Wednesday, June 29, 2016

idol worship


One of the most amazing passages in the bible is in 2 Kings 23 where King Josiah is told about the book of the law, discovered after many years of loss.  As the book was read to him he realized they were in trouble!  They had wandered from God, from his word, from his love and set up idols and worshipped other gods.  

It was so bad that they had set up idols to other gods in the Temple of God!  That amazes me to realize how far they had wandered from God.  When Josiah heard the words of the book he tore his clothes and set about correcting their mistakes.  He ordered the priests to remove the idols from the temple. It took them a number of days!

How easily we let idols sneak into the temple of God to steal our worship and love from God.  The temple of God today is not a building, a structure, but it's me....it's you.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6 that WE are now the temple of God!  We are now the place where the Spirit of God sets up his throne.

But I must admit I easily set up other idols.  Far too easily I allow little idols to take a place in my life and capture my attention and worship.  I could list a number of them for us to discuss, but may I focus on just one?

My biggest idol, the one I have allowed a place in the one place that God says is his temple, is ME.  I have erected an idol to ME!  I celebrate it daily. I bow to it and say "yes" to its wishes.  I obey this idol more often than I obey God!

Our culture is no help at all.  As my friend, Paul, wrote recently, the news media does all it can to get us to worship the idol "ME".  They tell us "ME" deserves it.  And so we bow.

Hello, my name is Mike and I'm an idol worshipper....and sadly the idol I love the most is "ME".  

Like Josiah I am constantly on a quest to clear out the idols from the temple of God and make it a place where only God is worshipped.  It's a daily quest and the word of God constantly helps me see the little idols I have allowed in my life that will grow into big idols far too quickly.

Lord, help me see the idols I worship that distract me from you.  Give me a passion to destroy them all and worship you alone.

To be honest the idol called "ME" is a pathetic god and the sooner we destroy it the better.  But it's hard.  "ME" will fight back, but to be a worshipper of the one true God is worth the struggle. 



Sunday, June 26, 2016

You are here



I often think I am farther along in this thing called "The Christian life" than I really am.  I like to believe that I'm more godly than when I started, more like Christ, more "spiritual" (whatever that means) than I was when I became a Christian.

But I have to admit, with great shame, that I am much worse than when I began.  I know the bible says we are "desperately wicked" but I have believed....over the years...as I have read the bible hundreds of times, been a pastor for more than 40 years, and thought myself to be a "growing Christian" that I was making progress.

But I realize, if I'm honest, the me that needed a savior more than 50 years ago, still needs him even more today.  Each day proves to me that I and the rest of humanity are wicked beyond our knowing.

I'm sure some would protest and tell me how good they really are, what good things they have done, but be honest...really honest....are you any better as a person, as a moral being, than you were 10 years ago, 20 years. 

I realize that (at least for me) that I need a savior now more than I ever have!  Desperately wicked doesn't even describe my heart as I look at my thoughts.  Somehow we seem to have moral amnesia and think we are doing well, living good lives, being good people, but really...honestly, apart from Christ I would be a murderer, liar, a cheat, an adulterer.  All of that is in me.  All of that would come out, but for Christ.

Of all people I think Paul understood this best and that's why he described all his good deeds as dirty rags in Philippians.  He knew his heart. He knew there was nothing there to work with and so Christ was his only hope....and he's my only hope as well.

You're lucky I'm a Christian.  If you knew what was in my heart and what would come out, but for Christ, it would and should scare you.  AND,  If I knew what was in you I would be scared too!

SO here is where we are today...after all these years we each need Christ more today than we ever have.  Apart from him there is nothing good in us. Apart from him we have nothing to offer to God and gain access to glory.  Apart from Christ....we are lost!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Who are you?



Because who you are when no one is watching 
is
the one God sees when you think no one is watching

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thirsty


Psalm 42- "As a deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God." In an arid place like Israel the picture of a deer thirsting for water is vivid. I so wish I might thirst for God as that deer looking for water. He is the only thing that will quench my thirst, that will satisfy my soul. I am thirsty for Him this morning. And then I read Jesus words in John, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." He is the water that will satisfy my soul, he is the only one. I'm thankful I have found that water. I pray I offer it freely to others as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Becoming like Christ

Jesus invites us to come as we are, but he never 

allows us to stay that way. His goal is to make us 

like himself. Our job is to let him. It's a 

transformation that means I let go of who I am, 

what I want, what I think is right and surrender it all 

to him as he makes me like Christ. I am still 

struggling to say "yes" to him and "no" to me. It's a 

transformation that takes a lifetime, but I long to be 

like him...to see glimpses of him in my words, my 

thoughts and my love for others. It's a surrender of 

all I am to all he is. Paul described it this way, "Put 

on the Lord Jesus Christ and don't say "yes" to the 

flesh." Today I will be working on this once more.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Little things


"The earth is FULL of the lovingkindness of the Lord."
Psalm 33

All around me, even when I don't see it, even when I don't care, God's lovingkindness is working.  The earth is FULL of his lovingkindness.  

We take all of this for granted, but all around us lovingkindness, his steadfast love, is working, moving, touching our lives.  We stop seeing it because it's all around us!  

I think of the glass half full-half empty illustration and realize God is saying the glass is full and running over....all the time!

When we look at the evil of men it's easy to blame God, but he's not the cause!

There's a humorous verse in Proverbs that describes this,

"People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
    and then are angry at the Lord." -Prov. 19:3

But God says the work of his hand all the time is lovingkindness...it's so much that the world we see is full and running over with his love.  

How can I slow my pace to see what he is doing?  How can I pause at each moment and listen for his love, watch for his care and smell his blessing?  I hurry though my days and miss so much.

IF the earth is full of his lovingkindness will I notice any of it?  Will I see it?  Will I thank him for it?  

Lord, help me to see your great provision and thank you for it.  Thank you that your lovingkindness is more than I will ever know, but let me know a bit of it, let me see your love each day and thank you for it.

Don't let me miss the little things that tell me you love me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Gospel in a paragraph



I'm always amazed at the words of Paul as he writes his letters.  Of course I can't forget they were inspired words, but God had gifted him to be a wonderful voice for what God wants us to hear.  

In the following paragraph Paul describes to Titus the gospel in one paragraph.  It's clear, simple and gives us direction for today and the days ahead.  

Take a few moments and "chew" on this amazing passage.  Each time I read it I find it deeper than the time before.  

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

What is the gospel?  THIS is the gospel.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The passing storm


The ship is listing badly

Water pours over the side

The storm continues

Lightening flashes

Waves grow

Hope fades

Weary.

But

the dawn

is near

it promises hope

a new day begins

Soon we will forget the storm

that nearly sank us 

and 

celebrate 

the light of a new day

A day when the King arrives

and calms the storms that threatened our night

Storms come and they pass

but in the middle of the storm don't every forget

that it will not last

The sun will rise

The storm will cease

Hope will grow

And you will discover 

the grace of God

in new ways 

because 

you lived through the storm







Sunday, June 12, 2016

Madmen and tragedy


Today, early in night hours, a madman created a tragedy that is hard to imagine.  In a few hours he killed over 50 people and injured another 50 or more.  I'm sure, if you haven't been in a cave, you have heard the details of this day in great detail.

Let me simply (if such a thing is possible) address two issues, 1. the madman, and 2. the tragedy.

First, thankfully, madmen are a rare thing, but when they strike we are surprised, shocked, grieved and saddened.  We all know this is not the way things should be.  We hope for peace, kindness and civility, but madmen have chosen to abandon the common good and either because of insanity, hate or revenge (who knows all the motives involved) they act and the rest of us suffer.  If there is an example of evil in  human form madmen show us what that is like.

Second, the tragedy in Orlando this morning is a tragedy because of lives lost.  Senseless murder, no matter the reason, is condemned by everyone.  Evil is evil, and this was evil.  I hope we can take the motive out of the discussion, it only takes our eyes off the real issue. Whether hatred, revenge, terrorism, or prejudice...whatever the reason, this event, these murders are a terrible and sad loss.

I am praying for the families.  I'm praying for our culture. Every life is important to God.  He loves every soul lost and grief is our proper response because each of these people was a person Christ died for.  Each one was loved by God.  

This is a terrible and sad tragedy.  I pray we can focus on the lives lost and not on the motive of the madman.





Saturday, June 11, 2016

Culture without a king



 "In those days there was no king in Israel; 
everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
-Judges

A culture without a king produces compassion without care, choice without consequence and confusion leading to chaos.

Israel experienced this in the book of Judges and the results were horrible!  

When I am my own king, my own "god," and decide truth for me then my little kingdom with clash with your little kingdom and the result with be confusion and chaos, and finally truth without a truth giver.

"Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" looks very much like our culture today!  "My truth" is the guide for our day as we declare, with great authority, what is right!  Everyone should think as I do!  If you don't agree with me then you're not compassionate, caring or good.

The world around me lives without a king and so they crown themselves and demand you bow.  

When a culture lives without a king chaos is the outcome...it's the culture we live in today.  The only solution is a king we can trust, a king who will rule in truth, who will bring real compassion. 

To be honest, there is only one King who should rule the hearts of man and it's not me, you or any other man. 

David wrote in Psalms these amazing words, 

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord 
Than to trust in man." 

And Paul tells us of the day when the rightful King will come, 

when we all will hand the crowns we have claimed to the only one who deserves them,

"God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on  Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

A culture without a king produces chaos as we each clamor to claim the throne, but soon, perhaps today, the rightful King will come and we will all bow to him.

He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is Jesus Christ.

As our culture sinks into chaos we long for someone to help us, to lead us, but it won't be the men and women we put in office.  It won't be the governments who will save us.  There is only one who can help us, and he is the rightful King of every heart, of every life.

Do you know him?





Monday, June 06, 2016

Consider....

We, as a church, have just started a summer series in the book of James.  As we began this amazing study two words caught my attention in the first verses.  These two words had never stood out to me before, so let me share my new discovery with you.

The verses are 2-4.  They are the most challenging verses in the book because of their invitation to a decision.  Here they are with these two words highlighted,

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

These two words are the keys to the invitation!

Let's reverse the verses and see if it sounds any different,

Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing... 

...therefore, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

Because we know the outcome we can respond differently to the problem!  I had not really captured that clearly before.  

(I'm sorry, I'm quite slow.)

But suddenly I saw this- when we know that God's
goal is to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing, it's much easier to see trials as the training camp for that outcome.

Similar to the gym experience that takes the pain of a workout in light of the goal, we can endure the trials knowing what we will look like when God is finished. 

Consider, knowing.  If you knew how you were going to turn out could you endure a few trials to get there?  Could you do it with joy, knowing God is working for your final good?


Saturday, June 04, 2016

I worship....


I worship
the one who
walked on water
and
calms my storms


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Acceptance, tolerance and inclusion


The new sin of our culture is to speak of truth, sin, right and wrong.

The new religion of our culture is acceptance, tolerance and inclusion.  

But, just for a moment, indulge me as I ask one simple question:  


Who is your king?

That question is the only question that matters!  It's the defining issue of Matthew 25 as Jesus tells the story of the judgment when he will separate sheep from goats.  All of us will fall into one of these groups and the only difference between the two groups is this one thing-  Jesus is king of one group, but not of the other.

What does that mean?  The question is simply this, whether gay or straight, murderer or lover, liar or glutton...the question is simple:  


Is Jesus King in your life? 

If he is, then HE gets to define the rules of life for you.  He gets to tell you and me what is right and wrong, what he expects, how we should live.  

HE IS KING and that means I bow to him, his will and his way. 

Christians do not define this issue well.  We discuss rules, who is in, who is out and appear terribly intolerant....and in many ways we are, but what we need to focus on more clearly is this one issue, this one question:  Is Jesus your King?  And if he is, will you obey him even if you don't like it?

Will you stop lying because God's not a liar?  Will you stop stealing, because Jesus is your King and he's not a thief? Will you curb your appetites because God will meet your needs, you don't need to "stock up for winter."  Will you allow him to be King over your appetites both physically and sexually?  Will you walk in love because that's what Jesus called us to do?  

It means we pray for one another.  It means we love one another as we each struggle to bow to the King. It means we focus on the main thing-  Is Jesus your King and will you obey him...even if you don't like it?  These questions apply to all of us because we are all broken and need a savior.

There is only one gate we each walk through and it defines everything....

Is Jesus your King? 




Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Seeing Father

Prodigal son
or 
older brother?

Which one are you?

But where
is
the good
brother?

Where is
the brother
who
loved the 
Father?

Where is the
brother
who sees
the
Father
as loving,
caring,
and kind?

The story
from Luke 15
tells of only
two brothers,

But where is 
the good brother?

Where is the son who loved
and obeyed the Father?

The good son
was the one telling
the story,
Jesus

He knew the Father,
he loved him,
he obeyed him
and fully 
pleased him

But we, like the two sons
in the story
either wander away
or stay with father 
and resent him

How do I see
the Father 
Jesus knew?

How do I know
and trust that Father?

All my problems
all my fears
all my doubts
are resolved
in one thing-

seeing Father
clearly

Loving
Kind
Forgiving
Father,

let me see your face.
Let me see the face that
moved Jesus to obey
you completely...

...even to death.

Let me see you clearly
Because until I do,
until I see
the Father
as
Jesus did
I will be a
rebel
or
a
prodigal.




Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank you!


Thank you!

Thank you to all those who served our country and gave their lives to protect it.  We are in their debt.  It's a debt we can never pay.

All we can do is remember and say "thank you!"