Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A time to rest

It's time for a rest. My wife and I are going to take some time to rest and ride with some friends so I will be away from the desk for a few days.
So, let me invite you to choose the direction for this blog in weeks to come. What would you like to talk about? What subjects do you want to discuss?
I look forward to this time of rest, and I look forward to your ideas.
I'll see you in a week.......

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday's cartoon

The one who made the universe can take care of your needs.....don't worry, have a great day!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jesus loves the little children


Believe it or not there are people who annoy me. I know....I know...I shouldn't be annoyed....I'm a Christian! But the truth is that there are people out there that I completely disagree with. Their views of life and the world are 180 degrees different from mine...and since I'm right....they annoy me.
Now, you must know that my comments about being right are meant to be read with a smile...if you know me at all you know that. But behind all of that is this one thing I know that makes me soften my thoughts about those people- God loves them and sent his son to die for them. He loves them as much as he loves me! So instead of protesting, writing angry letters, getting into a debate, telling them they are wrong......I pray for them. Because God loves them and died for them he wants them saved as much as he did me....so I pray for those people....that they will know and respond to the love of God.
When I see someone through the cross and their need for a savior even those people who annoy me suddenly become people I love and care for. You see, they are not trying to annoy me on purpose...they are very sincere...they believe they are right. They are trying to do good things as well.....it's just that they don't know the love of God in their lives....so when I look at people in this way even those who annoy me suddenly look completely different...they look like people I can love and care for because God does.
Jesus does love the little children...even when we grow up.....he still loves us...even the ones that annoy me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Resting in the Lord

Psa 116:7 I said to myself, "Relax and rest. GOD has showered you with blessings.

Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;

We all long for rest...for time to stop, and refresh our lives. The pace of life, the worries we carry, the busy pace we keep wears us all out, and so we look for times to stop and rest.

Many are able to indulge in something called "vacation". This is a time to rest for a week or two, to get away from the busy lives we all live and refresh....rest.

The bible mentions another kind of rest- a rest of presence. A rest that is done in the midst of a busy life...done in the presence of God. A rest that can refresh the life and heart in the midst of all the craziness. Rest in the Lord..I read that, but really wonder how that works in real life. How do I do that? How do I rest in him in the middle of all I have to do?
I'm finding it is similar to something that Jesus did....he drew on the resources of God the Father in the midst of a busy life. There is a verse, often passed over, that hints at this hidden resource-
Joh 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
Joh 4:32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
These verses are in the middle of the story of the woman at the well. The disciples had gone into town to buy food because Jesus was hungry. Now they have returned and this is his response? There is a hint for us from Jesus that there are resources available to meet our needs beyond the physical world we know about. In fact, that's what the manna was all about in the wilderness. A trusting in God's supply in places where there was no physical supply of food, and yet their hunger was satisfied.
In this discussion on rest we are invited to rest IN the Lord. To rest in a relationship with our creator that refreshes us even in the midst of a busy life.
I can't tell you how to do this in your life. In fact David didn't give us the "how", he simply gave us the command- Rest in the Lord! Let me invite you to pursue this rest in your own life. Seek after the rest...the food...that has one source- God himself.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dealing with the "dumps"

In my reading today I came to this Psalm. It's always one of my favorites, and I visit here often. It's encouraging to read David's honest testimony about how he felt, and what he did about it. It gives me great help in dealing with my down times- remember what God has done....rehearse his love revealed in my life....it gets my thinking back in line. I encourage you to use David's words to help you when you deal with your own "dump."

Psa 42:5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God-- soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.
Psa 42:6 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Psa 42:7 Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Psa 42:8 Then GOD promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God's prayer.
Psa 42:9 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, "Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?"
Psa 42:10 They're out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, "Where is this God of yours?"
Psa 42:11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God-- soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Busy

It's been a crazy week, with the next two days just as bad. I have not even had time to stop by here and visit for a bit. I am sorry for that. We have been running dawn to dark, and sneak in a little time to rest. I understand this is normal in our culture, but yesterday I only had time to read two chapters in the word. That is not normal for me....and it throws up red flags for me...if I am too busy for time in the word then something has to change. I hope I can make those adjustments today.

I hope your Thursday is a great day, and don't let the busyness of life keep you from time with God....I know for me that's not a good thing.

Jesus understood the need for time away from the crowds. He said it better than I can-

Mar 6:31 And He *said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)

I hope you can find that secluded place to spend time with the Lord today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My privilege

Last night I had the great privilege of helping my granddaughter, Lucy, with her memory verse for summer bible school. The verse is John 1:17- For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

We went over the verse at least 10 times, and I know she still had a hard time remembering it, but it was late and bedtime, so we had to quit. What a great treat for me to help her learn one of the most important truths in history...grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Many will read that and skip right over it, not realizing what it says. The two things Christ brought to the human race were grace and truth. His mission on planet earth was to provide salvation, and in that provision he revealed two things about God that we needed most- God's grace and truth.

Now the discission of all of this is a great study in theology, but this simple verse gives us the theme and overview of the whole book of John. In this short verse you see what we most needed....and for a little 6 year old girl it was just a memory verse right now, but one day she will realize how important that is to her whole life.

What a privilege for me to share this verse with Lucy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Monday's cartoon

I love this cartoon!

Let me invite you to finish this sentence after you watch the video-

It reminds me of ___________.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Dad, today is your day! Enjoy the gifts you don't need and would never wear. Tell your kids you love them and are proud of them. Keep the cards you get, they will be treasures in the years ahead. Don't forget- you are important in your kids lives. Invest in them, love them, be there for them! Most adults in prison come from homes without a dad. You make a tremendous difference. Don't believe anyone that says you aren't needed....you are more valuable in your kids lives than you will ever know...have a great day!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Faith or doubt? Depends on where you look

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?"


I love this story! The story of Peter walking on water is a great story of faith and doubt...and the results of those choices.

It's a story that shows the results of Peter's faith, and it's a story graphically demonstrating the results of his doubt. The first thing that catches my imagination is Peter's bold request, "if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." Then, amazingly, in response to Jesus' invitation, he gets out of the boat and walks on water! He's the only man other than Jesus to ever do that!

Then, somewhere in his stroll on the waves he gets distracted. The text says, "But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out" He got distracted, he took his eyes off of Jesus.

The wording is captivating to me...."seeing the wind." You can't "see" the wind, what was he worried about? Why was he worried about the wind? The wind wasn't his problem, it was the water! He was already doing the impossible, why would he be afraid of wind?

Then the text continues, "and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" My question is simple- why did he begin to sink? Was it the distraction or the fear? I think it was both...he took his eyes off of Jesus, and with that change of focus he became frightened. He could no longer see Jesus' smile. He could no longer see that Jesus was still walking on the water. He forgot that Jesus told him to come. He lost focus and faith! He took his eyes off of Jesus and fear was the natural result....for you see, he was in a situation that demands God's help or you will get wet!

His cry is like many of our prayers, "Lord, save me!" I understand that prayer. It's often my prayer. It's often all I can get out of my mouth before I sink below the waves. It's funny that he would ask for help from someone who is walking on water...the very thing that is causing his fear and failure. Why didn't he call to the guys in the boat for help? Since he didn't believe he could walk on water, and his fear was proving that true, why would he call out to someone who is doing the very thing he is afraid of for help?

Peter quickly calls out to the only one who can help him. Now, I must be honest....if I were Jesus I would let Peter get wet! Serves him right for doubting, and why call out to me now that you don't believe I can help you do the impossible while I am doing that very thing as you cry out for help.

But not Jesus....he never deals with us in that way. He loves us, and his response to Peter is the same way he responds to us...."Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Did you notice that first word? Immediately! Jesus had to be close enough to reach Peter because he simply reached out his hand and took hold of him. Jesus was only a few feet away! And he acted immediately...he answered Peter's request, and saved him. Then he asks the most amazing question, "Why did you doubt?" I can answer that question- BECAUSE THEY WERE WALKING ON WATER, YOU CAN'T DO THAT! When Peter realized that he did the thing we humans do best....he doubted God, and began to sink.

So, what do we do with this story? Here are a few observations and applications-

1. The Christian life is impossible. You can't do it without God's help.
2. It's easy to get distracted...to get your eyes off of Jesus.
3. When I get my eyes off Jesus I usually get in trouble.
4. When problems distract me my faith may falter.
5. When my faith falters the best thing I can do is pray.
6. Jesus is always closer to me than I think he is.
7. Jesus loves me, and cares about me, my life and problems.
8. Jesus is willing and able to help me when I fail.

Do you realize that the Christian life, like this story, is a miracle of God that must be lived by faith? When you find that you are beginning to "sink" realize you have taken your eyes and faith off of Jesus. When you cry out realize that Jesus is close, and willing to answer your prayer.

Faith or doubt? It all depends on where you look....who you trust as you do this impossible thing called the Christian life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Balance

Psa 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psa 34:9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.
Psa 34:10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
Psa 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.


Balance isn't exactly the right word for it, but there is a sense of balance in the life of a Christ follower that has in it a love for God and a fear of him all at the same time.....a coming to him for refuge, seeking after him and at the same time a reverent fear of who he is.

There's a balance that makes this possible only by starting with who God is FIRST. I think we lose our way….lose our balance… when we don't establish our faith around a correct knowledge and understanding of God.

One of the best books on this topic is A.W. Tozer's book Knowledge of the Holy. It's a deceptively small book, but rich in establishing who God is and what he is like.

In the early part of the book he writes,

"A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God. It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity. All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him."

I gave his book to a person who had gotten involved in a bad thelogy a number of years ago, and asked them to read it. I thought that if I could get them to think rightly about God then we could restore some balance to their thinking and theology, but when I asked later, "did you read the book I gave you?" the answer was astonishing to me. This person said, "Yes, I read it, but MY god isn't like that..."

Immediately I saw their problem. They had become an idol worshipper….they had created a god of their own design to worship. Many have done that to their own hurt. If my view of God does not line up with scripture then I have invented a god of my own design....I have grabbed my hammer and chisel and formed a god I'm comfortable with (note Isa 44:9 Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame.)

Balance in my life starts with knowing God...the God who is....and from that everything else must line up. From that foundation I can respond correctly to my life and situations. From that foundation I can find balance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday's cartoon


Even when you are obeying God little annoyances happen.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Little words


Jas 3:5 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.

I must tell you the story about Wilbur. Wilbur and his family were members of a church I pastored in Oklahoma. It was my second pastorate. I was young, but I already knew well how to build churches. Wilbur and his family lived near the church, and I met him as I went door to door talking to people about faith. Wilbur, his wife and their three boys became active members of our church family.

But Wilbur was “odd”. Now, you may ask what I mean by that and I would tell you that it’s hard to explain. Wilbur was partially handicapped, so he was on disability and couldn’t work. With his time he developed a number of hobbies. He was a great guy, a wonderful husband and very involved in his son’s lives. But Wilbur was “odd”.

One day I took Wilbur out for lunch. We spent the time over food talking about faith, life and family. We always had a great time together. On the way back to the church after lunch we passed a business that really bothered me….you see I pastored the Tulsa Friends Church. It was a part of the Quaker community. But right down the street from our church someone had built a bar and named it “The Friendly Tavern”. Now, that may seem like a small annoyance to most, but it was even worse than that…it was a topless bar! I felt that it was a personal slap in my face as the pastor of the Friends Church…that they were mocking me. And what was worse…I had to pass this place to get to my church.

On this day, as we drove by the bar, I made a passing comment without thinking. I said, “I sure wish that place wasn’t there.” That was all I said…and off we go, back to the church.

That night…that very night, the bar burned to the ground and was never rebuilt. Now I must tell you that I felt a sense of relief that this bar was gone. When the site was cleared it faded from my memory and I thought no more of it until…..

Years later Wilbur died. His sons called me and asked if I would come back to Tulsa to preach Wilbur’s funeral. Of course, I was honored. I have done hundreds of funerals in my life for friends and family members, but this one is my most memorable…because at this funeral I learned a very important lesson.

On the day of the funeral I went to Wilbur’s home to meet with the family and his sons. Wilbur’s wife had died a few years earlier, and I had the honor of speaking at her funeral as well, now I was looking forward to seeing Wilbur’s boys. We had a good visit, but they wanted to take me aside to talk for a minute, so we went into the bedroom, shut the door, and then I heard something I never expected. The older son said, “Dad wanted us to be sure to tell you, after he died, that he took care of that bar for you.”

I was speechless! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My little thoughtless comment had motivated Wilbur to torch a bar to satisfy my wishes? Yes, according to the boys, this was true. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of all the lives I had affected by one thoughtless comment in the car…how those little words had changed lives.

I don’t remember anything I said at the funeral, but I remember what the boys told me, “Dad wanted us to be sure to tell you that he took care of that bar for you.”

Little words…what a flame they can start. Now you surely think I have made this story up. Most people who hear it say, “Did that really happen?” And, embarrassed, I must tell you that it really did.

So let me offer to you a modern day, real life parable for these verses we began with in James, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire” (or a bar fire).

Life changers


Each of us has people in our lives that have made a difference....either good or bad. Today I want to highlight a man who made a big impact in my life in a positive way, one of my "life changers."

His name is Jim Walters.

He was one of my profs at university. He taught in the biblical studies department. Jim started teaching the year I started university, and just recently retired.

Jim had a love for the word of God, and passed that on to me. He taught the survey classes to us poor freshmen, and did a great job of communicating his love for the bible. I took every class I could with Jim, and ultimately majored in biblical studies.

It was Jim’s love for the bible that infected me, and I am forever grateful to him for that. Jim was a great professor and a wonderful friend to me.

I just wanted to highlight one person you may never meet who touched my life to help make me who I am. We are all built on the shoulders of other men and women, and they stand on the shoulders of men and women we may never know about. It is amazing how God has built his church through the lives of fallen men and women trusting him to work through them.

May we each be people who prepare a place for others to stand, may we be people who will give those around us examples to celebrate in the years ahead.

1Pe 2:9 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you--

I would love to know who has made a difference in your life, and why…whose shoulders do you stand on?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Perceptions, part 2

In part 1 I posted the work of Julian Beever. He's an amazing artist, and his work has been highlighted in numerous videos and articles. The reason his work is so amazing is that it is done in chalk on a sidewalk, but it gives the feeling of 3 dimensions. It's the best of illusions because although you know he has drawn on a flat surface your eyes and brain insist that this is more than 2 dimensional.

In this format illusion and the challenge to our perceptions is entertaining, fun and thought provoking. But in real life it's not so funny. When someone "paints" themselves differently than they really are it fools us for a while, but soon we see them for what they are and we are always disappointed when the truth is revealed.

When this happens in art it’s entertainment, when it happens in lives it’s a lie. When once we have encountered a fraud it makes us suspect of everyone. When a politician paints himself as something he’s not, and we believe him, we become more jaded about every other politician after that. If a pastor paints himself as a godly man, but we find that he’s not, we are suspicious of all pastors….and suddenly the work of godly men is much harder.

This happens in all areas of life, and we must deal with the fact that we are fallen men and women…there will always be those who “paint” themselves in a way to deceive us. How do we deal with this and not become hardened to others? How do we deal with the reality of those who lie, and realize that this is not true of everyone?

Let me share briefly my solution. This is what I have done. After nearly 57 years of living I find that my vision is becoming very clear in two areas, 1. who God is and what he’s like, and 2. who man is and what we are like. Having these two things clear has helped me tremendously. Here’s how I do it. I read Proverbs to better know man, and I read Psalms to better know God. These are the two books I start with each day….a chapter in Proverbs, and maybe several in Psalms. Proverbs is for my head, Psalms is for my heart. Proverbs teaches me about man, Psalms teaches me about God. It’s the medicine that keeps me “healthy” spiritually. Now, I will tell you that I also read in several other places in the word each day, but that’s for another discussion.

Here’s my point for this discussion. I KNOW that God will always be true, always be the same, always do what he says. He is God. And I also know that I must love those around me even if they do paint pictures of themselves that are not true. I need to see them through the lens of the word of God or I will become jaded, hard and bitter. Men will always be the same…that’s just the way we are…we like to “paint”. Knowing how to look at all of this helps me keep a tender heart towards God and a loving heart towards man. It’s one of the secrets to FINISHING WELL.

An update-

Btb posted a comment that I want to add to this post. I think it adds a personal application to my thoughts. Thanks, Btb, for the thoughts-

Having been the deceiver and having been deceived by the two roles you mention in "Perceptions, part 2" (as well as others) over the past year or so; the Biblical truth of an individual’s heart and how wicked and deceitful it can be has been brought into the light for me along with the on-going need for me to be transparent. Having faced(ing) the consequences for being that deceiver, I believe this to have softened my heart towards others when they have deceived me. Thus, I must forgive/restore, forgive/restore, forgive/restore........I’m still amazed that when we deceive; that somehow we think we’ve deceived God, when in reality we’ve only deceived ourselves or others. God is never surprised by our deceit and He's the Judge.

Perceptions

This is a great video of Julian Beever's work. He does street chalk art. He is a master of perception...even though he's working on a flat surface he creates the perception of a 3 dimensional picture. It's great to watch him work. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Life's "eggs"


“Everything is a consequence….and everything has consequences.” -A.W. Tozer
Every egg comes from a deed....every egg has potential for a life of it's own. Every egg is a sign that something has happened, and it's a promise of something else that may happen.
We all live with "eggs"...the results of choices we have made. What will be the fruit of our "eggs?"
I am in the middle of one of the best lessons of my life, and fortunate for me, they are eggs laid by someone else. I am watching the results of choices made, the eggs laid, the potential of what will come from those eggs in the future....what will be that fruit? It surely will produce "rotten eggs" for the deeds are the kind that can only make those kind of eggs.....but what a great learning for me.
Honestly, I am very grateful to be able to learn from others...both good and bad lessons. As I watch those around me I see that God's word is true, and the results of life choices do produce the "eggs" the bible promises....and it promises the fruit of those eggs will live on as evidence of my choice....my actions give birth to the results of those actions and live on to either haunt me with grief or bless me with joy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Adventures in the lettuce patch, part 1


As I study the bible I'm often fascinated by phrases and words....I watch for them. I know that the adventure I'm about to take you on would not work in the original language as well as it does in English, but bear with me a little.
34 times in the New Testament, Romans to Revelation, the phrase "let us...." appears. This phrase has fascinated me. It gives the reader direction, choice, admonition, an invitation and a gentle command...."let us" hints at a choice on the readers part that invites us to participate in the directions given by the author. On occasion I will introduce another "let us" verse. I hope you will enjoy these little "adventures in the let us patch."
Here's the first one-
Rom 13:12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
One thing I've found in the "let us patch" is that each of the invitations is based on a truth. From that truth we are invited to make a choice or series of choices. This is the first one in the series. Paul writes to us and gives us some clarity about where we are in the eternal timeline, and invites our response in two specific areas- 1. what we lay aside, and 2. what we put on. Both decisions based on where we are in time! This is the language of changing clothes. "Lay aside" the deeds of darkness, and "put on" the armor of light. It's the great exchange! Because we have been transferred to a new kingdom- the kingdom of light- we are invited to dress for the part.
Imagine the homeless man who suddenly is given a million dollars and a mansion, but doesn't want to change out of his rags. He would look completely out of place in the mansion....in his rags. Especially when the closets are full of new clothes! What an odd picture!
There are other observations from this short verse, but let me allow you to make them. What else do you see in our "let us patch" from this verse?
I look forward to your observations....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How Beliefs Have Changed



Barna's Annual Tracking Study Shows Americans Stay Spiritually Active, But Biblical Views Wane (a portion of the article available from the Barna website http://www.barna.org/. )
"It is not unusual to spot minor ebbs and flows in what adults believe. However, the 2007 study of the nation’s core beliefs found that five out of six theological perspectives have shifted in recent years away from traditional biblical views. This includes perspectives about three spiritual figures: God, Jesus, and Satan.
Most Americans still embrace a traditional view of God, but they are less likely than ever to do so. Currently two-thirds of Americans believe that God is best described as the all-powerful, all-knowing perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today (66%). However, this proportion is lower than it was a year ago (71%) and represents the lowest percentage in more than twenty years of similar surveys.
Few adults possess orthodox views about Jesus and the Devil. Currently, just one-third of Americans strongly disagree that Jesus sinned (37%) and just one-quarter strongly reject the idea that Satan is not a real spiritual being (24%). Each of these beliefs is lower than last year and among the lowest points in nearly two decades of tracking these views.
The other changes in beliefs include greater reluctance to explain their faith to other people (just 29% strongly endorse this view, compared with 39% in 2006) and the willingness to reject good works as a means to personal salvation (down to 27% from 31%).
Given these shifts, it is ironic that the only religious belief that was unchanged from previous years was the belief that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. Not quite half of Americans (45%) strongly assert this perspective." *

It seems that culture is moving away from an orthodox view of the Christian faith, and the church is following. As the bible asks, Psa 11:3 "If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?" One thing we can do is make sure we believe correctly. As I've mentioned before theology matters, and it matters because of this very article....when Christians don't know what they believe, and are not willing to make a stand for what they believe then the church will gradually lose to the culture.

So, this is an opportunity to discuss the "fundamentals." What are those most important things that you believe? You get to pick only 5. What are the 5 things you believe and will not recant? What are your fundamentals?

I ask this because I know that most of us have not really thought through those things we believe that are THE non-negotiables. You can see by the Barna article that personal beliefs, for most people, are now adjustable....something to fit with what I believe, instead of me believing what God says.

This should be a fun discussion....I invite you to take some time to look at your core faith issues, even if you don't comment here...

*Part of an article by © The Barna Group, Ltd, 2007.
Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the barna.org website is copyrighted by The Barna Group, Ltd., 1957 Eastman Ave. Ste B, Ventura, California 93003. No portion of this website (articles, graphs, charts, reviews, pictures, video clips, quotes, statistics, etc.) may be reproduced, retransmitted, disseminated, sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, circulated, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from The Barna Group, Ltd.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mr Bean goes to Church

Something fun for a Saturday. I wonder if I put people to sleep like this? But it is funny! Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Back to basics


I still remember the experience of learning to ride a bicycle when I was a child. It seemed impossible at first...how could anyone do this? But then, suddenly...somehow you get it. It's an experience most of us remember. Then it goes from LEARNING how to ride a bicycle to KNOWING how to ride a bicycle.

At times I wish the Christian life were like that...something I could learn, accomplish and have as a KNOWING. Some may find that place, but for me I have to often revisit the basics. As long as I have been a Christian I find that I must come back to the foundational things over and over again. For some reason I lose sight of them. It's that compass check, that recalibration that helps me keep my course right.


Here are some of my basics that I have to revisit often-


1. I often have to remember who God is. That he is sovereign. That he cares. That he's loving. That he is always good. The world around me keeps God fuzzy, but the bible is very clear about God- what he's like, what he thinks, and what he cares about. One of the best books for me, besides the bible, on this topic is "Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer. I read it at least once a year.


2. I often have to remember what Christ has done for me. I forget. The finished work of Christ didn't just provide heaven for me someday, but it gives me his life today...right now. I can live the resurrection life today, and I forget that. I read Romans several times a year to keep this clear in my mind.


3. I often have to remember what God promises. There are key passages for me that I visit often in the bible. They are the "frame" of my life, and I will stop by them many times through the year.


4. I often have to remember that life isn't fair. It seems that my heart, and those that I counsel want "fair"...whatever that means. It's almost as if we know how things should be...what's right...but it's not. It's not "fair". You are right. It won't be "fair" (whatever that is) until Jesus comes back. My dad always said, "son, fair isn't till August in Des Moines." What he meant was that life isn't fair....things aren't right....not yet. Psalm 37 helps me with this.


5. I often have to remember that God will care for me. I fret, yes it's true...I fret. I worry. Not as much as I use to, but I still do it...I have to go back to Matthew 6 often in a year to just rest in God's direction to me.


6. I often have to remember that I have a helper in this life. God has given me his Spirit to live in me and help me. I forget.....and try to live this Christian life on my own. I go to Galatians 5 to remind myself of his ability to help me in my life.


There are more. Today I simply wanted to begin the discussion. So now, let me invite you to join me. I have left a number of these basics out because I want to invite you to add to my list.


What are your basics?


What are the things you consider core to your walk with God, but must often remember?


What's on your "back to basics" list?