Wednesday, February 28, 2007
There is no other faith like it. A faith based on the grace and love of God, full of promise and hope. All the work is done by God, not by us.
But we are in a time, in many parts of the world, where the grace of God is denied, ridiculed and suppressed...it's no longer the iron curtain we deal with, it's the graceless curtain of Islam. But God is amazing. He is penetrating that curtain with his grace and love. Man's best attempts at keeping him out look like children trying to dam a mighty river....their efforts are hopeless, the river will win and sweep them away. And in this battle between the world and the grace of God...God will win....he always does.
I have continued to read and think about the rise of Islam and its appeal...what is it that draws people to it? It's not grace, but the rules, the idea that I can work to please my god! How amazing that, in a world where God's riches and grace are free, so many want to work for them to please and worship a god who isn't really there! This is spiritual warfare at the highest levels. It's our opportunity to shine the light on God's wonderful grace in a world where many are without God's grace, and have no idea of how much he loves them.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
A few days ago I was working through some thoughts and came up with a new way to describe those who really enjoy the adventure of living- life adventurers. That concept has stuck with me and continued to make me think. Now these special people are few in our world, because so few realize who they are and what they have been given. It's a small club, membership is required. Membership is faith in Christ as savior. Only then do we have real life in the first place, only then do we even begin to begin the adventure, only then do we begin to see all that God has given us, only then are our eyes open to what an adventure this life with God can be. And yet there are so few of us...so few of those who have life who are enjoying the adventure. Most are still trying to act like the world. Most are still trying to fit in. Most are too afraid of God to trust him....yes, we will trust him for salvation, but thank you very much, we will handle the rest....and so we miss the adventure.
The model for life adventurers is Peter. Here's where his adventure really began-
Mat 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.
Mat 14:26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.
Mat 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
Mat 14:28 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
Mat 14:29 And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Mat 14:30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Mat 14:31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
For the rest of his life Peter had this night to think about, this adventure that changed his life....he had walked on water! It's funny that he still struggled so, yet he chose the adventure rather than the safety of the boat. I wonder how many of the 11 in the boat thought, "I wish I would have tried that. I wonder what it was like."
Life adventurers.....willing to step out of the safety of what we know, and choosing to trust God.
It be will exciting to see what God will do in the lives of those who choose the adventure.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Rob Bell at Willowcreek
Friday, February 23, 2007
I'm reading through the book of Jeremiah as part of my daily reading and have come to chapter 23. It's a profound chapter addressing the problems of their day AND ours. God says to Jeremiah,
Jer 23:23 "Am I not a God near at hand"--GOD's Decree-- "and not a God far off?
Jer 23:24 Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can't see him?" GOD's Decree. "Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?" GOD's Decree.
Jer 23:25 "I know what they're saying, all these prophets who preach lies using me as their text, saying 'I had this dream! I had this dream!'
Jer 23:26 How long do I have to put up with this? Do these prophets give two cents about me as they preach their lies and spew out their grandiose delusions?
Jer 23:27 They swap dreams with one another, feed on each other's delusive dreams, trying to distract my people from me just as their ancestors were distracted by the no-god Baal.
Jer 23:28 "You prophets who do nothing but dream-- go ahead and tell your silly dreams. But you prophets who have a message from me-- tell it truly and faithfully. What does straw have in common with wheat? Nothing else is like GOD's Decree.
Jer 23:29 Isn't my Message like fire?" GOD's Decree. "Isn't it like a sledgehammer busting a rock?
Jer 23:30 "I've had it with the 'prophets' who get all their sermons secondhand from each other.
Jer 23:31 Yes, I've had it with them. They make up stuff and then pretend it's a real sermon.
Jer 23:32 "Oh yes, I've had it with the prophets who preach the lies they dream up, spreading them all over the country, ruining the lives of my people with their cheap and reckless lies. "I never sent these prophets, never authorized a single one of them. They do nothing for this people--nothing!" GOD's Decree.
Jer 23:33 "And anyone, including prophets and priests, who asks, 'What's GOD got to say about all this, what's troubling him?' tell him, 'You, you're the trouble, and I'm getting rid of you.'" GOD's Decree.
Jer 23:34 "And if anyone, including prophets and priests, goes around saying glibly 'GOD's Message! GOD's Message!' I'll punish him and his family.
Jer 23:35 "Instead of claiming to know what GOD says, ask questions of one another, such as 'How do we understand GOD in this?'
Jer 23:36 But don't go around pretending to know it all, saying 'God told me this . . . God told me that. . . .' I don't want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Jer 23:37 "You can ask the prophets, 'How did GOD answer you? What did he tell you?'
Jer 23:38 But don't pretend that you know all the answers yourselves and talk like you know it all. I'm telling you: Quit the 'God told me this . . . God told me that . . .' kind of talk.
Jer 23:39 "Are you paying attention? You'd better, because I'm about to take you in hand and throw you to the ground, you and this entire city that I gave to your ancestors. I've had it with the lot of you.
Jer 23:40 You're never going to live this down. You're going down in history as a disgrace."
- It's amazing- I hear that God is speaking to the church today as well! I hear it from Christians often, "The Lord told me...." and off they go on some wonderful new revelation, but when I ask them if they are spending time in God's word I must tell you that I am greatly disappointed. Most Christians I run into do not spend time in God's word AT ALL! I am really disappointed by that. If this is true in other parts of the church in America we are in trouble.
- No one is willing to invest their time in the living word of God, but indulge new revelations like a wonderful piece of candy. It's almost as if they do not really want to hear what God really says, but would rather get some "word from God" to direct them and short-cut the very book God gave the church to help us grow up.
- I am tired of it. I am tired of hearing "The Lord told me" (when I know, after I hear what he supposedly said, that he didn't speak to them at all!) I am tired of people not caring enough about God to take even 5 minutes to spend in his word. I'm tired of the very things God speaks about in this passage in Jeremiah 23.
- So, having heard it, and seen it for many years now let me give you my insiders view- If someone says, "the Lord told me" I will almost guarantee they didn't get it from the bible, nor are they spending any time in the bible. I will almost guarantee they wouldn't know the voice of God if he spoke out loud from heaven. I will almost guarantee that these "revelations" are pride based....(I hear from God and you don't!)
- Well, enough of that. I have wanted to say something about this for years, and never have, so now...there it is. For my charismatic brothers- get in the word and see what God really says. For my evangelical brothers- get in the word and see what God really says. Then, when you say, "Can I share with you what I found in the word that really spoke to me?" I'm there! I'm all ears....that's my kind of word from God!
Now I know I will hear from some saying, "but doesn't God speak today?" Yes he does...and that's a visit for another post. But for today....get in his word and let him speak to you!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
It's Sunday morning. In about an hour I get to teach on one of the most amazing passages in the entire bible!
John 1: 29- "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
John the Baptist made this proclamation as Jesus walked by one day. It was one of the most amazing proclamations of all times. Jesus, a lamb? In one specific way he was- he came for one purpose...to take away the sin of the world. He didn't come just to cover it, he came to take it away and he did. But did you notice he said sin not sins? Why? John was telling us that Jesus' work took care of the entire sin problem of mankind. And he didn't do it for just a few; he did it for the world, the KOSMOS in Greek, everyone! What an amazing statement! At the beginning of John we see by John's testimony how Jesus' life will end, as a sacrifice for sin.
How wonderful! How amazing! All we have to do is believe in him and trust him for what he has done. It's a free gift, available for "whosoever will come". If you haven't trusted him yet I invite you to trust him as your savior, your lamb sacrificed. There is no other payment for sin that God will accept.
How can we ever say thank you enough for what he has done? In fact he tells us in Rev. 5. Take a few moments in quiet to read this chapter, its amazing!
Rev 5:1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?"
Rev 5:3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it.
Rev 5:4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;
Rev 5:5 and one of the elders *said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals."
Rev 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.
Rev 5:7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Rev 5:8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Rev 5:9 And they *sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Rev 5:10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
Rev 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
Rev 5:12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
Rev 5:13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
Rev 5:14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your roads straight.
Psa 43:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Ok, now for some deep thoughts from a shallow mind. Realize that profound is just a word to me, and I live in the world of application (so what do I do with that?) So my thoughts will not stir you to great heights, but I do hope they will encourage you.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Cracks only show up in houses that don't have good foundations, like our poor little house, full of cracks. We can fix the cracks, but they will return, because we have to fix the foundation first.
Psa 27:8 When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O LORD, I shall seek."
Psa 27:9 Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
Psa 27:10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the LORD will take me up.
Psa 27:11 Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes.
Psa 27:12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
Psa 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
Psa 27:14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Mat 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Mat 7:25 "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
Mat 7:26 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
Mat 7:27 "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
I have lived long enough to watch the lives of many men and women, and am very aware of the challenges of living a life for the glory of God. I've seen a lot of men I looked up to fail in their quest for the finish line, or worse yet, simply quit the race before the end. I don't want to fail in my quest for the victory. I want to run across the finish line with my hands held high and a smile on my face. I want to finish well. But I know that to get that done I have to live intentionally. This kind of life doesn't just happen, you have to "train" for it.
There's something else you need to know that I have found out....it's hard work! It takes discipline. You won't simply finish the race without an idea of where the finish line is. A race is intentional- it involves training, preparation, pain, patience and knowing the course, and one more thing...at times it's lonely. We each run the race individually. Although the Christian life is done in community, the race is a solo event. So it's vital that we have our time with the family of God to give us strength for the solo portions of the race. Community is like coming to a rest stop- water, bananas, fruit, a smile, a pat on the back, and off we go again....alone. But in those moments of community we were bolstered to continue the race. We got the help we needed to continue to the end.
There is the race- your walk with God. You must run that by yourself, but realize you are on the course with millions of others heading for the finish line as well. Help those who are tired, encourage those who want to give up. Smile at those who are discouraged. Community means we, in our own races to the finish, are running with others on the road as well. It's a strange life- a solo race done in community. We must do part of it by ourselves, but we can't do it well without others in community with us.
Run in such a way that you will get the prize, and help others reach their prize as well.
What a race!
Several years ago, a small farming community was experiencing a terrible drought. The leaders of the community called a prayer meeting in hope of everyone attending and holding a group prayer for rain.One man was in attendance with his small son. As everyone was praying, the small boy reached up and tugged his father's shirt to ask, "Daddy, what is everyone doing?" The man explained that everyone was praying for rain and then went back to his prayer.The boy looked around for a few more minutes and was puzzled. He tugged again on his dad's shirt and asked, "Daddy, if everyone is here to pray for rain, why didn't anyone bring an umbrella?"
"it's simple enough for a baby to wade in, but deep enough for a mature Christian to
Saturday, February 03, 2007
They are on the edge of the religious hot spot in North Africa. Although most of Africa is Christian the Muslim faith is on the move. Pray for the ministry and safety of those serving Christ in Africa. Pray for our team, that God will work through them this week.
The next question is the big one- who's in charge of my life? Is it me, the schedule, the stuff I have to do, or the balancing act? The bible makes it clear I'm in charge, and that's my blessing and my curse. For the Jews of the Old Testament the message from the prophets was, "you have chosen badly, REPENT!" All through the bible our live are a matter of our choices, good or bad, and we get to live with the results.
Have you become good at the "balance" or do you realize, as you look behind you, that you are overloaded? Make some choices, cut some ropes, dump some of the load, stop, get off the ride for a while, and just do nothing....it's called rest. Do you remember that?
Here's David's instructions:
Psa 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psa 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psa 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.
Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Psa 37:8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
As pastors in the old days would say it, "are you over committed or are you overcoming?"
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
At both ends of life we are in need of the love and care of others.
The truth is that life is a "team effort." People caring for each other.
Somewhere in the middle we seem to think that we can do this thing called life on our own, but it's not true. We are in need of others all the way through.
Pave your road ahead by caring for others around you. There is a day when you will need someone to help you....help them first.
Wasn't there a movie about this? I think they called it "Pay it forward." The truth is that this movie was based on a biblical concept-
1Ti 6:18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
1Ti 6:19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.