Squint

•May 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever been in a dark room, content in the darkness and solitude, maybe just at the verge of falling fast asleep and just as you are about to drift into lala land, some rude person comes in and switches on the light. “Squint” You immediately react!  You may quickly close your eyes or cover your head.  The introduction of light has interupted your slumber, and to tell you the truth it is downright uncomfortable.

In John Chapter 8, Jesus is walking into a room of people who are accustom to the dark.  The people Jesus is speaking to at the temple on this particular day were comfortable in their slumber.  Their eyes had adjusted to the darkness to the point that they were able to navigate quite easily.  The only problem was…they were still in the dark.

The Pharisees, Saducees and other worshippers at the temple that day had their comfortable views of God.  Jesus barged into their room rudely flipping the switch and declaring..”I am the light of the world”.  What was their reponse?  SQUINT!   They wanted to turn the light off….it was interupting their slumber, challenging their beliefs about God.  But Jesus had come to show us what the father was really like.  Unfortunately many of these people so rejected the things Jesus was saying and teaching them that they litterally wanted to stone him to death, but in typical Jesus fashion he slipped away unscathed.

We can be pretty hard on the people at the temple that day.  After all, they had the light right in front of them, but they loved their darkness so much that they did everything they could to shade their ewyes until the light was out.  Truth is, most of us react the same way when confronted with new truth.

We deny it, fight it, wrestle with it, and SQUINT HARD!  It’s uncomfortable when our world of darkness is invaded by light.  But Jesus points out something that we all know from our own experience. 

John 8:31-32

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In other words….if you hold to my teachings…if you stay in the light long enough…your eyes will adjust.  Suddenly you will become aware of what the world around you is really like, you will come face to face with that truth.

THEN…(after holding onto it, staying in the light, going through the adjustment period) you will know, understand, see clearly, the truth and that truth will set you free!

“click”

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Flip the switch!

•June 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I am in the middle of an interesting dialogue with a professor friend of mine concerning the presence of evil in the world.  Where does it come from.  Is evil a tangible thing or is it simply what happens in the absence of good.  Like a dark room.  Is it really dark or is there just no light.  Is darkness tangible?

Biblically we’ve got to believe that there is a sin nature in all of us. (Thank you Adam & Eve)

That inward hunger to do the wrong thing when we really desire  to do good.  Paul understood this. 

Romans 7

15 What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. 16 So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. 17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 

That is the question.  What’s wrong with us.  There is a war raging inside each of us, because we are dualistic beings.  We’ve got a spirit but also the flesh and they are constantly at war with each other.

When the flesh wins out we are led by our evil desires and sinful nature to do evil deeds.   I am an expert on this because when I let my flesh win I am capable of doing things that would even scare Freddy Krueger. And so are you.

there is a toggle switch in each of us that determines if our flesh or spirit wins.  It’s our mind.  That’s why the Bible says so much about renewing the mind, changing the way we think, not following the patterns of the world or our society but rather filling our minds with God thoughts which reult in God deeds.  When that happens we shine like the morning sun!

So flip the switch and let your light shine!

Click!

 

Abide

•June 9, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I just started the book “I Became A Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”by Vincent Antonucci.

So far it’s a great read.  Vice said one thing that really got me thinking.  Do you have a relationship with Christ or are you abiding in him.  There is a huge difference.

I have a relationship with a lot of different people.  Some really close ones, but if those relationships became separated by time or miles or any number of things I would still function normally.  I wouldn’t shrivel up and die.  life would go on.

Abiding is so much different. 

In John 15 Jesus describes it this way. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
I really like the way the Message says it…

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

What happens to a vine that is disconnected from the branch.  It withers and dies and isn’t good for anything but kindling.

Abiding is such intimate connection that you can’t live without it.  I abide in Him and him in me.  It’s kind of like a baby in the womb.  Abiding is everything.  As a baby my nourishment, my life comes because I am in the protective womb of my mother, not only that she is in me.  I get my nourishment and life blood from her.  Disconnect that and I die.

My prayer is that you and I truly learn what it means to abide.

On my computer screen I have this statement…

We always ask Jesus to answert our prayers…What if WE were the answer to His?

Also a reference to John and abiding in intimate relationship with Christ.  Jesus prayer is that we would be in Him and He in us as He and the Father are one.  And that the oneness and unity that comes from abiding would unite us as His chruch.  The end result is that the world would come to know Him.

So it would seem that the key to living the full life that he calls us to is Abiding, and the key to Unity in His church is ABIDING, and the ultimate key to evangelizing the world is ABIDING.
Did you just feel the baby kick?  ABIDE 

What a weak! (not misspelled)

•May 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Interesting how in ministry things seem to run in cycles.  Like this week, we did 3 funerals, two weddings, and preached on Sunday or course.  Plus other odds and ends jobs.  It seems like when it rains it pours doesn’t it. Needless to say so far this week has been emotionally and physically weakening.  But spiritually, it probably gave me a much needed boost.

One of the funerals really stood out in my mind.  It was for a deal old saint of the church named Mary.

Mary was one of the first people that Tammy and I met when we came to Abundant Life in Alton, Illinois.  She was at that time a greater, she obviously loved the Lord and the church.  She was always a lady and always had a smile on her face.  She hasn’t been able to be at the church in quite some time due to age and sickness that seem to go hand in hand.  But all of us Pastors on staff knew that spiritually she was right beside us every step of the way.  She was a prayer warrior.  We need to have people like that in the church to spiritually hold up our hands when we are week.

Whenever I was preparing the sermon for the funeral I called one of Mary’s dear friends and asked if there was a favorite scripture that Mary had that we could share in the service.  She directed me to a passage in Revelation that Mary loved that talked about a door being open that no man can shut.

At first I was a little puzzled about how I could use that passage in a funeral message.  but if you look further into that passage the message is clear.

The verse is found in Revelation 3:18 which says;

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can
shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have
not denied my name. 

You see, as all of us do, when Mary was at the worse part of her illness there were days when she didn’t understand what God was up too.  she was physically, emotionally and spiritually weak.  Yet even in those times she remained faithful to the word of God and faithful to his name.  (In other words, she didn’t give God a bad name by calling herself a Christian).  She stood strong in her weakness because she wasn’t standing on her own strength, and she believed beyond her own doubts that God knew best.It’s a pretty amazing thing to see such a powerful testimony at work. 

Mary will be missed greatly, but the legacy of a life that was lived in God’s strength will carry on for eternity.
 
  

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Became A Christian And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

•May 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

Today I read an excerpt of a book that I just ordered from Amazon.

The book is called “I Became A Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt.”

Interesting title but it poses some really important questions.

Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full, (abundantly,extravagantly).

And yet somehow along the way we traded his richness for our routines, His adventure for our apathy, his promises for a lousy t-shirt.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the book. (It’ll take a couple days to get here)

Meanwhile let’s ponder some important quizos…

How has your life changed since becoming a Christian?

Have you experienced real abundant life or have you traded it in for a routine Christian existance?

Are you following Jesus (Abiding in Him) or have you been following a set of moral guidelines? (There is a difference)

Comment back on these questions and maybe together we can rediscover the dangerous, adventurous Christian life that Jesus and His disciples led, and the life that we were called to.

Selah (Hebrew for “Think about it”) and comment back.

Music Styles In Worship

•May 15, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Since the Wesley brothers re-wrote the words to popular bar tunes, and probably way before that, style of music that is appropriate for the church worship setting has been a heated debate.  Should we do only hymns or choruses, southern gospel or rock, what should the decibel levels be. (By the way, most of the church tech blogs that I have read say that you should be between 90-96 decibels on average with peaks at about 100).   Music is a big issue, I feel because it stirs our emotions, and brings us to a place where we are ready to hear from God.  Anything that involves our emotions makes us passionate about it and thus the heated debates.

Tony Morgan, one of the “Simply Strategic Guys” had a great post on his blog about music styles.  He asks questions like; Are we using the right style of music in our worship to reach our culture with the gospel?, Should we target our music toward the specific group we are trying to reach? (I say a resounding YES!) and Should it really matter.  You can read his post here.

So let’s take an informal poll.  What style of music do you listen to on a daily basis?  What style of music do you feel would be best for church?  Do you think that we should better target our music to reach a specific audience? Does it matter?

Think about it and get back to me on this.  I am really curious?

Control Freaks!

•May 7, 2008 • 1 Comment

Today I spent my entire morning at the Bi-State Preacher’s Conference.  Now I know that doesn’t sound too exciting to most of you out there caught in the web, but this one really was.  Normally something inside of me rejects the idea that I have to go. (Yes have to)  You know it’s kind of an authority issue with me.  I don’t want to be told to do something.  That’s because like most of us, I want control!

This conference was different.  It feature Dr. Gordon Anderson.  He is president of North Central Bible College (maybe that’s University now).  Anyway, what he had to say hit home on so many different levels, that I thought I ould share some of it with you.

He started out by giving a brief history of the Assembly of God movement. (Yawn!)  But it was kind of interesting to see how things have progressed (or maybe digressed) over the years.  He divided it up into four distinct Periods. 

The first one was the “Primitive Period”  from the AG’s inception until about 1942.  This period was very emotionally driven, about revival and spiritual hoopla, apocolyptic preaching that scared the “hell” out of you (literally), Holy Spirit Power, Tongues.  The whole nine yards. (interestingly in this period there were 7000 church plants)

The second period was the Evangelical Period where things got organized, doctrinal statements became more solid, there was more concern and push to be accepted etc.

Then the Charismatic Period, where the focus became the church and worship superceded preaching.  Everything started to become inwardly focused, Brownsville Revival hit the papers (which incidentally didn’t change much of anything on a longterm basis)  The focus was on the church… US!

Then comes the Post-Modern Period.  (That’s where we are now).  This period is all about ME. (and you, but to you, you is “me”. Think about that one for a while.)  And ME wants control!  This is an age of ipods, T’vo, pocket pc’s, text messaging.  We control what we see , hear, respond to, when we respond, who we ignore.  I can control my world.  Program it to suit me.  And that has creeped into religion as well.  There are niche’ churches, designed to suit me.  My music, My style, My message, My choice.

Now that’s not all bad.  I want a church that stands on the Rock, worship with Rock music, has a rockin atmosphere with a cafe’ that serves my favorite coffee, and friends that look like, talk like and act like me.  That can be leveraged for good.  But there is a downside.

Isn’t church supposed to be about WE and not ME.  The whole control issue was what got us into this mess in the first place.  God said don’t eat the fruit, the serpent questioned God’s authority, Eve wanted to decide for herself, and “CHOMP”  the rest is history.  The real issue is that they (Adam and Eve) wanted to be God.  They wanted control, they wanted to call the shots, they wanted to decide for themselves what was good, bad, right, wrong, etc.

And so we come to us.  And we want control, we want to be God of our lives, master of our domain as it were.  WE WANT CONTROL!

But the Christian life is about surrender.  Ironically in the act of surrender to God, our lives become more balanced and we feel more in control.

Face it….we are all control freaks, but wouldn’t it feel good to let God have the remote and just enjoy.

Think about it!

Philippians 3:20-21

 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.