Friday Funny–28 February 2020

Advertisement

Showing You Care For Only $19 A Month–Throw It Out There Thursday, 27 February 2020

(Throw It Out There Thursday is a careful analysis of current situations and may be offensive to those who cannot think for themselves and cause them to curl up in the fetal position. Reader discretion is advised.)

We see these ads multiple times from different organizations every day. And NO! I am not against any of these organizations who run these ads. Their work is closer to the work of the Kingdom of God than many church programs and ministries. However, do wonder about a couple of things. Why $19 a month? And does $19 a month really show you care when you’re in a nice, comfortable home or driving a really nice car all while compromising your integrity?

Granted, they do a great job at pulling at our heart strings when showing us pictures of things like abused animals. Don’t get me wrong–I am against the abuse of animals. But I am also against the abuse of humans. They show the worst conditions that some animals live in. BUT. . .for only $19 a month you can change it AND get this limited edition T-Shirt that shows you care.

But what about unborn children? Why don’t we see ads of children being aborted because someone doesn’t want to be a parent, or because the child may have a birth defect, or because the child is the wrong gender, or simply because they changed their mind about being a parent? If we, as a nation, really care about the neglected, abused and abandoned, then $19 a month for a magazine subscription, a T-Shirt or a throw doesn’t cut the mustard when THE MOST VULNERABLE are allowed to be discarded like yesterday’s trash.

Here’s my point–$19 a month, just pennies a day will NOT change our culture as long as an unborn child isn’t protected. An expectant mother who uses Meth is arrested for abuse. But, if the day before she went to an abortion clinic to have an abortion, it’s OK. I think not. If you feel like you are a better a better person for wearing that T-Shirt or wrapping up with that blanket, go right ahead. But it takes more than $19 a month to really care. Think about James 1:27

True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.

(The Passion Translation)

If $19 a month, just pennies a day makes you think you really care–then you have been corrupted by the world’s values.

Ashes Tell The Story–Wednesday’s Wondering 26 February 2020

(picture from pghcitypaper.com

Today can be just another day in your life or. . . it can become the beginning of a journey into an adventure. This adventure is not for the weak or faint of heart. And it’s certainly not for those who choose the predictability of their current misery over the adventure that is anything but predictable. I’m speaking now to those who are willing to admit that the life they have been living is boring, painful and certainly unfulfilling.

Ash Wednesday is God’s invitation to leave behind everything in order to be filled with His Life. Jesus left behind everything in Heaven so that we could be set free. And face it, all of us are in some type of prison. An addiction. Fear. Anger. Disappointment. Despair. Frustrations. These are just a few of the names of our jailers. The Ashes of Ash Wednesday holds the key to be released from our jail cells.

For the last several days I have been praying the Scriptures and one verse has captivated my attention. Isaiah 61:3 says–“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” Do you know what ashes are? One definition of ashes is “the remains of something destroyed”. We can never have the life God intends for us until the old life–those old ways–are completely destroyed in us.

We cannot have a crown of beauty, a joyous blessing, and festive praise until the things that imprison us are turned into ashes. This process of turning our old life into ashes can be painful–but it’s not all that complicated either. Do what Paul did when he turn away from his old life and began his adventure with Jesus: “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8 NLT)

I want to challenge you today to reflect on two things: 1. Are the things I’m holding on really creating beauty, blessing and praise? 2. Have I given up everything, considered it garbage, so that I might have Jesus as my Lord and Savior? Learn the lesson from the ashes of Ash Wednesday. Then go and receive the sign of those ashes–at a church service, or with a friend, or if you’re alone, do it to yourself. You don’t need a seminary degree to impose the sign of The Ashes. Just a willingness to give up that old life in order to begin the journey into an adventure.

Why Lent?–Tuesday Thoughts 25 February 2020

Today is Fat Tuesday. No, I’m not making fun of someone’s weight. Go to New Orleans today, or go to where Mardi Gras really started, Mobile, Alabama and you will see what I mean. It’s the last day for indulgences before the Season of Lent begins. I guess it’s because I’m making preparations for our Ash Wednesday Service that has prompted this edition of Tuesday Thoughts.

Some folks are not familiar with or even know about Lent. The only Lent they know about is the Lint in their belly button or dryer. Yet Lent (spelled with an e and not an i) is the oldest tradition observed in the Church. Long before the Church recognized and celebrated the Incarnation, they recognized this Season of Lent. For the uninformed, Lent is a period of 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Morning when followers of Jesus are challenged to give up something–we call that Fasting. But there’s more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, right? Well, you don’t count Sundays because Sunday is to be a day of Feasting not Fasting.

There are those who consider this “too much Roman Catholic” for a good Protestant boy or girl. Others think that it is too formal or too high-church for a real believer. Well, I observe Lent and I’m not considered high-church. Good grief, I have a pony tail, beard and ride a loud motorcycle. The third highest compliment I’ve ever been given is that I don’t look like a preacher. What was the second and the highest compliment? I’ll save those for a later post. Back to Lent.

Lent is taking a journey with Jesus as He draws closer and closer to True Purpose for becoming human. His True Purpose was giving up His Eternal Nature and become one of us–the Creator became a creature. And in that act, taking it all the way to The Cross to die for all of us. So, for the next 40 days, starting tomorrow, we are challenged to walk with Jesus in light of His Sacrifice for us. He Gave Up Everything For Me, so why shouldn’t I give up something for Him?

But if I’m going to give up something for Lent, and then pick it back up AFTER Easter, have I really given up something in order “pick up my cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23) ? Not really; I’ve just left it on a shelf so that I can resume it after Easter. So I’ve got to go deeper and find those things I need to give up permanently. And today I will be doing just that–looking through all my “indulgences”, those things that prevents the image of Jesus from being clearly seen in me, and give at least one of them up permanently.

Wait, I just heard someone say, “Lent isn’t Biblical. Where does it say I should remember something that happened so long ago?” It does seem, that with the upheaval in the Southern Baptist Convention, that the Bible Thumping Fundamentalists are coming out of the woodwork. So allow me to set the record straight that God DOES WANT us to Remember. In Exodus, God commanded His people to remember their deliverance each year. It’s called Passover. Each of their other 6 Feasts were observed to remember what God had done for them.

I just heard my skeptic say, “Well, that’s the Old Testament! You won’t find that in the New Testament!” Oh, really grasshopper? How about Luke 22:19–And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And how about Bro. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26–

23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

No, God does’t need the Season of Lent; but we sure do! Lent is our reminder that following Jesus isn’t about Sunday Church. It’s about following the example of Jesus to Surrender and give up everything that we like and want in order to fulfill God’s desires for us. I will be reflecting all day about what I need to give up in order for the fullness of Christ to live in me. How about you?

The Word In Our Feet! When The Times Are Dark!

This is the second and last of the series Getting The Word In Our Feet.  We need, more than anything else in these times of chaos and fear is Direction.  Not just any direction; but a New And Different Direction.  Choosing a direction is not enough.  Choices without action are worthless.

Last week we learned that Any Choice That Doesn’t Come With Action Is Just Wishing And Useless.  That’s what the Old Testament illustration of the Hebrews at the edge of the Promised Land teaches us.  All those over 20, except Caleb and Joshua, never got to live within God’s promise.  Their direction was cemeteries scattered throughout the wilderness.  Now we look at a New Testament story about a single cemetery that illustrates the need for Both Direction And Action.  Turn to John 20:1-9 (N.L.T.)

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.  She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.  She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.  They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.  Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.  Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.

Decades ago, before radar and computer flying, an airplane was somewhere over the Rockies in a fog that went from the ground to way above the clouds.  The pilot came over P.A. and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good new and some bad news.  First, the bad news: we’re lost!  But the good news is, we’re 2 hours ahead of schedule.”  This describes the culture we live it; it describes people all around us—2 hours ahead of schedule but lost.

When times seem to be the darkest, people struggle to find the right direction and the subsequent actions that will bring them out of the darkness.  And here is the One Thing you need to remember today and it’s a principle that will always work:  Actions, Not Intentions, Produce The Right Outcomes. The Good News Of God’s Kingdom isn’t about changing our intentions—it is about changing our actions.  It’s not all that complicated.  Intentions cannot produce faith.  Cannot manufacture hope nor deliver us from our fear and despair. 

I can intend to do something all day long and will accomplish nothing.  If you don’t believe this, just trust me on this because I’ve done it enough to be an expert.  Just suppose Debbie asks me to do something before the day is done, I’ll say, “OK, dear, I’ll do it.”  Well, I intend to get that done.  But come the evening, if I haven’t done that, she’s going to get upset at me.

But why?  I mean I intended to do what she asked.  I intended to do it better than she thought I could do it.  Why is she so upset?  I intended to do it.  It’s just unbelievable that she would get upset that I didn’t do that—even when I intended to do it.  Are you starting to get the picture here?

Let’s bring this down to this principle and the passage behind it.  Easter Morning. I don’t know what went through your minds then I read the text. Maybe you thought that Easter’s not here yet.  Lent doesn’t even start until Wednesday.  I still have a couple of days of indulgence left.  

When I read this, I focused on what was happening to the people.  Mary Magdalene RAN to tell the disciples.  The disciples RAN to the tomb.  These folks were RUNNING!  There was motion and movement by these people. The Resurrection got the disciples involved with direction, motion and movement.  They no longer stood still!  Christians are people who Run!  The question for us here and every church is this:  How Can We Get The Word In Our Feet So That We Can Get Motion And Movement On Our Part Into God’s Promises? 

Well you have to understand that there are Sitters and there are Runners.  One of the ways you can sort out people in church is to say they come in 2 types:  Sitters and Runners.  OK, let’s look at each.

1.  First, Let’s Look At The Sitters.

The best way to describe sitters is to image them in a rocking chair, rocking and watching the world go by.  Sitters Are Those Who Are Content With Motion Without Movement And Momentum.  They Have Been Deceived Into Thinking Motion Is Movement When It’s Clearly Not Producing Momentum.

Well, here, let me show you with this rocking chair.  There’s motion, but nothing is really changing.  If you’re not prone to motion sickness, rocking really is relaxing—if you’re into that sort of thing.  There’s activity and motion, but look—this rocking chair is still here.  Am I right?  I’m moving; I’m just not going anywhere. If I turn the rocking chair around, nothing’s really changed—I’m just looking in a different direction.  OK, I’ve changed direction, but I still in the same place.  The only thing that has changed is my view.  I’m not in a different place—I’m in the same place, just a different view.  And nothing has really changed. 

Sitters Are Those Who Are Deceived Into Believing That Because They Are Rocking—There’s Motion—That This Motion Is Enough.  While rocking in a chair may be relaxing and enjoyable it is not accomplishing anything—other than make us feel better about ourselves. 

2.  Now, Let’s Look At Runners.

Runners are different!  They don’t stay in the same place.  And their view is always changing.  Runners have direction and motion—just like the sitters—but runners add the all important element of forward movement.  It Is Movement Not Motion That Always Creates Momentum.  Movement and momentum described what was happening in that cemetery just outside of Jerusalem.  Transformation began when they started running.  Running Produced Movement And That Movement Starting Producing Momentum.

Churches Are Dying Today.  It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Direction.  Everyone is pointed in some direction.  It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Motion.  Ever heard the phrase “Going through the motions”?  It’s Because They Have Lost Movement And Without Movement There Is No Momentum.   Remember the rocking chair.  There is always motion—but no real movement or momentum.

There was a runner by the name of Saul of Tarsus, running as hard as anyone against Jesus.  But God grabbed him on the Damascus Road, turned him around, and he kept right on running, this time as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles!  Give me a church full of runners every time; even if like Saul, they are running in the wrong direction.  

Because when you get runners going in the right direction, things happen!  Communities change for the better.  Families become stronger.  People quit complaining and whining so much.  People meet and follow the real Jesus.  And The Very Foundations Of Hell Tremble And Shake In Fear!  God Wants Runners!

We need to get the Word in our feet and start running!  How?  Well, the Nike commercial says it best: Just Do It!  Don’t talk about it, plunge in with both feet.  The problem with a lot of congregations is that they want a pastor to be successful for them—to do the praying, serving, witnessing and get more members.  But this is not what God has called the pastor to do.  

The pastor is one called out of the life of the church, trained and approved to help you, the lay people do your ministry.  The pastor is not to be a busy body, his job is to get the body busy!  Now, I can back this up with scripture, Eph. 4:11-12—“These were his gifts: some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers for the building up of the body of Christ!”  

Who is the body of Christ? Those outside waiting to be saved?  NO!  You are!  How do we become Runners rather than Sitters?  Allow me to give you a few principles:

  1.  Begin By Being Still. We can’t be running in just any and every direction.  We need focus.  Being still before God gives us the direction to begin running.  Think about Elijah in that cave at Mt. Horeb.  He was running in the wrong direction.  But when he stood still before God, and listened, he found that new direction—and that new direction created Movement And Momentum.
  2.  Don’t Question Or Think About The Direction, Just Run. Try to do a cost or risk analysis on the direction—and Satan will convince you it won’t work.  Think about that day Jesus told the disciples to find something to feed that crowd.  They found a boy’s small sack lunch.  They should have been ready to run—but they did the cost/risk analysis and concluded it wasn’t enough.  If Jesus sends you to do something, then He knows what’s out there and He knows it will be more than enough.
  3. Build Upon Even Small Successes.  Your running doesn’t have to produce things worthy of a page in Guide Posts.  Think about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  After discussing buckets and wells, Jesus led her to thinking about the Messiah.  In the world’s economy it was a small success.  When He had her thinking about the Messiah He was able to get her thinking about herself.  And when He got her thinking about herself and The Messiah, she went and told her whole village about Jesus.
  4. Sustain Momentum.  Keep on praying.  Keep on studying The Word.  Keep up the pace.  Keep on living this Life In Grace.  Don’t ever settle in one place of success.  Think about those Disciples after Pentecost.  About 3,000 people were saved.  Hey, that’s a lot.  Time to rest, right?  Wrong!  They kept it up—sharing life together in meals, Holy Communion, praying and growing in maturity.

And since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:

Decide Right Now If You Are Going To Be A Sitter Or A Runner!  

Years ago, someone gave me this poem, called “Sitting By The Fire” and it’s on the back of your sermon notes page:

Sitting By The Fire

He wasn’t much for moving about, it wasn’t his desire,
No matter how hard the others work, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE!
This went on from day to day, he never seemed to tire,
when others were working so hard in the church, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE!
He died one day as all must do, and some say he went up higher,
but if he’s doing what he’s always done, HE IS SITTING BY THE FIRE

Are you a Sitter?  Or will you become a Runner?

A Ninja And A Missionary–Saturday Stories 22 February 2020

Children can teach us a lot and we need to learn from them. Today’s Saturday Story is about the power of imagination and it comes from another one of our grandchildren, Caroline. Enjoy!

When I Grow Up I’m Going To Be. . .

Caroline has quite the imagination, even if I say so myself. I think it’s because she inherited it through her Grandpa! She was always telling anyone who would listen what she was going to be when she grew up. Once she announced she was going to be a “Petanarian”–that’s a doctor who takes care of people’s pets. That is, until one day she asked me if Petanarian’s had to go to school. When I told her “Yes”, she kinda lost interest in that.

But before she was going to grow up to be a Petanarian, she told her parents that she was going to be a Ninja Missionary. Though her body was small, I think she was about 3 or 4, her imagination was enormous. She explained it like this: “I’ll go out and do ninja stuff and when I’m not out doing ninja stuff I’ll be a missionary doing missionary stuff.” And the wonderful thing is–She Believed That She Could Do Just That! One day be a ninja doing ninja stuff and the next day be a missionary doing missionary stuff. Who could ever come up with a combination like this–but a child like Caroline!

Moral Of The Story

Children like Caroline see the future with unlimited potential. They even see the most unlikely things as a real possibility. They see things that we adults see either as impossible or incompatible. And because we have lost the imagination to have unlimited dreams, we lose that God-Given Gift of Seeing Potential. Adults today are living with self-imposed blinders that limits both our potential and what God has designed for us to do and to be. This has produced a dull and painful existence; when we forget how to dream without limits.

Our response to Caroline’s dream of becoming a Ninja Missionary should not be “Oh, that’s just childish imagination.” No! Our response should be like Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:17–Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. What if you stopped being disappointed, sad, disillusioned, angry and similar ways of thinking? What if, like Caroline, you could dream of being the second Ninja Missionary? You can’t the be first, Caroline was the first Ninja Missionary. Stop thinking about what can’t be done and begin seeing what could be, in your life, your family, your neighborhood and in the world. Use God’s gift of IMAGINATION!

FYI, Bart Mallard originally gave the rights to this song to Amy Grant because he couldn’t imagine himself recording it. But she had enough imagination for both of them. And as the saying goes, the rest is history–a double platinum album for MercyMe.

Critical Hostage Situation Growing–Throw It Out There Thursday 20 February 2020

(WARNING: Throw It Out There Thursday posts examines social, cultural, political and religious issues without consideration of political correctness nor prevailing theories. Reader discretion is therefore advised.)

This edition of Throw It Out There Thursday is a little later than the others because I’ve been busy doing research and homework; something that many social, cultural, political and religious theorists have a difficult time doing. I’ve looked at this from many angles and perspectives; and my conclusion is that that are millions of hostages out there. Most don’t even realize they are a hostage–but their captors know they are. What’s a hostage?

Now that you know the definition of “hostage” and now that you have been made aware that there is a current hostage situation, you may be wondering, “Who are the hostages?” The hostages are those are identified within the LBGTQ+ Community. Look again at those definitions of the word hostage. How can you NOT say that the LBGTQ+ Community is not being held hostage? Think about it.

It is a scientific and biological fact that there are only 3 genders. Male, female, and a rare anomaly affecting approximately 1.7 percent of people born with genitalia of both male and female. Social scientists, cultural hacks, and half-wit theologians have decided that an unproven truth is a fact without consistently reproducible results. They have declared that “gender” is a spectrum where people can choose where they land based on a feeling or desire. Biological science has been abandoned and the result is that there are millions of people held bondage to the Dr. Feel-Good plan of life.

Ben Shapiro took on this lie on 17 February 2017 in a question and answer session after a speech he gave at Ferris State University. When dealing with the transgender issue here is some of what Ben had to say:

The idea that sex or gender is malleable is not true. I’m not denying your humanity if you are a transgender person; I am saying that you are not the sex which you claim to be. You’re still a human being, and you’re a human being with an issue then I wish you Godspeed in dealing with it in any whatever way you see fit, but if you’re going to dictate to me that I’m supposed to pretend, I’m supposed to pretend that men are women and women are men, no. My answer is no. I’m not going to- I’m not going to modify basic biology because it threatens your subjective sense of what you are.

Ben Shapiro

Gender Dysphoria, Sexual ethics–based on a theological, psychological and sociological unproven theory. This has fed a lie to those who are most vulnerable–and have created a bondage of sexual dysfunction and dysphoria. Yet, fundamentalists and some conservatives have villainized them. Would we villainize a group of people held captive by terrorists? Would we speak evil of them, blame them for their situation?

They are held as hostages by charlatans who feed them a steady diet of what these scam-artists consider to be liberating truth. They aren’t interesting in liberating, but creating a culture that justifies their own over-inflated sense of self-importance in an ostentatious attempt to exert their mental supremacy. So they capture and hold hostage those who are most vulnerable to their nonsensical drivel. These impotent thinkers want to create socially constructed genders rather than accept biologically provided genders.

I do not see the LBGTQI+ Community with disdain or hated. I see them for who they are, hostages to the inane and sophomoric views of those who see themselves as the intellectually and spiritually elite. They are discouraged from thinking any other way about themselves than the way they tell them to think about themselves. Remember that one of the definitions of hostage is someone who is made a prisoner in order to force other people to do something. These pseudo-quasi-thinkers wants everyone to agree with them, so they hold the LBGTQI+ Community hostage. Do the science. Do the math. And please, please, please, don’t be mad the LBGTQI+ Community, they are hostages that need to be set free. Jesus declared that one of the reasons He came was to deliver the captives. I am praying and seeking for ways for God to use me in this Kingdom Task.

Sounds Of Silence–Wednesday’s Wonderings 19 February 2020

(image from gravitycenter.com)

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
(1 Kings 19:11-12

Silence!  Sometimes silence speaks louder than words.  Sometimes silence is extremely awkward.  Sometimes silence is welcomed, especially after the grandkids leave after a 2 day visit.  Sometimes silence is painful, as when someone goes home, alone, after a funeral or divorce proceeding.  But the most painful silence of all is when it seems, at least to us, that God and heaven are silent to our prayers and our needs. 

It is not only painful, but as we see in the story of Job, it is often frustrating when God not only seems to be silent, but actually is silent.  We don’t like it when God is silent and demand that God speak and speak right now.  But God doesn’t always speak out.  He chooses a time of silence.  So, how do we deal with and respond to those times when God and heaven are silent?

Elijah had remained faithful to God even though many of his fellow Israelites have turned to worshiping empty, dead gods.  Then comes the great victory at Mt. Carmel where Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest.  Prepare a sacrifice, one for Baal and one for the Lord God of All.  The God who answered by fire would be the God of everyone.  And we know that God answered Elijah’s prayer.

But then comes the threat from Jezebel:  “I will make you like one of my priests of Baal, dead as a door nail!”  Elijah, the man of courage and conviction at Mt. Carmel, becomes Elijah, a man filled with fear.  He runs away and wishes to die.  Yet God lets Elijah know that He, God, is not finished with him.  He goes to Mt. Horeb, anticipating a meeting and a word from God.  But when he arrives, something is wrong, or so it seems to the normal eye. 

The Lord was not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire.  In other words, God was silent.  In all of the normally expected ways that God spoke in that day, He chose to remain silent; not a word of confirmation of His awesome presence in any shape, fashion or form.  If I had been Elijah I would have demanded:  “OK, God, you called this meeting.  You wanted to talk and I needed to hear and talk.  What’s all this silence about?”

Truth is, that God uses those times for silence for something far bigger and much better for us, even when we cannot see how His silence helps us.  I believe there are certain specific things that God teaches us individually in these times of silence.  God will reveal principles and truths that relate directly and specifically to us and where we are in life at that particular moment.  It depends on the situation what God is trying to teach us.  However, there is at least one principle that applies to us all; a single overriding truth that fits us all.  The fact is that the time of silence is the best way to discover the power and strength that wells up inside us during the times of silence.

Here is the principle:  God is trustworthy!  God does not have to move, or speak or do anything to prove that He and He alone can be trusted.  When we are silent, usually, but not always, it means we are not doing anything.  This is not true with God.  Because God can be trusted, His silence does not mean is not that He is not working on our behalf.  Truth is, God is hard at work for us, even when we can’t see or hear him; ESPECIALLY when we can’t see or hear God.

And even though God and heaven is silent, it never means that God has forgotten us.  And, it NEVER, EVER, EVER means that God has turned His back to us.  Remember the principle:  God can be trusted!  How can we be this confident that God hasn’t turned His back on us, even in the times of silence?  The answer is clearly simple:  because of the Cross!

What About Colossians 3:5?–Tuesday Thoughts 18 February 2020

(Graphic from istockphoto.com)

This morning I was thinking about something I was reading from a book and from the Bible. It started with Paul’s thoughts in Colossians chapter 3 verse 5–“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (emphasis mine) The other was what an author wrote in a book I’m reading:

I have inquired before many church and parachurch groups regarding their plan for putting to death or mortifying “whatever belongs to your earthly nature” or flesh. I have never once had a positive response to this question. Indeed, mortifying of putting things to death doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing today’s Christians would be caught doing. Yet there it stands, at the center of the New Testament teachings.

The Great Omission by Dallas Willard (emphasis mine)

Today people are promoting the idea that God is love; certainly better than the old “God is a strict judge waiting to catch you doing something wrong so He can punish you.” God IS love; no argument from me here. But there is a growing number of people in the Western Church who have twisted this truth. They are saying and teaching “God is love and all we have to do is love God and love others. The way you love others is to accept them the way they are and not ask or expect them to change.”

Great googley moogley, geez Louise, Mother Francis, Judas priest, heaven’s to Betsy, What The What? And many are quick to point out how the theological progressives are pushing this agenda; and they are pushing it. Suddenly nothing matters that ought to matter. Right now I’m hearing some of the more conservative crowd shouting, “Amen! Preach it brother, preach it! We need more sermons on sin!” But…

What about YOU? Yes, YOU the reader! What are YOU doing to put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you? That’s part of the nature of sin–it lurks. The definition of lurking is “remaining hidden so as to wait in ambush”. If we, as followers of Jesus want to mortify things like the new sexual ethics (this is only one example) then we need to first mortify the earthly things inside of us.

“What earthly things?” you ask. OK, remember you asked! Things like feeling you are morally superior to others. Quickness to think the worst about someone rather than getting to know their story. Thinking your sin isn’t as bad as their sin. Compromising your values and integrity because it’s easier. Pew sitting every Sunday. Helping only those who are worthy of your help. Thinking that following Jesus is meant to be easy and comfortable. Thinking your views about the Bible are always right. Using the Bible as a baseball bat. Remember what Jesus said: How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

So, please excuse me. I’ve got some mortifying to do of the earthly things still lurking in me. Maybe you could do the same?

Learning To Be Led–Monday Musing 17 February 2020

Several years ago Debbie and I had been taking care of 3 of our grandchildren:  Rileigh Breeze was our 10 year old granddaughter who loves to talk, Hampton was our three year old grandson who MUST talk, and then there was Cooper, a year and a half old who talks with his hands.  I am so grateful for all of our grandchildren because they teach us so much about life and even more about God.  And I discovered something through little Cooper.

Cooper was learning how to talk.  But at that time his talk was limited to a few words and a lot of gibberish.  But one thing I noticed during that recent visit was the way he communicated when he wanted me to do something.  Rather than calling me by name (which then was Paw) he extended his hands, palms upward, and then he proceeded to move his fingers, much like squishing an overripe tomato.  If that didn’t get me moving, then he would come over to me and take hold of my finger and tug on me.  Of course he wasn’t physically strong enough to move me, but my love for our grandchildren moved me.  Then, still holding my finger, he led me to where he wanted me, and then pointed to what he was after.  If I reached for the wrong thing, he shook his head NO and pointed again at what he wanted.  This cycle of events continued until I got the right thing.  When I succeed at his appointed task for me, Cooper then told me “Tanks!”  He acknowledged the completion of the task with gratitude.

This scenario was repeated many times that weekend.  And as I sit here at my desk, I had (not another random thought) an epiphany, an “AH HA!” moment struck me.  So I took a moment to say to God, “Tanks for revealing your heart and mind to me, again, through the eyes of a little child.”  I do not know why I was so amazed; after all, Jesus said the Kingdom belongs to little children.  And here is today’s lesson I want to share with you, a lesson I “re-discovered” through Cooper.

As I read the Word, there are times when a single word leaps from the pages and captures my attention.  Listen to Romans chapter 8 verse 14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”  The word that leaped from the passage is LED!  To be led means that Someone has to do the leading.  It also means that someone must follow that lead.  It means that I cannot do both (be led and do the leading), so I must make a choice.  Will I lead or will I be led?

As the people of God we get to be a part of the many wonderful things that God is doing.  Being a part of God’s activity is both humbling and exciting.  Isn’t it great to be used by God!  But if we are not careful with that excitement we may jump ahead of God and move from being led to taking the lead.  The nature of our relationship with God requires a hierarchy of leadership.  There have been many moments in my life where God has used me to reach another person with His love.  But then I get feeling pretty good about myself and I rush forward because I want to do so much more for Him who died for me.  But in that rushing to do more, I have found myself at times switching places with the Holy Spirit.  I have found myself taking the lead, grabbing the Holy Spirit by the finger and saying, “Come on, let’s get going!  There’s so much more to do!”

And when I do that, the dynamic of our relationship has changed.  When I jump out front, I not only leave the Holy Spirit behind me, but I also put His power behind me.  Even though my intentions are good and honorable, I have abandoned the place of real power and strength.  In those moments, I was trusting in my abilities, rather than relying on His grace.  When I realize I have done this (usually after I fall flat on my face in failure), I have to stop and repent, and seek God’s forgiveness.  And you know what?  I have always found God’s grace truly is greater than all my sin.  The Spirit picks me up, dusts me off, bandages my wounds, and says, “Next time, let Me lead.”

And remember to love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

The Word In Our Feet: In The Wilderness!

What we need, more than anything else in these times of chaos and fear is Direction.  Not just any direction; but a New And Different Direction.  Choosing a direction is not enough.  Choices without action are worthless. 

And here is the One Thing you need to remember this morning:  Any Choice That Doesn’t Come With Action Is Just Wishing And Useless.  So, for the next two Sundays we’re going to focus on Getting The Word In Our Feet.  It’s about learning to take action.  We are going to look at two stories: one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. 

This week it is from Numbers 13.  This is a time when the Hebrew children thought they were lost—feeling unsure and uncertain about the future.  They were wandering in the wilderness, looking for a better land which God had promised them.  But somehow, just like our world, they feel lost, unsure of the future.  I would encourage you this week to read chapters 13 and 14, but for now let’s look at a few verses:

Vs. 1-2“The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”  

As you may know, this is the story of the 12 spies.

Vs. 17-20“Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land:  “Go north through the Negev into the hill country.  See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many.  See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad?  Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?  Is the soil fertile or poor?  Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.”  (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)  

The 12 spies go out and Moses tells them what to look for. They spend some time there, and then we find in vs. 25-28

After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran.  They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.  This was their report to Moses:  “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey.  Here is the kind of fruit it produces.  But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!”

Now, that word doesn’t mean much to us, but to that crowd of Hebrews it struck terror in their hearts.   Now the people are not only uncertain, but now they’re terrified and angry!  “What in the world are we going to do?” 

Vs. 30-33—“But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses.  “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said.  “We can certainly conquer it!”  But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed.  “We can’t go up against them!  They are stronger than we are!”  So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak.  Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”  

These 12 spies go out, spend 40 days checking everything out, trying to decide if this is where they would like to live—And Forgot What God Said—and they come back with a majority report and a minority report.  The vote is 10-2.

All 12 agree that the land is good, that it’s fruitful, and that it would be a great place to live.  All 12 agree that the cities are strong and well fortified and that the people who live there were like giants.  But 10 Of The Spies Drew A Conclusion That Wasn’t Theirs To Draw—they went beyond what God wanted them to do. 

They said, “We’re whipped!  We can’t do it! We can’t go forward!  They’ll do us in!”  But Joshua and Caleb presents the minority report and says: “Oh yes we can! Let’s go forward. We can occupy this land because God said so!”  So, how do you think the crowd voted?  

With the majority and Number 14 opens that way.  I won’t read on, I’ll just tell you what happens in case you forgot.  God gets disgusted with the whole crowd and decided that a people who have so little faith don’t deserve what He’s giving to them.  

So God says he’s going to let them have it—just give up on them and start with a different people.  Well, this upsets Moses, so he goes into his tent and prays all night, telling God that He is a gracious, loving and generous God.  He also has a little private prayer I call a Public Relations Prayer.  Moses says to God, “If you destroy this people and start all over, others will hear about it and they’re not going to think much of you.”  Then Moses prays for God to forgive them, and God does forgive them.

Then God does something very interesting.  He sets up the first generation gap in the Bible.  God declared, “Everyone over 20, except Joshua and Caleb, I condemn to wondering in this desert for 40 years, there to die.  Everyone under 20, along with Joshua and Caleb, may inherit this land after those 40 years.”  Let’s learn something about Getting The Word In Our Feet When We Are In The Wilderness:

1.  First, Let’s Look At The Minority Report!

The Minority Report can teach us some obvious lessons for the church today and for you here this morning.  

Lesson 1:  The People Of God Are Supposed To Live By Faith!  It doesn’t matter if they are in the wilderness or the Promised Land.  It doesn’t matter whether everything is going well and growing, or whether we find ourselves in adversity and hard times.  Whatever the environment may be that surrounds us, WE are to live by faith.

Lesson 2: The People Of God, Those Who Live By Faith, Somehow Manage To Win In The End, Even If It Takes A Miracle!  God’s people will always manage to win!  Why?  Because the Lord is with them!  No matter how tough the problem, if we will follow God’s directions and trust God’s plan and timing, we can’t help but win!

Lesson 3: We Can Expect To Find Some Disagreements, Even Among The People Of God.  It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a majority report and a minority report. This is quite often the way the people of God operate. We respond differently to the situations life brings us.  But I really like what is said in Chapter 14:24

“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored.  His descendants will possess their full share of that land.”  

What Marks The Difference In The People Of God Is Not What Life Brings And Puts In Their Hands, But What We Bring To Life In Our Spirit And Attitude.

You’ve seen it.  2 people go through similar tragedies, one comes through victorious, the other bitter and defeated.  People Of Faith are to bring into those difficult situations courage, commitment, joy, hope, confidence, trust and love. Indeed, this is a different spirit and that different spirit enables us to go forward against all odds.

2.  Next, Let’s Look At The Spirit Of The Majority Report.

The spirit of the people in the Majority Report is both simple and sad: “Oh, No!  We Can’t Make It!  It’s Better If We Go Back To Egypt!”  The way this type of attitude is expressed today is usually when someone says: “That’s not the way we did it back then!”  Or, “We’ve never done it that way before!”  

There are 2 ways to learn Great Lessons:  Experience And Observation.  Allow me to share nearly 46 years of Experience And Observation as a pastor:  Most local churches have a Back To Egypt Committee.  It may be a large committee or a committee of one.  They may be vocal, or they may sit silently waiting for the right moment to pounce.  

But whenever there is a proposal to go forward in ministry, forward in outreach, inevitably the Back To Egypt Committee stands up and says “Oh, no!  We can’t do that!”  

But you can look forward to the future with confidence and say with Joshua and Caleb, “Because The Lord Is With Us, We CAN Go Forward.” And I thank God, and thank Him often, for those of you who will rise up even as a minority report and say, “Oh Yes We Can Because The Lord Is Us With!”   

Our issues today are rather clear.  Let’s talk first about the Elephant In The Room, General Conference 2020.  Many wonder what’s going to happen.  Some wonder if anything will happen.  What will we look like after May 2020?  But there are more issues and they are just as important.

One issue is our resources, to use our resources to move forward toward God’s Promised Land.  What are our resources?  We have the Gospel and all its power, and that’s a lot.  We have our physical resources of money, talents, and building.  We have the Holy Spirit.  We have each other.  Your faith, commitment, leadership, spiritual service and prayers are resources for this church and should be talked about more than our physical resources.

Another issue is strategy—making decisions on how we will use our resources.  Will we recognize their value or will we go out and bury them?  Once we recognize their value, how and where will we use them for God’s kingdom and His glory?  At this point, this is usually where we disagree.  Now, I believe it’s OK to disagree with each other at this point IF we agree that we are all God’s people and that if we trust God and follow Him, we can overcome any obstacle, and that our main purpose as a church is to make more disciples for Jesus!

For these Hebrews their Canaan, their land of promise, was physical land.  Our Canaan, our land of promise, is Spiritual.  Our Canaan is relating people to Jesus Christ.  What are we doing to bring people into that relationship?  

So what do we do?  Do we listen to the Back To Egypt Committee and give up?  Or do we listen to the Joshua and Caleb Committee and say, “God Is With Us, So Let’s Go Forward!”?  The real issue we are facing is not survival but Mission!  Think about this:  If we focus on survival, we won’t survive.  The Majority Report was about Survival.  The Minority Report was about Mission!  Which Report worked?

Is the Word in your feet?  Getting the word in your feet is a matter of deciding that the Lord is with us and because the Lord is with us, we can more forward, even in the face of giants, because God is the ultimate Giant Killer! 

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here is your Next Step:  Make Up Your Mind If You Want To Go Back To Egypt, Or Move Forward Into The Promised Land.

If you long for the good old days when it was simpler, then you are Heading Back To Egypt.  But, even if it scares the living daylights out you, if your desire is to see The Kingdom On Earth, then make up your mind with Joshua and Caleb:  “Oh Yes We Can Because The Lord Is Us With!”  Then the word is in your feet!

The Nose Knows!–Saturday Stories 15 February 2020

Today’s Saturday Story is about a dog who can teach us a lot about knowing what really matters.

The Nose Knows!

It was somewhere around 2005 as best I can recall. My son Matthew and another buddy were deployed back to Iraq, along with their dogs. Their dogs were trained to sniff out and detect materials used for the making of those dreaded IEDs. Matthew’s dog was name Kitchee (I think this was how it was spelled). I wouldn’t make fun of that name; he was a big German Shepherd who knew not only how to smell explosive materials, but trained to violently attack anyone when given the command.

Each time Matthew would be deployed we would send him those famous care packages. We would send him whatever he needed and always something sweet and good to eat. We also sent something for Kitchee–a bag of rawhide chews. That dog was protecting Matthew so I made sure to always include a big bag of chews. Both soldiers, Matthew and Kitchee, always looked forward to that care package. I called Kitchee a soldier because he was–he had a rank and it was one grade higher than his handler. If Matthew had received a promotion, Kitchee did as well.

Back to the story. We had sent them a care package that arrived on their base while they were out on a mission. When they arrived back to the base Matthew picked up the package and he and Kitchee went to their room. Matthew told me he just put the package on his cot, released Kitchee from his leash, closed the door and went to the chow hall for something to eat. When he returned to their room that care package had been ripped open by Kitchee. All the contents were scattered on that cot except for that package of rawhide chews. And he was having a ball with those chews.

Kitchee bypassed homemade cookies and candy–his only interest was those chews. The box was sealed and those chews were still in a sealed factory package. But he could still smell them. He wasn’t interested in the other stuff–only what mattered the most to him–and what he knew belonged to him! The nose always knows!

Moral Of The Story

Kitchee wasn’t distracted from his mission. He bypassed all the things that weren’t meant for him. But how many times do we get distracted from our mission of becoming more and more like Jesus? God has things for each and every one of us that HE designed to help us become more like Jesus–and He sends them as a “Care Package” waiting to be opened for us to discover that special gift. It’s know as Every Day Life. Unfortunately we get distracted by the things not meant for us. But Kitchee? He teaches us that the Nose Knows! Don’t get distracted from what God has for you!

Now Tell Me Again How That Works–Throw It Out There Thursday 13 February 2020

(Throw It Out There Thursday is a careful analysis of current situations and may be offensive to those who cannot think for themselves and cause them to curl up in the fetal position. Reader discretion is advised.)

Progressive is the Thursday word of the day. “Liberal” is no longer an acceptable word to describe an agenda on ideologies, political views and theology. Progressive is the new group-chosen word to describe an agenda of certain groups; please note I used the plural–meaning that the word progressive covers a myriad of societal arenas. Progressive comes from the word progress which means “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” Forward movement–that’s their battle cry. But can someone from the progressive side explain to me how what we see is forward movement?

undefinedJust a few days ago a man in Jacksonville Florida drives his van into a political party’s Voter Registration Tent. In this own words, he did it because he did not like President Trump and “someone had to take a stand”. To take a stand, he took a lethal weapon and aimed it at 6 people exercising the Constitutionally guaranteed, all because someone had to take a stand. Two of those in the crosshairs of his lethal weapon were over 65 years old. I know for a fact that, as I am less than 14 months from reaching that age, you don’t move as fast at 65 as you did at 25. Mr. Timm surely knows that, too. But it didn’t seem to bother him. After his someone had to take a stand moment he exited his van, flipped them off and drove away.

An unnamed (by me) Speaker of the House of Representatives rips a legal document on national television. People flood the streets with violence when something doesn’t go their way. Anger is ruling the day because progressive political ideology promotes it. Hate is the order of the day. A man in San Francisco gathers volunteers to pick up trash and is verbally attacked and physically threatened because the progressive wuss assumed they were dismantling a homeless camp.

Even in the arena of theology, progressives call anyone who does not agree with them misogynists, racists, homophobes, mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant and tell us we just need to either agree with them or leave the church. All the while, these progressive thinking people claim to promote love and grace. Well…they do unless you don’t agree with them.

Here’s my point: Progressive Thinking Is Leading Us Into Regressive Living. The fear, self righteousness and anger is fueling the chaos that is moving us backwards, not forwards as a society and a people. Progressive Thinking, as it is currently being defined by the left, is creating a toxic environment that is threatening to take us back to the Stone Age. And that, my friends, is the truth and the truth will stand when the world’s on fire.

Why Have Religion?–Wednesday’s Wondering 12 February 2020

Lately I’ve been thinking about preferences. Not the preference of purchasing the name brand or the store brand. I’m thinking deeper; thinking about those questionnaires that have that asks you for your preference on Religion. Are you Christian, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, New Age, Mormon, Jehovah Witness? The list goes on. And usually there is that last choice: None of the above.

I remember several years ago when I went to a pre-admit for a procedure my cardiologist had ordered. The nurse was asking the usual questions. And one made me laugh, and she did too when I answered her. “Do you have any memory loss or lapse of memory?” I replied, “Not that I recall.”

And when it comes to the answer of my Religious Preference, I think from now on I’ll respond: None Of The Above. No, I haven’t become a None or a Done; well, maybe I am a Done. Yes! I am a Done! I’m Done with

  • Form rather than substance
  • Appearance rather than growth
  • Going through the motions rather than passion
  • Appearance rather than character of heart, mind and actions
  • Promoting doctrine rather than proclaiming transforming Grace
  • and most of all Religion rather than Relationship.

Do you really think that Jesus gave up heaven for Mary’s womb? Gave up a Throne to be placed in a feed trough? Gave up being praised for the mockery of the crowd while hanging on a cross? Did He do that and so much more just so we could have a Religion? So why have you accepted only a Religious Preference as a “thing” He wants you to have?

God never offers you a Religion; He offers you and me Relationship. Relationship carries us and guides us through the complexities of life on this orb called Earth. Relationship takes us from what we really are to who we are created to become. I’m Done with Religion. So when I answer one of those Religious Preference questionnaires I’m marking None of the above. Oh, you can keep your Religion and be short-changed, but not me.

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

You’re NOT You When–Tuesday Thoughts 11 February 2020

The other day I was thinking about something that, well is missing in our culture. OK, I know, I know there’s a lot missing in today’s culture. So I will be specific–there is a lack of maturity. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines maturity as “he quality or state of being mature“. OK, so what mature? One of the definitions given is: “of or relating to a condition of full development“. EUREKA! THAT’S IT!

Full development as a whole person. But like the description of some nations, many are underdeveloped. They remind me of this Commercial:

Many people today just aren’t themselves because they have failed to mature. To reach full development as a whole person, we need to turn to something more than the culture of today offers. The views and values of this current culture has only promoted and provided a level of immaturity rarely seen in the history of humanity. And many need more than a Snicker’s Bar.

I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:18–“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Maturity happens as we align our heart, mind, and purpose to the will and desires of God. Problem is people are too often absorbed and focused on their will and desires. The result of self-absorption is a pettiness and narrow-mindedness that has made people feel and act like they are miserable. Worse than this, they believe they are miserable. Event worst, they ARE miserable.

But to change this environment, we need to get back to Paul’s words. We need to allow The Holy Spirit to change us more and more to become like Jesus. Maturity happens as our hearts, minds and actions reflect Jesus rather than the world. You can’t be yourself, if you are like the world. You are made for something better. You’re not you when you’re not hungry for Jesus. Not even a Snickers Bar can help.

(I just added this one because I love Don Rickles.)

Double Down–Monday Musings 10 January 2020

When playing blackjack, there’s a certain set of conditions when you want to “double down”; or so I’m told. The reason is to have an opportunity to double your winnings, or so I’m told. Today’s Monday Musing is about doubling down but not at the blackjack table–but in one’s spiritual life. Now here’s the passage I’m looking at this evening–James 3:10–12

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The context of these words of James is about our words. And I would never take Brother James out of context. But. . .there is a principle that is also present. Principles work in every situation. The Principle that Brother James applies to the “tongue” is verse 12. It’s a basic principle from nature: Something designed to produce only one thing, cannot produce something different.

Yet, there are many today who have forgotten this most basic Principle. So they have doubled down and actually think it works. We are seeing a culture of people who are trying to navigate life by doubling down. Unlike in blackjack where there are certain card combinations you would NEVER double down on, there are those who double down with the wrong “cards”. They live and operate with a double heart and a double mind.

They do this by mixing Biblical Truths with Cultural Values, with Cultural Values being the “Wild Card” that overrides Biblical Truths. They embrace their Cultural Value and then find a Bible verse to support it. And the verses that don’t support that Cultural Value–they either find an excuse why the Bible is wrong, or they simply ignore it altogether.

Truth is you cannot follow Jesus by trying to align the Bible with Cultural Values. Remember Brother James’ Principle: Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. You simply cannot align Biblical Truth with some Cultural Values. But you can do this: You can transform Cultural Values by faithfully living by Biblical Truths. You can try to Double Down with Cultural Values AND Biblical Truth–but The House will win every time, and you will lose.

One Resolution: One Secret!

Finally, this series ends today.  Whew!  And you may be a bit, call it “relieved” that it’s ending.  Let’s do a quick review. 

  • Most Resolutions are expressions of the human heart to find Contentment.
  • And we can make One Resolution that will last for the rest of our lives and give us Contentment:  Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel.  Not the gospel of our best efforts, but The Gospel Of God’s Best Efforts For Us. 
  • It’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Do His Best Efforts For Us By Living In And Through Us With The Power Of The Resurrection!

And He Lives In Us And Through Us With The Power Of The Resurrection When We Make 6 Conscious Choices and make them a daily and all day long habit.  The first 5 are:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! 
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.
  5. Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You In This Life And The Life To Come!

June 19, 1952 marked the beginning of a legend in television.  On this date Garry Moore hosted the first episode of what would be the hit show “I’ve Got A Secret.”  Contestants would appear on the show that had A Secret.  It might be something unique or unusual.  It might be some embarrassment or it might be something funny.  The four panelists would ask questions and try to “guess” their Secret.  Originally the contestant would receive $20 for each panelist who could not guess their secret and also a carton of Winston cigarettes, I guess because they were the sponsor for the show.  One unusual guest they had was Samuel Seymour who appeared on the show on February 9, 1956 at the age of 96, just two months before his death.  His secret was that as a young child, he was an eye witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Maybe it’s just me, but I could imagine the apostle Paul appearing on that show because he had a good secret that the world needed to know.  I can hear Garry telling the panelist, “Paul has a secret that will change every person’s future by changing how they live now.”  The panelists quiz Paul, “Is it some type of vaccine?”  “Yes, but not in the way most people think about vaccination.”  “Is it something you invented or made?” “Oh, absolutely not!” 

“Oh, is it something that has always been around?”  “Most definitely!”  “So it’s something you found.”  “Well yes, but really it found me!”  “Did you find the fountain of youth?”  (buzzer sound)  “No, I’m afraid you’re wrong.”

Do you think that Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson would want to know Paul’s Secret?  Would you like to know Paul’s Secret?  Is there really something that will change our future by changing how we live now?  Paul’s One Secret will.  What is Paul’s secret?  Here it is in Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Now we come to the last and 6TH Conscious Choice for finding that deep, abiding Contentment and the way we can maintain this one resolution of living a life worthy of the Gospel.  And This Is The One Thing You Need To Remember Today:  Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus. 

Live every moment Through Christ.  Accept every situation Through Christ.  Celebrate every joy Through Christ.  Endure every heartache Through Christ.  Face every battle Through Christ.  Confront every struggle Through Christ!  What does this mean, Through Christ?

I found some practical insights in the word Paul chose in this word “through”.  The Greek word is a simple word, “en”.  It means in, with, by, or through.  It’s a preposition.  Now for those of us who have been out of school for a long time, let’s go back to basic English and the parts of speech.  Miss Stutts, Brenda Pettus and Glenda Weir would be so proud of me right now for even remembering this stuff. 

A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to another word or phrase in a sentence.  Purists of proper grammar often insist that it is unacceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.  Sounds exciting, huh?  But there is more to both the Greek and to the meaning of preposition.

In the rules of grammar, A Preposition Indicates There’s A Relationship That Exists Between The Noun Or Pronoun And The Phrase.  There is relationship happening within the sentence.  Now, are you getting a hint to where I’m going?  In the Greek language this simple preposition has an even deeper meaning.  Not only does it mean that a relationship exists, but It’s An Established Relationship That Carries With It The Image Of A Relationship Of Rest—Not Action—But Rest.

Contentment Is Only Found In A Relationship Of Resting In Christ.  Are you tired of carrying heavy burdens of Grief, Fear, Guilt, Remorse, Bitterness, Resentment, Regrets, Worry, Anxiety To Name A Few? How’s that working out for you, carrying that heavy load day in and day out?  Is hauling that heavy weight around all day really working for you?  Are you ready to admit that it’s not working for you?  Then drop that load and take a rest in Jesus. 

Now my comments about prepositions—especially that word Through.  Cars have air filters, gas filters and oil filters.  The water in your home is filtered and you can add an additional filter for your water.  What is the purpose of filters and why are they so important?  Whether it’s oil, gas, air or water, it takes out the trash and impurities from them.  But the only way they work is for everything to pass through that Filter.  Then the Filter can take out all that junk before it does serious damage.

This is the same principle that Paul is talking about.  To find contentment, to live that life that is Worthy Of The Gospel, Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus

I think this is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “I will give you rest.”  In order to rest we must stop and let go.  How many times have you said, “I didn’t sleep well last night”?  It may have been because you were restless and you were restless because you didn’t let go.  Jesus invites you to release and let go of all that junk you are carrying around. 

It did not matter to Paul what his circumstances were—hungry or full, hot or cold, well dressed or dressed in thrift store clothes, in good times and in bad times—Paul filtered his life through the relationship he had in Jesus.  Do you do the same?  Or do you choose to hold on tightly to that fear, that pain, that dread?  Why do we choose to carry that heavy load that is absolutely unnecessary?

We carry unnecessary loads because we have Not Learned that We Can Do Anything Through Christ Who Strengthens Us.  Anxiety, fretting, worrying and all that junk comes because we are afraid to trust the relationship Jesus is offering us.  But you can trust the Relationship because of these 3 reasons:

1.  Whatever It Is That You Can’t Handle, Jesus Can!

He calmed the stormed, healed lepers, restored sight to the blind, caused people unable to walk to dance, sent a legion of demons scurrying like cockroaches off a bluff, transformed a corrupt tax collector into a generous servant.

He fed thousands of people with a kid’s lunch sack, stood his ground with the religious bullies of his day, gave hope to a dying criminal, raised Lazarus from the grave, and much more.  Quite an impressive resume’ wouldn’t you say?  Now what is it in you or happening to you that Jesus can’t handle?  You can trust Jesus because He can handle everything in your life.

2.  Whatever It Is That Troubles You, Jesus Cares!

He took care of the taxes for Peter and the others, He wept with Martha and Mary at the grave of Lazarus, He comforted that adulterous woman shamed in public with forgiveness, He wept over Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion,

He made a hero out of a woman who took the risk of breaking all the rules just so she could wash his feet with her tears and anoint them with extravagant perfume, He cared about little children—now what makes you think he doesn’t care about what troubles you? 

You may not understand why some things happen to you, but you can count on this: Jesus Cares About You.  And in the middle of all that pain and unanswered questions, Somehow He Gives Us Comfort And His Comfort Gives Us Rest.

3.  Whatever It Is That’s Too Heavy For You To Carry, Jesus Will!

I know Jesus will carry your load—because He already has.  He carried the cross that was meant for you.  Do I need to say anything else?  The nails that had been forged just for you, Jesus stepped in and said, “I’ll take those nails.” 

And the guilt, pain and condemnation of every sinner?  He Carried That, Too.  Now, tell me, what is the weight that is crushing you that you continue to lay beneath?  What is it that you are afraid to tell Jesus about?  Do you honestly believe He doesn’t know about it?  He handled that burden then on the Cross, and He can still handle it now with Love, Grace, and Mercy.

Why filter everything through Jesus?  Because He gives us the strength—

  • To Overcome Temptations—
  • To Go Through Life’s Difficult Times—
  • Strength To Do What We Have To Do—
  • Strength To Be The Body Of Christ To Do The Things He Wants Us To Do In His Name—Teaching, Reaching, Sharing Are All Done Through His Strength.

I do not want to meddle right now; I want to get personal with you.  In any audience it’s very highly probable that there is some need, some pain, some sorrow, or some shame that is weighing heavy in a heart.  Or maybe you are carrying the heaviest burden of all:  the emptiness that will not go away.  Yours may be the heart that is longing for deep and abiding contentment but you’re restless; you’re hurting; you’re burdened.  The Secret is learning to rest—to rest in Jesus by Filtering Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus.

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:

Let go of that whatever it is that you are grasping onto tightly—fear, anger, grief, shame, whatever—and filter it through Jesus.  And the One Secret will not be a secret any longer to you.

There’s a song by David Crowder that hit me hard. The title is Come As You Are. He wrote it based on an old hymn, Come, Ye Disconsolate. Disconsolate is an old word we don’t use anymore. It means to be without comfort, unhappy. You can find comfort, and you can be better than happy–you can be joyful. But it only happens as you filter your life and experiences through Jesus:

6 Conscious Choices and make them a habit.

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! 
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You.
  5. Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You!
  6. Filter Your Life And Your Experiences Through Your Relationship With Jesus

Keeping Cadence–Saturday Stories 8 February 2020

This Saturday’s story goes back to 1996. I remember it because of 2 unforgettable things happened. For the first time in his 18 years of life, my son said, “Daddy you were right.” I had been trying to help him understand you could work hard or you could work smart. I was right; he said it and even if he doesn’t remember that moment, I always will. The other thing that happened that led to that utterance of Matthew was when he graduated Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Here’s the story.

KEEPING WITH THE CADENCE

When my son Matthew graduated from the Army’s Basic Training, I made the trip to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri to see his great accomplishment.  One of the many images that was engraved on my mind was the way they walked as a unit.  Each member, each soldier was in step with the other.  Their lines were sharp and crisp because only ONE was calling the cadence.  Their Drill Sergeant was the only voice heard.  Their ears were in tune with only their Drill Sergeant. 

I don’t remember the exact cadences they used. I remember some of them were…well it was 1996 before political correctness was fully operational…some couldn’t be repeated. But I do remember part of one of those cadences. It was something like this: “My buddy’s in a foxhole, a bullet in his head. The medic says he is wounded, but I know that he is dead.”

Then their Drill Sargent would start a new cadence call; and they never missed a step. And not far away you could hear other Drill Sergeants calling cadence, but their platoon did not heed the other voices, only the voice of one kept their focus and attention.  They were not distracted by any other voices. It was impressive, to say the least. Many cadences, many voices–but he and his platoon were in tune to only one voice. And they moved as if they were one person.

MORAL OF THE STORY

We need someone to call cadence for us. But not just anyone–The ONE who is been given that responsibility–for us as individuals and us collectively as the Body of Christ. That’s Jesus. And He does give us the cadence call through the Holy Spirit. It’s like Paul wrote in Galatians 5:26–

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

In real life, there are a lot of things that demand our attention:  family, jobs, appointments, and activities.  It is easy to find ourselves frustrated or disappointed at the end of the day because of the busyness with which we are seemingly perpetually engaged in.  And this is where the stress comes in and often overwhelms us. 

I’m glad Jesus taught us to pray saying “Our Father” rather than “Our Drill Sergeant.”  So, if you find yourself out of step and full of stress, remember my lesson.  Let God lead the parade called life.  Listen to His voice as He calls out the cadence.  Life flows much better when we cooperate with God, much like that platoon that followed only one Drill Sergeant’s cadence.

When Hate Is Allowed And Acceptable–Throw It Out There Thursday 6 February 2020

After watching the evening news yesterday, there was no doubt about today’s Throw It Out There Thursday! There were 2 events that prompts more than just “Throw It Out There”–but this definitely qualifies as a rant. So please put your trays in their up position, have your seat in the upright position and buckle your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Tuesday evening Kimberly Police Officer Nick O’Rear was shot and murdered while on duty. I once served the Kimberly Community and my heart breaks for them. You can read about it HERE. Officer O’Rear had a family, 2 children and one on the way.

And on Wednesday, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock was gunned down when he stopped to assist a disabled motorist on Interstate 95 at a rest stop in Martin County on Wednesday. He was shot and killed by a person who was with that vehicle.

In 2019, 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty. This number does not include those morons who weren’t paying attention while driving and “accidentally” hit an officer with their auto. So far in 2020 there have been 12 deaths. I have many friends in law enforcement. And I have a son who is law enforcement. And it seems that a certain segment of society has put a target on anyone and everyone who carries a badge. And now, I have placed the Throw It Out There Target on that certain segment of society.

I’m not going to call out by name a certain political party, so I’m only going to refer to them as the FAH Party. FAH is the acronym for Fear, Anger and Hate Party. They are influencers of our culture creating, you guessed it, FEAR, ANGER AND HATE! Their recent debacle in Washington D.C. is not even the tip of the iceberg of chaos they are promoting. This has been going on for some time.

I never joined the AARP because of their use of FAH. Years ago I let my NRA membership lapse because of their use of FAH. The FAH influencers have turned this nation into a culture where the value of human life means nothing, especially towards those in law enforcement. The FAH Party has nurtured and promoted the value of distrust of authority beyond the level of the 1960’s.

Everyday that Deputy Matthew Burbank and those who wear the badge with pride and dignity goes out to Serve and Protect, there’s someone with a smartphone who wants to take out of context what he HAS to do in order to Serve and Protect. Everyday someone who distrusts authority is out there who would like nothing more than to end his and his brothers and sisters existence.

And the FAH Party followers even target innocent people simply trying to live their lives. FAH Party stirs up jealousy against those who work hard. Heck, we can’t even worship in peace. I am doing something I never thought I would have to do. Each and every Sunday I carry a concealed weapon just in case a FAH follower decides they don’t like what we say or do.

FAH blinds people to the consequences of their actions. It causes them to whine and throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. Those operating under the influence of FAH believe they are right and the rest of us are not just wrong–we are mean racists, sexists, bigoted, misogynists, and are the problem. If we would just become FAH Believers then everything would be hunky-dory!

Not to minimize the tragedy from the Coronavirus, but FAH is doing far more damage to the fabric of human civilization than any disease or virus. So to the FAH Party Members I say:

  • Thanks for putting my son in more danger than he was in the hell holes he went to as a committed member of the U.S. Army.
  • Thanks for creating the fog of chaos that is blinding people.
  • Thanks for pointing out imaginary problems.
  • Thanks for always pointing out what’s wrong but never offering solutions.
  • Thanks for nothing!

But what can be done to end this vile, lecherous, odoriferous plague set loose upon civilization by the FAH Party? We can refuse to Fear, be Angry, and we can certainly stop Hating. We can be examples of courtesy and respect, especially with those with disagree. We can pray for ourselves to become the best examples for the human race. We can not give money to any organization that promotes Fear, Anger or Hate. And in the good, ol’ U.S. of A., we can vote!

And it’s on this last point, voting that I encourage you to PTPPray, Think and Participate by going to the polls to vote. Don’t let polls and the FAH news outlets determine who to vote for. Speaking from experience, sometimes the septic tank needs to be pumped out and cleaned.

Does AT&T Know More About Faith Than The 21st Century Church?–Wednesday’s Wondering 5 February 2020

This Wednesday I’m wondering about. . . faith; more exactly, Where Is The Faith In God Today? Clarification is in order: By the word FAITH I am talking about unconditional and unlimited trust in God–in God’s ways, timing, and most of all, in His Word to us, The Bible.

While the Church is supposed to be the one who leads the way in understanding and living in and by Faith, it seems that this huge corporation called AT&T® has a better grasp on Faith. Maybe you’ve seen this commercial:

For many who wear the name “Christian”, they think Faith is a set of beliefs and creeds. That is the context in which they use and apply Faith. If you are one of them, how can I say this??? You missed the boat. The plane has already taken off. You’re playing solitaire with a deck of 49 cards. Too many won’t believe until they see it. But AT&T® understands the power of Faith.

“A lot of people say I’ll believe it when I see it. But I’ll tell you what. They got it backwards. Because there are certain things in life that you can only see when you first believe.” Whoever wrote this script must have read at some point in their life Hebrews 11:1–“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

In the midst of this political chaos, if you do not believe there is a way forward for us as a nation, then you don’t have Faith. If you think your vote, your voice, your life will never make a difference, then you don’t have Faith. And for my United Methodist friends, if you think the future of our Tribe is gone, then you don’t have Faith.

Too many are living each day with those sleep masks, blind and oblivious to what God is doing right smack dab in the middle of all this messiness. Without Faith you are doomed to your petty, minuscule world and you will end up looking like and acting like that nameless Speaker of the House did last night.

On the other hand, there are certain things you cannot see until you first believe. Faith empowers and emboldens people to see beyond the immediate to what can be when we cooperate with God. Think about those 10 lepers who approached Jesus. Man! Talk about messiness. And Jesus had the audacity to tell them, “Go show yourselves to the Priests and get your certificate of clean health so you can be reunited with your families and communities!”

Now get this–they were STILL lepers. The signs of leprosy was all over them. The “rule” was you had to be clear of leprosy, now make sure you get this part, BEFORE YOU GO TO THE PRIEST FOR YOUR CERTIFICATE OF HEALTH! But these lepers didn’t go by the “rule”; while they were still messy lepers they acted as if they were already healed. They couldn’t see themselves healed until they believed they were healed.

And how did that work out for them? Well, they got a clean bill of health from the Priest. They were reunited with families, friends and communities. And it was all because they knew that certain things couldn’t be seen until they believed. And if you believe this nation, your state, your family, your community, and your church is doomed–then it’s time for Faith. Not faith in yourselves, but FAITH in Jesus who said…

17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” 20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Luke 4:17-21

If you can’t see this happening in our time, take off that sleep mask and start living out your FAITH!

Set Aside for Purpose

Here’s some great thoughts to pass on. John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer is one we need to pray everyday and all day long! If you are following this blog, you need to!

Walking Beside the Boat by R.G.Henley

It is hard to see any wisdom in allowing the chief evangelist and church planter of the First Century to be caged in a Roman prison. But God, who alone knows all things and understands all things, allowed it to be so. Why?

We accept without a second thought that Christ’s suffering was for our sake. He is our Holy sacrifice. His innocence and perfection were poured out in payment for our guilt and depravity. We get that. It is another giant leap to say that Paul suffered imprisonment for the good of The Church, but that is exactly what happened.

Paul was desperately needed by his own generation. He was needed as the traveling preacher and problem solver. He was needed as the indefatigable church-planter whose judgment in matters of right leadership was critical to the survival – and flourishing – of The Faith. Paul had deep insight into…

View original post 697 more words

Winning The Trifecta–Tuesday Thoughts 4 February 2020

No, this isn’t about betting and gambling. It’s about a much ignored principle that is necessary to follow Jesus. The principle is: MATURITY! To be more exact, becoming Mature as a follower of Jesus. The lack of encouraging and teaching about Maturity is glaringly absent across the board of theological thought. Both evangelicals and progressives are failing miserably in understanding Maturity. I feel like the writer of Hebrews felt in these words:

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,  instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)

And I know that for many seasons of my life, I have come up short in arena of Maturity. But lately I have gone back to being a Disciple rather than a Pastor and Teacher. It has been a neglected journey far too often; but now, consider me simply a “student” sharing a report with the rest of the class of what I am discovering about this process of Maturity.

I’m not sharing “Steps To Maturity”–steps rarely work. But Principles work in every situation. I am praying this nearly every day. And the days I forget to pray these principles…let’s just say it shows in my spiritual life. I call this principle The Maturity Trifecta! Remember, this isn’t a 3 steps to Maturity, but an attitude and desire of the WHOLE PERSON. Here is the process and principles that each of us needs to begin each day with, and all day long.

1. Lord, help me keep my heart pure.
2. Lord, help me keep my mind focused on YOU.
3. Lord, help me keep my actions holy.

Face it, our hearts, left to itself, is tainted. We become selfish and even mean when our heart is neglected. Only The Holy Spirit can help keep our hearts pure. And our minds? Dear Lord in Heaven, without HIS help our thinking becomes twisted and vile; after all, it’s where Satan attacks us. And our actions must be holy. Holiness isn’t defined primarily by what we DON’T DO, and there’s a lot we shouldn’t do. Holiness is also what WE DO, it’s found in our actions. You can’t see what’s in my heart. You can’t see what’s in my mind (there are times you should be thankful for that!). But you can see my actions and hear my words.

So, pray! Every day and all day long, pray The Maturity Trifecta! Application of this Principle will lead you towards Maturity In Christ and God’s Kingdom will invade this world. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

A Thinking Faith–Monday Musing 3 February 2020

Faith without works is dead. 
James 2:17

This is the musing that has grabbed my attention.  But if you really know me, you know I’m about to take this truth outside of the typical and usual thinking.  Typically and usually this verse is applied to actions.  And no doubt about it, this is one of the things James is speaking about.  And if you know me, really know me, you know I am about to stretch the envelope. 

The Greek word used by James is ergon; one of the many meanings of this word is “anything accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind”.  Did you catch that last word “mind”?  Well, I did, and what this says to me is that if our faith doesn’t change our mind then our faith is…what’s that word?….oh yeah, DEAD!  How you think, more than anything else, ANYTHING ELSE, determines the direction of your life and who you are and who you are becoming. Thinking not only impacts you but also your family, neighborhood, church, community and nation.

Not only who you are and who you are becoming, how you think influences your family, church, neighborhood, community and this nation.  Everyone “thinks”—right now you’re “thinking” of that person or group who you are convinced isn’t THINKING.  And you can cite example after example after example why you think that they aren’t THINKING.  But I stand by assertion that everyone thinks.  It’s just they are doing what the late Zig Ziglar said:  they have stinkin’ thinkin’.

Why all this thinking about thinking on this Monday Musing?  Where do I begin?  Let’s focus on one thing that’s happening.  We are in an election cycle here in the good old U.S. of A.  This is NOT a political post about any political party.  It is about you, the voters—and how you think.  In 2012 Andy Andrews wrote a short book, takes less than an hour to read, titled How Do You Kill Eleven Million People?  Here’s Andy’s explanation on YouTube. And yes, I’m an Andy Addict and don’t refer me to any 12 step program.

The 11 million killed refers to those killed by Hitler and the Nazi regime.  His conclusion is simple but so profound—you allow the government to lie.  A little known fact Andy reveals is that less than 10% of the people in Germany were Nazis.  Get that:  10% controlled 90%.  How?  Because the majority of eligible voters voted for them?  No, because more people that could have changed the outcome of that election didn’t vote.

I’m just getting started, so to keep this from being any longer, I’ll get to the point. All of us have been lied to by politicians and we have made that acceptable. Furthermore, many of you have given up or given in to stinkin’ thinkin’. The result is that many of you have quit exercising your faith through your works–and your works includes your THINKING. Families are in crisis, communities are in chaos and local congregations are dying, and all because too many people have become passive.

Do you want to see your family, neighborhood, church, community and nation change for the better? Put your faith to work. Become involved. Listen. Learn. Share. Speak up and speak out, in love of course. And work begins with how you think.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

One Resolution: One Hope!

Hope is the sustainer of life.  It’s the motivator for action.  It’s the promise of tomorrow.  Life without hope is like a car without an engine, a jet without wings, a train without tracks.  You just aren’t going to be able to get anywhere.

We are in the 5th week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all:  Contentment.  The One Resolution that provide deep and abiding Contentment is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel!  Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel Of God’s Best Effort For Us.  It’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!

This Life Of Contentment grows out of 6 Conscious Choices that we make over and over.  Review time for the first four:

  1. Live With An Undivided Heart—Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
  2. Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—We focus on each other and those who are not here yet. 
  3. Find Your Unique Life Purpose.  Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why!  To reveal God’s love in ways that meets the deepest needs of others.
  4. Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You—and the only way this happens is to live with Great Resolve, remembering that our Goal in life is to be just like Jesus in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions.

In order to reach this Life Of Contentment we need more than a best guess estimate.  Sometimes when we have a problem with our car or an appliance we want to know how much it is going to cost us.  Without a thorough diagnostic, the best they can do is to give us a best guess estimate.  But in this life in grace, we need more than a best guess estimate.  Let’s pick up where we left off last week at Philippians 3:15-16 (The Message)

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

Many people are drowning today—drowning in grief, drowning in fear, drowning in despair—all because they don’t have the One Hope.  Oh, they had hope, but not the One Hope.  They had hope in the stock market, hope in a political party, hope in that relationship they thought would never end, or hope in their own ability.  And now they have cast their lot with some of the most miserable people in the world—those who have lost hope, and keep looking in the wrong places, or worse—have given up ever finding hope. 

When human hope fails, there is another kind of hope—the One Hope—that does more than sustain us in the wilderness times of our life.  This One Hope enables us to dream again and live again and it’s the one thing you need to remember—Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You! 

How confident are you of God’s grace?  Do you trust God enough to live in confidence that the grace Jesus showed people like Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, that thief on the other cross, Peter, and an overly ambitious Pharisee named Saul is the same identical grace He extends to you?  Or do you believe that it’s another, less powerful grace that He offers you?

Do you believe that the mercy Jesus lavished on lepers, the blind, the possessed, the woman caught in the act of adultery, is the same mercy He lavishes on you?  Or do you think that He shows some other lesser form of mercy on you?  Hope, the One Hope is built on the truth that in Christ God has only One Love that is full of grace and mercy for everyone.  This grace and mercy that God freely lavishes on everyone has a reason and a purpose:  that we become what we were created to be:  an exact reflection of our Creator!  And because we are not yet that complete image of our Creator, that Grace And Mercy Has A Resurrection With Your Name On It!

In 1993 a song written by Jenny Yates & Garth Brooks made its début, and in 1994 made it to #3 on the Country Western charts.  The song was “Standing Outside The Fire”.  The chorus of this song says so much more than I ever could.  It goes like this:  Standing outside the fire, Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.  This is what life is like without the One Hope—just merely survived.  Like the lyrics from this song, There’s this love that is burning deep in my soul constantly yearning to get out of control wanting to fly higher and higher I can’t abide standing outside the fire.” 

The life God offers us is not found standing outside the fire, outside of the risks.  Sure, there will be times when we get burned by the risks, the fire of stepping outside our comfort zones.  But it’s in the fire of God’s Holy Spirit that we discover what it really means to be fully alive in Jesus and Jesus fully alive in us!  Jesus took the risk, not just in becoming human, but in going to the Cross. 

Yes, he got burned by His creation, but it didn’t stop Him.  Yes, he got burned by the pain of the Cross.  But even that Cross didn’t stop Him.  He went through the fire because He knew, He knew that the Resurrection was in that fire and the only way to reach it was through the trials and sufferings.  And why would He do that?  Because Of His Unconditional Love For Us.  He knew that if He didn’t experience Resurrection we never would.  We have the One Hope that will never let us down because There Is A Resurrection With Our Name On It!  Because of His Resurrection, we can have a Resurrection In This Life and The Next Life.

1.  He Gives Us Resurrection Over Sin

How do you suppose Peter felt when confronted with the truth that not once, not twice, but 3 times he denied Jesus?  Jesus told him he would, but Peter was so confident.  But he did the unthinkable—more than deny Jesus, he abandoned the One who called him “The Rock!”  Then those crazy women came with a tale of Resurrection—and it wasn’t good news to Peter—because Peter would have come face to face with the One he denied. 

Others May Have Been Finished With Peter, Peter May Be Been Finished With Peter, But Jesus Wasn’t Finished With Him. That’s why the angel said in Mark 16:7—Tell His disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see Him there, exactly as He said.”  The Resurrection came for Peter and 50 days later, Peter helped lead thousands to Jesus.  What The Resurrection did for Peter, it does for us.  We may have given up on ourselves and others may have given up on us, but not Jesus—because He has a Resurrection right now with your name in it!

2.  He Gives Us Resurrection When We Doubt

The epitome of doubt isn’t in the story of Thomas—it’s in the story of a man named Cleopas and his unnamed friend in Luke 24.  Cleopas and his friend are going back home.  There was nothing left for them to do.  By their own admission, they “Had Hoped” Jesus was the Messiah—Had Hoped but now they doubted.  They knew Jesus had been crucified—and even heard the rumor of the Resurrection.  But all they knew for certain was that the tomb was empty—beyond that was only speculation.

They Had Hoped, but now it seems like wishful thinking.  But Jesus takes the time to come to those who were struggling with doubt.  He comes to those who “Had Hoped” but now wondered and doubted.  Why come to Cleopas and his friend?  Because Jesus had A Resurrection and they needed A Resurrection.

3.  He Will Give Us A Resurrection When We Die

He gives us a Resurrection when we sin and when we doubt because He wants us to experience Resurrection when we die!  We do not have to live in fear of death because the only One who conquered death gives us the assurance that we will overcome death.  John wrote in 1 John 5:13—My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. 

We do not have to face our death with feelings of uncertainty, wondering if we will make it.  You do not have to be afraid to die, you don’t have to be afraid to LIVE!  Because of The Resurrection and God’s unconditional love there is a Resurrection with your name and my name on it.  You can count on God! 

Why can you count on God?  Philippians 1:6—There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. 

God started this great work of grace to make you and I what we were created to be:  to be the exact image of Him, to be just like Him in every detail.  But we are not there yet—we are an unfinished project.  But God has no unfinished projects.  One day we will be God’s finished work, and He will step back, look at us and say, “You look just like me!”

God promises a Resurrection then because He gives us Resurrection now!  And because He gives us a Resurrection now, we can count on the Resurrection then.  Your One Hope is this:  There Is A Resurrection For Us With Your Name On It!  When we sin, when we doubt, and when we die, Jesus shares His Resurrection because, well because He’s The Resurrection!

Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, Here’s Your Next Step:

Bring whatever you “had hoped” to Jesus for YOUR Resurrection today.