadn't noticed his talents. Then he told me that the Lord spoke to his heart and said, "you will never be accepted because you are mine." That got me to thinking does that mean that is always going to be this animosity between us and the world system? Yes. Does that mean that we are hated because we name the name of Christ? Yes. Does that mean that we should do something about this? Yes. We should love the fact that we belong to Jesus.

There is no way that we can please people. Have you tried it before? It is so difficult, it is meant to be that way. The one we are supposed to please is God, because He has accepted us and loves us enough to change us from the inside out. Today, be of good cheer you are accepted by God.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Have you stopped to think for just a minute what it would like to be homeless? No house to call your own, no car, just what you have on your back. This would pretty well devastate most of us including me. But, wait a minute. We are homeless.

Isn't it true that this world is not our final resting place? Also if that is case then it would mean that the house or car or clothes or any other possession that you "own" is just on loan. That changes things doesn't it? What if we lived a live that we so focused on this fact, that we are not staying long? How would that change how we lived our lives?

Today I have been having a Rich Mullins marathon as I have been watching all of his videos and listening to his music. He really seemed to be focused on what was really important. I want to be a man like that. I want to be a homeless man.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just Play the Game

This past Saturday. I went to my son's football game and realized that we were need of people to hold the "chains" and the "down markers" and of course someone to help referee. Then the coach turned to me and asked me to be the referee. I asked what was involved and he said that it was simple, all I had to do was make sure there were no penalties. Oh and did I mention that I was not supplied a whistle? At this point you are probably thinking about all the referee jokes you have heard and have told. Please refrain from that, as I share with you some things that I learned.
  • I learned that being a referee is a lot easier if there are rules
  • Being a referee is done best when you know the boundaries
  • Refereeing is a job that requires your undivided attention
I knew the basics of the game, but did not have a copy of the rules that were related to Grid Kid Football. It was interesting to note that there were some rules that we had that the other team didn't follow. I knew the boundaries but I wasn't sure that the players knew them, and even though I was watching intently I missed some penalties.

Okay John what is your point? Refereeing is a lot like life, it is more easily enjoyed when you know how to play the game. In life there will be a lot of times we don't know what we are doing, it is at those times we need to look at the playbook, and ask the coach what to do.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Long O Lord?

I was on the phone with my brother yesterday, and I found out that yet another thing has hit his family.

My brother is a godly man who has been through it this last year. Just to share a few things with you. He had a job that his supervisor tried to make him quit by the way he treated him, he was promised a better position at this same company only to be told that he would not get the position. He has been injured on the job, he has been lied about and physically pushed on the job. And that is just at work.

He finally found a good church to take his family only to see the church close and no place to call as his home church. I just found out that his wife had been fired because of false accusations. The only question I have is how much more can he take? He just came through a debilitating bout with a physical illness resulting from stress. Yet, my brother refuses to give up.
Here is the secret to enduring difficult times, know they will end. That's it, nothing earth shattering; just know that they will end.

God did not allow us to go through tough times for no reason, He has a plan for all that He does. I may not know the plan, but at this moment God's plan for my brother is on target. Is it easy for me to say this because it is not me, yes it is. Here is the truth, God will not forget those who have put Him first in their lives. It is said that many people are waiting for their ship to come in. Sometimes the heaviest ships are the slowest ships to come into port.

For those who are suffering, God has not forgotten you, He is testing you and He knows that you will come through this test as the victor. So how long o Lord? Until we look more and more like Jesus.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Missional: Taking Christ to the Marketplace

My journey/education experience at Gonzaga has been eye opening to say the least. I have just completed my third weekend of classes, and I love it! It has been since 1993 that I have been in school so, needless to say I have had to "reboot" so to speak. After the initial feeling of being overwhelmed, I have been able to settle down and enjoy the journey. Let me tell you why.

In all of the publications that are church related the buzz word is missional. I understand that we need to be about the mission of God, and how we do that will be different in every situation. But I have been given an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students. Since Gonzaga is a diverse setting, no one is rejected based on their beliefs. This is a two edged sword, there are those who are totally godless, and then those who are seeking for truth. It kind of reminds me of the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" The other side of this is that when I am asked how I perceive truth I can say that truth is absolute and is found in the person of Jesus Christ. How cool is that? Let me give you an example of the opportunities I have been afforded.

There is a student who is on one of my classes that has had a messed up life. This student is not a happy person, and if you knew their background you would understand why. Anyway, the other day this student said "I want to know God, but I don't know how." I was totally blown away. Here is the good thing I will get to live out my witness before this student. God is so good.

Can I challenge you to take the word missional and apply it to your situation? It is not only for Pastors, etc. it is a word for the Body of Christ to embrace. So go to your job and live out your faith knowing that others are watching. Let's take Christ to the marketplace, and not leave Him at church.