Saturday, January 30, 2010


Here's a great site on youtube that has a video explanation of every book in the bible. Check it out here. I think you will enjoy it.


I've been thinking about some of the people I talk to on a weekly and often daily basis. In my role as a pastor I spend a lot of time counseling. Often I am the last resort...just before the shipwreck happens. Many times the decisions have already been made and I find myself trying to convince them to turn quickly before "they hit the rocks." Usually I'm unsuccessful. I know that many have already made their choices and are simply looking for a way to not feel the pain of their decisions.


It's hard to watch as I see life after life shipwrecked on the unable to do what God designed them to do. A ship grounded on the rocks is a defeat, a loss, for the captain. It's a clear sign that he failed and his failure is evident to everyone. When I tell someone, "watch out for the rocks!" and they reply, "oh, they won't hurt me." I have to cringe as I watch the shipwreck that happens next in that person's life. For some reason many Christians believe that you can disobey God and not suffer the results of those choices. It's simply not true! Disobedience to God's word (sin) ALWAYS has results...there will always be a shipwreck. You will not avoid, escape or ignore the results of sin. They will will hit the rocks.


This is why every ship captain has extensive maps of the ocean currents, routes, shallows and rocks. The captain's job is to sail his ship safely, not run aground on the rocks. A captain who grounds his ship has failed. A Christian who runs aground in sin has also failed. He failed to read or follow the warnings from the map. Our map, written to help us avoid the rocks in life, is God's word. When you claim you can do what you wish because "God wants me to be happy" I will promise you that your "ship" will soon be on the rocks. Another ship captain's failure, another person shipwrecked on the rocks of sin's choices. Another captain who refused to believe the maps.


This week I have watched as several lives have hit the rocks. The hard part to deal with is the fact that the choices of one life affect many others. Whether a husband, wife or child our choices have impact on those around us. We don't steer our ship up on the rocks without bringing others into jeopardy as well. Our choices have consequences and almost always affect someone else.


That's why I constantly ask people I spend time with, "Are you in the word of God?" It's a critical question. It's like the captain of the ship asking the first mate, "have you looked at the maps for this region?" If you haven't, then problems await. You can't see all the rocks that lie below the surface. You don't know what awaits if you haven't looked at the maps. And, honestly, if you aren't reading God's word your life is a shipwreck waiting to happen. Without his map to guide you there will be a wreck to deal with very soon.


The reason this is in my mind is because I have so many tell me that they are "the captains of their ship, they are the masters of their fate"....but I want to remind them that if you don't check the map (God's word) then your sailing days will soon end with your ship on the rocks.


Friday, January 29, 2010

This is not funny!

For some reason one of the guys in our church e-mailed me a whole series of cartoons dealing with dieting. He didn't add any text, just the cartoons. Now, I'm thinking...was he trying to tell me something without actually saying it? It's like telling someone a difficult truth and then adding, "I was just kidding." I wish I could tell you....this is not funny! But it really's a couple of the cartoons my friend sent me.


If you want to be content you must deal with the content of your life.
Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
For us to be content we must deal with our expectations. What do you expect from life? What do you expect from God? Are you focused on the content of your life to make you content? Does content make you content? Do you need extra resources in your checking account to be at peace? Do you worry when you don't see how things will work out? To be content is a skill learned by changing focus from our content to God's supply. Whether you are content or not should never be determined by the content of your bank account, your house, your refrigerator or your pockets. Content has nothing to do with content.
It is, according to Paul, a secret to be learned. It's a change of focus from what I have to who is my supply. Have you heard of "just in time inventory?" It's something that businesses do to cut down their cost. The supplies for the production lines come in just before they are needed. It's a fascinating concept, but implies that as my need draws near my supplies are in route to me to meet the need. It means I must learn a secret- the secret is this: God is my source. He is the master of "just in time inventory." He has the trucks on the way as my needs arise. If I keep my focus on him and not on the content of my bank account I can learn the secret of being content.
Do you want to be content? Learn the secret Paul learned- to be content is based on my source, not of my reserves. Content has nothing to do with content.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The only way to stand

I don't know how this keeps happening, but again this morning another verse showed up in my Bible that wasn't there last time I read this passage. I realize that I'm often blind to certain passages until the time I need them and then, suddenly, they appear as if for the first time. Here is one of them,
Isaiah 7:9b ".....If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."
Now, how is it that I missed this? But as I read it this morning I caught myself...."What did that just say?" Again I read it. Clearly, God is telling him people there is only one way to stand. Unless we "stand firm in our faith" we will not stand at all. Amazing statement, isn't it? What is this phrase talking about? It's clearly not a statement elevating faith. It's an invitation to put your full weight and faith in God. Unless you trust God in these days you will not be able to stand and withstand the winds and storms of the days we are living in. I know some would put the focus on faith here, but that's not the author's intent. He intends that God be the focus. He's clearly warning them that if they don't firmly trust God through the days they live in there is no other place you can stand, no other one you can depend on. It's God or nothing. Stand trusting him or fall completely. It is, according to God, the only way to stand. It's the only place that anyone can stand. I wonder if we can apply this to our lives today? ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wouldn't it be great...

Wouldn't it be great if we started every day this way? We should...God tells us,

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Providing provisions

Romans 13:14 (NASB)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
I read this verse last week and have been thinking about just one word in this short verse. It's the word provision. I'll come back to that in a moment.
One of the things I like about Paul's writings is the way he clearly gives us direction- Do this, but don't do that. It's a clarity that a simple mind like mine needs. I need someone to help me with the do's and don'ts of the Christian life. This short verse is potentially life changing if we would really act on it. He begins with this strange wording, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." It's as if you were dressing for the day. Put on this person...become them....dress up to be Jesus walking around in the real world. I know Paul wouldn't tell us to do something that isn't possible, so the believer can put on Christ, allow him to lead, be Lord and rule as I start my day, and that decision of dress will impact other decisions....especially the next one in this passage.
"And make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." The "do" is put on Christ. The "don't" is don't provision the lusts of the flesh. If you have ever gone on a camping trip this word provision is clearly understood. You go to the store and buy all the provisions you will need to survive your week in the woods. You provision yourself for the trip. It's the stuff that keeps us alive. What Paul is saying is this- Don't buy food to feed your lusts. Don't provision your lusts.
DO put on Christ, DON'T feed your lusts. Now, if you don't feed them there will be some hunger pangs that will make themselves known. You will clearly hear the hunger rumbles of your lusts as you deny them food, but one thing I can tell you from my life and from talking to others, is that if you starve your lusts long enough they will die. It's part of our Christian growth that must be done intentionally. We have to decide what we will wear- our old flesh or Christ. And, we have to decide what we will feed- our new man (Romans 12:1-2) or our lusts. What you provision will thrive and take over. What you starve will wither and die. This is Paul's invitation to living intentionally. It's got me thinking about what I feed and nurture. What part of your life are you buying provisions for?

Monday's cartoon

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote of the day

Those who are often most obsessed with God are the very ones who say he doesn't exist. It's funny, but no matter how much we protest his existence we cannot get away from the God who is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The big lie

I watched the beginning of a video a few weeks ago that is haunting. I couldn't watch it all. I didn't want to see the end. It was the video of a young lady committing suicide. Someone had filmed it. The beginning of the video was heartbreaking as she just stood there...on the edge of this tall building looking down. I stopped the video before she moved a muscle. The title told me all I needed to know. I can't imagine the thoughts of someone as they make this kind of life ending decision. It's a tragic event in the life of someone God has made. It's a horrible end of the life of someone dear to God. I just couldn't watch the point of decision...the point where she leans forward and moves beyond her ability to make any other decision. The rest is inevitable.
It made me think about something that I have been dwelling on for a long time. It's what I call the big lie. It's a lie that started many centuries ago, but continues to be believed even today. Here's the lie- I can find happiness disobeying God. It's a lie that we have believed to our own fall for centuries. At first, you have a sense that all is well. You might find pleasure for a moment, a little excitement, maybe a thrill; but there will be a moment when you move past your ability to make any further choices and you begin to fall. The outcome is unavoidable. It will happen every time and yet I hear over and over again, as people tell me they want to make a choice that is clearly sin in scripture, "I just want to be happy..." My response is the same each time. It's a response I have repeated to those on "the edge of their building" over and over again...."You will never find happiness disobeying God." But what I know is that most people don't believe me and so they go on that horrible quest that starts with the decision to jump and always ends in death.
Here's how the book of James describes it,
James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Look at the way James describes this- conception, birth, full growth and then death. From conception to birth there is a time of growth. The baby is growing in the mother's womb. For a few months it looks like there were no results from the intimate act that had in fact conceived a new baby, but soon the action begins to show....soon there's a birth, then growth and finally death. This is the perfect description of disobedience to God. For a moment there is pleasure, no one disputes that, but there will be a birth coming. There will be results from sin, it will come to light, it will grow up and ultimately there will be a death because of the choice. Sin has a price and it's high!
I've seen this so many times in my role as a pastor I could almost predict the outcome when a person decides that it is "ok" to disobey God because...."don't you know....I just want to be happy." There are a hundred stories I could tell. They all end the same. The big lie has not changed in centuries, nor have the results. Don't believe the culture when they tell you that it's ok, because God would surely want you happy. I must tell you that God is more interested in your obedience than he is in your happiness. If you do things God's way happiness will be one of the results. If you do things your way happiness will always elude you will never find happiness disobeying God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Life happens so quickly. Before we realize it years have passed, opportunities have been missed and our lives come to a quick finale. I'm thinking about this because of a verse I'll share with you in a moment, but let me talk about today for a bit. Today is what we call these moments of consciousness that we live through. Between our today's we sleep a bit and then another today dawns. We only get today. You can't use tomorrow. Someday is only a dream. All we have is today. Life is made up of thousands of today's. How are you using today? Here's a passage from Psalms that has made me think,

Psalm 95

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and tried me,
though they had seen what I did.
And in Hebrews,

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily,

as long as it is called Today,

so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Today, it's an opportunity to listen to and respond to God. It's an opportunity to walk with him. Today is the only day you have to focus on. In this day, today, worship God, listen to him, don't let sin harden you to him. How you respond to God today affects your tomorrows.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's cartoon

The battle for relationship

I just started reading the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. It's a challenging little book because it addresses our constant struggle- the struggle to keep a relationship with God from becoming a religion about God.

It's strange, but when I have a relationship with God I do what he asks out of love for him and fellowship with him, but when my relationship dims I continue to do the same things I did before, but now they are out of guilt and obligation. The progression from relationship to religion is subtle and happens far too easily. We have to constantly work on our relationship with God to keep our fellowship with him vital and our obedience to him based on love for him.

The problem that developed in Malachi's day was that the nation of Israel had moved from relationship to religion and didn't even know it had happened. They were still doing the same things, but now their motive and motivation had changed. Their relationship had become religion....sterile, cold, impersonal religion. They lost their love for God, their passion to please him and the reason they served him. Now it was just a cold empty shell of what God wanted it to be and Malachi comes to reprimand and remind them.....don't you remember what we had? What you are doing now is not what I want from you. I want a relationship, but you have made it a religion.

Here's the strange thing about all of this- no one likes religion, but everyone likes relationship. God made us for relationship. God wants intimacy with us. But so easily, so subtly we make relationship with God into an obligation and become cold, sterile and dead. God's whole purpose through Malachi was to woo back his love and remind them of the relationship they had. He's doing that today as well. God wants relationship. We settle for religion. And neither we nor God are happy with the outcome.

Relationship with demands time, attention, talking and listening to each other, spending time with him, hanging out in his presence. It demands time in his word to hear him and know him. It demands time in prayer to share your heart and kindle love and intimacy. That's why we settle for religion....religion takes no time at all. It's easy to do, but it's artificial, dead and empty.

Malachi is reminding me again how easy it is for me to slip back into religion and miss the joys and blessings of relationship with the living God. Religion is easy, but relationship with God? That takes time....time to be with him, but it's so worth the investment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

If God is good

If God is good. It's an important issue to discuss in light of suffering in the world. It's an important issue because suffering seems to conflict with the idea of a good God. Each of us must resolve this issue in our lives and in our faith.

I've just started Randy's book and am looking forward to how he resolves these issues. It is a book I think every believer should read. I'll give you updates as I work my way through this book and these issues.

The love of God

This morning, as I'm reading, I came to these words at the end of Romans 8, "the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6-8 are three of the most amazing chapters in the bible. I think I could spend the rest of my life in these 3 chapters and still not plumb the depth of what they contain. If my old brain worked as well as it did when I was a youth I would memorize these 3 chapters....they are that important. But this morning I read those last 11 words and caught myself reading them again, then once more. The love of God is in Christ Jesus our Lord! If you don't know Jesus as savior then you don't understand or know what the love of God is all about. It's revealed and experienced in relationship with one person- Jesus Christ.

Some want a relationship with God, but want nothing to do with Jesus and miss entirely the love of God. These people will tend to be legalists living by law, trying to please God and find his approval by what they do.

Some will want to claim Jesus as their friend, but not have time for God. Jesus' purpose was to show us the love of God. If you want Jesus, but not God, you will like him for the way he lived with and cared for those around him, but you will miss his purpose- to show us God's love, to bring us into a living and loving relationship with the God who made us.

These last 11 words of Romans 8 tie Jesus to God in an intimate relationship with the plan to show the human race how God feels about us- HE LOVES US! That love is revealed in Jesus, but the revelation had a purpose. God wanted to show us how he feels about us so that we will hunger to know him and have a relationship with him. In Hebrews the appeal to us is simple and clear, "let us draw near." God wants us to know him. He loves us and desires to save us, forgive us, give us new life and spend time with us. It is so important to him that he sent his Son to show us what he is like and how much he cares for us. "The love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" is available to anyone who will come to him. Those who know this love are the very ones who will show the world the love they have experienced. It's that amazing love, revealed in Christ, experienced by us and shared with others that will change the world around us.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What to say about difficult days

Sometimes there simply aren't words to say about what is happening around us.
Sometimes we try to answer the questions that come when we see tragedy, but simply have no answers.
Sometimes difficult days should leave us speechless.
Sometimes the only thing that's appropriate is to pray for those who are in the midst of difficult days.
This is one of those times.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What to do about Haiti?

The news media worldwide is focused on the horrible tragedy that has happened in Haiti. The number of those dead is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. There is no place I have ever been that is less able to handle this tragedy than Haiti. The country was broken before this tragedy, but now it's completely destroyed. So what can we do? First, pray for the people of Haiti. I can't imagine how desperate they feel as they see their country completely destroyed. Second, help them. Look for a good charity that is heading for Haiti and help them care for the people of Haiti. The governments of the world will be sending help, but each of us can do something and I encourage you to look for a way to help in your own way. There are some wonderful people in Haiti. Many of the people I have met there are dear friends. The people of Haiti have very little and yet find joy in their lives. Pray for them and help them if you can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tragedy in Haiti

This afternoon, about 4:30pm, there was a 7.2 earthquake in Puerto Prince, Haiti. This is a devastating earthquake for a country as poor and broken as Haiti.
We have several of our church family serving as missionaries in Haiti. They are in Les Cayes on the western peninsula and are safe. One of them called today to let us know they are unhurt, but there will be thousands dead and hurting on this impoverished island. Having been there many times I am praying for the people of this country. I'm very grateful that our friends there are safe.

Once for all!

Once for's an amazing phrase when you know what it contains. Here are a few verses with this theme in them and then a few thoughts....

Romans 6:10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Hebrews 7:27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Hebrews 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 10:1 [ Christ's Sacrifice Once for All ] The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Hebrews 10:2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

Hebrews 10:10-14 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

Once for all. One sacrifice for ALL sins, for ALL people, for ALL time. Jesus' one sacrifice on the cross provided a universal solution for all sins, for all people, for all time. It's ALL taken care of! No more sacrifice! No more payment needed! Sin is paid for and salvation is available for EVERYONE if they will simply trust Christ and accept his sacrifice for them. In most of the Christian church "once for all" is largely ignored or simply not understood, but it's life changing! sacrifice took care of every sin of every person for all time and eternity. Now, all that is left is for us to receive this amazing gift and live in the grace that this gift has provided. This one phrase is the very reason that the new testament is almost silent on the issue of confessing's already been taken care of! No more sacrifice needed. It's all taken care of...ONCE FOR ALL! One sacrifice for all sins, for all people for all time. What a wonderful truth to know. It's a banner I live under with great joy. I'm so grateful that God has done for me what I could never do on my own...and it's available to everyone. What a wonderful God we have.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday's cartoon

Knowing the Lord for a number of years now has made me ever so grateful for the forgiveness I received on that evening of December 8th many years ago. On that evening, at 9:08pm, I trusted Christ as my savior. I remember the time and date because the dear pastor who prayed with me wrote it on the back of a little card. I kept that card for many years. Now, I have to tell you that I had no idea of all that happened in that moment. In one moment of time all my sins past, present and future were forgiven. There is no more sacrifice for my sins. They have been dealt with completely. Now, I live a life as a son of God walking in his grace. I still sin. But now my prayer is not for forgiveness but it's a prayer of celebration. It's a prayer of gratitude, "Father, here's another reason I needed a savior. Thank you that you already forgave me for this sin. I'm sorry for my sin, but ever so grateful for your forgiveness. Give me your strength and help to grow beyond these sins and walk in fellowship with you. Thank you for your grace that gives me the ability to live as you intended me to live. Thank you." Being forgiven ONCE FOR ALL is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hubble photos of the year 2009

Here's a new collection of Hubble photos that will amaze you. My first thought, as I clicked through the photos, was God saying to us, "I made it all just for you to enjoy." I know you will!
Click on the photo or the link to enjoy the photos.

Thoughts on the quote of the day

I've been thinking about the quote of the day from a couple days ago. I was humored by this very honest admission,

"We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns." -Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division.

There are two things about this admission that made me think. First, there is a real belief in science that they DO know everything. What amazes me about this belief is that it's sincere. They really believe they know everything! Or, if they don't yet they will soon. That is why the scientist and the atheist are so antagonistic to the Christian world view. They "know" we are wrong and so must be treated as children and taught the truth they "know." Everything would be OK if we would just learn from them because they "know."

But fascinating to me is the second part of his statement, this honest admission by Mr. Fisher that some unknown unknowns have popped up. Things they didn't know that they didn't know. Amazing, isn't it? Now, I'm not that smart, but I know that I don't know everything. I know that there is much I still have to learn. I'm smart enough to know that there is much I don't know. How could brilliant men not know that same thing?

And so we come to a few thoughts from my feeble little mind. A few questions really. Is it possible we don't know everything? The answer is an emphatic YES. And, is it possible that there are many unknown unknowns? Again, the answer has to be YES. Now, by Mr. Fisher's admission, science has come to the same conclusion. Now, let me add one more....just to make this interesting. Is it possible that one of the unknowns we don't know about is God himself? Once more the answer has to be YES.

The Christian does not claim this knowledge of God with any arrogance. All that we know about him came from him. He told us about himself. It's a knowledge that can't be gained by the scientific method. The Christian is simply saying to the world that one of the unknowns can be known because God made himself known to us. He has revealed himself...made himself known through becoming a man. One of the great unknowns was made known to us in Jesus Christ.

I appreciate Mr. Fisher's honesty. He has admitted what many in the scientific world will not. He has admitted we don't know everything. Well, IT'S ABOUT TIME! Now that the ugly truth is out in the open can we also admit that maybe a sovereign, omnipotent God is there and willing to make himself known to us if we will allow him to do so? The bible is about one of the great unknown's the answer to our need to know about God. I wonder....when you finally realize you don't know everything is there room in that unknowing for God? For the atheist who says flatly, "There is no God!" I would do you know that for sure? Is there room for him in all the things you don't know yet?


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Quote of the day

"We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns." -Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division

Stoning idols

The noise has died down a little. The stones have all been thrown. The outrage has been voiced. And now one more idol of our culture is stoned and disposed of.
I would like to talk about this for a moment. I don't want to talk about Tiger Woods specifically, but the culture and its response to his sins and failures.
It's humorous to me to hear the culture talk about the hypocrisy of the Christian church and then to watch that same culture demonstrate the ultimate in hypocrisy themselves. We are in a time when our culture demands unlimited freedom, no accountability. "It's my life, I can do as I wish!" is the banner held high by the culture around us. I know from experience the rage and retaliation of those in our culture when their bad actions or decisions are brought into the light. "How dare you say my lifestyle is sin!" and "Who do you think YOU are?" The outrage over any confrontation of sin in the lives of those around us is soundly rebuffed with anger and accusations of hypocrisy.
But if someone they worship, a media idol held high for all to admire, is caught in sin then suddenly, like a bunch of sharks smelling blood, the media and culture surrounds this wounded sinner and stones him to media and financial death. Now, please be sure to note I'm not condoning Tiger's actions. That discussion might be for another time, but what I am addressing today is the response of a culture claiming we each have the right to do as we wish...but when one of the heroes of the culture does the same thing the hypocrisy of that culture is on every television and radio station in the land. We are really good at claiming freedom for ourselves, but stoning others that would do the same thing.
It seems quite obvious that our culture knows there are rights and wrongs. They may apply to others, but don't apply them to me! I think of the story of the Pharisees who brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus in John 8. They had rocks in hand, ready to stone her, and asked Jesus' opinion as a test. He didn't answer, but bent down and wrote in the dirt. Finally, after persisting in their question, Jesus responded, "He who is without sin throw the first rock." Slowly and quietly they all left. I wonder what Jesus wrote in the dirt....we will never know, but I can imagine... "liar", "hypocrite", "adulterer", "thief." Quickly, when our own sins are brought into the light it brings out the hypocrisy of our claims that this one should be stoned.
How is it that we want freedom to do as we wish, but expect more from those we idolize? Our own hypocrisy as a culture reveals to all that we do know right from wrong. We know what God expects of us. We just don't want the rules to apply to us.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Who are you trusting?

Who are you trusting? That's a question I had to ask a pastor friend who called me this morning. He's going through a really difficult time in his life and at his church.
It's easy to lose focus when you are in the middle of difficult days. It's easy to take your eyes off of God when men around you don't do what they should. It's easy to get discouraged when you feel things are out of control.
When the leadership of your church or company doesn't do what they should it affects you. It causes fear, anxiety and confusion. When leadership of any organization is not doing what they should those in that organization lose focus and direction. They are focused on the problem and not God. They are focused on the leader and not God. When you take your eyes off of God and focus on man you WILL be fearful. Whenever I find myself losing focus, looking at the wrong things and not trusting God, I go back to Matthew 14. In this passage is a short story of an encounter with Jesus and Peter. What's crystal clear from the passage is that when we take our eyes off of God and focus on the problems around us we will get in trouble. Here's Peter's story and our story as well:
Matthew 14:25-31- During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
When I take my eyes off of the Lord I will be afraid of the things around me....the people around me and I will "begin to sink." It's a story that has real applications for us. No, we won't walk on water, but we will have to trust God when the storms around us are brewing. If you focus on the storm and not on God be are about to get wet.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The death of an atheist

I have spoken at hundreds of funerals over the years. A funeral is, and please forgive the next phrase, a life changing event. It is the end of one life and it affects many others. It touches friends, family, children and many others. It's a time to remember, to grieve, to think about the mortality of us all.
It's a tragic time for those who have no hope. But for those who believe in life after death it can be a time of celebration, a time of graduation. Faith and hope are beyond the worth of gold or silver. They offer so much more than we could ever imagine. Their value becomes evident when you hear how those without a hope of eternity speak about death.
Below is a short portion of a message by the philosopher, Austin Dacey at the funeral of his friend and fellow atheist, Herbert Crimes.
"Yes, dying may be harder for the atheist. But what I cannot understand, and reject totally, is the further claim that the life stopped short of eternity is thereby robbed of sense or worth: If it all comes to an end, what’s it all for? The first thing to observe about this existential anxiety is that we can’t resolve it just by postulating an eternal afterlife. Consider the sorts of good things that might possibly await us in paradise: knowing and loving other persons (including God), being known and loved, apprehending truth, experiencing beauty (and, in the afterlife of some, fine food, drink, and other sensual delights). These goods worth wanting in the next world are goods that we already have in this one—things like love, knowledge, beauty, and pleasure (even praising an Almighty!). If a life there is worth having, then a life here is worth having. Every treasure laid up in heaven has been stolen from Earth, and the joys of paradise are parasitic on the joys of the world."
Here's the portion of his words I want to talk about, "But what I cannot understand, and reject totally, is the further claim that the life stopped short of eternity is thereby robbed of sense or worth:"
If we are not different from the animal world...if we are not eternal beings...then we are robbed of our worth. We are no different that the rat who dies in the street. We are robbed of our worth when men claim we are not created in God's image. When the atheist tells us there is no God, there is no image to reflect, then we are indeed robbed of our worth.
But the bible clearly states that we are eternal beings made in God's image. We have tremendous worth. These few years here on planet earth are not the sum total of our existence, but merely the beginning....and it's because we are eternal, made in God's image, that we have worth. Immense worth. If this life is all there is then, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians "let's eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." But, dear Austin, this life is only the beginning. Eternity lies ahead and because we are made in God's image we are immensely valuable to Him and so to others. Sadly, for the atheists, they believe their lives are extinguished at death and that's the end. They are without hope and without God in the world. But for us, for the Christian, this is only the beginning....our hope and eternity awaits. I'm so glad that death is not the end, but merely the beginning of an amazing eternity!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011

It's funny, but in spite of the clear instructions from Jesus in the gospels men still try to set dates. You would think that after so many dates being set and then time continuing on we would learn, but apparently we haven't. Just in case you wanted to know here's one more date for your calendar. On May 22nd next year I'll post a few thoughts on this....and no, I won't miss the rapture.
Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 1, 2010
Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012.
"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," Camping says from the Oakland office where he runs Family Radio, an evangelical station that reaches listeners around the world. "It's like a fairy tale."
The real date for the end of times, he says, is in 2011.
The Mayans and the recent Hollywood movie "2012" have put the apocalypse in the popular mind this year, but Camping has been at this business for a long time. And while Armageddon is pop science or big-screen entertainment to many, Camping has followers from the Bay Area to China.
Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he'd found: The world will end May 21, 2011.
This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day.
On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping's believers gathered inside Alameda's Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.
But the world did not end. Camping allowed that he may have made a mathematical error.
(read more...)

Monday's cartoon

Heb. 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Faith and science

In my reading today I came to one of the atheist web sites I like to visit. While there I found this question. It's a very good question and one I wanted to discuss here as well. Here it is-
"The question to ask the faithful is, how would you distinguish the difference between faith in something true and faith in something false without evidence?"
It's a good question because it brings us to the very reasons for our faith. For the atheist there is no truth apart from what can be discovered by science. If science can't observe it, dissect it and explain it then it's not true or real. Science becomes the filter everything must go through to be true, but science is a very limited discipline. It can only evaluate what it can see, test and observe. So, what would be considered valid evidence to believe something?
There is much that is real, true and valid that science simply cannot evaluate. For example we know that George Washington lived and was our first president, but science cannot evaluate that. There is no scientific method or resource that can prove this, nor was science designed for this. And so, according to the scientific method alone, George Washington didn't exist. Now we all know that's just silly. There are other sciences and ways to validate and prove true things that science simply cannot evaluate.
Evidence? What evidence would be required for us to distinguish something true from something false? The example I gave above is one that can be proven and believed in by other information. There is history, eyewitnesses, articles written at the time....multiple stories. And so, we believe. It's not a leap of faith to believe in George Washington. It's history! There's evidence. It's believed because there were real people at that time who knew him, saw him, wrote about him and we believe their words.
What evidence would you need to believe something? What evidence is there of God? What do we have to believe in God and how do we know we are believing something that is made up vs. something true? Science cannot unpack this for us. This is outside of their parameters. They cannot go there, but it doesn't mean it's not true. It doesn't mean God doesn't exist any more than believing George Washington never existed because the scientific method cannot prove it.
What evidence is there for God? Psalm 19 tells us the universe is the first evidence that God exists. Science would deny that as evidence for God and give credit for this amazing universe to their god called "chance." I think it's easier to believe in the God of the bible than the god of chance. Your odds are much better. Second, there are eyewitnesses of God's work. They talked to him, saw his work and documented it. There are multiple witnesses of God's work. Do any of these men and women count in our discussion? I think so. Just because all of the stories have been compiled into one volume called the bible doesn't mean their eyewitness testimony is not true.
There are the predictions of things to come in the Old Testament that actually happened as predicted. They happened with 100% accuracy. Can we consider this proof? In fact the birth and life of Jesus Christ fulfills hundreds of prophecies made many decades before his birth. The odds of one man fulfilling just 8 of these specific promises, let alone all 300+ prophesies is almost impossible. But we have Jesus. A real man who claimed to be God. And yes, he did claim to be God. That is not up for discussion. His claims were verified by his miracles, his Deity proven by his resurrection and all of this was recorded by hundreds of eyewitnesses. The evidence for the life of Jesus is more believable than the evidence for our first president George.
What science can't measure or evaluate other things can. Science is not the filter for everything. It is limited. When the atheists of the world claim there is no evidence for God they are simply talking about evidence according to science. There is much that a blind man can tell me as he smells, touches and hears the world around him, but what he can't do is tell me what he sees. He's blind to a whole world around him because he cannot see it. Just because he cannot see doesn't mean that what he doesn't see does not exist. Those of us who see are amazed at the blind man's claims and cannot convince him of the reality we see.
Just because the blind man of science claims he cannot see God doesn't mean he's not there for anyone with vision to see clearly.
Faith or science? Evidence for God? I'll take the evidence for God clearly seen all around us and witnessed by those who told their stories in the bible. I know I believe in the true God because the evidence is simply won't or can't see it.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Christ plus nothing

• It's not Christ plus your good behavior.
•It's not Christ plus the years you taught a Bible study.
• It's not Christ plus your tithe.
• It's not Christ plus the church you attend.
• It's not Christ plus the number of verses you memorize.
• It's not Christ plus your title in the church.
• It's not Christ plus wisdom from the latest Christian seminar.
• It's not Christ plus a desert fast (or even a dessert fast!).
• It's not Christ plus a good driving record.
• It's not Christ plus well-behaved children.
• It's not Christ plus the right job.
• It's not Christ plus the right spouse.
• It's not Christ plus the latest technology.
It's simply Christ.
Christ plus nothing.
-Jon Walker

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2010! It's a new year, a new beginning. Here's your gift of a brand new year. Open it up with joy. Relish every day. Celebrate every blessing. Pray about every need. Hug as many people as you can. Take more time to listen to someone else. Spend more time in the word than you did last year. Take your fears to God quickly so they don't overwhelm you. Praise God often...even when you don't feel like it. Here's a new year...all gift wrapped and ready to open. Use this year up with gusto! Enjoy every moment. Make it a great adventure!